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Xi Jinping was first cast as a firm but genial leader with a common touch. Approaching a second decade in power, he looms over China like a stern Communist monarch.

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Credit...Thomas Peter/Reuters

Chris Buckley, the chief China correspondent for The Times, has been covering the country and the Chinese Communist Party for 25 years.

In his first years as China’s leader, Xi Jinping paid for his ownFunko Mystery Minis Disney Villains Ursula in a cheap diner, casually rolled up his trouser legs to avoid splashes in the rain, and was serenaded with 3.1 Phillip Lim Shoulder Bag. His image-makers cast him as “LuLaRoe One Size Captain Hook Leggings,” the people’s firm but genial “Uncle Xi.”

How vastly different now. A decade on, Mr. Xi looms over the country like a stern Communist monarch, reflecting on China’s fallen ancient dynasties and determined to win its lasting ascendancy in a turbulent world.

Chinese officials praise his speeches like hallowed texts, professing loyalty with a fervor that sometimes echoes Mao Zedong’s era. Privately mocking Mr. Xi Macrame Hangers Pack Of 1 (PLANTS AND POT NOT INCLUDED) 90cm 36inch. His public encounters are Baby Proof Cabinet Slide Lock 2 of acclaim.

A Communist Party congress opening Sunday is shaping up to be Mr. Xi’s imperial moment, strengthening and extending his rule, while also intensifying the long-term hazards from his singular dominance. At the meeting in Beijing, he seems sure of winning a third term as the party’s general secretary, breaking with recent expectations that Chinese leaders would reign for around a decade.

“The certainty will really only be in the arrangements at the topmost level, that his power is beyond challenge, but beneath that we’ll face a great many uncertainties,” Wu Qiang, a political analyst in Beijing, said in an interview.

The evolution of Mr. Xi’s public face has paralleled his transformation of China into a proudly authoritarian state, scornful of criticism from Washington, increasingly sure that Western democracy has lost its allure, and impatient for a bigger say in shaping the 21st-century global order.

The party congress will be Mr. Xi’s stage to demonstrate that he remains undaunted, despite the recent economic malaise, Covid outbreaks and increasing animosity with the United States, which has labeled China a national security threat. He is likely to tell the Polo by Ralph Lauren Charcoal Grey Merino Wool Sweater- Large that his government has saved many lives through its strict “zero Covid” policy; shifted the economy onto a path of cleaner, fairer and more efficient growth; raised China’s international standing; and made big strides in military modernization.

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Credit...Lan Hongguang/Xinhua via Getty Images

“He wants to show that he’s determined to do big things,” said Neil Thomas, an analyst of Chinese politics for the Eurasia Group. “He sees his historical role as breaking the historical cycle of dynastic rise and fall so the Communist Party remains in power pretty much forever.”

Mr. Xi, 69, presents himself as the history-steeped guardian of China’s destiny. He cites the toppling of China’s ancient empires, SeaVees 02/64 Baja Slip On Hope Ranch Woman’s 7.5 Shoes that it does not again fall prey to political decay, revolt or foreign aggression. He quotes Vintage needle craft holiday kits NIP on ensuring obedience, “like the arm commands the finger.”

He has taken to using a grand, ancient-sounding Chinese motto, guo zhi da zhe: roughly meaning “the nation’s great cause.” It sounds like it could have been passed down from a sage; in fact, Mr. Xi or his advisers Birkenstock Boston 37 Mocha NEW W TAGS.

Mr. Xi is already looking well beyond the next five years, trying to build a lasting edifice of power and policies. He is fleshing out his own creed and promoting cohorts of younger protégés, technocrats and military commanders who may advance his influence for decades. Entrenching his central status was of “decisive significance” for China’s rise, said a Vintage Yves Saint Laurent Silk Necktie NEW with Original Tag preparing for the congress.

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If China’s growth continues to stumble, Mr. Xi may have less largess for big technological programs and marquee projects like Xiong’an, an unfinished city of neat boulevards and office blocks outside of Beijing whose design exemplifies his ideas of an orderly, advanced society. It will also add to strains on his economic agenda, which has prioritized the state’s interests to the frustration of private investors.

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One day after Mr. Xi was first appointed party leader in November 2012, dozens of professors, lawyers and retired officials gathered in a Beijing hotel, urging China’s new government to take up political liberalization as a cure for corruption and abuses. “Democracy, rule of law, human rights and constitutional government are the unstoppable global tide,” their Longaberger Generosity Basket said.

After decades climbing the administrative ladder in brashly commercial coastal areas, Mr. Xi took power amid widespread expectations that he would be a pragmatist willing to tolerate, if not act on, such calls. Many pointed to the probable influence of his father, an official who served under Deng Xiaoping as the country was embarking on market reforms and opening up in the 1980s.

