China: Ex-leaders’ influence ‘wanes’ at Beidaihe – 18 Aug 2017

  • The influence of Chinese Communist Party elders appeared to be on the wane at the key annual summer conclave in 2017, sources said, underscoring President Xi Jinping’s dominance as he makes final preparations for his second term in office.
  • The annual gathering at the seaside resort of Beidaihe – along with a preparatory meeting of ministers, provincial governors and military top brass in Beijing – used to be the main way to build consensus among the party’s senior officials and retired leaders on issues such as major reshuffles or altering the party’s ideology.
  • One source close to a party elder said the regular meeting of serving and retired leaders did not take place during the conclave earlier in Aug 17, and the event was purely viewed as a “holiday” for senior party members. Another senior state media source confirmed that no gathering of present and former leaders took place. “Someone has already mustered full control and elders’ politics has faded out,” the source said. The sources did not reveal whether current leaders had sought private meetings with some party elders individually to seek their views.
  • State television reported late on 16 Aug 17 that the party’s No 3 leader and top legislator Zhang Dejiang began a three-day tour of Hunan province on 14 Aug 17, signalling the fortnight conclave had ended.
  • Hu Jintao’s administration introduced polling at preparatory meetings ahead of the annual Beidaihe gathering about a decade ago. It allowed senior officials to indicate who they wanted to see elected to the party’s Politburo. Their views would then be discussed by serving and former leaders at Beidaihe. A third Beijing-based source said senior cadres attended preparatory meetings on 26-27 Jul 17 and were able to vote on – and add to – a Politburo shortlist, but the two others sources’ accounts suggests this list was not discussed in a group meeting with former party leaders at Beidaihe.
  • Analysts said that after Xi was given “core leader” status within the party in 2016, the importance of the senior officials preparatory meeting and Beidaihe as a forum to discuss policy and appointments diminished.
  • The Politburo is likely to meet later in Aug 17. It may finalise the shortlist of candidates for the next Politburo, said one mainland media source. The list is subject to a final vote by the next session’s Central Committee immediately after the party congress.

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