The political process surrounding the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will last over a year, from January 2022 until March 2023. At that date Xi Jinping is expected to be returned as president, in addition to the posts gained at the congress itself – General Secretary of the CCP and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC).
Although the congress formally ‘elects’ members of the new Central Committee (CC), the reality is that adherents of Xi have already been placed in party positions which account for the bulk of CC membership. Xi will have decided who is to join him in the Politburo and its Standing Committee. Only at the edges does the congress have a very small amount of discretion. It will not affect Xi’s move to strengthen his power for a third term in office.
Xi’s report to the congress is one of the most important documents produced by the CCP. Ideological matters take up almost a third of its length and infuse the whole. The report will set the outlines of policy – but not the detail – for the next five years under twelve headings. There is much ‘cutting and pasting’ from past congresses, which is hardly surprising given an overall continuity of policy as the CCP moves towards its long-term goals.
It is often overlooked that a major part of a congress is devoted to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). The body delivers a report and a new CCDI is ‘elected’. Party building and strengthening of discipline (‘self-revolution’ in current parlance) have been a notable feature of Xi’s 10 years in office. It will remain a top priority.
The congress will also amend the CCP constitution, the party’s most important document. The most likely amendment will be to add simplicity and weight to Xi’s contribution to the Marxist liturgy, so that ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ and Xi himself are positioned as high as ‘Mao Zedong Thought’ and its originator. But there will be many other additions and changes, which will give evidence of what Xi intends for his next five years in power.
This Explainer has limited its speculation on change or continuity in personnel and policy. These will emerge in less than a month’s time, when a follow-up Explainer will consider what the congress will have revealed about the future direction of Xi’s People’s Republic of China (PRC) – and it will be Xi’s PRC.
The overall purpose of the Party Congress
The report [of the general secretary] is a crystallisation of the wisdom of the whole party and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups. It is a political declaration and a program of action for the party to unite the Chinese people and lead them in upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. It is a guiding Marxist document.1‘中共中央报告决议全文’ [‘Full text of resolution on CPC Central Committee report’], [中国日报] [China Daily], 24/10/2017, https://bit.ly/3CEb0fS (checked: 07/11/2022). These words repeat those of the resolution at the 2012 Party Congress.
While it is true that the Party Congress report is a most important document and guides the CCP for the next five years, there is much more to the week-long proceedings. Political ritual, process and theatre play a role in all societies. They are symbolic and help to inspire awe. The 20th Party Congress will reaffirm the right of the CCP to rule – and the rightness of its rule.
A Party Congress is by definition a party occasion. It seeks to boost CCP morale, to strengthen its members’ resolve for the struggle (‘struggle’ has been much emphasised of late) ahead, and to remind officials of the need for discipline.
And for Xi, there is an added purpose for this Party Congress: it will confirm his continuation in power, as General Secretary of the CCP and Chairman of the CMC. It will also confirm ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ as ‘21st century Marxism’, the greatest development of Marxist theory.
Three formal roles of a Party Congress
The Party Congress has three main responsibilities:
- To ‘elect’ the members of the CC, both full members and alternates (who attend CC meetings, but do not vote). There are just over 200 of the former, and just over 170 of the latter. The congress also ‘elects’ the members of the CCDI, who number just over 130;
- To discuss, amend and pass reports. There are two: by the general secretary and by the CCDI; and,
- To revise the CCP (not state) constitution.
At the end of the congress delegates will pass three resolutions endorsing: the general secretary’s report, the CCDI report, and the amendments made to the CCP constitution.
Of all CCP documents, the Party Constitution is the most important. It takes precedence over and informs the constitution of the PRC. It is the ultimate guide to policy and the behaviour and standards expected of CCP members. Therefore amendments to it are the result of deep consideration and are the ultimate basis of all policy and action.
As will become evident from the detail below, it is important to state that the Party Congress does not truly elect or decide. Decisions on personnel, policy and presentation have been settled well in advance – and Xi has been in firm control throughout. The Party Congress is not haute cuisine, but reheating in the microwave.
Box 1: Chronology of the Party Congress and renewal
January 2022 – Two committees are formed to oversee personnel issues and the drafting of the general secretary’s report to the Party Congress.
