19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China
|Date||18–24 October 2017|
|Venue||Great Hall of the People|
|Theme||elect 19th Central Committee and the 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection|
|Organised by||18th Politburo|
|Participants||2,280 representatives and 74 specially invited representatives|
|19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China|
The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (commonly referred to as Shíjiǔ Dà; Chinese: 十九大) was held at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, between 18 and 24 October 2017. 2,280 delegates represented the party's estimated 89 million members. Preparations for the 19th National Congress began in 2016 and ended with a plenary session of the Central Committee a few days prior to the Congress. In 2016, local and provincial party organizations began electing delegates to the congress as well as receiving and amending party documents.
During the congress, a new guiding ideology, labelled Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, was written into the party's constitution. It marked the first time since Mao Zedong Thought that a living party leader has enshrined into the party constitution an ideology named after himself. The Congress also emphasized strengthening socialism with Chinese characteristics, party-building, and socialist rule of law, and setting concrete timelines for achieving development goals, such as building a moderately prosperous society and achieving "socialist modernization." It was also noted for rallying China to play a more substantial role internationally.
The 19th National Congress endorsed the membership list of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and elected the Central Committee, which in turn approved the members of the Politburo and its Standing Committee. Five members of the 18th Politburo Standing Committee left the body due to having reached retirement age, and five new members joined the 19th Standing Committee: Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji, and Han Zheng.
The drafting process of the Report of the 18th Central Committee began in mid-to-late 2016, probably before the 6th Plenary Session. Normal procedure is that the sitting Politburo appoints a drafting committee that is responsible for researching major topics and can establish investigative research teams. The Draft Report is sent to party groups, such as the provincial party organisation, to government institutions, the People's Liberation Army and select mass organisations while the drafting committee consults with leading specialists. The 6th Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee, which sat 24–27 October 2016, in its communique stated that the 19th National Congress would be held in Beijing in the second half of 2017. The drafting process continued after the 6th Plenary Session, and by summer 2017, forums for party and non-party members in Beijing were established to review the draft report. At some point in the process, retired party elders are consulted.
The 7th Plenary Session convened on 11 October and was in session until 14 October 2017. 191 CC full members and 141 CC alternate members attended the session, with CCDI members attended in a non-voting capacity. The 7th Plenary Session laid the groundworks for the 19th National Congress, and publicised the date of its convocation. The 18th Politburo put forward a motion to the 7th Plenary Session of sending three documents to the 19th National Congress; the Report of the 18th Central Committee, Work Report of the 18th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and amendments to the CPC constitution. Xi Jinping presented the report of the 18th Central Committee while Liu Yunshan presented the amendments to the CPC constitution to the 7th Plenary Session. The Work Report of the 18th CCDI had been presented by Wang Qishan at the 8th CCDI Plenary Session on 9 October, and sent to the 7th Plenary Session for approval.
The Draft Report of the 18th Central Committee was sent to more than 4,700 individuals for review, who represented various regions and departments. Six symposiums to hear opinions and suggestions on the draft report were organised, and Xi attended them. The 7th Plenary Session approved the documents.
Three days later, on 17 October, the preparatory meeting was convened and presided over by Xi. 2,307 of the 19th National Congress delegates attended the meeting. It elected 22 individuals to the Credential Committee, 243 members to the Presidium of the 19th National Congress and Liu Yunshan was elected as the Secretary-General of the 19th National Congress. In addition, the attendees also approved the organizational setup and tasks of the secretariat of the congress. Tuo Zhen, the Deputy Head of the Publicity Department and main spokesperson for the 19th National Congress, publicised the agenda of the 19th National Congress, which had been approved by the preparatory meeting. The agenda was:
- To hear and examine a report submitted by the 18th CPC Central Committee;
- To examine a work report of the 18th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection;
- To deliberate and adopt an amendment to the Party's Constitution;
- To elect the Party's 19th Central Committee and its 19th Central Commission for Discipline.
The election of delegates to the 19th National Congress started on 8 November 2016 and ended in June 2017, when the 18th Central Committee had approved the quota, needed qualifications and the election procedure. The criteria of becoming a delegate became "tougher" due to the ongoing anti-corruption campaign. As set forth by the 18th central Committee, a delegate is required to "be highly qualified politically and ideologically, have good work and life styles, be competent in discussing state affairs, and have been successful in their work."
The delegates are elected from 40 electoral units. Of the 40 electoral units, 34 are divided by a defined geographical area and six units are for the central party and government. The People's Liberation Army makes up one of the six central units and is the largest in term of delegate quota. One electoral unit represents the departments directly subordinate to the Central Committee and another state-owned economy. The quote on the number of delegates can elect does not reflect population size or party size in the given region. Rather, it reflects the political importance of the given region or subject. For instance, Shanghai has historically sent the highest number of delegates to the party congresses among regional electoral units.
