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Chinese Communist Party Springs No Surprises

The four-day fifth plenary session of the 17th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party concluded in Beijing on October 18,2010, without any surprises relating to personalities or political or economic policies.

2.  It appointed Xi Jinping, Vice-President, as the Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission, thereby strengthening his chances of succeeding Hu Jintao as the party chief in 2012 and as President the following year. Xi was promoted to the powerful nine-member standing committee of the party’s political bureau in 2007 and was named China’s Vice-President the following year. That was generally seen as an indication that he would succeed Hu. His appointment as the Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission is in the natural order of things and hence not a surprise. It would have been a surprise only if he had not been appointed to this post.

3. His bio-data as disseminated by the Xinhua news agency is attached. What would be of interest is his stand in the on-going debate in China on the need for political reforms.  No indication of this is available. The recent comments of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on the need for political reforms and on the importance of respecting the freedom of speech had given rise to speculation that his vehement remarks on the subject were probably addressed to some sections  in the party who might be opposing political reforms and relaxation of the restrictions on the freedom of speech. If this was so, it has not been possible to identify those who might be opposing political reforms and relaxation.

4. A study of the writings in the Chinese media before the plenary of the Central Committee indicated that the debate was probably between those who advocated gradual political reforms without weakening the primacy of the Party and those who were in favour of a faster phase of reforms. As expected, the views of the gradualists appear to have been endorsed by the Central Committee. A communique issued at the end of the meeting said that the leadership of the Communist Party of China will be the “fundamental guarantee” for China to achieve the goals of economic and social development plan for the next five years. It added that work for improving the CPC ruling capacity and maintaining the Party’s advanced nature should be strengthened to promote the Party’s competence in leading the country’s economic and social development. What this means is that  the main objective while undertaking political reforms will be to improve  the quality of the leadership exercised by the party. There is no alternative to the Party, but what China needs is a party better led and better functioning.

5. The main item on the agenda of the plenary was laying down guidelines for the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015). The communique issued at the end of the session said that efforts should be made to ensure and improve people’s livelihoods, and gradually complete a sustainable, basic public service system that suits China’s situation and covers both urban and rural areas. The party vowed to improve employment, construct “harmonious labor relations” and reasonably adjust income distribution. It added: “The share of personal income in the distribution of national income should be increased, and that of work remuneration in primary distribution should also be raised.  The social security system covering both rural and urban regions should be strengthened and the pace of medical reform and development should be quickened.  Improving basic public services will be a key task for China in the next five years.Building a comprehensive and sustainable fundamental service system that worked in line with China’s overall situation would help improve people’s lives.  The system should cover urban and rural areas, and promote equal fundamental public services.  Concrete measures to sustain social harmony and stability should also be taken”.

(Courtesy: South Asia Analysis Group. The writer Mr B Raman, is Additional Secretary (retired), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com)

ANNEXURE Biodata of Xi Jinping as disseminated by the Xinhua news agency

Xi Jinping, male, ethnic Han, native of Fuping, Shaanxi Province, born in June 1953. He joined the CPC in January 1974 and began working in January 1969. Xi graduated from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences of Tsinghua University, majoring in Marxist theory and ideological education. He holds an LLD degree through an on-the-job postgraduate education program.

Xi is now a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, vice president of the People’s Republic of China, vice chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission and president of Party School of the CPC Central Committee.

1969-1975 Worked as an educated youth sent to the countryside at Liangjiahe Brigade, Wen’anyi Commune, Yanchuan County, Shaanxi Province, and served as Party branch secretary

1975-1979 Student of basic organic synthesis at the Chemical Engineering Department of Tsinghua University

1979-1982 Secretary at the General Office of the State Council and the General Office of the Central Military Commission (as an officer in active service)

1982-1983 Deputy secretary of the CPC Zhengding County Committee, Hebei Province

1983-1985 Secretary of the CPC Zhengding County Committee, Hebei Province, first political commissar and first secretary of the Party committee of people’s armed forces department of Zhengding County

1985-1988 Member of the Standing Committee of the Municipal Party Committee and vice mayor of Xiamen, Fujian Province

1988-1990 Secretary of the CPC Ningde Prefectural Committee, Fujian Province, first secretary of the Party committee of Ningde Sub-Military Area Command

1990-1993 Secretary of the CPC Fuzhou Municipal Committee and chairman of the Standing Committee of the Fuzhou Municipal People’s Congress, Fujian Province, first secretary of the Party committee of Fuzhou Sub-Military Area Command

1993-1995 Member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Fujian Provincial Committee, secretary of the CPC Fuzhou Municipal Committee and chairman of the Standing Committee of the Fuzhou Municipal People’s Congress, first secretary of the Party committee of Fuzhou Sub-Military Area Command.

1995-1996 Deputy secretary of the CPC Fujian Provincial Committee, secretary of the CPC Fuzhou Municipal Committee and chairman of the Standing Committee of the Fuzhou Municipal People’s Congress, first secretary of the Party committee of Fuzhou Sub-Military Area Command

1996-1999 Deputy secretary of the CPC Fujian Provincial Committee, first political commissar of antiaircraft artillery reserve division of Fujian Provincial Military Area Command

1999-2000 Deputy secretary of the CPC Fujian Provincial Committee and acting governor of Fujian Province, vice director of commission for national defense mobilization of Nanjing Military Area Command, director of Fujian Provincial commission for national defense mobilization, first political commissar of antiaircraft artillery reserve division of Fujian Provincial Military Area Command

2000-2002 Deputy secretary of the CPC Fujian Provincial Committee and governor of Fujian Province, vice director of commission for national defense mobilization of Nanjing Military Area Command, director of Fujian Provincial commission for national defense mobilization, first political commissar of antiaircraft artillery reserve division of Fujian Provincial Military Area Command (1998-2002 Studied Marxist theory and ideological education in an on-the-job postgraduate program at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences of Tsinghua University and graduated with an LLD degree)

2002-2002 Deputy secretary of the CPC Zhejiang Provincial Committee and acting governor of Zhejiang Province, vice director of commission for national defense mobilization of Nanjing Military Area Command, director of Zhejiang Provincial commission for national defense mobilization

2002-2003 Secretary of the CPC Zhejiang Provincial Committee and acting governor of Zhejiang Province, first secretary of the Party committee of Zhejiang Provincial Military Area Command, vice director of commission for national defense mobilization of Nanjing Military Area Command, director of Zhejiang Provincial commission for national defense mobilization

2003-2007 Secretary of the CPC Zhejiang Provincial Committee and chairman of the Standing Committee of the Zhejiang Provincial People’s Congress, first secretary of the Party committee of Zhejiang Provincial Military Area Command

2007-2007 Secretary of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee, first secretary of the Party committee of Shanghai Garrison

2007-2008 Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, president of Party School of the CPC Central Committee

2008- Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, vice president of the People’s Republic of China and president of Party School of the CPC Central Committee

Alternate member of the Fifteenth CPC Central Committee, and member of the Sixteenth CPC Central Committee. Member of the Seventeenth CPC Central Committee, member of the Political Bureau and its Standing Committee, and member of the Secretariat of the Seventeenth CPC Central Committee. Xi was elected vice president of the People’s Republic of China at the First Session of the 11th National People’s Congress.

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