China: President Xi expected to cement grip on power at 19th National Communist Party Congress as new party leadership is unveiled
October 16, 2017
Top policymakers will gather in Beijing on 18 October for the twice-a-decade National Congress of the Communist Party of China (NCCPC). The party congress is a largely political event, with limited direct economic impact, that will determine the country’s leadership lineup and outline the party’s political priorities for the next five years. The congress will also mark the start of President Xi Jinping’s second—and supposedly last—five-year term as General Secretary of the Communist Party, and it is widely expected that he will use the meeting to cement an unprecedented amount of power. Xi’s tightening grip on power should allow him to continue pursuing his economic and political vision of China without strong resistance. Most experts expect Xi to continue with his hardline domestic policies as he seeks to increase the country’s role on the global stage. Promoting the development of the private sector, financial stability and a smooth transition of the economy are likely to stay top priorities.
Five of the seven members of the Standing Committee, China’s top decision-making body, are due to retire and be replaced, along with nearly half of the 205 members of the Central Committee and 11 of the 25 members of the Central Politburo leadership committee; it is likely that the replacements will be Xi loyalists. In addition, Xi will present his vision of China for the years to come, although detailed economic reforms and policies will be unveiled at the Third Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, expected to take place in the fall of 2018.
The highlight of the party congress is the unveiling of China’s future leadership. According to party practices, the future leader of the party is appointed at the congress prior to their assumption of the role, and each General Secretary holds the reigns of China’s government for two terms, meaning that Xi’s successor is due to be announced. However, so far, no clear successor has emerged, and analysts are speculating that Xi may hold on to power for an unprecedented third term.