October 17, 2017
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Nikkei Asian Review, 17 October 2017 Read original story here 

BEIJING — The Chinese Communist Party will amend its constitution to include the political thought and philosophy of President Xi Jinping in a move that further strengthens his hold on power.

A proposal to make the changes was endorsed at the seventh plenary meeting of the CCP’s 18th Central Committee, which ended on Saturday, paving the way for formal approval at the party’s national congress starting on Wednesday.

Xi is also set to put forward a new national vision at opening of the congress, according to party sources, in an apparent bid to cement his status alongside former leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

Plenary sessions serve as a forum for some 200 members and other leaders to discuss items to present to the party’s national congress — which is convened twice a decade.

The latest session was held behind closed doors at a Beijing hotel under the direct management of the military.

The meeting also saw the committee authorize for Sun Zhengcai, the former party chief of Chongqing, and 11 other leaders to be stripped of their membership.

Liu Yunshan, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, explained the proposal for amendments to the party constitution to the Central Committee, who agreed to carry out a series of plans Xi mentioned during speeches on new ideas, thoughts and strategies from his book, “The Governance of China.”

At its core, Xi’s concept sets out “four comprehensives” for the complete achievement of a moderately prosperous society by 2020 through reforms, the rule of law and strict party discipline — a broad idea that includes combating corruption and poverty. And Xi Jinping Thought prioritizes “five in one” construction, or integrated development of politics, culture, society and environmental protection in addition to the economy.

The general provision of the party constitution contains Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory. The ideas of Xi’s more recent predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao are also included, but their names are not part of the titles of their contributions. Adding Xi’s thought to the constitution with his name would put him on a par with the founder of the People’s Republic and the man who set it on the path to economic growth.

Visitors pose for a photo in front of a picture of the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in Shenzhen in 2014. © Reuters

The Central Committee stressed that the party would lose touch with the population — and, moreover, its ability to lead — without the central party organization’s authority and leadership, according to the communique.

The entire party must fall into line with the central organization with Xi as its core, the committee said, revealing an intention to further concentrate power in Xi’s hands.

The committee had nothing but praise for the party leadership during Xi’s first term, stating that historic achievements had been made during an unprecedented five years of development.

Referring to stable economic growth, an anti-poverty campaign and military reforms believed to be the largest since the country’s foundation, the committee pointed out that the leadership had managed to solve numerous problems that had plagued the country for many years, as well as push ahead with historic reforms of both the state and the party.

On the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which has led the anti-corruption campaign many see as Xi’s biggest achievement, the committee said the agency had purified the political atmosphere in the party and created an overwhelming force to battle graft.

During the weeklong national congress, the highest decision-making body within the CCP will choose new members for itself and other party organs while also adopting amendments to party rules.

Xi is expected to unveil a new national vision that will extend to the middle of the century. In doing so, the Chinese president aims to mark the start of a new era in which he leads the country’s rise to one of the great world powers.

This shift marks the end of the era of Deng Xiaoping, who laid the foundations for economic growth in the 1970s and 1980s.

Soon after becoming party chief in the autumn of 2012, Xi set out the “Chinese Dream.” He talked of ending the nation’s history of humiliation, dating from defeat in the Opium War in the 1840s, and China reclaiming its place at the world’s top table. His new vision will detail what the realized dream is like.

When Deng opened up the country in 1978, the economy was in ruins after a decade of upheaval under Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Saddened by the poverty in the country, Deng made economic growth the top priority and sought to build a “moderately prosperous society.”

Forty years on, the prosperity of many in Beijing and Shanghai goes well beyond “moderate” and many live in previously unimaginable luxury.

But Xi understands that calling for an end to poverty through economic growth no longer resonates. By presenting a national vision that also talks of culture and the environment, he may be laying the groundwork to stay in power beyond the customary 10-year period.

Much of what will happen come Wednesday remains unclear, but one thing is certain — the current leader is determined to etch his name into the country’s history alongside Mao and Deng.

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