China: President Xi Jinping's continued leadership 'a threat to human rights globally'

Hong Kong police in foreground shut down Tiananmen Square anniversary vigil - protesters hold placards in background
Hong Kong police shut down Tiananmen Square anniversary vigil © Getty

President Xi Jinping is expected to be confirmed as Communist Party of China General Secretary for a third term

‘There can be no excuse for failing to hold the Chinese authorities to account over atrocities committed in President Xi’s name’ - Hana Young

Ahead of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CCP), where President Xi Jinping is expected to be confirmed as CCP General Secretary for a third term, Hana Young, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director, said:

“Confirmation of Xi Jinping’s third term will be an ominous moment not only for the millions of Chinese citizens who have suffered grave human rights violations under his rule, but also for people around the world who feel the impact of the Chinese government’s repression. 

“President Xi’s decade in power has been characterised by sweeping arbitrary detentions, a ruthless nationwide crackdown on freedom of expression and association, crimes against humanity against Muslims in the Xinjiang region, and a dramatic escalation of repression in Hong Kong.

“The Government’s policies and practices under Xi’s leadership pose a threat to rights not just at home, but globally. From the government’s campaign to silence and forcibly repatriate Uyghurs overseas to its attempts to redefine the very meaning of human rights at the United Nations, the arm of Chinese state repression increasingly extends beyond China’s borders.

“And as Chinese activists, human rights lawyers, independent journalists and other human rights defenders brace themselves for more of the same – or worse – the international community must redouble efforts to ensure the next five years are different.

“There can be no excuse for failing to hold the Chinese authorities to account over atrocities committed in President Xi’s name.”

Abusing the political system

The confirmation of Xi Jinping’s third term as paramount leader of the Chinese Communist Party is widely expected to be announced at the end of the Party’s 20th National Congress, which begins tomorrow (Sunday 16 October).

In 2018, Xi Jinping engineered a constitutional reform that eliminated the previous two-term limit on the Presidency. He has been consolidating and concentrating his power since 2017 - including through introduction of Xi Jinping Thought as a pillar of the Party and state constitutions, and through purges of the political and legal apparatus pursued through an anti-corruption campaign.

Xi Jinping holds three posts concurrently, giving him control of the Party, Military and State. These posts are General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Chairperson of the Central Military Commission of the Party and President of the People’s Republic of China.

The Presidency role will be officially confirmed in March 2023 at the National People’s Congress.

The Chinese government often tightens censorship during politically “sensitive” times, including major party meetings. In September, the country’s Cyberspace Administration announced a fresh operation to “purge rumours and fake news” on the internet. Since early October, there have been increasing reports of the Government banning censorship circumvention tools such as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) which allow individuals to establish private internet connections.

More information on Amnesty's human rights concerns in China can be found here.

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