Chinese media hints top leaders at Beidaihe conclave

BEIJING • Chinese state media has given the first hint that an annual conclave of senior leaders is happening at the resort of Beidaihe, in a report saying the head of the organisation department had visited government workers holidaying there.

Traditionally, top party leaders visit the seaside town every summer on an unofficial retreat to discuss personnel moves and policy ideas behind closed doors.

President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have not appeared on the main evening news since the start of the month, when normally they are on almost daily, suggesting they may have been in Beidaihe.

In a short dispatch on Saturday evening, the official Xinhua news agency said Mr Chen Xi, who as head of the Organisation Department oversees the ruling Communist Party's personnel decisions, had been entrusted by Mr Xi to visit "vacationing experts" in Beidaihe. It said Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua had accompanied Mr Chen.

The retreat is often kept secret by the party. This year's meeting would be the first since Mr Xi cemented his power after presidential term limits were scrapped at the start of his second five-year term in March.

Since then he has faced an escalating trade war with the United States, development pains with his signature Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, and disquiet among sections of the political elite over the Communist Party's increasingly nationalistic rhetoric.

Sources with ties to the leadership and foreign diplomats have said the Beidaihe meeting was likely to happen in early August.

Mr Xi's next meeting with a visiting foreign leader is not expected until mid-August when he is due to have talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Beidaihe, about two hours east of Beijing by high-speed train, is steeped in party history, though sources with ties to the leadership say Mr Xi is not a fan of the place.

The founder of modern China, Chairman Mao Zedong, was particularly fond of it, and his calligraphy of a poem he composed there is displayed around town.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2018, with the headline 'Chinese media hints top leaders at Beidaihe conclave'. Print Edition | Subscribe