Experts laud 6th plenum document
China-watchers in the United States applauded the communique released on Thursday after the sixth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, which was held in Beijing from Monday through Thursday.
Cheng Li, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution, described the communique as a “very good document. I believe the sixth plenary session will have its status in CPC history,” he said on Thursday.
According to Li, the document well emphasizes the relationship between collective leadership and the top leader’s responsibility, especially in emphasizing the strict management of the Party.
While some Western media outlets have focused on the core status of Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, Li noted that this is not a new concept, but a title that has been used often throughout the previous leadership.
Rather than seeing the document as a subversion from previous Party documents as suggested by some Western media, Li said there is a continuity from contributions made by previous leaders such as the concept of “Three Representatives” by Jiang Zemin and “Scientific Outlook on Development” by Hu Jintao, both former CPC party chiefs.
Li, author of the latest book Chinese Politics in the Xi Jinping Era, said it is wrong to think that there is no supervision nor checks and balance in the Party.
“There is not only checks and balances, the document also emphasizes that there is no taboo and exception even for top leaders. This is a very strong language,” he said.
He believes the elaboration on the relationship of collective leadership and individual responsibility is especially important, adding that no country has handled the issue well.
In his view, it will be problematic to give a president too much power, but it also won’t work if the president does not have the necessary power. “This is a common challenge in social governance,” Li said.
He noted that without enough power granted to Xi, it is hard to imagine how he can take on the tough job of fighting corruption and implementing reform measures.