January to September 2022 – Politburo and Politburo Standing Committee meetings check progress, direction and drafts of reports and resolutions.
9th October 2022 – Commencement of the 7th Plenum, the last formal meeting of the 19th CC. In 2017 it lasted four days. It sets up and approves the proceedings of the Party Congress and expels members of the CC guilty of infringing party discipline.
c. 16th to 23rd October 2022 – Party Congress itself, usually lasting seven days. The draft report is issued on day one, but the final version is not published until after it has been approved by the CC and the congress has ended.
c. 25th October 2022 – 1st plenum of the 20th CC ‘elects’ the members of the Politburo, which ‘elects’ the members of the Politburo Standing Committee; also chosen are the CC secretariat, CMC, and the CCDI Standing Committee.
February 2023 – 2nd plenum of the 20th CC draws up nominees for state positions for the National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and proposes draft decisions for ratification at the NPC.
March 2023 – NPC held. Xi will be confirmed as president. The PRC constitution is likely to be altered to reflect the changes made to the CCP constitution at the Party Congress.2The process after the 19th Party Congress differed from the 18th with the holding of two, rather than one, plenary sessions before the NPC. The first decided on changes to the PRC constitution for ratification at the NPC, the other ordained state posts. Xi might repeat this.
Personnel matters – and matters too much to entrust the congress with such decisions
As so often with the CCP, there is a gap between rhetoric and reality. The 2,296 congress delegates may elect members of the CC in the sense that they cast votes, but they do not thereby choose them. Nor in electing the Politburo do the new CC members have a free hand, any more than Politburo members can ordain the membership of their Standing Committee.
In socialist elections with Chinese characteristics candidates are chosen and vetted by the CCP. But at the top level of the CC, the Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee, Xi exercises control, with advice from top leaders. For the 19th Party Congress in 2017, Xi abandoned experiments of the previous two congresses: in 2007 the top 400 cadres where polled for recommendations for the Politburo, and in 2012 for its Standing Committee as well. Instead, Xi consulted 57 current and retired cadres, while other top leaders listened to an additional 258 ministerial ranking officials and generals. The CMC consulted 32 senior military officers on People’s Liberation Army (PLA) candidates for Politburo membership.3‘领航新时代的坚强领导集体——党的新一届中央领导机构产生纪实’, [‘A Strong Leading Group Leading the New Era – Documentary of the Party’s New Central Leading Body’], 新华社 [Xinhua], 26/10/2017, https://bit.ly/3RCzzhD (checked: 07/11/2022). The CCDI also plays an important role: it extensively vets all delegates to the congress (usually, to be elected to the CC, a candidate must be a delegate. But there have been exceptions such as Ding Xuexiang, Xi’s close aide, in 2017, who became an alternate member).4William Zheng, ‘Countdown to China’s Communist Party Congress enters final stages with release of delegate list’, South China Morning Post, 26/09/2022, https://bit.ly/3V6SR1H (checked: 07/11/2022).
It is important to treat the full members of the CC as different from the alternates. This difference goes beyond the fact that alternates have no votes in the CC. Most of the places as full members are ex officio and therefore knowable in advance. Of the 205 slots available, perhaps all but a dozen or fewer are discretionary. Provincial party secretaries and governors number over 60, the military around 40. Most of the rest are taken up by heads of CCP departments; top ministers; top officials in the NPC, CPPCC, State Council, Supreme People’s Court, and Supreme People’s Procurate; and heads of top academies.
Alternate members number around 172. There is more variety here and membership is not dependent on post, although deputy heads predominate. Some are officials on the way up, some honoured elders, while others are heads of state owned enterprises, ethnic minorities, or distinguished scientists (Xi has promoted many scientists). While full CC members are listed according to the stroke index of their surname to emphasise communist equality (Xi, for example, comes in at eight in the current CC), alternate members are listed by the number of votes they receive. This is because whenever a full member dies or is removed from the CC, the alternate with the highest number of votes takes his or her place.
