China Sets Next Week for Key Party Meeting, After Long Gap

October 24, 2019 Updated: October 24, 2019

BEIJING—China’s ruling Communist Party will hold a key meeting of its senior leadership next week after an unusually long delay since the last one, state media said on Oct. 24, as the country grapples with issues ranging from a slowing economy to unrest in Hong Kong.

Plenums, as they are called, are generally held every autumn, and are an opportunity for the Communist Party’s elite to map out policy priorities.

Unexpectedly, however, there was no plenum last autumn, amid speculation in Beijing about disagreements among the top Party elites on the direction of the country as a bruising trade war with the United States deepened and the economy decelerated.

The last plenum took place more than a year and a half ago.

State news agency Xinhua said the plenum would be held from Oct. 28 to Oct. 31, and would discuss personnel changes and future policies.

The closed-door meeting in Beijing gathers the ruling party’s Central Committee, which comprises about 370 people and is the largest of its elite bodies.

Once the plenum ends, Xinhua will release a long communique detailing what was decided, typically using dry and turgid party phraseology.

The last plenum, in February 2018, discussed personnel decisions and a reform plan for state institutions to give the Communist Party even greater control.

The one before that approved a plan to scrap term limits for the head of state, effectively meaning Xi Jinping could stay in power for life if he wishes. That decision was rubber-stamped by the National People’s Congress in March of last year.

By Ben Blanchard