FEATURE: Beijing holds key preparatory meeting

BEIJING (The Straits Times/ANN) - The Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee meeting included endorsement of an amendment likely to help President Xi Jinping tighten his grip on power.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) opened a meeting yesterday (Oct 11) to make final preparations for next Wednesday's (Oct 18) 19th Party Congress, where a new leadership team under President Xi Jinping will be revealed.

The seventh plenum of the party's 18th Central Committee brings together more than 370 Central Committee members of the CCP, the elite caucus of the party.

At the closed-door meeting, likely to last up to four days, the committee is expected to endorse a draft amendment to the party's Constitution that will help Xi further tighten his grip on power.

The five-yearly congress will "summarise historical progress and precious experiences in upholding and advancing socialism with Chinese characteristics gained under the leadership" of  Xi, the official Xinhua news agency said.

This is the latest indication that Xi's political ideas will be added to the party Charter, with the discussion likely to centre on whether the inscription should carry his name, an outcome that would elevate Xi to the same status as former paramount leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

The committee will also approve the draft report on the work of the party and its discipline and anti-corruption commission over the past five years, all of which will be delivered by Xi at the congress.

A plenum, or plenary session, of the Central Committee is usually held once or twice a year between the five-yearly party congresses.

This is the seventh meeting of the current committee since the last congress in 2012, at which Xi became President. While largely a prelude to the 19th Party Congress, the plenum is expected to discuss final appointments to the apex Politburo Standing Committee under Xi's second five-year term.

The meeting is also likely to ratify former Chongqing party boss Sun Zhengcai's removal, echoing the previous committee's seventh plenum in 2012 which formalised the removal of his predecessor Bo Xilai.

While the plenum discussions take place behind closed doors in a tightly guarded hotel here, Beijing has also ramped up security and discipline ahead of the congress.

The Straits Times understands that parcels entering the city this month are subject to additional checks, and a postal worker confirmed that bulk mail "may face delays because of the congress".

Nightclubs have been raided, TV dramas targeted by censors and football matches postponed, reported Agence France-Presse. A match between the capital's home team Guoan and Chongqing's Dangdai Lifan scheduled for this weekend was postponed to later this month "due to a major event", the China Football Association said.

A Beijing venue hosting a comedy show last month was raided by police who asked foreigners to show their papers and submit to urine tests for drugs. People heading to Beijing by rail are also subject to tightened security measures.

Starting from earlier this week, Beijing-bound passengers from Shanghai train stations were being guided to specific halls and receiving double the usual security checks, reported the Global Times.

Other cities to implement stricter security checks such as luggage inspections for those heading to the capital include Zhengzhou in Henan province and Weifang in Shandong province, said the tabloid.


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