Beijing (AsiaNews) - As planned and with the precision of a Swiss clock, Xinhua announced today that Vice President Xi Jinping and Deputy Prime Minister Li Keqiang were elected to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), setting the stage for their appointment as president and party general secretary in Xi's case and prime minister in Li's case.
Both had already been put forward for such posts three years ago, evidence that the CPC's internal democracy is quite hierarchical., this despite statements by outgoing President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in favour of greater democracy in both party and the country.
In the end, elections Chinese-style are very much top-down. The 2,270 party delegates were indeed called to choose 200 full members and 170 or so alternate members (with no voting rights). But a delegate from Gansu revealed that only 205 names were up for election in the first group, making it the outcome a foregone conclusion.
Yet, in his closing statement, President Hu Jintao said the congress had "replaced older leaders with younger ones" and made decisions of "far-reaching historical significance."
According to Xinhua, the only news organisation allowed to report on the closed-door meeting, Vice-Premier Wang Qishan was elected to the new Central Committee and to the new Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which he is expected to chair.
Other new central committee members include propaganda chief Liu Yunshan; Liu Yandong, perhaps the first woman in the politburo; party organisation chief Li Yuanchao; Guangdong party boss Wang Yang, considered a reformer, Tianjin party boss Zhang Gaoli, North Korea-educated Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang; and Shanghai party chief Yu Zhengsheng.
The new central committee is set to meet tomorrow to elect the 24-member politburo and its standing committee. It is unclear whether the latter will retain all nine seats or drop to seven.
In announcing results on Twitter and Sina Weibo, a Chinese language micro-blogging site, Xinhua played up the party's "internal democracy," but failed to say that Twitter is blocked in China.
Similarly, when interrogated, non-Chinese search engines come up with nothing when asked about the candidates.
The farcical nature of democracy, Chinese-style, is even more obvious when candidates are interviewed in front of foreign cameras and journalists, trying to explain how moved they were listening to Hu Jintao's address, in which he warns the party against the dangers of corruption.
Last but not least, Hu's notion of "scientific development" was incorporated into the constitution, along with Mao's thoughts, Deng Xiaoping's "modernisation," and Jiang Zemin's "Three Represents."