CCP Fourth Plenum delivers little

Via Sinocism today:

The Fourth Plenum has concluded, there was no announcement of any personnel changes other than the automatic ascension to full membership of the two alternate Central Committee members discussed yesterday.

Sinocism readers were right to be very skeptical of the rumors going around, though the lack of any public sign of pressure on Xi by way of enlarging the Politburo Standing Committee or making clearer signals about anointing successor will probably not stop the rumors that Xi is under pressure, weakened by missteps over Hong Kong and the relationship with the US, or facing a backlash that would force him to share more power. Seek truth from facts as they say in Beijing, and right now the facts as I can observe them are not pointing towards a weakened Xi.

The Plenum Communique reiterated that China is facing many risks, as one would expect given that nine months ago Xi convened a three day meeting of just about the same audience on risks; it articulated the advantages of the PRC’s system of socialism with Chinese characteristics; it emphasized that the Party needs to lead everything, and discussed further refinements to the “Party eats the State” reforms from last year’s Third Plenum, again not a surprise given that three months ago Xi convened a three day meeting of just about the same audience to discuss the progress of those reforms from the Third Plenum.

Item 1 below has a long excerpt of the Xinhua English summary (it is important to read what they say). Over the coming days I and others will be digging into the communique and so hope we will have better insights about what it means for future policies. On the first couple of passes the document and its goal of advancing the modernization of China’s system and capacity for governance reads a bit like a top-level roadmap for a highly functioning authoritarian superpower.

19th CPC Central Committee concludes fourth plenary session, releases communique – Xinhua

The session reviewed and adopted the CPC Central Committee’s decision on some major issues concerning how to uphold and improve the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and advance the modernization of China’s system and capacity for governance. Xi explained the draft document to the plenary session….

The session fully affirmed the work of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee since the Third Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, acknowledging its endeavors that led to major achievements in various causes of the Party and the country despite complicated situations marked by increasing risks and challenges at home and abroad….

The communique said China’s state and governance systems enjoy notable strengths in the following aspects:

— Upholding the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC, following the CPC’s scientific theories, maintaining political stability and ensuring that the country keeps advancing in the direction of socialism;

— Seeing that the people run the country, promoting the people’s democracy, maintaining close ties with the people and relying on them to push forward the country’s development;

— Ensuring law-based governance in all fields, building a country of socialist rule of law, and guaranteeing social fairness and justice and the people’s rights;

— Ensuring the whole country works together and stimulating the enthusiasm of all aspects to mobilize resources for major undertakings;

— Upholding equality between all ethnic groups, creating a strong sense of community for the Chinese nation to work jointly for common prosperity and development;

— Upholding the dominant role of the public sector and common development of economic entities under diverse forms of ownership, the distribution system whereby distribution according to labor is dominant and a variety of other modes of distribution exist alongside it, the synergy between the socialist system and the market economy, and continuously unlocking and developing the productive forces;

— Upholding common ideals and convictions, values, and moral standards, promoting China’s fine traditional culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture, as well as inspiring the people to embrace shared ideologies and mindsets;

— Adhering to the vision of making development people-centered, and continuously guaranteeing and improving people’s livelihoods and improving people’s wellbeing to achieve common prosperity for everyone;

— Continuing reform and innovation, moving with the times, and promoting self-improvement and development to build a society full of vitality;

— Selecting officials based on integrity and ability and on the basis of merit regardless of background to cultivate more talented individuals;

— Keeping the armed forces under the Party’s command and ensuring that the people’s armed forces are completely loyal to the Party and the people so as to safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests;

— Upholding the principle of “one country, two systems,” maintaining lasting prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macao, and promoting the peaceful reunification of China;

— Adhering to the unity of independence and self-reliance and opening up to the rest of the world, taking an active part in global governance, and continuing to make contributions to the building of a community with a shared future for humanity.

“All these notable strengths are the fundamental basis for fostering stronger confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” the communique said.

The original Chinese version, along with the CCTV Evening News report on the Plenum and communique – (受权发布)中国共产党第十九届中央委员会第四次全体会议公报

China’s Communist Party Concludes Conclave in Strong Support of Xi – WSJ $$

Chinese President Xi Jinping emerged from a Communist Party conclave with a resolute endorsement of his leadership, despite a slowing economy, a bruising trade war with the U.S. and unrest in Hong Kong.

The party’s governing Central Committee also signaled a firmer stance on Hong Kong, calling for stronger safeguards for China’s national security in the city—a formulation that some experts say foreshadows new legal powers to squelch dissent against Beijing’s authority…

Rather than chart new policies, the goal of this year’s meeting appears to have been providing “affirmation of Xi’s brand of personalized authoritarianism and his approach to governance,” said Wu Qiang, a Beijing-based commentator on Chinese politics and a former political-science lecturer at Tsinghua University.

Question: did anyone have any evidence to support a belief that Xi would emerge from this plenum without an endorsement of his leadership?


People’s Daily word map pf the 5000+ character communique. The word that appeared the most, 77 times, was “制度 system”. “人民 the people” was second at 53, and “治理”governance was third at 41…by my count “党 Party” appeared 68 times, but perhaps since the Party is everywhere and leads everything you don’t really count its mentions, just as you don’t really count air molecules?


via People’s Daily online, the “new era study xi studio” provides a distillation of the main points of the communique

Party meeting focuses on better economic governance – China Daily

China is likely to see breakthroughs in improving its business environment and the rule of law in economic fields to better unleash the country’s growth potential and ensure high-quality development

CCTV interviews Plenum delegates – ]迈向“中国之治”新境界的重要里程碑——与会代表坚决拥护十九届四中全会《决定》_CCTV


China Says It Will Roll Out ‘National Security’ Steps for Hong Kong – The New York Times

China would “build and improve a legal system and enforcement mechanism to defend national security in the special administrative regions,[建立健全特别行政区维护国家安全的法律制度和执行机制]” the meeting summary said.

The vague language leaves plenty of guesswork about what the Chinese leaders may have in mind. Some pro-Beijing hard-liners in Hong Kong have suggested the time may have come for the Chinese authorities to impose new security legislation on the territory, which Britain returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

We await the outcome of the economic working meeting early next week to fathom further stimulus.

David Llewellyn-Smith
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