China’s ruling Communist Party today began its key four-day meet here amid speculation that it may amend an over three decades-long rule on collective leadership to strengthen the powers of President Xi Jinping who is being projected as a strong leader like party founder Mao Zedong.
The sixth plenary meeting, from October 24-27, is being attended by roughly 370 full-time and alternate members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
The meeting of the plenum would discuss all major issues regarding strict party governance and documents on intra-party supervision and political life within the party, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Media has been kept out of the meeting being held at a hotel here under heavy security.
The CPC Central Committee Political Bureau headed by Xi which took over power in November will submit a work report to the meeting.
The plenary comes also as a run up to the next year’s party congress during which five of the seven members of CPC Standing Committee headed by Xi which virtually rules the country would be replaced if the party rule of 68 years retirement age is not amended for their continuation.
This will leave only Xi and Li who will be continued till 2022 under the norm that top leaders will get a 10-year tenure.
But according to reports, the Politburo meeting of the CPC in July this year proposed to amend the 1980 rule of collective leadership to empower Xi, 63, who now controls the party, military and the presidency further and pave the way for his continuation in power beyond 2022.
The 1980 rule laid out an elaborate code of conduct for the party leadership, including setting a 10-year tenure for top leaders.
The plenum is an important chance for Xi to bolster his authority ahead of the party congress next year, Hong Kong- based South China Morning Post reported.
Ahead of today’s meeting, Peoples’ Tribune, which is affiliated with party’s official organ People’s Daily, said that China needs a leader like Mao and Xi “fits the bill”.
The article, published on October 18, called for Xi to be named “the core” of the party leadership — a term that carries strong political meaning.
The Tribune said that modern China needed a strongman leader and that President Xi had the qualities to make one.
China needed a strongman politician so the nation could again rise to greatness amid a time of strategic challenges and risks, it said.
Xi, as party general secretary, was widely regarded by officials and the public as such a leader, it added. Also ahead of the today’s meeting Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), released a trove of statistics on anti-graft, saying that 1.01 million officials have been investigated for graft from 2013 to last month in the drive launched by Xi.
Experts said China’s anti-corruption campaign is a political accomplishment for the Party and is key to maintaining the Party’s leadership, state-run Global Times reported.
Eight corrupt officials at ministerial level or above were sentenced 20 days ahead of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) sixth plenary session, it said.
The corruption drive to clean up the party and the military won Xi public praise but also effectively helped him to weed out his opponents from different factions.
The head of the CCDI, Wang Wang Qishan, regarded as a close aide of Xi and one of the Standing Committee member is set to retire as he turned 68 this year.
The statistics from the Ministry of Public Security said that 409 fugitives were apprehended overseas during operation ‘Fox Hunt’ in 2016, 15 of whom were on the list of the 100 most-wanted.
More corrupt officials are attempting to transfer assets abroad before fleeing, and ‘Fox Hunt’ is a way to arrest that trend, part of a larger campaign codenamed ‘Sky Net’ that combines government, Party, law enforcement agencies, the central bank and diplomatic services, Xinhua reported.
“The anti-corruption campaign is a major political accomplishment for the Party since the 18th CPC Central Committee. It will continue to pile on the pressure as there are still hidden corrupt officials and some Chinese people aren’t satisfied with the campaign,” Zhi Zhenfeng, associate research fellow at the Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.
Earlier Xi said, “(Winning) the people’s support is the top political priority.”
The anti-corruption drive has boosted people’s faith in and support for the Party, and that people speak highly of the anti-corruption drive, he had said.