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CPC appoints officials close to Xi ahead of key party Congress

China's ruling Communist Party today appointed party officials close to President Xi Jinping, who is expected to get the party's endorsement for a second term, as the CPC concluded a key meeting to finalise preparations for next week’s once-in-a-five-year Congress.

CPC appoints officials close to Xi ahead of key party Congress
X
Chinese President Xi Jinping

Beijing

The four-day Seventh Plenary Session of the outgoing 18th Central Committee of the CPC concluded today, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

President Xi, who is also the General Secretary of the party, delivered a work report at the meeting.

The Congress will be convened from October 18 here.

The Congress is expected to further strengthen Xi's hold on power by stacking the Politburo and its Standing Committee – the top decision-making bodies – with his loyalists and having his political theory enshrined in the party charter, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

The meeting also endorsed an amendment draft to the party constitution to be submitted to the Congress. The amendment is widely expected to see Xi's political theory added to the party’s ever-expanding "guiding ideology", the Post reported.

Observers are watching to see whether Xi's theory will be named after him, meaning he would follow in the footsteps of "Mao Zedong Thought" and "Deng Xiaoping Theory", it said.

The Congress will "implement the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping's series of important speeches and new concepts, new thinking and new strategies on the governance of the country", according to a communique released today.

The plenum has also ratified the Politburo's earlier decisions to expel 12 disgraced Central Committee members from the party, put two others on probation and remove another from his post.

The expelled officials include Sun Zhengcai, former high-flying Chongqing party chief and the Politburo member.

The expelled full members were replaced by 11 alternate members, including Jiangsu party chief Li Qiang.

Li, 58, was Xi's top aide during his time in Zhejiang and is seen as a front runner for promotion to the 25-member strong Politburo at the Congress, which will mark the start of Xi's second term, the Post reported.

It will also see Xi strengthen his grip on power after a first term that saw the downfall of more full and alternate members of the Central Committee than ever before, it said.

Zhu Lijia, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the large number of seats to be filled was unprecedented.

"In the past, when the anti-corruption drive was less severe, there were far fewer Central Committee members being brought down. So usually just two or three members had to be replaced at plenums – it was never on this scale," he told the Post.

The meeting also discussed the draft work report of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), headed by Xi’s close aide Wang Qishan, 69, who carried out a massive anti-corruption drive against some of the top leaders of the previous administration like security czar Zhou Yongkong and top Generals of the military.

Besides massive purges of Zhou and his men down the ranks, the recent CCDI report said over 1.34 million officials were punished in the anti-graft campaign. That included over 40 top Generals and 13,000 personnel of the various ranks.

The 89-million-strong CPC which ruled the country since 1949, the longest party in power, has a constitutional structure but much of its leadership structure is based on conventions like two five-year terms for the top leaders and 68 as their retirement age.

Since the convention was evolved in 2002, all the leaders including the Xi’s predecessors Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao followed it as an unwritten rule and retired.

Another widely followed convention is the identification of a successor in the second term.

While the next week’s Congress is expected to further reinforce power base of Xi, who has already been named by the party as a "core leader" like founder Chairman Mao and his successor Deng Xiaoping speculation is rife whether he will break the convention and pave the way for his third term.

A total of 2,287 delegates elect the new CPC Central Committee and new CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection during the Congress. 

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