First Politburo Meeting Increases Centralization; Team Xi Takes More Provincial Top Jobs; Trump China Visit–Sinocism Weekly 10.28.17

Happy Saturday, Day 4 of the Xi Era…

The free weekly edition of Sinocism is slimming down significantly going forward. In November I will transition the free version into a new media partnership and they focus on concision and brevity.

We are all relieved the 19th Party Congress has concluded. My four top takeaways from the Party Congress, as discussed in detail in this week’s newsletters, are:

  1. The addition of “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era 习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想” into the Party Constitution as a guide to action 行动指南 confirms that Xi Jinping is the most powerful leader in decades, is a huge break from Party norms over the last several decades;
  2. The enshrinement signals that it is Xi’s Party and makes the question of succession while Xi is alive more difficult. So long as Xi has not yet met Marx he is the man with an eponymous theory in the Party Constitution, which means no other official will have more authority than he does. The Standing Committee members look to me like a mix of allies and political dead-enders that Xi will absolutely dominate and the remainder of the Politburo is heavily stacked in favor of “Team Xi”. But if something were to happen to Xi who would take his place?
  3. The importance of the change in the “Principal Contradiction” from the “ever-growing material and cultural needs of the people versus backward social production” set in 1981 to the Xi Era’s “between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life” should not be understated. Do not just dismiss this as empty Marxist rhetoric.
  4. The Congress Work report highlighted China’s growing global aspirations. The era of “hide your strength, bide your time 韬光养晦” is over. It is interesting that Xi himself looks to have also used the “hide your strength” approach as he rose through the system..

This week’s issues for paying subscribers included:

10.23–19th Party Congress Speculation Near An End; Trump Wanted To Deport Guo Wengui While PRC Agents Ran Amok In NYC

10.24—Xi Thought Enters The Party Constitution; Wang Qishan Will Not Be On 19th PBSC

10.25—Xi’s Party, Xi’s Politburo. Meet the 19th Party Congress Leadership

10.26—US-China Relations, Party Congress, GDP Target Scrapped

If you are on the fence about subscribing please do so soon as the price is set to rise from the current $11/mo or $118/year. You can subscribe here.


1. First Politburo Meeting Outlines Steps To Centralize More Power Under Xi

Senior officials urged to uphold leadership of CPC Central Committee – Xinhua:

The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee reviewed two documents to safeguard the centralized, unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee and fully implement frugality rules, at a meeting Friday…

Members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee agreed on a regulation on safeguarding and enhancing centralized, unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee, according to a statement issued after the meeting…

They will discipline Party members within their jurisdiction, submit written reports on their work to the CPC Central Committee and Xi annually, and follow the Party’s publicity rules, the statement said.

The departments, which should report their work to the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and its standing committee annually, include the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection as well as the Leading Party Members Groups of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the State Council, the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the statement said…

中共中央政治局召开会议 研究部署学习宣传贯彻党的十九大精神-新华网-The official report on the meeting

Comment: The 10.27 CCTV Evening News report on the Politburo meeting, no scenes from the meeting, just a billboard of the text of the report

Unified leadership gets boost – China Daily:

It will be the top political task for the whole Party and nation to study, publicize and implement the spirit of the Party’s 19th National Congress. The study and publicity should focus on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and on the fact that Xi is a Party leader who is supported by the whole Party, loved by the people, and deserves all respect, said the statement.

Xi Jinping’s latest grandiose title aims to take personality cult to next level, say analysts | South China Morning Post:

In a further sign of Xi’s entrenched authority, Friday’s Politburo meeting also concluded that the “centralised and unified leadership of the Party Central” was the highest principle of the party’s leadership – a departure from recent decades when “collective leadership” and “democratic centralism” were upheld as the top principles…

Members of the Politburo were also told at the meeting that emphasising Xi’s status as the party’s lingxiu should be a key focus of propaganda work to promote the “spirit” of the congress, which would be the “primary political task” for the party and the country in the months, if not years, to come.