Delegates are elected at local congresses of local party committees. The election process is competitive up to a point, with 15% of preliminary nominees being voted off by members during the election process. For instance, of the delegates elected at local party congresses of the Jiangxi Provincial Committee nominated 90 people. The quota for the Jiangxi electoral unit was 69. In this given unit there was 30% more candidates than seats. Once nominated, the candidates are reviewed by Central Committee through the Organisation Department. The remaining delegates will then have to stand for election at the provincial party congress, and the winners represented their electoral unit at the 19th National Congress.
In the election of 2016–2017 99.2% of party members participated in the election process, and increase of 1.2% since the last congress. 2,287 delegates were elected according to Xinhua News Agency in early October, an increase of 30 delegates since the 18th National Congress. However, the number was reduced to 2,280 in an announcement on 17 October. Of the delegates, 24.1% were women and 11.5% were ethnic minorities. The number of delegates who represented or were active in frontline production and manufacturing (a category which includes workers, farmers, and technicians) made up 771 delegates (33.7%, an increase of 3.2% from the 18th National Congress).
Revisions to the Party Constitution
The Congress ratified changes to the Constitution of the Communist Party of China. The Congress approved the incorporation of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era into the constitution. Xi thus became the first leader since Deng Xiaoping to append his name into party ideology; the change also led to many international media outlets calling Xi the "most powerful leader since Mao."
The congress duly elected the party's leading bodies, including the 25-member Politburo, the 7-member Politburo Standing Committee, and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the internal discipline organ that has come to the political foreground since 2012. It also elected a new, scaled down Central Military Commission.
As expected, Xi Jinping duly renewed his term as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, the party's top position and the de facto top office of China. Before the congress, speculation mounted on whether one of the younger officials already on the Politburo, such as Guangdong party secretary Hu Chunhua or Chongqing party secretary Sun Zhengcai, would be elevated to the Politburo Standing Committee, the party's top decision making body, in preparation for their assuming overall leadership of the party in 2022. However, in July 2017, Sun was abruptly removed from office and then expelled from the party, upsetting the carefully calibrated balance prior to the opening of the congress.
Politburo Standing Committee
The Politburo Standing Committee has been considered the most powerful decision-making body in China. Since 16th Party Congress in 2002, its membership selection has become largely institutionalized, with mandatory retirement of any member who has reached the age of 68. Five out of the seven members of the 18th Politburo Standing Committee relinquished their seats at this Congress (birth year in parentheses): Zhang Dejiang (1946), Yu Zhengsheng (1945), Liu Yunshan (1947), Wang Qishan (1948) and Zhang Gaoli (1946).
Although the retirement of the other four members of retirement age was not in doubt, there was speculation prior to the Congress that Wang Qishan, aged 69 years old at the Congress, would be asked to stay on for another term as the anti-corruption chief. Wang himself, however, was reticent about this possibility, noting wryly in his remarks to journalists that he ought to step down soon. Ultimately, Wang retired from all committees at the congress.
Xi and Li Keqiang renewed their terms on the Politburo Standing Committee; five new members joined, listed below in order of precedence.
- Li Zhanshu (born 1950) – seen as a major Xi confidant, promoted from head of the General Office directly to the number-three post in the party; likely will take over as Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in March 2018 and oversee Hong Kong affairs.
- Wang Yang (born 1955) – former party chief of Chongqing and Guangdong province and currently one of the vice premiers of the State Council; Wang joined the Politburo in 2007; seen as one of the more liberal members of the ruling elite; was speculated as a candidate for the 18th standing committee but ultimately was not selected.
- Wang Huning (born 1955) – major figure in charge of theory and ideology in the Communist Party, Wang Huning became the first theorist and ideologue to join the top rung of the party leadership since 1978; at the Congress he was named the top-ranked Secretary of the Secretariat. Wang was also the only member of the Standing Committee without experience as a provincial-level party chief
- Zhao Leji (born 1957) – head of the Organization Department prior to the Congress; Zhao was promoted to take over the reins at the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
- Han Zheng (born 1954) – party chief of Shanghai prior to the Congress; generally seen as having a strong technocratic record.
The list was consistent with that released by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post on 22 October.
