While the explosion of sycophancy over Chinas president may seem nearly comical, his reign will have ramifications far beyond the countrys borders

They voiced like the words of a patient at a self-help group, but the craving being discussed here was China's president, Xi Jinping.

” I'm Wang Yong from the Tonghua Iron and Steel factory ,” proclaimed the delegate from the north-eastern province of Jilin.

” When I insured General Secretary Xi Jinping yesterday, I was so excited I was just thinking about jumping on to the stage !”

On a smoggy Thursday morning in Beijing, hundreds of Communist party members had flooded the Great Hall of the People- the ceremonial nexus of Chinese political life- for a day of debates tied to this week's 19th party congress.

Some, like Wang, hailed from the frigid border regions the world once called Manchuria; others the semi-tropical climes of China's south-western frontier. Some sported drab black suits and burgundy ties; others the dazzling traditional garb of minorities such as the Dai, the Lahu and the Yi.

As they streamed into this vast Mao-era auditorium, to ponder everything from poverty reduction to environmental protection and investment, there was only one man on their minds: China's president.

People garmented in Red Army uniforms perform in Yiyang, central Jiangxi province. The slogan reads:' Celebrate the 19 th party congress. Always follow the party .' Photograph: AFP/ Getty

” We're grateful to General Secretary Xi Jinping and to the great Communist party of China !” Gao Derong, a member of the Derung ethnic minority, exclaimed at a session on the affairs of the south-west province of Yunnan.

Addressing an assembly about his province, the Liaoning party chief, Li Xi, reported:” We've launched a series of resolutions in accordance with General Secretary Xi's' four efforts' policy .”

After lunch, the head of China's markets regulator produced perhaps the most hyperbolic homage to his country's” proletarian revolutionist “. “[ Xi] saved the party, saved the military and saved the country ,” gushed Liu Shiyu.” He saved socialism .”

To the outsider there was an nearly comic feeling to this explosion of sycophancy, even if some of the praise for the guess of Xi Jinping seemed to be heartfelt.” I guess Xi's comments were realistic, down-to-earth and seriously inspiring ,” said He Xun, the party chief of a Tibetan village.

But the relentless express of love on reveal at the week-long summit, which began on Wednesday with Xi's declaration of a” new era” of Chinese power, are no laughing matter.

A Chinese minority delegate wearing a traditional costume attends the open-delegation Communist party deliberations in at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Photograph: Wu Hong/ EPA

Three days of incessant fawning have reinforced the sensation that the world's second-largest economy is now ruled by one of its more influential, and perhaps enduring, leaders since Mao Zedong; a reality that will have ramifications far beyond China's borders.

Donald Trump, who is scheduled to visit China early next month, might fail to retake the White House in three years' period- or even make it that far. But there is a growing sense that his Chinese counterpart is in it for the long haul and could remain in power well beyond the end of his second five-year term.

” Many people are worried the Xi Jinping era will not end[ in 2022 ],” told Jerry Cohen, a veteran China intellectual at New York University, who suspects Xi will find ways of retaining power” kind of like the Putin arrangement in Russia “.” So this could go on for some time .”

Cohen and other human rights experts say their main dread is the impact his staying power will have on Chinese academia and its nascent civil society. Both have found themselves in Xi's crosshairs since he took power in November 2012 and began dismantling sources of potential opposition.

Cohen repudiated the hypothesi, still expounded by some, that having consolidated power in his first term, Xi might expose himself to be a reformer or a “crypto-liberal” in his second.

Xi Jinping( centre) prepares to deliver a marathon three and a half hour speech at the CPC congress. Photo: Xinhua/ Barcroft

” I would be amazed if Xi begins to relax controls given the number of[ economic and environmental] problems that he is much more aware of than we are … He knows that he can't afford to allow freedom of expres ,” he said.

After the election of a protectionist climate-denier to the White House last year, some have appeared to Beijing for leadership on issues such as free trade and global warming.

” No country can afford to retreat into self-isolation ,” Xi pronounced on Wednesday. Later he added:” Any harm we inflict on nature will eventually return to haunt us .”

But there are fears too about how China's increasing international swagger might adversely affect its relations with the west.

[ youtube https :// www.youtube.com/ watch? v= RSJhcTTz_cY? wmode =op aque& feature= oembed]

Xi Jinping opens the Communist party congress- video

” As Xi persists- and if he persists with being a strongman internationally- I guess relations with the United States including with regard to, but also perhaps with Europe, will worsen ,” predicted Roderick MacFarquhar, a China expert at Harvard University.

” What everyone will discover is that China will have … its own ideas about[ being a responsible international player] and they will not include being nicely-nicely in the South China Sea, they will not involve being nicely-nicely with the Japanese .”

MacFarquhar said Xi appeared to have built a position of enviable strength in his first stint as leader, even if China's ” sophisticates” considered his strongman propensities a turnoff.

” Unless some politician or some angry general chooses enough is enough and that Xi Jinping is stimulating China a laughing stock by this one-man regulation campaign … and has the contacts and the determination to do something , nothing is going to change .”

A student in Beijing plays a popular smartphone game called A Great Speech, Clap for Xi Jinping. Photo: Andy Wong/ AP

But Xi's Leninist quest for authority and control also carried perils:” The changes that he has brought about … are a form of strong Leninism, which China has not experienced since the early 50 s. We don't know to what extent the population will accept that .”

” This is a vast country, with hundreds of millions of people in different parts, whose exact supposes about the situation … are very difficult to perceive. And the more Leninism there is, the more people are frightened, the less one is able to perceive it- until something happens.

” Things have happened in China. Things do go wrong in China ,” MacFarquhar advised.” Even in the best ordered regimes, like Xi Jinping's .”

Additional reporting by Wang Zhen

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