Another difference between the full and alternate members is their turnover at the latest congress. Many commentators talk about the likelihood of the turnover at the 20th Party Congress being unusually large. Since the early 1980s the range has been between 57-68%.5The outliers are 1987 at 68% and 1992 at 57%. All other congresses since 1982 fall in the range of 60-64%. But this figure is misleading. At the last congress, 85 out of 205 full members – or 41.5% – were new. By contrast, the figures for alternate members were 147 out of 172 – or 85.5%. What matters more than the numbers is whom Xi has promoted, and into what posts. And that process is already largely completed.
However, there is a small amount of room for discretion at the fringes. The CCP has a system of ‘cha’e’ (差额), which means that the number of candidates exceeds the number of posts by a set percentage. For lower level elections this is 15%, as it was for the voting to determine the delegates to this and earlier congresses. For full CC members the difference has been 19/205 (18th Party Congress) and 18/204 (19th Party Congress), around 8-9%. For the CCDI elections the difference has been 11/130 (18th Party Congress) and 11/133 (19th Party Congress), so similarly around 8%. The figures are higher for the alternate members at 19/171 (18th) and 17/172 (19th), or 10-11%.
It is worth noting that in itself the CC is not that important. Like insects which once a year meet, mate and die, it too meets annually, ratifies and disperses. But in themselves and in their posts the individual full members are important. Over the last few years Xi has ensured that these positions of power have been filled by men (they are almost all men) whom he trusts. This is the source of his control, and the 20th CC will reflect its increase.
The general secretary’s report, ideology, and policy
Xi’s report to the 20th Party Congress will set out the guiding principles of ideology and policy. It is the grandfather of generations of documents to come out over the next five years. It sets the overarching tone of his rule.
Unsurprisingly, great care is taken in its drafting, revision and final production, a process which lasts nine months. Xinhua has yet to reveal the details for this congress, but for the 19th the drafting committee was led by Xi and three members of the Politburo Standing Committee. On a day-to-day basis the work was led by the head of the Central Party History Research Institute, the deputy director of the Office of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, an agricultural and rural development policy veteran, the Deputy Director of the Central Organisation Department, and the Deputy Director of the Central Policy Research Office.6Choi Chi-yuk, ‘5 men, 10 months and 1 long speech: the cadres behind Xi Jinping’s marathon address’, South China Morning Post, 29/11/2017, https://bit.ly/3yksCes (checked: 07/11/2022). The same is likely to hold true this year.
Much of the report will be ‘cut and paste’ from earlier reports. There is a set lay-out. 12 topics feature in the same order (social development and the people’s well-being was added in 2007, and the environment in 2012). Additionally, a 13th topic is added at the first solo congress of the new leader to allow him to add his contribution to the canon of ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’.7At the 17th Party Congress Hu Jintao added the Scientific Outlook on Development; at the 19th Party Congress Xi introduced ‘Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era’. The reports are roughly the same length. The exception is Xi’s first congress when he had sole charge. Never a man enamoured of brevity, Xi increased output by 12% over the 28,000 characters of his predecessors (see Appendix 1 for a breakdown of each report’s sections and character count from the 16th-19th Party Congresses).8Counted by the author.
In CCP documents order matters. Ideology is the first subject covered in the report. The first three sections of the 19th Party Congress report, over a third of the whole, are devoted largely to ideology. It is not just that Marxist-Leninism is the foundation of the party. The overarching ideology of the CCP has real effects on the ground. Xi made much about the ‘new principal contradiction’. To outsiders it might seem eccentric of Chinese Marxism to lay such great importance on the difference between the principal contradiction in the era of Deng Xiaoping, former Paramount Leader of the PRC, ‘the ever-growing material and cultural needs of the people versus backward social production’, and the new contradiction under Xi of ‘unbalanced and inadequate development versus the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life.’9For an explanation of the change in the principal contradiction, see: ‘Full Episode: 19th CPC National Congress: The New Principal Contradiction’, China Global Television Network, 28/02/2019, https://bit.ly/3CeBDqn (checked: 07/11/2022).
But, apart from being a central part of Chinese communist dialectic, this move represented an important message for CCP officials. Their top priority was no longer growth in gross domestic product tout simple but improving the people’s quality of life. It meant that policy would emphasise ‘common prosperity’; reducing inequality; alleviating poverty; and giving greater weight to improving rural life and agricultural production. And so it has proved over the last five years, even if performance has not always matched intention.
