A top-level meeting of China’s ruling Communist Party this week is likely to include constitutional changes to further strengthen the country’s leader, Xi Jinpingparty representatives confirmed.
Xi is expected to resume his post as leader of the CPC and its military commission at a week-long conference, laying the groundwork for retaining the presidency next year after term limits are lifted in 2018.
The 20 party congress will begin on Sunday morning with a major speech by Xi Jinping that will celebrate the party’s achievements over the past five years and outline its plans for the next. It will be days of closed-door meetings and formalization of official reshuffles before the members of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee are revealed next weekend.
At a press conference in Beijing, the party’s press secretary, Sun Yeli, told reporters that the revision of the party’s governing constitution is on the agenda. Sun did not give specifics, but said the amendments were necessary to consolidate the new “basic theoretical views and basic strategic ideas” presented during the congress.
The amendments are widely expected to enshrine the “two stances,” the party’s political term for new doctrines that enshrine Xi as the “core” of the CCP and his ideas as the basis of the party’s ideology.
Sun said it was common practice for the party to amend its constitution to “acknowledge innovations in theory and revolutions in practice.”
During an earlier question-and-answer session, Song also indicated that China’s increasingly controversial “dynamic zero” policy on Covid would remain for now.
He said that as much as the world yearns for an end to the pandemic, the reality is that the virus still exists and the Chinese government will continue to “put people and people’s lives at the center” of its response.
The dynamic zero-covid policy – which led to sudden lockdowns and restrictions on the movement of buildings, neighborhoods or entire cities – was a “science-based approach … with minimal cost to society and in the shortest possible time”.
He said the policy “worked best for our country.”
At the news conference, one of the few public events of the congress, Sun sidestepped questions about China’s economic problems and whether the era of “high-speed growth” was over. He said it was “an important criterion, but not the only one”; China has entered a new era, from rapid growth to quality development.
As for relations with the US, Sun seemed to adopt a somewhat conciliatory tone. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated sharply in recent years due to trade wars, diplomatic disputes and the imposition of sanctions, as well as hostilities over China’s human rights abuses and repression of Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong and its growing aggression in South China. Sea and Taiwan Strait.
Sun said: “We believe that China and the US have more common interests than differences. We don’t provoke and we don’t shy away from trouble.”
Still, he said “no one can hold back the historic force of China’s national revival,” referring to Xi’s commitment to annexing Taiwan, a democracy the CCP claims is a Chinese province and has vowed to “unify” .
The CCP has repeatedly stated that it will use force if necessary to seize Taiwan, most recently in a White Paper released last month. Sun said force was a last resort to be used “under compelling circumstances” and that peaceful unification was the CCP’s “first choice”.
“We will continue to pursue peaceful reunification with special sincerity and effort and create a wide space for peaceful reunification,” he said.
“We do not give up the use of force… This is to protect against external interference and a small handful of Taiwan independence elements and their separatist actions. It is in no way directed at our Chinese in Taiwan.”
Senior Chinese officials have recently stepped up their rhetoric on Taiwan, warning of “re-educating” citizens after the invasion and punishment of pro-independence supporters. Consistent opinion polls in Taiwan show that a growing majority of people reject the prospect of Chinese rule.