China's Xi urges party to prepare for 'long-term' struggle

Chinese President Xi Jinping said officials needed to display a "spirit of struggle" to overcome challenges ranging from security concerns to financial risks. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - Chinese President Xi Jinping urged the ruling Communist Party to brace for a "long term" struggle against a variety of threats, the latest in a series of warnings to a nation facing a slowing economy and a more confrontational US.

Mr Xi said officials needed to display a "spirit of struggle" to overcome challenges ranging from security concerns to financial risks, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

"The struggles we face will not be short term, but long term," Mr Xi told a cadre training course on Tuesday (Sept 3) in Beijing, adding that they would continue at least through 2049, the 100th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

Mr Xi opened the year by stressing the need to maintain political stability as the economy slows. China is projected to see the slowest gross domestic product growth in almost three decades this year - a concern made worse by the trade war with US President Donald Trump.

These new remarks come just weeks before the party's decision-making Central Committee is expected to hold its first full meeting in 20 months.

The leaders will meet during a period of triumphant anniversaries for the ruling party, with Mr Xi expected to preside over a military parade to mark the country's 70th anniversary on Oct 1.

However, that spirit of triumph was missing from the speech.

"At present and into the future, China's development is entering a period when various risks and challenges are emerging together," Mr Xi said, listing concerns including the economy, defence, Hong Kong and Taiwan. "And it will only get more complex."

China is facing greater international pushback as Mr Trump piles tariffs on the country's goods in an effort to secure concessions on trade, technology, and economic access.

That dispute has exacerbated concerns about China's slowdown and contributed to diplomatic tensions over pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and American military support for Taiwan.

Mr Xi's speech included numerous war-like metaphors, including exhorting party officials to "be both commanders and combatants, and cultivate and maintain a strong fighting spirit, have tenacious will and superb fighting skills".

State media have stepped up their propaganda efforts around Mr Xi recently, especially since his return from the annual summer retreat at Beidaihe.

The headline in the People's Daily newspaper reporting Mr Xi's trip to Gansu on Aug 25 was "The People's Leader Loves The People" and the title of 'The People's Leader' has been used repeatedly by major news outlets in August, including in a Central Television-produced documentary and special online presentation.

This campaign echoes a publicity drive in February 2018, weeks before the legislature officially scrapped term limits from the country's constitution, allowing Mr Xi to serve more than two terms as leader.

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