Because the Party Congress is concerned with ideology and its overarching and guiding role for policy, it is unlikely that detailed policies will emerge, for example on the economy, Covid-19, Taiwan, military doctrine, foreign affairs, or other topics covered in the sections of the report. Policies come out in the Five Year Plans, ‘opinions’ are put out by the CC and State Council at important meetings such as the December Central Economic Work Conference, or in statements from commissions, leading small groups, or departments such as the Taiwan Affairs Office.
Nevertheless, what we can do is look for new emphases. In the 2012 report, corruption was clearly a hot topic. In 2017, Xi put more emphasis on social inequality, poverty and rural matters. In 2022 expect to see the appearance of themes dear to Xi’s heart, such as ‘common prosperity’, national security, the Global Security Initiative and Global Development Initiative (proxies for confrontation with the United States over global governance),10Chris Cash, ‘What is China’s Global Security Initiative?’, The Council on Geostrategy, 29/09/2022, https://bit.ly/3RInSWC (checked: 07/11/2022). and the environment, amongst others.
Party building – corruption and discipline
We should remember that this is a Party Congress. It is as much about the CCP looking inwards at itself as it is about the party looking outwards at its governance. The section on party building is always long and weighty. It is about its rejuvenation, strengthening ideology, morale boosting, but also about discipline and corruption. In the last five years since the 19th Party Congress Xi has introduced a stream of regulations and campaigns to strengthen the CCP’s role and discipline.
Outsiders often overlook the CCDI at a Party Congress. But the commission’s report and the election of its new members are important elements of proceedings, even more so under Xi, who extended its reach by setting up the coterminous National Supervision Commission. All government officials, not just CCP members, come under its inspection.11The civil service has in effect been swallowed by the CCP. See: ‘建设高素质人民公仆队伍 锻造新时代治国理政中坚力量’ [‘Build a team of high-quality public servants to forge the backbone of state governance in the new era’], 人民日报 [People’s Daily], 30/09/2022, https://bit.ly/3CfUd1x (checked: 07/11/2022).
Party discipline is likely to feature prominently at the 20th Party Congress. In December 2012, shortly after the 18th Party Congress, the CCP issued the ‘8 point decision’, an attempt to curb officials’ tendency towards bureaucratism, formalism (failure to implement), as well as the use of public funds for private purposes (the injunction against reducing the duration and word count of reports is honoured in the breach by Xi himself).12‘中共中央政治局召开会议 习近平主持’ [‘The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee held a meeting chaired by Xi Jinping’], 人民日报 [People’s Daily], 05/12/2012, https://bit.ly/3M8PuTX (checked: 07/11/2022). The past two years have seen an increasing number of references to the ‘8 point decision’. Indeed, the Politburo considered a report on revisions to the decision on 9th September in preparation for the congress, and commented that ‘The eight-point decision must be adhered to on a long-term basis.’13‘中共中央政治局召开会议，审议提交十九届七中全会讨论的文件’ [‘Political Bureau of CPC Central Committee convenes meeting, deliberates on documents to be submitted for discussion at seventh plenary session of 19th CPC Central Committee’], 新华社 [Xinhua], 09/10/2022, https://bit.ly/3V2kfxX (checked: 07/11/2022). Given the worsening economic situation and greater hardship faced by Chinese citizens,14George Magnus, ‘The Chinese economy: Troubled times ahead’, The Council on Geostrategy, 05/11/2022, https://bit.ly/3eaSAdn (checked: 07/11/2022). tighter observance of the decision is necessary to prevent alienation from the masses. The CCDI is largely seen by outsiders as a body working against corruption, but far more cadres have been punished for disciplinary offences than for corruption. Increasingly, the CCDI pursues ideological failures or laxity. In Xi’s PRC such acts equate to disloyalty to the core of the CCP, which is Xi.
Amendment of the constitution
Of all CCP documents, the Party constitution is the most important. It takes precedence over and informs the constitution of the PRC. It is the ultimate guide to policy and the behaviour and standards expected of CCP members. Therefore amendments to it are the result of deep consideration and are the ultimate basis of all policy and action.
