300 CCP leaders celebrate the past century . . .
More than 300 key leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) met in Beijing from November 8-11 for a much-anticipated session known as the Sixth Plenum. Currently in its 19th cycle, the Central Committee of the CCP – the Party’s top decision-making body – holds seven such plenary sessions in its five-year term. Last week’s plenum discussed a “Resolution on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party Over the Past Century,” termed a “historical resolution” by state media in the days leading up to the meeting. The CCP has only previously made two such historical resolutions – one under Mao Zedong in 1945 and one under Deng Xiaoping in 1981. Both were drafted at the end of turbulent times and charted a new course for the Party’s rule while cementing the leader’s legitimacy.
A precursor to Xi Jinping’s third term . . .
The newly-passed resolution emphasizes continuity more so than the previous two historical resolutions. The lion’s share of the resolution’s text focuses on reasserting the CCP as China’s sole ruling party and cements President Xi Jinping’s uncontested position at the core of the CCP’s leadership. It also refers to the present as a more socialist-like “new era” and lays out the Party’s “Second Century Goals.” The resolution is widely interpreted as paving the way for a leadership review at next year’s 20th National Party Congress, which many expect will include Xi undertaking a third term as president following the constitutional amendment at the 2018 National People’s Congress that removed the two-term limit.
Justification provided for policies on Hong Kong, Taiwan . . .
Notwithstanding Beijing’s policy focus turning increasingly inward in the past several years, the Sixth Plenum’s central resolution offers important clues on what we can expect for China’s handling of issues beyond its immediate domestic scope. Emphasizing the support and success the Party gained in the “restoration of order,” the document provides justification for strengthening control over Hong Kong and Macau, and for the policy of bringing Taiwan under its rule. As China seeks to present itself as a country that is “independent, self-reliant, and confident” on the international stage, and with President Xi’s conciliatory yet subtly-warning tone around ‘red line’ issues (such as tensions in the Taiwan Strait) at the first Xi-Biden virtual meeting yesterday, we can expect an increasingly assertive approach to foreign policy in the years to come.
- China Briefing: The sixth plenum: what is it and what has been decided?
- South China Morning Post: China’s Communist Party backs Xi Jinping’s firm hand on Hong Kong and Taiwan
- Xinhua: Resolution of the CPC Central Committee on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century