China’s Xi to con­sol­i­date power at key meet­ing

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THE lead­ers of the world’s most pow­er­ful po­lit­i­cal party gather in Bei­jing to­day for a con­clave that could change the course of Chi­nese his­tory.

In meet­ings at the ex­clu­sive Jinxi Ho­tel, nearly 400 top mem­bers of the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party will con­fer for four days, dis­cussing changes to how the gi­ant party will be man­aged.

The meet­ing, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial Xin­hua News ser­vice, will fo­cus on the is­sue of “party dis­ci­pline”.

The dry rhetoric hides what may be a fe­ro­cious, high-stakes bat­tle for con­trol over the world’s sec­ond­largest econ­omy.

The Sixth Plenum, as the meet­ing is known, comes as the party – which has more than 88 mil­lion mem­bers – faces a pe­riod of tec­tonic change.

Since tak­ing its helm in 2012, Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Xi Jin­ping has sought to bend it to his will, and taken con­trol of more levers of power than any leader since Mao Ze­dong.

His anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paign has laid waste to the party’s or­gan­i­sa­tional chart, felling seem­ingly in­vin­ci­ble bas­tions of power such as for­mer se­cu­rity czar Zhou Yongkang and paralysing bu­reau­crats across the na­tion with fear.

The cam­paign has dis­ci­plined hun­dreds of thou­sands of mem­bers and, in the process, il­lu­mi­nated the uni­ver­sal­ity and se­ri­ous­ness of the cor­rup­tion of power within the party, a rev­e­la­tion that has “se­ri­ously weak­ened the foun­da­tions of the party’s rule and its abil­ity to govern”, ac­cord­ing to an edi­to­rial on a party jour­nal’s web­site.

Crit­ics say the drive has been used for in­ter­nal fac­tion-fight­ing and, in the ab­sence of sys­temic re­forms, does not tackle the root causes of graft.

Mr Xi has de­scribed the party as a “magic weapon” that can be used to im­ple­ment re­forms nec­es­sary to achieve his goal of the “Great Re­ju­ve­na­tion” of the Chi­nese na­tion, an idea that he fre­quently de­scribes as the “Chi­nese dream”.

For Mr Xi, im­prov­ing party dis­ci­pline means more than sim­ply re­duc­ing cadres’ bad be­hav­iour.

“He has been very am­bi­tious in grab­bing power, in ar­ro­gat­ing pow­ers to him­self,” said Willy Lam, a China ex­pert at the Chi­nese Univer­sity of Hong Kong.

The “ma­jor mo­ti­va­tion” of any new rules passed dur­ing the plenum will be to “con­sol­i­date Mr Xi’s po­si­tion as the big boss”, he said.

Sev­eral mea­sures have al­ready been in­tro­duced to make sure party mem­bers toe Mr Xi’s line, he added, in­clud­ing pro­hi­bi­tions against of­fi­cials mak­ing “ground­less crit­i­cism”.

The meet­ing comes as spec­u­la­tion mounts that Mr Xi could look to stay on in power af­ter 2022, when he would nor­mally be ex­pected to step down af­ter two terms in of­fice. –

Photo: AFP

Xi Jin­ping has taken con­trol of the levers of power.

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