In 2012, amendments to the CCP constitution were relatively modest. The Scientific Outlook on Development of Hu Jintao, the former General Secretary of the CCP, was formally introduced into the ideological canon. ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’ was written in, along with environmental progress, reform and opening, and party building.15‘关于修改中国共产党章程的决议全文’ [‘Full text of resolution on amendment to CPC Constitution’], [中国日报] [China Daily], 14/11/2012, https://bit.ly/3SJL7Ru (checked: 07/11/2022).
By contrast at the 19th Party Congress, additions were far more numerous and substantial. They covered not just ‘Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’, but also socialist culture, the new principal contradiction, strengthening CCP leadership of the PLA, the ‘decisive role of market forces in resource allocation and ensuring the government plays its role better’, national security, the Belt and Road Initiative, a very long section on party building and regulation, as well as many other areas.16‘关于修改中国共产党章程的决议全文’ [‘Full text of resolution on amendment to CPC Constitution’], 新华社 [Xinhua], 24/10/2017, https://bit.ly/3SFzE5J (checked: 07/11/2022).
Xi wishes to solidify the changes he has made to the PRC’s politics and society. It is likely therefore that amendments to the CCP constitution will be as extensive as in 2017.
Conclusion: What might the 20th Party Congress reveal?
An almost certain outcome is that Xi’s own position and authority will be strengthened. This has been extensively hinted at in CCP propaganda over the last year and more, not least by frequent reference to the ‘two establishes’.17See for example this report: 王晓红 [Wang Xiaohong], ‘公安部党委理论学习中心组学习习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想辅导报告会举行’ [‘The Theoretical Study Center Group of the Party Committee of the Ministry of Public Security held a report on the study of Xi Jinping’s new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics’], 法制日报 [Legal Daily], 23/09/2022, https://bit.ly/3ebjgL7 (checked: 07/11/2022). This concept is likely to be added to the CCP constitution in a development of the ubiquitously quoted canon of ‘4-4-2’. It may become ‘2-4-4-2’ (see Box 2), strengthening what is already a declaration of loyalty to Xi by CCP members so that it reads:
Deeply comprehend the decisive significance of the ‘two establishes’, enhance the ‘four consciousnesses’, firmly establish the ‘four self-confidences’ and achieve the ‘two upholds’.18‘We should remember that “public security is surnamed Party” and learn to be absolutely loyal. Deeply comprehend the decisive significance of the “two establishes”, enhance the “four consciousnesses”, firmly establish the “four self-confidences” and achieve the “two upholds”. ’ Ibid.
Box 1: ‘2-4-4-2’
- Comrade Xi Jinping as the core of the CC and the core of the entire party; and,
- The guiding status of ‘Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era’.
- Maintaining political integrity;
- Thinking in big picture terms;
- Upholding the core leadership; and,
- Aligning with the party.
4 Self-confidences in:
- The path;
- Party theories;
- Socialism with Chinese characteristics; and,
- Chinese culture.
- Xi Jinping’s core position on the CC and in the party as a whole; and,
- The party CC’s authority and its centralised, unified leadership.
While such changes will be much commented upon as underlining Xi’s accretion of power, they hardly constitute a surprise. There are seven centres of power in the PRC, and since 2012 Xi has moved to control them by appointing loyalists to them all, a process which will be pushed further at this congress: we can expect replacements on the Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee to be his adherents. Four of the other centres are already well controlled: the members of the CC, the CC Secretariat, the CMC and the CCDI Standing Committee. The last, the 2,851 county CCP secretaries, who actually implement policy, are work in progress.19It could be argued that to the seven centres of power listed above should be added the main CCP departments, in particular the Central Organisation Department (in charge of personnel), the General Department (in charge of party business under the Secretariat), and the Propaganda Department.
