What to know about the Chinese Communist Party plenum

A Chinese Communist Party badge is seen at a market in Beijing.
A Chinese Communist Party badge is seen at a market in Beijing. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - The Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is holding its annual leadership meeting from Monday till Thursday  (Oct 24-27).

While plenums are usually predictable affairs, there is higher interest this year as it signals the start of preparations for the 19th Party Congress where there will be key leadership changes.

Here's a quick look at the plenum:

What is CCP plenum?

The plenum is an annual four-day closed-door gathering of the 376-member Central Committee.  The current plenum is the sixth session  and is one of the seven plenums held in each of its five-year terms.  The sixth plenum traditionally puts up a shortlist of the new Central Committee, which will be finalised at the seventh plenum that takes place days before a party congress. 

What's the expected outcome?

The meeting will focus on the issue of party discipline, according to Xinhua news agency. A  key outcome could be a revised code of conduct for party cadres, targeting even those at the apex Politburo Standing Committee (PSC).

 
 

Analysts say the revision, along with updates to another regulation on intra-party supervision, is being made as part of President Xi Jinping's bid to deepen his power base ahead of the 19th Party Congress late next year, where China will form a new leadership team.

Xinhua said the focus will be on the political conduct of senior cadres, including those in the Central Committee, the 25-member Politburo and the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee (PSC). 

Why is this plenum of special interest?

Political watchers are keeping tab on this plenum as it could offer clues on the strength of top leaders in securing plum roles for their allies. Five out of the seven PSC members - except President Xi Jinping, 63 and Premier Li Keqiang, 61 - and a third of the Politburo are expected to retire next year due to the unofficial age limit of 68.  But there has been talk that Mr Xi is seeking to extend the tenure of disciplinary chief Wang Qishan, despite the latter turning 68 this July.

Analysts are also watching for signs that Mr Xi will be seeking to extend his own 10-year term, due to end in 2022. Some say to succeed, Mr Xi will have to use the sixth plenum to prepare an agenda for the 19th Party Congress that is in line with his wishes.