Chinese Communist Party holds key meet to lay out economic roadmap

Paramilitary police march during a flag-lowering ceremony at Tiananmen Square, as security is increased on the eve of an important Communist Party Congress in Beijing. -- PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Paramilitary police march during a flag-lowering ceremony at Tiananmen Square, as security is increased on the eve of an important Communist Party Congress in Beijing. -- PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BEIJING -- After months of anticipation or hype, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will convene a crucial meeting today that is set to produce an economic roadmap for the next decade.

The four-day meeting, which is known as the Third Plenum of the CCP's 18th Central Committee, will start with an opening address by President Xi Jinping, who is also the party's general secretary.

Held in Beijing, the plenum will end on Tuesday with a document that may not contain specific policy tweaks but will sum up the new leadership's directions on key social and economic issues.

The focus is on scaling back the state’s role, trimming state monopolies, further liberalising of the renminbi currency, beefing up anti-graft efforts, enhancing environmental protection, and speeding up agricultural land reforms.

Stakes are high for Mr Xi who has impressed many as a stronger leader than his predecessors. He has also of late promised “comprehensive deepening of reforms” and compared this event to the watershed Third Plenum in 1978 that facilitated late strongman Deng Xiaoping's re-emergence and China’s historic reforms and opening up.

Said Renmin University analyst Zhang Ming: “The plenum will reveal once and for all if Xi is as strong a leader as he has appeared to be in the past year.”

The CCP holds national congresses every five years. In between, its Central Committee, comprising 205 full members and 171 alternate ones, holds seven plenums or plenary sessions to discuss personnel and policy matters, with the third focusing on economic matters.

The meeting is held amid heavy security and behind closed doors at the Jingxi Hotel in western Beijing. Delegates are reportedly kept from leaving the venue to prevent leaks and interference. The proceedings will not be reported on till the last day, with foreign media and most Chinese reporters not given access.

kianbeng@sph.com.sg