A further indication of the extent of Xi’s power will come from the fate of certain top officials. What might happen to Politburo Standing Committee members such as Li Keqiang, Premier of the PRC, and Wang Yang, Chairman of the CPPCC? Will so-called ‘age norms’ (staying on at the top level for those 67 or younger but retirement for those 68 or older) give way to power politics? The fate of other top leaders will also be instructive, either those who are known to be Xi adherents and may receive promotion or accelerated promotion, or those such as Hu Chunhua, the Chinese Vice-Premier, who are relatively young, but whose pasts do not link them closely to Xi. The likelihood is that the new line-up will be uncompromisingly ‘Xi-ist’.
There are other questions which will be answered in a few weeks. For example, will Xi change the size of the Politburo Standing Committee? Since 1982, it has numbered seven members for only half the time. A reduction to five might underline Xi’s consolidation of power. But the complexity of modern China might argue for continuing with seven. But nine members might also be possible if Xi wants to include candidates for his potential successor. The likelihood is that seven will remain the number and that Xi will not indicate a successor: for the moment he is concentrating on further consolidating his own power to ensure his lasting legacy. Sharing the limelight would be distracting for all.
The direction and changes which Xi seeks to implement in the PRC over the next five years will be evident from the amendments made to the constitution and from a comparison of the additions and differences to his 2017 report to the congress. A close study of the resolutions will repay the effort. It will also be interesting to see which topic Xi chooses to put first or to emphasise in his post-congress press conference. In 2012 it was corruption, presaging his ongoing war.
Much will become clear in less than a month. Policies will not emerge fully armed from the head of Xi, as Athene did from the head of Zeus. But the CCP’s priorities will become clearer and some changes of emphasis or direction will become apparent. Likely highlights will include 21st century Marxism and calls for political loyalty to ‘Xi-ism’ (and no schism); national security in its 16 forms; rural affairs and food security; the environment; a hardened stance on Taiwan, but nothing concrete on forceful ‘reunification’; homage to Xi’s thoughts on diplomacy, such as the Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative, his proxies for anti-Americanism; and of course much more on party building and discipline.
Given the difficult economic backdrop to the Party Congress, it is possible that the ‘problem page’ of Xi’s report – always interesting – could be longer than usual. But Xi has long advocated ‘positive energy’. At the risk of indulging in inappropriate and unsinicised religious liturgy, a congress is about ideology (the Credo), celebration (the Gloria), and not humility (the Agnus Dei).
Dona nobis pacem (Grant us peace).
Appendix 1: 16th-19th Party Congress Reports – breakdown of subject sections and character count20Counted by the author. The vagaries of Google’s counting mean that totals are not exact, but close.
|16th Party Congress||17th Party Congress||18th Party Congress||19th Party Congress|
|Date||8-14 November 2002||15-21 October 2007||8-14 November 2012||18-24 October 2017|
|Title and Introduction||Build a Well-off Society in an All-round Way and Create a New Situation in Building Socialism with Chinese Characteristics (414)||Hold High the Great Banner of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Strive for New Victories in Building a Moderately Prosperous Society in all respects (471)||Firmly March on the Path of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Strive to Complete the Building of a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects (423)||Secure a Decisive Victory in Building a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects and Strive for the Great Success of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era (454)|
|Past 5 Years||1. The Work of the Past Five Years and Basic Experience of 13 Years (4,321)||1. The Work of the Past Five Years (2,092)||1. Our Work in the past Five Years and the Basic Experience We have Gained in the Last Ten Years (3,957)||1. The Past Five Years: Our Work and Historic Change (4,987)|
|Ideological Foundations||2. Implement the Important Thought of the Three Represents in an All Round Way (3,526)||2. The Great Historical Course of Reform and Opening up (3,062)|
3. Thoroughly Apply the Scientific Outlook on Development (3,262)
|2. Achieving New Victory for Socialism with Chinese Characteristics (3,416)||2. The New Era: The Historic Mission of the Communist Party of China (2,354)|
3. The Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and the Basic Policy (4,193)
