China’s President Xi Jinping has made his first public appearance in two weeks, in a sign that the Communist Party’s annual secretive summer retreat on the Yellow Sea has ended.
Xi reemerged in Jinzhou City, Liaoning province, on Tuesday, where he urged officials in the northeastern region to speed up industrial restructuring and visited a museum celebrating his party’s victory in the final stages of China’s civil war, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
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The Chinese leader also issued instructions on flood control, days after at least seven people died in flash floods at a scenic tourist spot in western Sichuan province.
Premier Li Keqiang also reemerged this week, holding a meeting in the southern Chinese tech hub Shenzhen. He urged officials to help boost the economy, which is facing downward pressure from a domestic property slump and Covid Zero policies, Xinhua reported on Tuesday.
The public appearances of Xi and Li suggest China’s current and former leaders representing almost one-fifth of humanity have completed their annual conclave in the seaside resort of Beidaihe, some 200 kilometers (124 miles) east of Beijing.
Both men were last seen in public on July 31 at an event in Beijing celebrating the 95th anniversary of the founding the People’s Liberation Army. They were joined by the other five men on China’s supreme Standing Committee, who have also not been seen in public since then.
The two-week huddle was likely underway when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defied Beijing to make her landmark trip to Taiwan. China responded with unprecedented military drills around the self-ruled island that it claims as its own and by likely firing a missile over Taiwan’s main island for the first time.
The conclave also came on the eve of a twice-a-decade leadership congress later this year that’s set to hand Xi at least another five years in power.
Communist Party leaders since the earliest days of Mao Zedong have used the Beidaihe powwow to build consensus for major decisions ahead of bigger meetings. State media reports show attendees discussed the party leadership lineup in the resort area in 1997, and economic development after hosting the Olympic Games in 2008.
The upcoming leadership reshuffle comes as Xi faces mounting problems at home and abroad. Domestically, China is grappling with slowing economic growth, a deepening domestic mortgage crisis and a COVID Zero policy that’s closed its borders.
Beijing is also navigating escalating tensions with the US over Taiwan, at a time when Xi’s pandemic policy has blocked him from in-person diplomacy for over two years.
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