CCP Central Committee begins to etch Xi’s name in history

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Police are seen near what is believed to be the venue for a plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing on Monday morning.

BEIJING — The 19th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party started its sixth plenary session Monday behind closed doors in Beijing.

The committee is expected to adopt on Thursday, the final day of the session, a resolution on the party’s 100 years of history titled “the resolution on the major achievements and historical experience of the Party’s 100 years of endeavors.” Chinese President and CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping, who is seeking to launch a third term in office at next year’s CCP national congress, is making strategic moves to strengthen his authority.

Resolutions related to history carry heavy weight within the party. In the past, only national founder Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, who promoted polices of reform and opening up, have led the adoption of such resolutions.

By leading the resolution, only two of which have been compiled in the past, Xi has been given the authority to sum up the party’s history, granting him even more prestige as the party leader.

The current plenary session will be the first since October last year to discuss the party’s key policies and personnel affairs. Held behind closed doors, it will be attended by the seven members of the party’s Politburo Standing Committee — China’s highest-ranking leadership team, of which Xi is a member — as well as members of the Politburo, ministers and top local leaders. On the final day, the results of the discussions will be announced through the state-run Xinhua News Agency and other media.

Vehicles were restricted Monday morning in the vicinity of the Jingxi Hotel guesthouse in central Beijing, which is believed to be the venue of the session. More than 20 police vehicles were deployed and officers kept an eye on passersby.

‘Core figure’

“On the new journey, Xi is undoubtedly the core figure in charting the course of history,” Xinhua said about Xi in an article released Saturday. It referred to poverty eradication and anti-corruption campaigns and the Belt and Road Initiative as examples of his achievements.

Xinhua also emphasized Xi’s leadership, saying he has dealt with trade tensions between China and the United States and been personally involved in regular patrols in the waters off the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.

After the new resolution is adopted, a propaganda campaign is expected to begin to position Xi as a leader following Mao and Deng.

Shifting personnel

The sixth plenary session will serve as a platform for Xi’s third term in office, which he is expected to launch, in a break with custom, at the 20th party national congress slated for next year. The party is also expected to begin reshuffling its top officials after the session.

The Hong Kong daily Ming Pao quoted a source as saying that Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang and Guangdong Party Secretary Li Xi, both close aides to Xi, will be transferred to Beijing after the plenary session.

Xi intends to put staunch supporters in key posts such as the premiership in the next CCP leadership. There is speculation within the party that by appointing Li Qiang and others to such crucial posts as vice premier, Xi is seeking to help them develop a track record.

Not according to plan

In 2016’s sixth plenary session during his first term in office, Xi was given special status as the “core” leader. He has since solidified his system of individual dominance based on that authority. In addition to adopting a history resolution at the current session, Xi is expected to demonstrate his intention to lead an extended regime by touting a long-term policy goal of “common prosperity,” aimed at enriching the entire population after the eradication of poverty.

However, not everything may go as hoped. A clampdown on private enterprises, the acceleration of decarbonization and the tightening of regulations on cram schools for elementary and junior high school students — all policies on which Xi is said to have taken the initiative — have led to turmoil in corporate activities and many unemployed people.

The U.S.-led coalition against China has grown stronger in response to Xi’s hard-line stance toward Taiwan, creating domestic troubles and external threats.

A Chinese government official said “some in the party and the government are skeptical” about Xi’s new policies. Some senior party members who are still influential despite their retirement are said to be concerned about the excessive concentration of power in Xi.