|Towards a ‘moderately prosperous society’||3. The Objectives of Building a Well-Off Society in an All-Round Way (1,452)||4. New Requirements for attaining the Goal of Building a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects (1,184)||3. The Goal of Completing the Building of a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects and Deepening Reform and Opening Up in an All-Round Way (1,409)||4. Securing a Decisive Victory in Building a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects and Embarking on a Journey to Fully Build a Modern Socialist China (1,163)|
|Economic Development||4. Economic Development and Restructuring (5,173)||5. Promoting Sound and Rapid Development of the National Economy (3,394)||4. Accelerating the Improvement of the Socialist Market Economy and the Change of the Growth Model (2,730)||5. Applying a New Vision of Development and Developing a Modernised Economy (2,801)|
|Political Development||5. Political Development and Restructuring (3,848)||6. Unswervingly Developing Socialist Democracy (2,844)||5. Keeping to the Path of Making Political Advance with Chinese Characteristics and Promoting Reform of the Political Structure (2,831)||6. Improving the System of Institutions through Which the People Run the Country and Developing Socialist Democracy (2,438)|
|Cultural Development||6. Cultural Development and Restructuring (2,193)||7. Promoting Vigorous Development and Prosperity of Socialist Culture (1,843)||6. Developing a Strong Socialist Culture in China (1,833)||7. Building Stronger Cultural Confidence and Helping Socialist Culture to Flourish (1,874)|
|Social Development||N/A||8. Accelerating Social Development with the Focus on Improving the People’s Livelihood (2,219)||7. Strengthening Social Development by Improving the People’s Wellbeing and Making Innovations in Management (2,493)||8. Growing Better at Ensuring and Improving People’s Wellbeing and Strengthening and Developing New Approaches to Social Governance (2,546)|
|Environment||N/A||N/A||8. Making Great Efforts to Promote Ecological Progress (1,350)||9. Speeding up Reform of the System for Developing an Ecological Civilization, and Building a Beautiful China (1,199)|
|PLA and Defence||7. National Defence and Army Building (758)||9. Opening up New Prospects for Modernisation of National Defence and the Armed Forces (928)||9. Accelerating the Modernisation of National Defence and the Armed Forces (1,006)||10. Staying Committed to the Chinese Path of Building Strong Armed Forces and Fully Advancing the Modernisation of National Defence and the Military (961)|
|Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan||8. ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and Complete National Reunification (1,233)||10. Carrying Forward the Practice of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and Advancing the Great Cause of Peaceful National Reunification (1,231)||10. Enriching the Practice of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and Advancing China’s Reunification (1,201)||11. Upholding ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and Moving toward National Reunification (1,106)|
|Foreign Relations||9. The International Situation and Our External Work (1,243)||11. Unswervingly Follow the Path of Peaceful Development (1,589)||11. Continuing to Promote the Noble Cause of Peace and Development of Mankind (1,461)||12. Following a Path of Peaceful Development and Working to Build a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind (1,440)|
|Party Building||10. Strengthen and Improve Party Building (4,234)||12. Comprehensively Carrying Forward the Great New Undertaking to Build the Party in a Spirit of Reform and Innovation (4,013)||12. Making Party Building More Scientific in All Respects (4,439)||13. Exercising Strict Governance over the Party and Improving the Party’s Ability to Govern and Lead (4,106)|
About the author
Charles Parton OBE is a James Cook Associate Fellow in Indo-Pacific Geopolitics at the Council on Geostrategy. He spent 22 years of his 37-year diplomatic career working in or on China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In his final posting he was seconded to the European Union’s Delegation in Beijing, where, as First Counsellor until late 2016, he focussed on Chinese politics and internal developments, and advised the European Union and its Member States on how China’s politics might affect their interests. In 2017, he was chosen as the Foreign Affairs Select Committee’s Special Adviser on China. He is currently a fellow at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS).
This publication should not be considered in any way to constitute advice. It is for knowledge and educational purposes only. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Council on Geostrategy or the views of its Advisory Council.
No. GPE10 | ISBN: 978-1-914441-29-5
- 1‘中共中央报告决议全文’ [‘Full text of resolution on CPC Central Committee report’], [中国日报] [China Daily], 24/10/2017, https://bit.ly/3CEb0fS (checked: 07/11/2022). These words repeat those of the resolution at the 2012 Party Congress.
- 2The process after the 19th Party Congress differed from the 18th with the holding of two, rather than one, plenary sessions before the NPC. The first decided on changes to the PRC constitution for ratification at the NPC, the other ordained state posts. Xi might repeat this.
