China's Communist Party congress starts on Oct 18

China's President Xi Jinping at the ceremony to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the China's People's Liberation Army at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Aug 1, 2017.
China's President Xi Jinping at the ceremony to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the China's People's Liberation Army at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Aug 1, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • China's ruling Communist Party will hold a once-every- five-years congress starting on Oct 18, state media said yesterday, at which President Xi Jinping will look to further stamp his authority on the party.

Since taking office in late 2012, Mr Xi has rapidly consolidated power, including heading a group leading economic reform and appointing himself commander-in- chief of the military, though as head of the Central Military Commission, he already controls the armed forces.

A brief dispatch by the official Xinhua news agency following a meeting of the party's Politburo, one of its elite ruling bodies, did not say how long the congress will be. It will be preceded by a plenum, or smaller meeting, from Oct 11, which will formally "suggest" the congress opens on Oct 18, Xinhua said.

The congress will "deeply analyse the present international and domestic situation" and set an action plan and policy direction, it added.

Last October, the party gave Mr Xi the title of "core" leader, putting him on a par with past strongmen like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

This marked a significant strengthening of Mr Xi's position ahead of the party congress, at which a new Standing Committee, the pinnacle of power in China, will be unveiled.

Mr Xi has already been manoeuvring people close to him into important positions ahead of the congress, with an eye to possibly getting some of them into the Standing Committee. They include Mr Chen Min'er, party boss in the south-western metropolis of Chongqing, who was parachuted into the position in July.

Going by recent precedent, Mr Xi should step down at the 2022 congress after a decade at the top, but there is talk that he may try to stay on, perhaps giving up the post of president but remaining as party leader, the more senior of the posts.

At the congress, Mr Xi will also lay out his vision for the next five years and beyond, with a focus on areas like economic reform, military modernisation and the war on corruption.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2017, with the headline 'China's Communist Party congress starts on Oct 18'. Print Edition | Subscribe