BEIJING • The strip lighting and plastic chairs of the Xinhua bookstore in Dongdaqiao Road do not invite people to linger, and the government-owned store in the basement of a mall was deserted on Monday afternoon.
Yet something momentous is on the "new arrivals" shelf: a book containing the first public and official declaration by President Xi Jinping of "political plot activities" by senior Communist Party officials "to wreck and split the party" - code words for a coup attempt, several Chinese analysts said.
They added that its release is a signal that the challenge is over, that the party has agreed on what happened and that Mr Xi wants people to know that he has overcome his adversaries.
The slim volume, titled Edited Excerpts From Discussions By Xi Jinping On Tightening Party Discipline And Rules, sells for 13.60 yuan (S$3).
As its title suggests, it is no political thriller. Rather, it is a sober collection of 200 extracts from more than 40 internal speeches and essays by Mr Xi from 2012, when he rose to power, to late last year, according to the publisher, the party's Central Documents Press.
And it is selling quite well, a store clerk said.
"Mostly people from groups and government organisations are buying it, not so much individuals," she said, adding that the book arrived on the shelves in mid-December.
The pertinent extract is from a speech by Mr Xi on Jan 13 last year to the fifth full meeting of the current Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, China's anti-corruption agency.
The Chinese news media carried scattered reports of the speech last year, but publication in book form by an authoritative press makes it a statement of what China wants the world to know, said Mr Liao Ran, a German-based employee of an anti-corruption non-governmental organisation, which he asked to be kept anonymous because he was discussing this politically sensitive issue as an individual.
The speech shows that Mr Xi believes he has vanquished his rivals, said Mr Liao. "When you look back on these past years, he has dealt with all these challenges, so he is super confident," he said.
In the speech, Mr Xi had said: "From cases investigated over the past few years that involved serious violations of party discipline and the law by senior cadres, especially those of Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai, Xu Caihou, Ling Jihua and Su Rong, it can be seen that the problem of damaging party political discipline and rules was very serious and merited serious attention."
The men Mr Xi named have been the subject of rumours in China of plots to unseat him: Zhou, the former security chief; Bo, former party secretary of Chongqing; Xu, an army general; and Ling, a right-hand man of former president Hu Jintao. Su, who was deputy head of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, was their associate.
All five have been disgraced since 2012, either imprisoned for corruption and abuse of power or faced with similar charges. Xu died last year of cancer.
"It was all very secret at the time," said Professor Ren Jianming of the School of Public Management at Beihang University. "And this is the first time they have officially published about it, so it is very important."
NEW YORK TIMES