10/23/2012, 00.00
CHINA
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Communist Party to amend constitution, leaving out Mao (for now)

Outgoing President Hu Jintao chairs politburo to set out proposal for reform at 18th party congress, which will mark the rise of the Communist Party's 'fifth generation' of leaders. Discussion papers do not mention the Great Helmsman. Security measures are tightened in Beijing, turning the capital in an armed camp for the duration of the congress.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - As security measures get tighter in the Chinese capital ahead of the upcoming 18th Communist Party congress, outgoing leaders are preparing amendments to the party constitution.  Proposals were discussed at a Politburo meeting chaired by the Communist Party general secretary, Hu Jintao. They did not include any reference to Mao Zedong's thoughts, and national media have not said what will be amended.

After a long preparation, the Communist Party of China (CPC) will open its congress on 8 November. Leaders from the party's 'fifth generation' will be elected, marking the end of the ten-year rule of President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

In addition to Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, who are slated to become the next president and prime minister respectively, the congress will also name the new Standing Committee of the Politburo, which will include seven members rather than usual nine.

Official Chinese newspapers like the People's Daily and the China Daily as well as other major papers have carried a report from the Xinhua news agency, announcing that some "important theories" would be included into the party constitution.

"While highlighting several guiding tenets of party doctrines by President Hu Jintao, Jiang Zemin and Deng Xiaoping, one key term missing from the Xinhua report was 'Mao Zedong thought'," wrote Hong Kong's South China Morning Post.

"The 18th National Congress of CPC is being held to showcase China's potential and problems to the entire Party and the people, as well as conduct a frank discussion with the world," reported the Global Times, the English edition of the People's Daily. "The world has a lot of questions for China" and the "18th National Congress needs to reply to all these questions."

However, for Hong Kong-based political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu, not much should be read in Mao's absence.

"The Communist Party stresses much on inheritance of traditions," Lau said. "If it is allowed to take out Mao's thoughts just because there are some doubts, then one day, people may call for taking out the ideas of Deng and Jiang."

Since 1982, every party congress has introduced changes to its constitution. This was the case during Hu's and Wen's tenure.

The authorities are preparing the congress with its usual repressive hand. Beijing has been turned into an armed camp. For the 2,000 delegates expected, the city is enforcing a zero tolerance policy towards unlicensed taxis, gambling, prostitution and bicycle theft.

Police are checking migrant workers, the engine of the local economy, who in the recent past have been taking increasingly to the streets to protest against the authorities for their inhumane living conditions.

For Zhou Yongkang, a Politburo member who oversees China's security forces, authorities around the country should safeguard the congress's security.

"We must soberly realise that various factors exist which can lead to disharmony, insecurity and instability, bringing many risks and challenges for the security work of the Party congress," Zhou explained.

Hubei province, the authorities have heeded the warning and ordered its 60,000 police to cancel holidays from 20 October to 20 November to "fight a tough war" ahead the party congress.

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