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China's 19th National Part Congress - Firm or Shifting Power?

In 1921, 13 founding delegates including young Mao Ze Dong, gathered to attend the first Communist Party Congress in Shanghai. Since 1927, China’s Central Communist Party (CPC) holds the National Party Congress every five years. This year, China’s 19th Party Congress on October 18th is just around the corner.

Now in Beijing, there are posters and slogans everywhere promoting and welcoming this most important political event in China in 2017. In Chinese mainstream news outlets such as The Paper and Xinhua News Agency, scenes of joy and gathering are reported and described: citizens excited and looking forward to the event, and delegates from all provinces and regions happily congregate in Beijing.

Credit: Japan Times

Credit: Japan Times

The Party Congress aims to acknowledge China’s achievements in the past five years and plan out the next five-year national plan in all aspects. As CPC steps in the 19th one, the Party Congress has gained enormous attention from global media while many believe it will “determine the direction of China’s future development”.

The interesting phenomenon in China before all important political events is the appearance of blue skies in Beijing and unstable internet access to foreign website. Under Xi’s strong and tight governance in censorship and media, Chinese citizens are finding greater difficulty accessing international websites such as Facebook and Youtube even with VPN services.

Chinese Party Congress also exhibits significance in possible shifts and takeovers in power. In 2007, China’s former chairman Hu Jintao unveiled Xi as a future leader at the 17th Party Congress . As 2017 embarks Xi’s second term in office after five years of ruling, many are wondering if Xi will tightly grasp his leadership even beyond 10 years, or he will pass the leadership to one of his trusted allies. Some potential candidates in the Politburo Standing Committee are now under the media’s speculation.

Financial Times lists some popular candidates who seem most favored by Xi. Chen Min’er, who is the recently appointed party boss of Chongqing, is probably one of the youngest members of the new politburo and is regarded by Xi as a possible future president. Wang Yang, who is a vice premier and Xi’s point person for annual strategic and economic negotiations with the US, is a crucial figure for China in international affairs. At last, Cai Qi, who ran the general office of Mr. Xi’s National Security Commission, has been known as a fast-rising “helicopter” as the newly appointed party boss of Beijing.

Cai Qi, Credit: SCMP

Cai Qi, Credit: SCMP

Will China’s central power keep staying in Xi’s hands or shuffle to someone else standing in the Politburo committee? Or will we get to know at all? We will closely watch the upcoming 19th Party Congress in China and its political signals in the world.