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What we’re watching: Chinese Community Party Congress kicks off, notorious Iranian prison ablaze

Xi’s security signage

The long-awaited 20th Chinese Communist Party Congress spear Sunday with a two-hour speech from President Xi Jinping, who is all but guaranteed to secure a defiant third term that could see him lead the party and military until at least 2027. Following the October 22 plenum, the party will operate a new 200-member Central Committee, a Politburo as well as a seven-member Central Committee. Xi, who for years has put China’s economic agenda at the heart of public statements, has focused much of his talk on China’s security. Indeed, he doubled down on his pledges to reunite Taiwan with the mainland, saying “solving the Taiwan problem is the business of the Chinese people”, adding that Beijing would not tolerate “protectionism and bullying” on the part of the Chinese people. other nations – widely considered a snap. in Washington. Additionally, Xi called on the Chinese to “be prepared to withstand high winds, choppy waters and even dangerous storms,” ​​a reference some analysts say to Xi’s anticipation of a possible military confrontation with Washington in About Taiwan. Crucially, Xi also said he would keep in place – at least for now – the zero COVID policy, which is partly responsible for the downfall of the global economy. Decisions will be made during the event that will tell the world what signal Xi wants to send about his future plans for the country’s leadership.

Carnage at Iran’s Evin Prison

At least eight people were killed and dozens injured when a blaze erupted in the notorious Evin prison on the outskirts of Tehran on Saturday (although many say it is probably a gross undercount). Information about the cause of the fire is scarce, in part due to the government-mandated internet and telecommunications blackout. Yet witnesses posted videos on social media showing a series of explosions and gunfire around the premises. Evin, home to thousands of political prisoners, journalists, human rights activists and students – as well as several dual Iranian-American citizens Locked on false charges – has long been subject to US sanctions for “gross human rights violations”. The Islamic Republic, for its part, said the fire broke out after a fight between inmates and dismissed claims that the unrest was linked to ongoing protests calling for regime change that have enveloped the country for five weeks. . Meanwhile, conflicting accounts on social media said the fire was the result of an attempted prison break or infiltration from outside. When news of the fire broke, protesters gathered outside the prison, burning tires and shouting “death to the dictator”. The fire appears to have been extinguished, but protesters continue to rage.