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Party congress is Xi's moment, but how will he use it?

Power politics likely to take precedence over economic liberalization imperatives

| China
It is not clear if more power amassed by President Xi Jinping will lead to economic reform.   © Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping may be one of the most relaxed leaders in the world as he prepares for the 19th congress of the Chinese Communist Party in mid-October. His body language certainly reinforces that impression. He has become a "core leader" of the party, he controls the military and internal security structures, and he has amassed more power than any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. The economy may soon cool off, but for the moment it is stable, and growing at around the government's target rate.

Across Asia, and in the wider world, Xi has been gifted an extraordinary geopolitical advantage by U.S. President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, his lukewarm attitudes to regional allies, and his dependence on China in the crisis over North Korea. For now, at least, Trump's rhetoric about trade wars and punishing China is gathering dust.

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