11/08/2021, 12.21
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6th Chinese Communist Party Plenum set to cement Xi Jinping's power

by Li Qiang

Approval of the CCP's third "historic resolution" is expected. The document will exalt the future of the country under Xi's leadership and could criticize the excesses of Deng Xiaoping's openings. The regime's internal balance remains unclear; a key clue will be Premier Li Keqiang's replacement.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The 6th Plenum of the 19th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) opened today in the capital. The closed-door meeting, which will conclude on November 11, is set to cement the power of Xi Jinping, the nation's president and general secretary of the Party.

The highlight of the meeting will be the approval of a "historic resolution" that will review the achievements of the CCP in its 100 years and provide elements to outline the future direction of the regime. This is the third such document since the Party's founding. The first, in 1945, strengthened Mao Zedong's power. With the 1981 document, Deng Xiaoping condemned the excesses of the Cultural Revolution and launched market reforms.

On the eve of the Plenum, China's state media celebrated Xi Jinping's "successes," especially the elimination of extreme poverty in the country - an assertion disputed by many observers - and the ferrying of China towards modernity.

According to several analysts, since taking office in 2012 Xi has achieved a status that only Mao had in the past. But this has alarmed much of the international community, which is concerned about internal repression in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. Xi's China is also more active and aggressive in foreign policy, with growing hostility toward Taiwan and territorial claims in the South and East China Seas.

The result is that Joe Biden's U.S. has room to try to create a united "anti-Chinese" front with allies and partners. Washington's objective is to contain Beijing's potential military threat and counter its trade practices, considered contrary to international rules.

Commentators are divided on what the actual content of the third resolution on the history of the CCP will be. Some argue that it will be less important than previous ones, focusing more on future prospects under Xi's leadership.

Others expect the current supreme leader to give Deng the same treatment that the "little helmsman" had for Mao; in this scenario, the final document approved by the Plenum would include criticism of the excesses of the "reforms and openings" sought by Deng.

However, the most important aspect of the current Plenum is the Party's balance of power ahead of next year's Congress.

With the abolition in 2018 of the two-term presidential limit, Xi is set to rule until at least 2027. He has never designated a successor: the current vice president, the powerful Wang Qishan, is 73 years old and reportedly at odds with his boss. Wang would be part of that wing of the Party that does not tolerate the government controls imposed in the last year on the private sector (especially hi-tech giants) and the "common prosperity" invoked by Xi.

An indirect clue as to the real weight of Xi and his supporters in the Party could be given by the choice of the future prime minister, on paper the regime's number two. The indication of a figure belonging to Premier Li Keqiang's faction (the Communist Youth) would signal that Xi had to come to terms with his opponents in order to perpetuate his power.     

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