2. Politburo Study Session Reiterates…

Xi urges study, implementation of CPC congress spirit – Xinhua:

Xi made the remarks while presiding over the first group study of the Political Bureau of the 19th CPC Central Committee on Friday, focusing on the study and implementation of the spirit of the congress…

“Members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee should regard the study and implementation of CPC congress spirit as their first Party course to improve their political and theoretical level, in order to better take the duties bestowed by the Party and the people,” Xi said.

Fully understanding of the spirit is the premise to implementing it, Xi said, urging members to stick to the Marxist standpoint and method, accord with China’s reality, follow the country’s development logic and improve confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

[视频]习近平在中共中央政治局第一次集体学习时强调 切实学懂弄通做实党的十九大精神 努力在新时代开启新征程续写新篇章_CCTV节目官网-CCTV-1_央视网(cctv.com) CCTV Evening News Saturday reports on the first Politburo Study Session, This report has video from the meeting


3. New Provincial Leadership Jobs For Members of Team Xi

Politburo member Li Xi replaces Hu Chunhua as Guangdong Party Secretary, Yu Weiguo replaces You Quan as Fujian Party Secretary; You has moved onto the Central Secretariat; Wang Dongfeng, Shaanxi native and most recently Tinjin mayor replaces Zhao Kezhi as Hebei Party Secretary, no word yet on Zhao’s next job; Chen Qiufa, an aerospace engineer and ethnic Miao, replaces Li Xi as Liaoning Party Secretary-广东等4省省委主要负责同志职务调整-新华网

Next is Shanghai. Expect Li Qiang to replace Han Zheng there, as Sinocism suggested in July after a tip, but got the timing wrong, and in the October 25th newsletter:

Shanghai Mayor Ying Ying did not make the Politburo. Rumors have been around for a while that Li was going to replace Han Zheng as Shanghai Party Secretary. That looks very likely now that Han has moved up to the PBSC

Xi looks to be moving key allies into all the major provincial and direct-controlled municipalities of the PRC.

China’s Guangdong gets new party boss, former leader likely to be promoted – Reuters:

Three sources with leadership ties told Reuters that Jiangsu party boss Li Qiang is tipped to replace Han Zheng as Shanghai party secretary.


4. Is Xi A Marxist? The Answer Matters A lot…

MERICs China Update 17/2017 – China’s Socialist Revival:

Displaying a Marxist teleological view of history, Xi wants to lead China through the next two phases of its socialist development. According to him, the Party will lead China to “basically realize socialist modernization” by 2030. By 2050, the Chinese people will enjoy “common prosperity,” which hints at the persisting appeal of the classical Communist vision to the present Chinese leadership. In a far-reaching ideological adjustment, the Party Congress defined a new “principal contradiction” that will serve as the guideline for future policy priorities of the CCP.


5. Xinhua Details More Norm-Busting And Straw Poll Rigging In The Leadership Selection Process

China Focus: How China’s new central leadership are elected – Xinhua:

During the recommendation processes ahead of the 17th and 18th CPC national congresses, the results were heavily influenced by votes at recommendation conferences.

However, some voters at the conference voted recklessly or for people with whom they had connections.

The new mechanism included a series of arrangements from one-on-one talks, consultations, deliberations and meetings.

From April to June, Xi personally talked to 57 senior leaders and retired leaders to seek their suggestions…

Based on the suggestions, the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau came up with a proposal on the makeup of the new central authority on September 25.

The Political Bureau approved the proposal on September 29 and decided to submit it to the first plenary sessions of the 19th CPC Central Committee and the 19th CCDI.

领航新时代的坚强领导集体——党的新一届中央领导机构产生纪实 is the original article.

Comment: So the leadership list was decided on September 29. Interesting that it took such a long time to leak.

Three disgraced Chinese Communist Party officials accused of trying to rig elections | South China Morning Post:

The accused cadres are the former security tsar Zhou Yongkang, former chief of staff to President Hu Jintao Ling Jihua, and former Chongqing party boss Sun Zhengcai, according to a Xinhua report…


6. Trump China Visit Less Than Two weeks Away

What I Am Hearing: Trump’s China visit could be quite fraught. The US is facing the most confident China and Chinese leader in decades and it is not clear Trump has fully prepared to maximize this trip. A source with knowledge of the trade preparations for the visit tells me that the US does not have large, specific asks but instead is taking a “you know what you need to do” approach with Beijing. That is unlikely to go over well but may be part of a strategy to set up much harsher enforcement actions. Expect some deals to be announced, those are easy, but structural movement looks much less likely right now and the US may have less leverage than it had even a few months ago.

