As the excitement builds ahead of the opening of the 19th China Party Congress tomorrow, we hear that President Xi Jinping’s austerity drive will see the menu consist of only ‘four dishes and one soup’. Unfortunately for some, sea cucumbers and prawns will not be served this time round, complimentary fruit baskets will not be found in hotel rooms, and free haircuts and beauty treatments will no longer be on offer.
Made up of just 13 delegates in Shanghai, back in 1921, the Party Congress will see 2,287 carefully chosen delegates (of ‘unshakable belief’, ‘correct political stance’ and ‘good moral quality’) gather in Beijing this week; to select the 205-member central committee, who in-turn handpick the 25 members of the Politburo (the top decision-making body); a number of whom are up for ‘mandatory’ retirement this year (aged +68 yo). This will make for interesting viewing, as Xi’s right-hand man and chief of the anti-corruption campaign, is 69 years old and is therefore expected to step-down from the Politburo. Newswires have therefore suggested that Xi may look to bend the informal retirement age to keep Wang Qishan exactly where he is; as one of the 25 elite.
Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang will more than likely stay in their positions for the next five years. In China a president is only allowed to serve for two terms (of five years each), there have been rumours that Xi could look to amend this law and thus extend his presidency; or at least his position as General Secretary of the Communist Party and head of the country’s military. It could therefore be very interesting to see if he names a successor, after all he was named as presumed leader by Hu Jintao at the 17th Party Congress ten years ago.
As Mr. Jinping opens the event with a speech tomorrow, we expect to hear about the achievements since the last Party Congress five years ago and his future policies and projections. We suspect some of the top achievements listed will be his relatively successful anti-corruption purge and the ongoing One Belt, One Road initiative, which are seen as his presidential legacies so far, while deleveraging and financial risk management will be mentioned as top priorities going forward. The trade off between strong and stable growth, and a greener China is also expected to be deliberated. This would also be a great time to discuss the country’s social challenges and the building of a ‘moderately prosperous society’ by 2021; the less extravagant affair this week is considered a token start.
The Party Congress is expected to be closed by Xi on the 25th October. Due to China’s ever growing presence and global influence, there is no doubt that this Party Congress will be monitored by many across the globe this time round.