China party congress to pick next leadership set for Oct 16

Chinese President Xi Jinping is widely expected to secure a precedent-breaking third leadership term at the upcoming congress. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - The ruling Communist Party of China will hold a twice- in-a decade congress beginning on Oct 16, state media announced on Tuesday (Aug 30). 

Chinese President Xi Jinping is widely expected to seek an unprecedented third term during the meeting. 

The decision on the dates of the congress were made following a Politburo meeting in Beijing on Tuesday, said the official Xinhua news agency. 

“The meeting emphasised that the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is a very important conference held at a critical moment when the whole party and the people of all ethnic groups are embarking on a new journey to build a modern socialist country in an all-round way and marching toward the goal of the second century of struggle,” the statement said. 

It added that to meet the “new expectations of the people”, the Congress will formulate a programme of major action and policies, “strengthen historical confidence, strengthen historical initiative, maintain integrity, innovate, and move forward bravely” while continuing to stick to the Party’s core values. 

Typically lasting a week, the congress will see over 2,000 party members gather at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to pick their next leaders for the next five years.

Most meetings are likely to take place behind closed doors, with decisions having been made months in advance. 

After removing presidential term limits in 2018, Mr Xi is likely to seek a third term in office during October’s meeting. 

It is also an opportunity for the leader to reshuffle leadership positions, adding fresh blood to the Politburo Standing Committee, the top seven most important positions in the country. 

National People’s Congress Chairman Li Zhanshu and Vice Premier Han Zheng are expected to retire under succession norms having reached the upper age limit. 

Premier Li Keqiang, while young enough to still remain in the Number Two position in the elite circle, he has said earlier this year that he would leave his post after the term ends. 

Widely expected to be promoted is Shanghai Party Chief Li Qiang. 

The 62-year-old is one of Mr Xi’s most trusted proteges whose fate briefly hung in the balance after the financial hub saw an explosion in Covid-19 cases, leading to a bruising two-month lockdown that has severely dented the economy and people’s morale. 

The party chiefs of Shanghai have traditionally fared much better than their peers in Beijing in the race to the top.

Since the Communist Party of China took power in 1949, eight of Shanghai’s 17 party secretaries, excluding Mr Li, have been promoted to the Standing Committee.

The country’s crown jewel has also produced two party general-secretaries: Mr Xi and Mr Jiang Zemin.

In contrast, only two of Beijing’s 12 party secretaries, excluding current chief Cai Qi, have made it to having a seat at the pinnacle of power.

The last time both Beijing and Shanghai party secretaries were promoted to the Standing Committee was at the 16th party congress in 2002.

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