08/08/2014, 00.00
CHINA
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Xi Jinping travels to Beidaihe resort to convince party leaders to support him

The annual meeting with senior Communist Party at a luxury resort on the East China Sea will enable the president to close ranks and see how long his fight against corruption will last. For experts and analysts, "Business leaders are losing patience" and "The party is getting increasingly plagued by distrust." It will be a fight to the finish.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The traditional summer meeting of the leaders of the Communist Party at a luxury resort in Beidaihe will test President Xi Jinping's authority to lead the country and pursue his sweeping anti-corruption campaign.

Many China analysts and policy experts agree. In their view, the secretary general's harsh statements about the "absolute necessity" to eliminate graft even at the risk of one's life is clarion call against powerful groups within the Communist Party of China itself.

The meeting, which takes place every year and lasts for several days, gives high-level Communist officials an opportunity to meet in an unofficial atmosphere to outline strategies and alliances for the coming year.

In 2013, the meeting in Beidaihe - a luxury seaside resort in Hebei on the East China Sea - was used to warn the Communist Party that China "could go the way of the Soviet Union" and to launch a harsh campaign against freedom of speech.

Before this year's meeting, some state media reported Xi Jinping's harsh words in a closed-door meeting with members of the Politburo, i.e. China's ruling oligarchy.

The "two armies of corruption and anti-corruption are in [. . .] a stalemate," the president said. For this reason, the anti-graft campaign must go to the very end. To achieve this, Xi said he would disregard "life, death and reputation".

Still, for Renmin University political science professor Zhang Ming, the situation was complicated. "I think the announcement [last week of the formal investigation into former security chief] Zhou Yongkang suggested that Xi did not want to discuss the case at the meeting, but move forward on other possible major corruption cases and issues," he said. "At the centre is what kind of rule of law the leaders want."

The investigation into Zhou has already led to the fall of members of his inner circle. A business associate of what was once China's "most powerful" politician was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. And some 30 more people connected with Zhou, including mid-level politicians and business people, are on trial.

Jonathan Holslag, research fellow at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies, said Xi's biggest challenge was that he was becoming isolated.

"Business leaders are losing patience with his economic policies. The military complains about being stripped of some of its privileges. The party is getting increasingly plagued by distrust and the public is starting to feel that the easy times are over."

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