- 3‘领航新时代的坚强领导集体——党的新一届中央领导机构产生纪实’, [‘A Strong Leading Group Leading the New Era – Documentary of the Party’s New Central Leading Body’], 新华社 [Xinhua], 26/10/2017, https://bit.ly/3RCzzhD (checked: 07/11/2022).
- 4William Zheng, ‘Countdown to China’s Communist Party Congress enters final stages with release of delegate list’, South China Morning Post, 26/09/2022, https://bit.ly/3V6SR1H (checked: 07/11/2022).
- 5The outliers are 1987 at 68% and 1992 at 57%. All other congresses since 1982 fall in the range of 60-64%.
- 6Choi Chi-yuk, ‘5 men, 10 months and 1 long speech: the cadres behind Xi Jinping’s marathon address’, South China Morning Post, 29/11/2017, https://bit.ly/3yksCes (checked: 07/11/2022).
- 7At the 17th Party Congress Hu Jintao added the Scientific Outlook on Development; at the 19th Party Congress Xi introduced ‘Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era’.
- 8Counted by the author.
- 9For an explanation of the change in the principal contradiction, see: ‘Full Episode: 19th CPC National Congress: The New Principal Contradiction’, China Global Television Network, 28/02/2019, https://bit.ly/3CeBDqn (checked: 07/11/2022).
- 10Chris Cash, ‘What is China’s Global Security Initiative?’, The Council on Geostrategy, 29/09/2022, https://bit.ly/3RInSWC (checked: 07/11/2022).
- 11The civil service has in effect been swallowed by the CCP. See: ‘建设高素质人民公仆队伍 锻造新时代治国理政中坚力量’ [‘Build a team of high-quality public servants to forge the backbone of state governance in the new era’], 人民日报 [People’s Daily], 30/09/2022, https://bit.ly/3CfUd1x (checked: 07/11/2022).
- 12‘中共中央政治局召开会议 习近平主持’ [‘The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee held a meeting chaired by Xi Jinping’], 人民日报 [People’s Daily], 05/12/2012, https://bit.ly/3M8PuTX (checked: 07/11/2022).
- 13‘中共中央政治局召开会议，审议提交十九届七中全会讨论的文件’ [‘Political Bureau of CPC Central Committee convenes meeting, deliberates on documents to be submitted for discussion at seventh plenary session of 19th CPC Central Committee’], 新华社 [Xinhua], 09/10/2022, https://bit.ly/3V2kfxX (checked: 07/11/2022).
- 14George Magnus, ‘The Chinese economy: Troubled times ahead’, The Council on Geostrategy, 05/11/2022, https://bit.ly/3eaSAdn (checked: 07/11/2022).
- 15‘关于修改中国共产党章程的决议全文’ [‘Full text of resolution on amendment to CPC Constitution’], [中国日报] [China Daily], 14/11/2012, https://bit.ly/3SJL7Ru (checked: 07/11/2022).
- 16‘关于修改中国共产党章程的决议全文’ [‘Full text of resolution on amendment to CPC Constitution’], 新华社 [Xinhua], 24/10/2017, https://bit.ly/3SFzE5J (checked: 07/11/2022).
- 17See for example this report: 王晓红 [Wang Xiaohong], ‘公安部党委理论学习中心组学习习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想辅导报告会举行’ [‘The Theoretical Study Center Group of the Party Committee of the Ministry of Public Security held a report on the study of Xi Jinping’s new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics’], 法制日报 [Legal Daily], 23/09/2022, https://bit.ly/3ebjgL7 (checked: 07/11/2022).
- 18‘We should remember that “public security is surnamed Party” and learn to be absolutely loyal. Deeply comprehend the decisive significance of the “two establishes”, enhance the “four consciousnesses”, firmly establish the “four self-confidences” and achieve the “two upholds”. ’ Ibid.
- 19It could be argued that to the seven centres of power listed above should be added the main CCP departments, in particular the Central Organisation Department (in charge of personnel), the General Department (in charge of party business under the Secretariat), and the Propaganda Department.
- 20Counted by the author. The vagaries of Google’s counting mean that totals are not exact, but close.