20th Party Congress concludes; New Central Committee; Party constitution revisions; Hu Jintao
The Party Congress has concluded. We will learn the makeup of the next Politburo and Standing Committee Sunday morning Beijing time. All indications are that Xi has “run the table 通吃“ in terms of personnel arrangements and revisions to the Party constitution.
I have some quick thoughts on today’s announcements and events, including the removal of Hu Jintao, and will follow up tomorrow on the new leadership. There is a lot to parse through over the next few days. First I want to discuss Hu Jintao, Xi’s predecessor.
The closing ceremony was marred by the removal of Hu. Hu is old and in poor health, but the removal, seen in this video from AFP, has sparked speculation that he is being purged. I am very skeptical of that speculation but we do not know what happened. Hu’s son Hu Haifeng is the Party Secretary of Lishui, Zhejiang, and was in the audience as a delegate to the Congress. If he has no political problems in the near future then that would probably be an indication that his father had some sort of medical issue rather than being dragged out in a purge.
No matter what the cause, this scene was humiliating, and the image of Hu Jintao being led out is a perfect symbol of Xi’s absolute decimation of the “Communist Youth League” faction.
Xinhua has since tweeted that it was a health issue:
The CCTV Evening news report on the 20th Party Congress closing ceremony shows Hu Jintao at the 2:52 mark. If Hu were really purged as some are speculating I highly doubt that CCTV would show him like this in the report.
Today the Party released:
Xi Jinping of course gave an “important speech” at the closing ceremony. (Summaries in English, Chinese). Here is a 38 minute CCTV Evening News report on the closing ceremony - 中国共产党第二十次全国代表大会在京闭幕 习近平主持大会并发表重要讲话
Li Keqiang and Wang Yang, even though they are only 67, are not members of the new Central Committee, so they will not be on the 20th Standing Committee. Li and Wang leaving the Standing Committee is another sign of Xi’s destruction of any of the assumed “norms” and “institutionalization”. Here is the first glimpse of those two in the CCTV Evening News report:
Wang Huning and Zhao Leji are in the new Central Committee, so they will be on the Standing Committee, in which roles and what rank we do not yet know, though I would expect Wang Huning to be ranked number two, and likely in charge of the NPC.
Li Zhanshu and Han Zheng are as expected not on the new Central Committee, so if Xi keeps the size of the Standing Committee at seven then there are four openings to fill.
The turnover from the 19th Central Committee to the 20th Central Committee looks to be above 65%, so not “at or above the 1969 9th Party Congress’ 82%” that I predicted in February but still very high. Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era was not truncated to Xi Jinping Thought in the Constitution, nor was Xi official given any new descriptive titles like “leader/领袖“. But both the shortening to Xi Jinping Thought and new titles may still appear over the new few months, as the propaganda and education campaign about the 20th Party Congress is pushed throughout the whole system.