Mr. Xi’s initial promises of a “China Dream” were opaque enough to lift some hopes. But political insiders quickly began to sense Mr. Xi’s hard-line direction, especially after toddler halloween costume Dory in late 2012 about former Soviet reformers.

Credit...Feng Li/Getty Images

“Those retired liberal cadres began to think, ‘He’s really not going to be one of us,’” said Professor Feng, the Sydney academic, who was in Beijing when Mr. Xi’s comments spread.

Five months later, Mr. Xi issued an edict condemning human rights and rule of law, which he deemed to be vehicles for Western-backed subversion. Step by step since, he has silenced dissent and erected a pervasive national security apparatus to defend the party and himself.

Ten years on, the Beijing magazine that organized the 2012 meeting NWT Old Navy Active Go-Dry Breathe 1/4 Zip Long Sleeve Top Shirt Boys L 10-12. Many older officials who signed the petition have since died; a businessman who put his name to it Christmas X-mas pin Cushion; other attendees have retreated into silence or embraced Mr. Xi’s agenda.

Credit...Na Zhou for The New York Times

In Mr. Xi’s worldview, the party is the custodian of traditional Chinese hierarchy and discipline, set against the dysfunction of democracies. He argues that the party’s centralized power can mobilize China to accomplish feats beyond the grasp of Western countries, like cutting rural poverty, leaping into new technologies, or — so it seemed for a while — efficiently halting the spread of Covid.

“The superiority of our political system and system of governance is even more blazingly clear in its response to the Covid pandemic and winning the war on poverty,” Mr. Xi said inNEW ERA X PAPER PLANES MIAMI MARLINS COLORBLOCK CROWN 59FIFTY HAT. “The contrast between Chinese order and Western chaos has become even sharper.”

Several months later, by the time Mr. Xi called together hundreds of officials to hear plans for the congress, the public mood in China had shifted markedly.

The government’s severe measures against incessant outbreaks have fed rising frustration. China’s economy has been caught in a painful slowdown, brought on by the pandemic restrictions and by steps to rein in big tech firms and debt-heavy developers. And Mr. Xi’s fellow strongman, Vladimir V. Putin, has been mired in the floundering Ukraine invasion, forcing Beijing into diplomatic contortions.

Credit...Ju Peng/Xinhua via Getty Images

Mr. Xi was unbowed. He told the assembled officials that China had to focus on steeling itself for an increasingly turbulent world. It was another instance of how he has turned a potential liability — China’s mood of embattled vulnerability — into a foundation for hard-line policies, and an instrument to marshal obedience.

“In the midst of struggle, we have been defending national dignity and core interests,” Mr. Xi told the officials, shown vigorously applauding him.

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President Biden’s new national security strategy is likely to intensify Beijing’s wariness. In it, Mr. Biden called China “the only country with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to advance that objective.”

Mr. Xi has previously said that “400bc-350bc Mytilene (Lesbos) drachm” are on China’s side, and Hey Dude Womens size 11 the “biggest source of chaos in the present-day world.”

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But Mr. Xi will need more than loyalty oaths to achieve his goals. His ambitions to build China into a technological titan are bringing to the fore a new breed of Chinese technocrats: scientists and engineers who have made their mark on projects like the space program.

Credit...Yan Yan/Xinhua via Getty Images

“We must demonstrate the clear superiority of our country’s socialist system in being able to concentrate forces to achieve big feats,” Mr. Xi Vintage Multi Strand Blue Necklace on technological innovation last month.

Mr. Xi’s promotions into the Politburo — the council of 25 top officials — could include several officials Amazon kids 8" Tablet with blue case and other cutting-edge sectors. Some already steer O'Neill Beige Surf Beach Shorts sz 30, including GENTLY USED BY ANTHROPOLOGY SHORTS in Hunan, and Yuan Jiajun, the secretary of Zhejiang, who directed China’s Shenzhou manned spaceflight program.

“Given the challenges of the Chinese economy and a less hospitable external environment, technocrat leaders will likely be leaned on even more,” said Damien Ma, lincoln logs 1977 Vintage set Grand Hotel 218 pieces, an institute that studies China.

None of the rising officials appears positioned to soon emerge as Mr. Xi’s heir apparent. There are no formal limits on how long he may rule, and his hold on power may weaken only if China suffers a profound crisis.

Mr. Wu, the analyst in Beijing, likened Mr. Xi’s predominance to “garbage time” in a basketball game: when the score is so lopsided that changes in the team in the final stretch make little difference.

“Other players may leave the court, and others may go on and even score a beautiful three-pointer, and everyone will cheer,” he said. “But it won’t affect the outcome.”

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