Xi Jinping is set to further consolidate his power as the ruling Communist Party’s key Congress beginning tomorrow will confirm his second five-year term and amend the party’s Constitution to ensure the legacy of the Chinese president’s thoughts and ideas.
A new central leadership will be elected at the end of the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), party spokesman Tuo Zhen said in a media briefing here today.
After the plenary session, members of the new Standing Committee of the Politburo of the CPC Central Committee will meet Chinese and foreign journalists, Tuo said, confirming a major leadership transition at the once-in-a-five-year conference of the party.
Currently, the seven-member Standing Committee of the Politburo, which literally governs the country, is headed by Xi, 64, who besides being the general secretary of the party is also the president and head of the military.
The other six members are Premier Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli.
Barring Xi and Li, who are expected to get the endorsement for a second term as per the convention followed by the party since 2002 providing a two five-year tenure for top leaders, the members of the Standing Committee were expected to be replaced with new generation leaders.
However, all eyes are on Xi’s 69-year-old confidant Wang Qishan, who headed the massive anti-corruption campaign, as speculation is rife whether he would be retained disregarding party’s long-standing convention fixing 68 years as the retirement age for its top leaders.
In a carefully choreographed press conference, telecast live all over the country, Tuo was cautious not to divulge any details about the election of leaders, saying the media has to wait till October 24, the last day of the Congress.
Tuo said the ratio of the multi-candidate election of the 19th Central Committee will be decided by the election methods adopted by the Congress presidium through voting.
Xi presided over the preparatory meeting at the Great Hall of the People which was attended by 2,307 party delegates and specially invited delegates picked from the party units from all over the country including Tibet.
The Congress will begin with work report presented by Xi, outlining the accomplishments of the party in the past five years since he assumed the leadership from his predecessor Hu Jintao.
All eyes are on Xi whether he will follow another widely followed convention of the party to groom a successor.
While the Congress is expected to further reinforce the power base of Xi, who has already been named by the party as a “core leader” like party founder Mao Zedong and his successor Deng Xiaoping, observers say it is to be seen whether he will break the convention and pave the way for his third term.
Seasoned CPC observers say that Xi may be proclaimed as the ‘Chairman’ of the party, a title carried by Mao, either during the Congress or in the next few years to ensure his perpetuity in power.
Tuo said the agenda of the party for the Congress include examining the work report about the progress achieved during the past five years, scrutinising report of the discipline inspection relating to the massive anti-corruption carried out in which over 1.34 million party officials especially some top ranking leaders were punished.
The meeting will also deliberate and adopt an amendment to the party’s Constitution, Tuo said.
The new amendment is expected to carry Xi’s thoughts on the party’s ideology and governance to leave his lasting legacy over the 89 million-member party which is in power since 1949, the longest by any Communist party in the world.
Tuo said “the amendment must fully represent the latest sinification of Marxism, as well as new governance concepts, thoughts and strategies proposed by the CPC Central Committee with Xi at its core as well as new experiences in adhering to and strengthening party leadership and in strict party governance.”
“If Xi’s thought or theory is added to the party’s constitution with his name, it will put him at par with late leaders Mao and Deng the only two other communist leaders to have their names attached to a doctrine in the document,” Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
But Xi’s contribution is expected to be different. Observers expect to see a major shift in direction on the economy, foreign affairs and ideology and a new tack on power distribution within the party away from the course charted under Deng and continued with former presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu, the report said.
In his press conference, Tuo said the Congress will map out overall reform measures including the political reforms, but will not follow any foreign model.
China will not copy and replicate the models of other countries in political system reform, he said.
“Our unique cultural traditions, unique historic experience and unique national conditions determine that we must pursue a path of development suited to our own features,” he said defending the one-party system.