EXCLUSIVE: Roles of New Standing Committee Members Decided, Source Indicates

August 31, 2012 2:15 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 12:28 pm
17th Chinese Communist Party Congress
The 17th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress on Oct. 21, 2007 in Beijing. An insider says that the new Standing Committee will be reduced to seven members. (Guang Niu/Getty Images)

The Chinese Communist Party has closely guarded who will be appointed during this fall’s paramount leadership transfer in the Politburo Standing Committee, the most powerful ruling organ in China. But a recent list obtained by The Epoch Times from a Party insider shows that the powerful decision-making body will be reduced to seven members, with the security and propaganda chief positions taken out.

The list shows that Xi Jinping, who was widely predicted to take Hu Jintao’s place as paramount leader of the CCP—will serve as Party secretary and state chairman, while Li Keqiang will take Wen Jiabao’s place as premier of the State Council, as expected. They will be formally sworn in during the 18th Party Congress, which is expected to take place in October.

The Politburo Standing Committee currently has nine members, which was the result of an expansion during the 2002 16th Party Congress. At that time, Jiang Zemin installed two stalwarts—Luo Gan and Li Changchun—to handle security and propaganda respectively. Their primary functions were to ensure that the campaign against the Falun Gong spiritual practice that Jiang had begun be continued while he was no longer the chief of the CCP. Maintaining the campaign required mobilizing massive state resources in vilifying the group and locking its adherents into labor camps where they were to be tortured and brainwashed to have them renounce their beliefs.

The current secretary of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (PLAC) is Zhou Yongkang—another Jiang loyalist, who went directly to the Standing Committee in 2007 after taking Luo’s place as head of the PLAC.

The PLAC is a highly secretive, sweeping apparatus that controls the police, paramilitary forces, court system, and more.

The move to place the secretary of the PLAC from the Standing Committee to the 24-member Politburo, where it will be under more oversight and supervision, is significant in the current political climate. Many high-level Communist Party members have expressed concerns that the position is too powerful and threatens the supremacy of the Party chief and chairman.

Shi Zangshan, a Washington, D.C.-based expert on Chinese politics, said the PLAC and propaganda department positions are currently being held by close allies with former leader Jiang Zemin and said these positions are being taken out because they are too close to the center of power. He suggests that the PLAC has especially grown too powerful, unwieldy, and expensive. The budget for the PLAC is greater than China’s military, he added.

A recent report from Reuters indicates also that the role of the PLAC in the Standing Committee will be downgraded. Zhou Yongkang is slated to retire this year and the move to make the PLAC less powerful could be viewed as a way to control his successor, the news agency said.

“As things now stand, the Political and Legal Affairs Committee secretary won’t be in the Standing Committee. He’ll have to answer to someone in the Standing Committee. Basically, he won’t be his own judge anymore,” a retired Communist Party official who remains close to senior officials told Reuters.

Ousted politician Bo Xilai, who was at one time tipped for a Standing Committee spot, is currently being investigated by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, according to reports and leaks from China. Until his spectacular political destruction earlier this year, Bo Xilai was Wang Yang’s political contender and chief rival.

Read the original Chinese article.

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