According to convention, Politburo members entering the body in 2017 must be born after 1950. Three members of the outgoing Politburo, Liu Qibao, Zhang Chunxian, and Li Yuanchao, were not elected to the incoming Politburo even though they met the relevant age requirements. Li Yuanchao did not even secure a seat on the Central Committee. All members of the 18th Politburo born prior to 1950 retired without exception. Hu Chunhua, Xu Qiliang and Sun Chunlan returned to the Politburo for a second term, while Cai Qi, who was not even part of the outgoing Central Committee, vaulted directly into the Politburo. Taking into account Standing Committee members who were all promoted from the Politburo level, the changes represented a 60% turnover of membership between the 18th and 19th Politburo. The full list of Politburo members (excluding Standing Committee) was:
- Ding Xuexiang (born 1962) – a political aide to Xi for nearly a decade, Ding was named chief of the General Office of the Communist Party of China, effectively Xi's chief of staff
- Wang Chen (born 1950), Secretary-General of the National People's Congress
- Liu He (born 1952) – head of the Office for Financial and Economic Affairs (Zhongcaiban), has been an important economic advisor to Xi
- Xu Qiliang (born 1950) – vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, retained his office for a second term
- Sun Chunlan (born 1950) – second term, only woman on the Politburo
- Li Xi (born 1956) – party chief of Guangdong, considered an ally of Xi
- Li Qiang (born 1959) – party chief of Shanghai, former subordinate of Xi Jinping in Zhejiang province
- Li Hongzhong (born 1956) – party chief of Tianjin; Li has experience as party chief of the Special Economic Zone of Shenzhen, and governor and party chief of Hubei province.
- Yang Jiechi (born 1950) – first "foreign affairs specialist" to enter the Politburo since Qian Qichen
- Yang Xiaodu (born 1953) – party discipline official, Minister of Supervision
- Zhang Youxia (born 1950) – vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, first term
- Chen Xi (born 1953) – head of the Organization Department, friend of Xi from Tsinghua University
- Chen Quanguo (born 1955) – former subordinate of Li Keqiang in Henan, party chief of Tibet (2011–16), party chief of Xinjiang beginning in 2016;
- Chen Min'er (born 1960) – party chief of Chongqing, former subordinate of Xi in Zhejiang
- Hu Chunhua (born 1963) – retained his seat for a second term, remained the youngest member of the Politburo
- Guo Shengkun (born 1954) – Secretary of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission, promoted as expected from Minister of Public Security
- Huang Kunming (born 1956) – head of the Propaganda Department, considered an associate of Xi
- Cai Qi (born 1955) – party chief of Beijing, Cai was rapidly promoted in the years leading up to the 19th Congress; considered an ally of Xi
The day-to-day executive organ of the Politburo, the Secretariat, also saw significant turnover; the Politburo members in charge of the propaganda and organization departments, and the General Office chief typically held a seat on the Secretariat. The likely areas of purview for each secretary are listed along with their names. All members of the 19th Secretariat are also concurrently members of the Politburo, with the sole exception of You Quan.
- Wang Huning (also a member of the Politburo Standing Committee)
- Ding Xuexiang, General Office
- Yang Xiaodu, Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
- Chen Xi, Organization Department
- Guo Shengkun, Political and Legal Affairs Commission
- Huang Kunming, Propaganda Department
- You Quan, United Front Department
The Central Committee, composed of 204 members, was elected on 24 October 2017. Like previous congresses, the "more candidates than seats" elections method was used. 8% of candidates were rejected by delegate vote - the same ratio from the 18th Party Congress in 2012. Since 2007 the higher ranks of the party apparatus has seen its median age increase while retaining retirement limits. The 19th Central Committee showed a continuation of this trend; Lu Hao (born 1967), the youngest full member of the previous CC, remained its youngest member. 78 members of the 18th CC were named to the 19th CC, while 32 alternate members of the 18th CC were elected to full membership of the 19th CC.
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- Miller 2017, p. 52.
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Plenary sessions, apparatus heads, ethnicity, the Central Committee member- and alternate membership, Politburo membership, Secretariat membership, Central Military Commission members, Standing Committee of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection membership, Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, offices an individual held, retirement, if the individual in question is military personnel, female, has been expelled, is currently under investigation or has retired:
- "19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China Press Center" (in Chinese). Communist Party of China. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
19th National Congress resolutions
The following is a list of all resolutions and report produced by the 19th National Congress that were made available to the public.
- "Full text of resolution on CCDI work report". Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
- "Full text of resolution on CPC Central Committee report". Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
- "Full text of resolution on amendment to CPC Constitution". Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
Articles and journals:
- Miller, Alice (2017). "How to Read Xi Jinping's 19th Party Congress Political Report" (PDF). China Leadership Monitor. Hoover Institute. XIV (53): 1–7.