Communist Party plenary to further cement Xi’s grip on power

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping, the uncontested leader of the world’s most populous nation, heads a pivotal plenary of the ruling party’s top figures next week that will set the tone for his bid for long-term rule.

From Monday to Thursday, some 400 members of the Communist Party’s all-powerful Central Committee gather in Beijing behind closed doors.

The only such meeting this year paves the way to its 20th party congress next autumn — at which Xi is widely expected to be handed a third term in office, cementing his position as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.

At next week’s plenary, top figures will debate a key resolution celebrating the party’s main achievements in its 100 years of existence, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Analysts say the resolution, only the third of its kind in the party’s history, will help Xi shore up his grip on power by setting in stone his vision for China, ahead of the crucial 2022 party congress.

Like all meetings of Beijing’s secretive top leadership, the event will be held behind closed doors, and most key decisions are made well in advance.

– ‘Natural inheritor’ –

The content has not yet been published in full but the timing of the resolution is key — as was the case with the previous two resolutions.

The first, passed under Mao in 1945, helped him cement his authority over the Communist Party four years before it seized power.

The second, adopted under Deng Xiaoping in 1981, saw the regime adopt economic reforms and recognise the “mistakes” of Mao’s ways.

Unlike the previous two, Xi’s resolution will not mark a break with the past, Harvard University’s Anthony Saich told AFP.

“Rather, it is intended to show that Xi is the natural inheritor of a process since the founding of the party that qualifies him to lead in the ‘new era’,” said Saich, an expert on Chinese politics.

“The purpose is to consolidate Xi as the natural inheritor of the ‘glorious history’ of the CCP,” he added, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.

Saich also said the resolution is likely to mark a step back from Deng’s text in that it will be less critical of the Mao era from 1949 to 1976.

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