Chinese president Xi Jinping is primed to consolidate his already considerable power as the ruling Communist Party begins its twice-a-decade national congress tomorrow.
From meetings largely cloaked in secrecy, powerful players will emerge publicly in new roles, and Mr Xi will address the nation to lay out his political and economic vision for the world’s second-largest economy over the next five years. Villages will broadcast news of the congress over loudspeakers, a security crackdown has been extended and monitoring of dissidents strengthened.
Mr Xi, who is expected to get a second five-year term as party leader at the gathering, will kick off events with an address indicating whether his personal political theory will be entered into the party constitution alongside those of predecessors such as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
The honour was bestowed much later in office for other leaders. Such a proclamation, at this time, would broadcast that Mr Xi, already China’s most powerful leader in decades, will continue to dominate Chinese politics for the next five years, and possibly more, with virtually no domestic opposition.
Party congress spokesman Guo Zheng on Tuesday said the party would continue structural reforms but ruled out any adoption of a multi-party democratic system. “Political structural reform is not something that can be achieved overnight. “China will not blindly copy or replicate the models of other countries,” Mr Guo told reporters at a news conference to discuss the congress’ agenda.
Mr Xi, in his speech, is also expected to recommit the party to achieving the goals of a “moderately well-off society” by 2021, the 100th anniversary of the party’s founding, and even greater national power and prosperity by 2049, the centenary of the founding of the Communist state.
Those achievements will depend on continued economic growth and the lifting of millions out of poverty, alongside the continued rapid expansion of Chinese military and political power, including its growing ability to dominate the Asia-Pacific region.
The meeting’s immediate results, however, will be personnel appointments, rumors about which have swirled for months. China is run by the party’s Politburo Standing Committee, currently a seven-member body led by Mr Xi, with premier Li Keqiang his number two.
Its size and composition have varied greatly over the years, although membership is generally restricted to the heads of state and party, the premier, the leader of the rubber-stamp parliament and officials in charge of propaganda, party discipline and other key sectors.
While Mr Xi and Mr Li are expected to stay, the fates of others are determined by loosely defined precedents governing retirement age.
Four are expected to depart, while the status of party discipline boss and close Xi ally Wang Qishan appears to be in flux.