Only a few hours from now Communist part of China (CPC) will be opening its 20th party congress (16-20th Oct) to elect and announce the new leadership team for the next five years .The newly elected delegates -2296 will elect the new central committee (CC) -204, alternate CC members -172, Politburo(PB) -25, the apex policy making politburo standing committee(PBSC)- to be enlarged to accommodate more factions as well as select new leader and accord approval to the party’s futuristic plans. As expected deliberate rumors, unsubstantiated reports of opposition rally, discrediting the present leadership are being circulated in the media by the vested interests. This reflects ignorance of CPC’s iron clad security system particularly management of top national events.
This event is being watched keenly all over the world for several reasons:
- Whether it will approve another five year term for current general secretary Xi Jinping, whether he will be made peoples leader for life (Ren Min Ling xiu) like Mao (1949-76).
- Whether as announced earlier the important amendment in the party constitution will declare Xi as Chairman and restore the old system of chairman, General Secy which Deng had abolished in favor of the existing arrangement of collective leadership. The new status would accord him the same status of Mao.
- Will the announced “important party constitutional amendment” would relate to –“replacing the Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era to just “Xi Jinping thought” at par with “Mao thought.”
- The big question to watch would also be the status of Ding Xuexiang, Hu Chunhua (close ally of Hu jintao), Wang Qishan, Premier Li keqiang, Liu He and other bunch of Xi’s loyalists. Li keqiang had as early as March this year stated that he would retire and won’t continue as PM after his two years term ends in March 2023. Media reports suggest Li qiang- the shanghai party chief, vice premier Liu he-an economist and top negotiator in the US China trade war talks; Chen min’er-party boss of Chongqing municipality and Cai he-Beijing Party secy are in race for top leadership posts.If Hu Chunhua or Wang Yang becomes premier, it would reflect Xi’s compromise to get his third term. Though by now State council led by premier has become a bit of rubber stamp or at best a consulting agency.
As is known to all Chinese bureaucratic system is very hierarchical and even after retirement, the status within the party system including pay and perks continue though Xi did attempt to reduce these perks. The problem is that Ex General Secy Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao are still alive and he cannot jump over them. Jiang is sick and ready to go to heaven any time but Hu still remains. The big question is will Hu assert or fight and try to appoint his loyalists to leadership posts. The solution that seems to have emerged is to offer 3rd term term to Xi or make him Chairman so nobody can stop him from jumping over his seniors and get the same status as Mao and move to become the paramount leader, Ren Min Ling Xiu, “former leader”, so that after the third term he will have a whole bunch of young leaders in PB who he can control after the retirement. This will make him the first leader since the death of Mao and Deng to be the most powerful leader in China. It appears he will continue to be the paramount leader with different combinations for all the way up to 2035 as by then he will still be only 83 years younger to Deng. Deng was active at 85 and continued to take important decisions for the party. This way Xi would reach the political status of Mao enabling him to push through policy implementation more easily.
The congress is set to provide direction and way forward for the party to face both domestic as well international issues. These decisions will hugely impact not only people in china but the whole world as well. The party is expected to accept and provide solutions to problems facing China –economic slowdown, bursting of property bubble, unpopular strict Covid lockdowns, Xi’s favorite “common prosperity -redistribution of wealth”, restate china’s commitment to free trade, technology development and the most important Xi’s New world view. The recently concluded 7th plenum of 19th central committee has since approved the work report on the party’s performance and way forward. The documents to be released after the congress will provide a clearer assessment of China’s goals and ambitions and would merit deeper analysis.