China’s ruling Communist Party is expected to pass a binding regulation on how its policymaking bodies operate at a plenum later this month, a move that will further strengthen President Xi Jinping’s grip on power.
More than 300 Central Committee members will discuss and approve the regulation at the party’s annual political meeting to be held in Beijing in the last week of October. The committee is in charge of party affairs and passes major party decisions when it meets at least once a year.
A draft of the regulation published by state media on Monday gives more details of the scope Xi has as general secretary of the party than previous documents. It also covers how the party’s top decision-making bodies operate – the 25-member Politburo and the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee.
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Deng Yuwen, a former deputy editor of Study Times, a newspaper affiliated with the party’s top academy, said the regulation gives Xi more control.
“This regulation has more details of how the Central Committee should work than the Communist Party’s constitution,” Deng said. “It further elevates the status [of Xi] above other Politburo Standing Committee members as the general secretary is more like a convenor under the constitution.”
According to the draft, meetings of the three bodies – the Central Committee, Politburo and Politburo Standing Committee – can be called if more than half of their members are present.
And the general secretary has exclusive power to set the meeting agendas of the Politburo and its Standing Committee. Under the constitution, the general secretary only has the power to convene Politburo and Politburo Standing Committee meetings.
There is little publicly available information about how the party’s top organs operate or how they vote. Former general secretary Jiang Zemin once revealed that the Politburo Standing Committee made decisions based on majority votes and that he had one vote as its leader. As such, members have been kept at an odd number in the past decades.
While the draft regulation fills in some blanks and more clearly defines the power of the general secretary, the quorums are the same as those for meetings of lower-level party committees that were set and made public in 2016.
“This is part of Xi’s long-term project to make specific and binding regulations on almost every issue, and his personal power is always embedded in them,” Deng said.
“The party used to work in ambiguous ways and almost every organ or department has its own internal rules, but Xi obviously is not satisfied with that,” he added.
In recent years the party has rolled out regulations that set binding requirements for its cadres across the board. While the regulations set out specific rules for internal voting, meetings and the distribution of work – most of which were not made public before – they also seek to strengthen political loyalty to the party’s leadership.
A regulation passed last year on party groups working within ministries and provincial governments requires all members to “resolutely safeguard” Xi’s status as the core of the party’s leadership.
Meanwhile, regulations on disciplinary action passed in 2015 and amended in 2018 prohibit “groundless criticism of the party’s decisions and policies”.
A framework for Beijing’s next five-year economic and social development plan will also be passed at the plenum, along with a longer term national development blueprint called the “2035 vision”.
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This article Xi Jinping to tighten grip on power with new rules for top policymaking bodies first appeared on South China Morning Post