News analysis

Revised CCP rules aimed at boosting Xi Jinping's powers

Self-declaration requirement gives Chinese President potential tool to keep rivals out of leadership reshuffle: Experts

Revisions to two internal party regulations are aimed more at strengthening President Xi Jinping's hand in forming a new leadership team next year, say observers, who question how effective the changes are in curbing graft and instilling discipline in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The full text of the rules - a code of political conduct "under new conditions" and a regulation on intra-party supervision - were released yesterday.

For instance, a new self-declaration requirement under the internal supervision rules gives Mr Xi a potential tool to keep rivals out of the leadership reshuffle at the 19th Party Congress next year.

It states that the Politburo's 25 members, seven of whom also sit in the apex Politburo Standing Committee, must prevent their spouses, children and their children's spouses from operating businesses and holding jobs illegally for financial gains.

Hong Kong-based political observer Joseph Cheng said these leaders would also likely have to declare whether their family members are living abroad permanently. Senior cadres are barred from doing so.

 

"This requirement is a potential weapon at Xi's disposal that could hold implications for the new leadership line-up next year," he told The Straits Times.

The revisions were passed last Thursday at the end of an annual meeting of the CCP's Central Committee, which also named Mr Xi as the party's "core" leader.

The status means that Mr Xi's authority cannot be questioned and places him on the same pedestal as late strongmen Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping and former president Jiang Zemin.

The supervision regulation also boosts Mr Xi's authority by institutionalising his signature campaigns launched after taking power in late 2012, observers added.

These include an eight-point austerity campaign, a disciplinary inspection drive and Maoist-era self-criticism sessions.

The Central Committee must complete a nationwide inspection drive by the end of its five-year term and the Politburo must hold self-criticism sessions every year.

Some analysts noted that the revision also boosted the power of disciplinary chief Wang Qishan, who is seen as one of Mr Xi's closest allies.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the discipline watchdog that Mr Wang heads, reportedly has sole authority to interpret the rules - and in turn decide who has violated them.

Previously, such judgments were reached only after deliberations by the CCDI and other party organs.

Anti-corruption expert Ren Jianming questioned the effectiveness of some key revisions, such as a clause in the code on political conduct that says senior cadres are not allowed to interfere in personnel deployment matters in places where they previously lived or at their former workplaces.

"But the truth is that personnel appointment is still largely determined by the superiors and the most effective remedy is to implement open selection," Professor Ren of the Beihang University told The Straits Times.

Also, the rule requiring whistleblowers who report alleged misconduct by Politburo members to reveal their real name might yield nothing, he noted.

"The reality is that no one would dare to whistleblow against the top leaders," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2016, with the headline 'Revised CCP rules aimed at boosting Xi's power'. Print Edition | Subscribe