Chinese Communist Party (CCP) head Xi Jinping has rallied senior provincial and ministerial officials to top-secret meetings in Beijing twice in the past six months, in what is seen as a rare move to consolidate his power enough to support his bid for next term election that will be determined at the party congress at the end of this year.
At the latest special seminar held from July 26 to 27, attendants were forbidden to take notes, although it was reportedly for “learning Chinese Communist Party head Xi Jinping’s important speeches and welcoming the twentieth congress.”
U.S.-based China expert Shi Shan believes Xi has signaled that he will be reelected for at least five years with this move.
The key officials were from all provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities, central and state organs’ highest bodies such as the Central Military Commission and the Politburo, and the Standing Committee.
China expert and current affairs commentator Chen Pokong said in a July 28 commentary on his YouTube channel that this was an unusual meeting, as it’s rare for the CCP to hold two seminars for senior provincial and ministerial officials within six months.
In January, these senior officials were called to Beijing to attend the opening ceremony of the seminar for the top leadership cadres according to reports from state-run Chinese media.
“All senior provincial and ministerial officials at this meeting were not allowed to bring paper and pens, were not allowed to take notes, and had only a teacup in front of them, while the entire venue was unmarked and without any banners—a ‘Four Nos’ assembly.”
That means that the content of the meeting cannot be seen, and one of the reasons why officials were not allowed to take notes was fear of a leak.
This has rarely happened in the history of the CCP, not even in Mao Zedong’s time, Chen said.
Dismissal of Senior Officials Announced at CCP’s Secret Meeting
In past CCP practice, a “Four Nos” meeting would be called when something unusual happened within the party and a unified tone to convince all the cadres to obey was needed.
According to an official report, on July 15, 2017, Chongqing authorities held a meeting of its leadership and cadres, at which Zhao Leji, then-member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, announced Beijing’s decision that Sun Zhengcai would no longer serve as secretary, standing committee member, or member of the Chongqing Municipal Committee.
The officials were not allowed to take notes at that meeting either.
Sun, the youngest member of the Politburo, was described by foreign media as a “sixth-generation” successor deliberately groomed by the CCP. But unexpectedly, Sun was punished by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection for allegedly violating the party’s discipline, and later was sentenced to life imprisonment for “accepting bribes.”
However, the real reason for Sun’s arrest is that he had joined forces with Fang Fenghui, then Chief of Joint Staff, and Zhang Yang, then Director of the Political Work Department, in an attempt to stage an anti-Xi coup before the 19th congress, said people familiar with the matter, according to Secret China, a U.S-based Chinese media, on Sept. 27, 2017.
In August of the same year, Fang and Zhang were kicked out of the party’s organization and investigated. Zhang later died when he hanged himself at home.
Fang was last seen in public on Aug. 21, 2017, when he met with Surapong Suwana-adth, then chief of the Thailand Defense Forces. Only a few days later, official media reported that Li Zuocheng attended the event with the same title, indicating Fang’s removal from his post. Shortly after, Fang was reportedly under investigation.
It was not until Jan. 9, 2018, that it was announced that Fang had been transferred for military prosecution and accused of bribery and accepting bribes. On October 16 of the same year, he was expelled from the Central Military Commission, stripped of his rank of general, and expelled from the Party. In February 2019, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
After Zhang’s suicide, officials from 13 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, and central ministries organized meetings to convey Beijing’s statement on Zhang’s death and to focus on expressing their support for “centralized and unified leadership of the Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core,” according to several Chinese media.
Xi’s ‘Reelection Declaration’ Within the Party
At the seminar for senior officials, Xi presented the Communist Party’s policy agenda for the next five years. Although Xi did not mention the word “reelection,” his speech has been interpreted as his “reelection manifesto” for the twentieth congress.
In a press release issued by Party mouthpiece Xinhua, Xi called the twentieth congress “a very important congress held at a critical moment” that will map out the CCP’s goals and objectives, and general policies for the next five years and beyond.
Xi said the twentieth congress will be a “new journey,” that the CCP will continue to move toward strategic plans from the nineteenth congress, which defined realization of “the basic modernization of socialism from 2020 to 2035.”
Xi talked about two concepts here—15 years and 5 years, Chen noticed.
The fifteen years—Xi’s intention to rule long-term that was revealed at the nineteenth congress—may suffer a setback, as his ongoing rule has met with resistance from both inside and outside the CCP system, including opposition from the top echelons and political elders, Chen said.
While the next five years that Xi emphasized in the meeting could be a strong hint that he expects to secure the next term, Chen added.
China expert Shi Shan also believes Xi will be reelected, but the title of “people’s leader” would not be given to him, and that he might make a compromise with various factions to continue his reelection in the next five years. As a concession, Xi will give up some of the power that was previously set in stone.
The so-called “people’s leader” title refers to a report in the Hong Kong media Ming Pao on July 12, citing sources from the Chinese military, that Xi would be officially named “people’s leader” by the Central Committee at the twentieth congress.
“If such a compromise is reached, Xi will be reelected and all CCP fractions will maintain some kind of balance,” Shi told The Epoch Times on July 29.
But it is hard to say, if there is infighting, or a coup and assassination plan aimed at Xi, “In fact, Xi is now in a very precarious position, with all sorts of elements of more intense conflict growing in the final battle for power in the Communist Party,” Shi said.