Events in China’s Great Hall of the People are more than just business. They are a spectacle that is truly breathtaking.
Every detail is perfect, from the tea pouring to the page-turning and clapping in unison to the delegates.
The National People’s Congress (NPC), an annual gathering that theorizes and sometimes makes amendments to the constitution, is held every year.
Despite all the pomp and circumstance, however, this year was primarily about President Xi Jinping.
He was confirmed to a record-breaking third term as president during this session.
He also confirmed a cabinet full of loyal allies. Most notably Li Qiang the new second-in-command, an ex-protege and architect for the destructive Shanghai lockdown .
Almost all voices that were perceived as having marginally different views or approaches are gone.
It is his agenda that has been pursued throughout.
For example, there are ongoing efforts to shift power away form professional “civil servants” towards more communist Party cadres and Xi loyalists.
President Xi Jinping declares that China’s military must be transformed into a ‘Great Wall of Steel.
Perhaps the most important theme of the NPC this year was China’s resolve in a increasingly tense standoff against the West and America, in particular.
Xi spoke earlier in the week, uncharacteristically bluntly, about the West’s “all around containment, encirclement, and suppression of China”.
He described the Army’s role as a “Great Wall of Steel” against these forces at the closing ceremony. The new foreign secretary stated that America must “stop provocating conflict and confrontation” unless it does so.
It is clear that Xi has a deliberate plan to increase rhetoric as part of his increasingly assertive vision of China on the international stage.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to see how either side can retreat from the accelerating trend of drawing battle lines.