International security issues effecting China and the wider Asia-Pacific region
Kínai kül- és biztonságpolitika és a tágabb ázsiai-csendes óceáni térséget érintő politikai kérdésekről

You are here

China / Political maneuvering behind the reforms?

Preview on China’s 19th National Congress

With 2,300 delegates in attendance, October 18 will see the opening of the 19th National Congress. Being held only twice every ten years, we are expected to see Chinese President Xi Jinping consolidate his rule, moreover extending his reign for another five years and potentially even longer.
Ever since Xi’s rise to power, one of his main agenda was the fight against corruption. Most of the officials investigated were removed from office and faced accusations of bribery and abuse of power, although the range of alleged abuses varied widely. As of 2016, the campaign has 'netted' over 120 high-ranking officials, including about a dozen high-ranking military officers, several senior executives of state-owned companies, and five national leaders. Besides removing high-ranking officials, Xi has also started to strengthen his public profile, this act previously being unimaginable to Chinese presidents.

Already, the power plays have commenced in the lead up to the congress. Sun Zhengcai, the youngest member of the Politburo and one of the main politician of Chongqing, was dumped and placed under investigation in July. Recently, two generals, Fang Fenghui and Zhang Yang, both members of the key 11-member Central Military Commission, were removed from the delegate list for the congress.
Based on their age, only two of the seven member standing committee - Xi and premier Li Keqiang - are expected to stay on. But there is speculation that Xi's close ally and corruption fighter, Wang Qishan, may beat convention and stay.

The Politburo, one of the party’s elite ruling bodies, deliberated a draft amendment to the constitution to be discussed at the congress that would include “major theoretical viewpoints and major strategic thought”, the official Xinhua news agency said. (1)
In fact, the real question is whether Xi’s name will be included in the amendments, since only the names of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, together with the names of Marx and Lenin, have been attached to their political philosophy in the CCP’s constitution so far. Neither of Xi’s predecessors, Jiang Zemin nor Hu Jintao, had added their names directly. However, Jiang had his thoughts — the “Three Represents” — and Hu had his theory — of “scientific development” — written into the constitution. A key measure of Xi’s power will be whether he manages to have his name “crowned” in the constitution, elevating him to the level of previous leaders exemplified by Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory.

Another significant question is whether the revised constitution will restore the position of “Chairman of the Central Committee.” Mao Zedong held the position of “chairman,” who was the paramount leader of the CCP. After the Cultural Revolution, in 1982, to get rid of absolute power, the CCP removed the position of “chairman” and replaced it with “general secretary,” which is the position Xi holds now.
The amended constitution should fully represent the latest “sinicisation” of Marxism, new governance concepts and “the fresh experiences in adhering to, and strengthening, Party leadership, and in strict Party governance”, Xinhua said.
The draft amendment will be submitted on Oct. 11 to a party plenary meeting, it added, a smaller scale gathering of about 200 of the most senior leaders to finalize the agenda for the congress.

(1) Spotlight: How China's diplomatic approach is creating a more inclusive world. XinhuaNet. Forrás: