Brief #125: Seventh Plenum of the 19th Central Committee
The Central Committee concluded its seventh plenary session (October 9-12) on Wednesday. All in all, the outcomes of the seventh plenary session point to a third term for Xi and the further consolidation of his ideology.
At the plenary session, the Central Committee decided that the 20th Party Congress would convene in Beijing on October 16. Since the 15th Party Congress in 1992, the duration of each Party congress has been seven days. Hence, the upcoming one should conclude on October 22.
The big day is October 23, when the next (20th) Central Committee will convene its first plenary session to select the new Politburo and its standing committee.
Documents for the Party Congress
At the seventh plenary session, the Central Committee deliberated and adopted three documents to be submitted for consideration by the upcoming Party Congress:
- the report of the 19th Central Committee;
- the work report of the 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection; and
- the proposed amended constitution of the Communist Party of China.
All three are standard documents to be presented at Party congresses. The first will be delivered by Xi Jinping on behalf of the Central Committee, reviewing the Party's work over the last five years. This evaluation will be highly positive (indeed, triumphant) as portended by the communiqué of the seventh plenary session:
The five years since the 19th Party Congress have been extremely unusual and extraordinary...[The Party] has effectively dealt with the severe and complex international situation and the resultant enormous risks and challenges...[The Party] has overcome many long-standing, hitherto unresolved difficulties and has made major achievements with long-term implications. [All of this have] driven the palpable, significant advance in the cause of the Party and the State.
The report of the 19th Central Committee to the Congress is a critical document because, in addition to offering an evaluation of the last term, it will also highlight policy priorities for the next term. Since Xi will likely stay for a third term, we should read this report as the Party leadership's programme for the next five years.
The purpose of the second document is to report to the Party Congress the work of the Party's internal discipline watchdog. At the plenary session, the Central Committee characterised the Party's anti-corruption work over the last five years as an "overwhelming victory and full consolidation" (压倒性胜利并全面巩固).
The third document, the proposed amendments to the Party constitution, is also standard. In the past, the Party's new theories, concepts, and priorities are written into the Party constitution through amendments.
In this case, we don't yet know what these amendments are. Possible new language, such as the "New Development Concept", may be added. Another possibility is the further lionising of Xi through the shortening of his unwieldy long banner term ("Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era") to "Xi Jinping Thought" in the constitution. Yet another possible addition is the "Two Establishes" (两个确立), that is, the need to establish Xi as the core and his thought as the Party's guiding ideology.
By Adam Ni