Rare demonstration of defiance against Xi Jinping before the party congress

Footage also showed a column of dark smoke coming from the overpass, although the source was unclear. The police intervened and removed the banners. It was unclear who was responsible for the banners or if anyone had been arrested.

The protest came amid growing public anger over the government’s zero-COVID policies, under which citizens must undergo regular PCR tests, restrict their movement and submit to massive, instant lockdowns. A senior government health adviser, Liang Wannian, told state television that there was no timetable for relaxing the rules, warning that there would be many deaths if the spread did not continue. was not controlled.

The People’s Daily, a spokesperson for the Communist Party, also published editorials supporting zero-COVID this week.

China’s 20th Party Congress, which is expected to nominate Mr. Xi for a third term, begins on Sunday.

Security is tight in the Chinese capital ahead of the meeting and there were no further signs of public protest or open criticism of the leadership. Travel to or from Beijing during the week-long meeting was severely restricted, with the government using COVID-19 rules as an excuse to control travel.

An activist said he was visited by public safety officials earlier this week and warned not to cause trouble before Congress. China typically steps up surveillance and censorship around important political meetings.

Mr Xi, 69, is set to be named leader for a historic third term when more than 2,000 party delegates gather. There have been no signs of challenges to his authority within the Communist Party and Mr. Xi is expected to appoint new loyal advisers to his cabinet within the next week.

Rumors of a coup against Mr. Xi were circulating on Twitter last month, but they have been largely discredited.

A statement issued ahead of the congress this week hailed Xi’s leadership and his “war” against COVID-19 and reaffirmed his status as the “core” of the Communist Party.

Mr Xi will be China’s longest-serving leader since Mao Zedong, after scrapping rules that previously limited the country’s rulers to 10 years in power.

The Albanian government is closely monitoring the political mood in China, although the chances of a dramatic softening of Beijing’s stance on Australia once the congress is over seem unlikely.

“There were friendly noises. I can’t say anything has changed in terms of the trade blockages still there, and maybe they won’t change until after the Chinese congress,” Commerce Minister Don Farrell said. FRG weekend on a trip to Tokyo this week.

Asked to clarify whether he thought China would lift sanctions on some Australian exports after the policy meeting, Mr Farrell said: “That’s the $64 question. I’d like to know the answer to that.

Mr Farrell said he still hoped to secure a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Wentao, after their paths did not cross at a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva in June.

“The offer is still on the table. He never implied that he was refusing to meet with us, it’s just that the circumstances didn’t arise,” he said.

“When I got back to Australia I received a very friendly letter of congratulations from him.”

While the Albanian government is open to talks with China to resolve trade issues, it has also hinted that it would find it difficult to support China’s request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. (CPTPP). Scott Morrison’s previous government said China should lift trade sanctions for them to consider applying. A new member cannot be admitted to the trading bloc without the support of all 11 members.

“You have to convince all the countries that are in the CPTPP that you are meeting all your obligations in terms of trade. We certainly believe that China has imposed unfair trade barriers on Australian products and that is an obstacle for China or any other country to enter the agreement, “said Mr Farrell.

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