As the Beidaihe meeting is approaching, factional infighting within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has once again come under the spotlight. Although floods are wreaking havoc in parts of the country, the top leadership seems to care more about their political agendas and convening at the popular seaside resort in the coming weeks.
The Beidaihe meeting or “summer summit” is held each year between July and August, and is attended by current and former top echelons of the CCP. Party factions conduct informal negotiations, discuss major national policies, and finalize decisions—although details are kept secret. The meetings are accompanied by state-controlled media propaganda as well as endless rumors of power struggles, assassinations, and coups. Beidaihe is located on China’s northern Bohai Sea coast in Hebei Province.
On July 23, Hong Kong media Ming Pao revealed that security has been enhanced in Beidaihe and several Chinese rights defenders were arrested. This shows that the CCP’s retreat in Beidaihe this year will take place as usual.
Xi’s Grip Over Security
There are two pieces of news related to the reshuffling of the armed forces ahead of the Beidaihe meeting.
First of all, state media reported that Xi Jinping replaced leaders of the Central Security Bureau with personnel from the Field Army. The Central Security Bureau is directly responsible for the safety of senior leaders and the CCP’s central headquarters, Zhongnanhai, in Beijing. Xi’s move suggests that he doesn’t trust many of the main cadres in the Central Security Bureau. In order to ensure his succession in the upcoming 20th National Congress and to better control his rivals, Xi transferred outsiders from the Field Army to take charge of Zhongnanhai bodyguards and to monitor high-level officials.
While it is not unusual for the CCP leadership to control other senior cadres through the Central Security Bureau, the change of personnel could be interpreted as Xi’s measures against any potential coup or factional infighting during the Beidaihe meeting.
Police Commander Releases Statement
On July 24, another piece of news confirmed Xi’s move.
He emphasized, “Implementing the Chairman Responsibility System of the Central Military Commission is critical to the highest military leadership for ensuring that both Party Central Committee and Central Military Commission have a firm grasp of the commanding authority.”
“Chairman Responsibility System” refers to Xi’s personalized command over the PLA and as the Chairman of the Central Military Commission. According to analysis from the Hoover Institution, a U.S.-based public policy think tank, “The Xi Jinping era has been marked by a greater degree of personalized command, sometimes veering toward the cult of personality, than any leadership period since the death of Mao Zedong.”
Li Weijie stressed that there would be zero tolerance toward behaviors “undermining the implementation of the Chairman Responsibility System.”
“The Armed Police Force … must resolutely obey the command of Chairman Xi … must deeply understand the commander’s [Xi] determination and intentions.”
Li’s statement reveals a crucial issue.
The timing of Li’s statement, which was released before the Beidaihe meeting, shows that Xi still faces resistance from factions in the military. Li’s allegiance to Xi serves as propaganda for army personnel. In recent years, Xi has frequently demanded the loyalty of the military, which in itself shows that the military is not loyal enough.
Yue Shan is a freelance writer who focuses on Chinese politics. He has been a long-time contributor to several Chinese media outlets based in the United States and Taiwan. He has worked for several government organizations and real estate companies in China.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.