China’s Xi to cement authority, legacy in Communist Party resolution
By Yew Lun Tian and Gabriel Crossley
BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to push through an historical resolution at a key Communist Party gathering next week, cementing his authority and legacy and strengthening his case for a precedent-breaking third term starting next year.
A resolution on the “important achievements and historical experiences of the party’s 100 years of struggle” will be discussed and almost certainly ratified by the ruling Communist Party’s 300-plus member Central Committee when it meets Nov 8-11 for the sixth and penultimate plenum of its five-year term.
“This resolution is a further move by Xi to consolidate power and lay the groundwork for a third term,” said Yang Chaohui, who lectures on political science at Peking University.
The so-called “historical resolution”, the text of which has not been released, will be only the third, with the previous two put forth during the tenures of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
While Mao and Deng used such resolutions for the party to reflect on past missteps and criticise members who had taken the wrong path, analysts expect this one to extol the successes of Xi’s era, building consensus that his is the right path forward for the party and the country.
It will be all about “praise and self-praise”, Deng Yuwen, a former editor of the Communist Party school newspaper who became a party critic and is now based in the United States, wrote on Yibao, a website dedicated to advancing democracy in China.
Xi has established himself as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao, doing away with the two-term limit, and is widely expected to be confirmed for a third five-year term next fall when the Central Committee convenes for the 20th Party Congress and elects a new leadership team.
As a prelude to the resolution, the party’s propaganda department issued a document in August detailing the party’s “historical missions and contributions” in the century since its founding, heavily focused on the governance practices of Xi’s tenure.
The Communist Party’s publicity department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The purpose of the resolution is to cement Xi’s new approach – and close the door on Deng’s reform era,” said Trey McArver, a partner at Beijing-based consultant firm Trivium.
“This means doubling down on China’s one-party political system, rejiggering the economy to a more high-quality and inclusive growth model, and being more assertive in global affairs,” he added.
The first “historical resolution” was passed in 1945 – four years before the People’s Republic’s founding – and was used by Mao to condemn rivals with dissenting views, setting the stage for him to become paramount leader.
The second, in 1981 under Deng, closed the chapter on the turbulent Cultural Revolution, adjudged Mao’s leadership to have been “70 percent right and 30 percent wrong”, made capitalism ideologically acceptable, and laid the groundwork for “reform and opening up”.
Since then, China has been transformed, becoming far more globally integrated and assertive, wealthier, and unequal.
The party’s governance style has also shifted.
Deng and his next two successors believed the party must give the government, economy and society space to grow organically. Xi famously said in 2017: “east, west, south, north, centre – the party leads all”.
“While every leader from Mao has always upheld the one-party rule, their notions of how best to govern had been very different,” said Yang.
“Although the upcoming resolution is in name about the success of the party over the past 100 years, it will ultimately conclude that the current way, Xi’s way, is the right way”.
(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian and Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Tony Munroe and Michael Perry)