Just days before 19th National Congress (NC) of the Communist Party of China (CPC), two decisions by the outgoing central committee are likely to chart the party’s course over the next five years. Both decisions were taken on the last day of the central committee’s meeting — an amendment to the CPC constitution to include President Xi Jinping’s thoughts and strategy on governance and the expulsion of 12 senior party officials on charges of corruption.
Xi will be the third leader to be included by name in the CPC constitution after ‘Mao Zedong Thought’ and ‘Deng Xiaoping Theory’. Former presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao also included their political philosophies in the constitution — ‘Thought of Three Represents’ and ‘The Scientific Outlook on Development’, but without being named.
The amendment was approved on the last day of the 18th CPC Central Committee plenary that closed Saturday along with the expulsion of 12 CPC leaders including Sun Zhengcai, former secretary of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee — a powerful party post. The remaining 11 party leaders were all elected to the central committee in 2012, including three alternate members.
Sun is the second party secretary from Chongqing — one of China’s four directly controlled municipalities — to face the axe after Bo Xilai was expelled from the party. Sun was replaced in July this year by Chen Min’er, a rising star in CPC. Before this, Chen was party secretary of Guizhou province, from where Xi was elected as a delegate for the 19th NC.
The National Congress, which begins Wednesday, will elect a new CPC leadership for the next five years, including the central committee, the politburo and the politburo standing committee.
A statement released by the 18th central committee stated that the amendment must include the “key theories and strategic thought”. “The amended constitution must fully represent the latest sinicization of Marxism, new governance concepts, thoughts and strategies of the Central Committee since the 18th NC, as well as new experience in adhering to and strengthening Party leadership and in strict Party governance,” it said.
Lu Keli, Professor at Renmin University, Beijing, said Xi’s ideas would be incorporated into the party’s constitution. “President Xi is rebuilding the party in many aspects, particularly through the four-pronged comprehensive strategy. His ideas will be incorporated into the party’s constitution at the 19th NC,” he said.
According to a CPC historian, who preferred anonymity, there was no “formal” name to Xi’s strategies other than ‘the four-pronged comprehensive strategy’. “The NC will decide the manner in which his thoughts will be included. Over the years, there have been various names like ‘Xiism’ or ‘Jinpingism’, but nothing is certain yet,” the source said.
Xi’s four-pronged strategy comprises ‘the building of a moderately prosperous society’, which is also a goal to be completed before CPC celebrates its centenary in 2021, ‘upholding the rule of law’, ‘enforcing party discipline’ and ‘deepening reform’.
And in enforcing party discipline, China’s campaign against the corrupt has intensified exponentially since Xi was elected General Secretary. Official data released recently shows that more than 70,000 senior officials have been investigated for suspected corruption. According to China’s top anti-graft body, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), 1.34 million township-level and 648,000 Party members and officials in rural areas have were also punished.