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Xi could remain the helmsman

He and his successors cannot but uphold the banner of sinicisation of Marxist socialism.

Xi could remain the helmsman

At least a few months before the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) Congress was scheduled to be held, speculations had begun about the status that the Chinese strongman Xi Jinping would accord himself. Some news reports suggested that he may decide to remain in office beyond the decade-long reign – five years of which still remain – he is supposed to have. Other news reports say he may leapfrog over two of his predecessors, former Presidents of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and general secretaries of the CPC, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, and place himself after the two stalwarts, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping in the CPC Constitution.

But eventually when as General Secretary Xi tabled his political report to the Party's invitees, he mentioned Mao Thought, Deng's Four Modernisation, (Jiang's)Three Represents, (Hu's) Scientific Outlook of Development, and his own, "14-point basic policy for socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era".
It is worth recounting at least the highlights of Xi's principles: 1. Ensuring Party leadership over all work; 2. Committing to a people-centred approach; 3. Continuing to comprehensively deepen reform; 4. Adopting a new vision for development; 5. Seeing that the people run the country; 6. Ensuring every dimension of governance is law-based; 7. Upholding core socialist values; 8. Ensuring and improving living standards through development; 9. Ensuring harmony between human and nature; 10. Pursuing a holistic approach to national security; 11. Upholding absolute Party leadership over the people's forces; 12. Upholding the principle of "one country, two systems" and promoting national reunification; 13. Promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind; and 14. Exercising full and rigorous governance over the Party.
If one parses through these short points, it can actually be considered Xi's Vision. And there are three distinct features: (A) Party control acknowledged with a clear mandate, (B) But this control will not be deterministic in terms of policy prescriptions for the people – thus establishing Party's primacy over all, instead and, the people will be front and centre for policies to be framed, and yet (C) the Party's internal governance should be 'full and rigorous'. In other words, Xi could remain the Helmsman and his anti-corruption crusade should continue. He and his successors cannot but uphold the banner of sinicisation of Marxist socialism.
Considering the vast mandarinate that Xi oversees may continue to be meritocratic in the Confucian way – a historic switch that Deng had established though he was purged for the final time of his life on an 'Anti-Confucius' mini (by Maoist standards) upsurge, guanxi (cronyism) will still be alive and well.
The political message of the Report the general secretary presented at the Party Congress did not reflect any attempt by Xi Jinping his cohort to establish him above and beyond the two gentlemen who flanked him on his right side (Hu Jintao) and on his left (Jiang Zemin) on the platform.
His political report did not give any hint that he will break the State Constitution's two statutes belonging to the 12th version (since 1911) of the Chinese Constitution that was adopted through amendments in December 1982 at the first session of the Fifth National Peoples' Congress (NPC). The Article 79 stated (in part) thus: "The term of office of the President and Vice-President of the People's Republic of China is the same as that of the National People's Congress, and they shall serve no more than two consecutive terms." And Art 87 stated: "The term of office of the State Council is the same as that of the National People's Congress. The Premier, Vice-Premiers and State Councillors shall serve no more than two consecutive terms."
On the contrary, in a 210-minute speech, Xi indicated that the nation-state should function under the Rule of Law. If that be the case, the general secretary's own principle written into the 14-points at number six stating "Ensuring every dimension of governance is law-based." Thus all the speculation whether his anointment earlier as a member of 'core leadership' would exempt him from retirement at age 68 years and two successive five-year terms.
Thus the question remains who will be his successor. Big money is riding on his supposed protégé Chen Miner, the acolyte who now governs Chongqing, which has lately come to be called 'Graveyard of Careers.' After Bo Xilai and Sun Zhengcai, both thought to be destined to rise to top, have fallen by the wayside, Chongqing, one of the four centrally governed municipalities, and once a headquarter of the Guomindang leaders.
(The writer is an independent strategic security researcher and analyst. Views are strictly personal.)

Pinaki Bhattacharya

Pinaki Bhattacharya

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