China’s Xi to consolidate power at key meeting
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. –
Xi Jinping has taken control of the levers of power.