Trump’s China Trip to Broker Billions of Dollars in Energy Deals – Bloomberg

Representatives from about 40 companies are expected to accompany President Donald Trump on the first presidential trade mission to China Nov. 8-10 and sign deals for billions of dollars in U.S. investments.

One of the biggest deals the Trump administration is currently negotiating is a multibillion-dollar energy investment from Chinese oil and gas giant China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. that would bring thousands of new jobs to hurricane-ravaged areas in Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Many of the deals, including the China Petroleum investment, are expected be in the form of nonbinding memorandums of understanding, not contracts.

Chinese vice premier holds phone talks with U.S. commerce secretary – Xinhua:

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang on Friday held a phone conversation with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

China U.S. Buying Spree Prompts Move to Toughen Deal Reviews – Bloomberg

Lawmakers say the current framework for reviews conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or CFIUS, misses deals that pose national security risks because the panel focuses primarily on full acquisitions of American companies even though foreigners conduct a range of deal types in the U.S. The bill would expand the power of a national security panel to review investments by foreigners to include joint ventures and minority stakes in companies, according to documents detailing the legislation obtained by Bloomberg.

U.S. Imposing Anti-Dumping Duties on Chinese Aluminum Foil – Bloomberg:

The Commerce Department said Friday it would impose preliminary import duties in the range of 96.81 percent to 162.24 percent on Chinese aluminum foil, saying the goods are being sold at unfairly low prices. China disagreed with the U.S. move.

US Treasury Sanctions Additional North Korean Officials and Entities in Response to the Regime’s Serious Human Rights Abuses and Censorship Activities – 10.26:

Ku Sung Sop, Consul General in Shenyang, China…participated in the forced repatriation of North Korean asylum seekers

Donald Trump visit sees China’s US ambassador delay retirement | South China Morning Post:

Despite rumours he was about to step down and speculation about likely successors, ambassador Cui Tiankai, 65 this month, had been asked to postpone his retirement amid preparations for the Trump visit, diplomatic sources said.


7. Taiwan President To Stopover in Guam And Hawaii. Beijing Not Happy

Comment: It is interesting that Tsai is making two stopovers. I believe she originally intended to stop in Hawaii on November 3 but that had to change after the Trump Asia trip scheduled a November 3 stop for him in Hawaii. Having them both in Hawaii at the same time just before his visit to Beijing would have been “complicated”…

President to make stopovers in Hawaii and Guam | CNA

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said Tsai and her delegation will transit in Hawaii on Oct. 27 at the start of the trip and stop in Guam on Nov. 3 before returning home a day later.

Ahead of Trump Trip, China Urges U.S. Not to Allow Taiwan President In – The New York Times:

Grace Choi, the State Department spokeswoman for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said Tsai would transit Hawaii Oct. 27-29 and Guam Nov. 3-4.

President Tsai attends opening of symposium on 30 years of cross-strait exchanges and prospects for the future

外交部:蔡英文过境美国真实目的不言自明–国际–人民网:

关于你提到台湾地区领导人“过境”美国的问题,她所谓“过境”的真实目的不言自明。我们希望美方恪守一个中国政策和中美三个联合公报原则,不允许其“过境”,不向“台独”势力发出任何错误信号,以实际行动维护中美关系大局和台海和平稳定。中方已就此向美方提出严正交涉。


8. One Fun Thing

Finally, the third book in Adam Brookes’ excellent China espionage thriller trilogy is coming out in the US, on October 31.:

The Spy’s Daughter: Adam Brookes:

Pearl longs for the life of a normal American teenager: summers at the pool, friends, backyard barbecues in the Washington DC suburbs. But she is different. Her gift for mathematics means overprotective parents and college sponsorship from a secretive technology corporation. And now, aged nineteen, she is beginning to understand what her parents intend for her. The terrifying role she is to play.

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