The Communist Party of China Congress explained

The Communist Party of China Congress explained

The National Congress of the Communist Party of China meets on October 16, during this period Thousands of delegates From every province in the country he will go to Beijing for the most important appointment in Chinese political life. during the conference The leaders who will lead the party are chosen – and thus the country, too – for the next five years.

However, the 20th Congress, to be held in October, promises to be on a different scale compared to all those past 30 years since the CCP has been called upon to make historic decisions: First of all, it is virtually certain that it will affirm Xi. Jinping (Party Secretary and President of the People’s Republic of China) for a third term, contrary to all the practices that have been carried out in recent decades regarding the rotation of state leaders.

Since China is a dictatorship, in the absence of a general election, the CPC Congress is the only mechanism in place to allow the country’s leadership to be replaced. Although it is not the only party present in China (there are others but they are abbreviated to satellite formations and in fact irrelevant), Art. 1 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic entrusts only the Communist Party of China with the institutional role of the country’s political guide.

Thus, in practice, party officials occupy the highest institutional positions in the country. For example, in post-Maoist China, the tradition of combining the position of party general secretary and president of the republic gradually took hold: whoever is elected to lead the CPC during the congress is automatically nominated for the presidency. The People’s Republic of China, an office elected every 5 years belongs to the Chinese Parliament controlled by the CPC itself.

The position of general secretary has been held since 2012 by Xi Jinping (who has also been president of China since 2013), and in theory should leave this year, because political conventions and practices within the party have been limited for nearly thirty years. The number of states. Two of five years each. But except for exciting surprises, Xi will be renewed for a third term, and this will open a new and uncertain phase in Chinese politics.

2017 conference (Kevin Frayer / Getty Images)

How does Congress work?
As in the West with elections, Congress is the most important moment in the life of the party, which today counts even more. 96.71 million members All over China. Its mechanics are not very simple and you have to make a little effort to follow the thread.

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About 2,300 members, drawn from local branches of the Communist Party of China and from party organizations, will participate and will be responsible for selecting nearly 200 members of the Central Committee, which makes up the party’s core. In turn, the Central Committee has a key role in appointing the executive leadership. The most important election is the Politburo election, consisting of 25 members from whom the most important officials will then be selected to form the Politburo Standing Committee (now with seven members), i.e. the restricted executive body to which he belongs. The Secretary-General and through him the Communist Party of China rules China.

clearly It is not a question of free elections Nominations for all of these collegiate bodies are negotiated in advance and behind closed doors among party leaders. In essence, the votes of the Congress and the Central Committee are limited to Approve choices already made Giving the new leadership the political legitimacy of al-Qaeda.

third period
However, the 20th Congress will not be just a renewal of the CPC’s leadership. In fact, there is a unanimous opinion among observers is what President Xi Jinping intends break with regulations and rewriting the system of government that has led China in recent decades.

Since his election as general secretary in 2012, Xi has implemented a radical centralization of power by personally assuming more and more party and government posts. It is a clear break with the system of power constraints that took hold in post-Maoist China, where the architect Deng Xiaoping intended to re-establish the institutions of the People’s Republic to prevent a recurrence of Mao Zedong’s abuses. One of Deng’s most important restrictions was the custom that no Chinese leader could rule for more than 10 years: a maximum of two terms as general secretary, concurrent with the two terms of president stipulated in the constitution.

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Xi Jinping in 2017 (Lintao Zhang / Getty Images)

Already at the last congress, in 2017, it was possible to guess that Xi and the Party had collectively decided to overcome the habit of deputies. Usually when a new Secretary-General is elected, he is chosen from the leadership elected at the previous conference. Therefore, a potential successor to Xi (whose 10-year term expires in 2022) should have been accepted into the standing committee as early as 2017. However, none of the profiles that appeared at the last conference fit the candidate number for the new secretary-general. And this lack of a clear successor has been interpreted as the first indication that Xi could have stayed in office 10 years later.

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In March 2018, another signal in this sense arrived, when the Chinese parliament amended the constitution to abolish the two-term limit as president.

What has happened in China in recent years suggests that Xi, the most powerful leader since Mao, will remain in power. It will be the first thing to notice What address will you adopt? To the Twentieth Congress, which may seem to be an irrelevant question but in the communist tradition it is not.

Xi could retain the title of party general secretary, in violation of the bilateral mandate agreement, while leaving the party structure as is, or he could recognize the CPC as party chief, which was abolished in the 1980s: this would be a fundamental reform of Chinese governance since Chinese rule. The party presidency, as opposed to the office of the general secretary which is included in the Standing Committee, is a higher, non-collective position focused on maximum decision-making power in a single person. In fact, this was the title Mao Zedong used.

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The second point to consider would be The new composition of the political bureau In particular, the Standing Committee. Some of the current seven members of the committee are over sixty-eight years old traditional border After that, CPC members retire, and they must be replaced by new leaders. The profile of politicians joining the standing committee for the first time will say a lot about the new leadership’s orientation, particularly on the basis of their party experiences and personal relationships. Profiles who had close ties to Xi in the past will be noted.

The third point is related to Possible successor. This is a very complex issue. Although Xi Jinping would likely remain in power, in theory he could also appoint a potential successor who would replace him in 5 or 10 years. It’s a very remote possibility, because within days of the start of Congress, there are no concrete clues about who this person could be. So it is likely that there will not yet be a designated person to succeed Xi over the next decade. As explained by Filippo Fasolo, an ISPI analyst interviewed for Simone Pieranni’s newsletter, identifying a possible successor It would by itself impose an implicit limit on Xi’s power This appears to contradict the centralization implemented by the Secretary-General in the past ten years.

The National Convention, however, is, far from positions, the moment when the party meets and expresses its judgments about the work of the past five years and formalizes the political lines drawn by the leadership. From economic slowdown to “zero COVID” strategy, from domestic propaganda to the cause of Taiwan unification, members of the 20th Congress led by Xi Jinping will give a new direction to Chinese politics.

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So if there is a fourth point to consider, and it relates to political priorities Which will emerge from the report of the past five years issued by the Secretary-General. expected Announcements and suggestions for important fixes.

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