Xi’s standing: How do amendments to the Communist Party’s constitution support the authority of the Chinese president?

Since the founding of the Communist Party of China in 1921, it has been stipulated that an annual party congress be held every five years, but this year’s party congress, scheduled for next October 16, has a very special feature. Not only because it is held at a crucial period in the country’s history towards the second centenary goal of building a modern socialist state, but also because it is scheduled Amendments to the Constitution of the Communist Party of China, as well as the election of President Xi Jinping for a new term as head of state for the third time; This is after an amendment was made during the previous conference in 2017 to the constitution to remove the two-term requirement for presidential terms as a maximum term, and theoretically any president can rule China for life.

Indeed, on the 9th of September this year, Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee The 25-member committee – the main policy-making committee of the party – held a meeting to deliberate on documents to be submitted for discussion at the 20th annual congress of the Communist Party of China. These documents included a draft report submitted by the 19th CPC Central Committee to the 20th CPC National Congress, a draft to amend its constitution, and a draft work report of the 19th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Suggested modifications

The current CPC Constitution plays a guiding role in the Party’s work and governance; Therefore, the Central Committee of the Party amends its constitution, and every Party member can submit his suggestions and contributions to the drafting of a new revised constitution that represents the wishes of the Chinese people of different nationalities, and is commensurate with the requirements of the new situation. And participates in the general conference 2,300 delegates. The People’s Republic of China enacted its first constitution in 1954, and the current constitution was adopted in 1982, then it was amended in 1988, 1993, 1999, 2004 and finally in 2017; Since the 1990s, changes to the party constitution have focused primarily on adding the new leadership’s political philosophies to an ever-widening list of party political doctrines, while emphasizing their historical significance.

Therefore, during the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the new revised Constitution is scheduled to be reviewed and passed. Although the changes are not explicitly defined, the most prominent statement of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee can be highlighted in this regard. This is as follows:

1- Codification of Marxism: A statement issued after the meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee said the constitutional amendment should fully represent the latest codification of Marxism, new concepts of governance, thought and strategies of the CPC Central Committee since the 19th CPC National Congress, and new experience in upholding the Party’s leadership. and strengthening, and in the strict governance of the party. The main theoretical proposal and validated strategic ideas in the report to the Twentieth National Congress of the CPC will be written into the revised Party Constitution; So that the recent achievements of adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and new conditions are fully embodied as well as new ideas.

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2- Consecration of the “two institutions”: Political observers say that one of the possible amendments is an amendment that reduces the ideology to “Xi Jinping Thought” and raises its status to “Mao Zedong Thought”, the founder of the People’s Republic of China. It can also be seen as the elevation of Xi’s power as a dedication to the two institutions, an emerging phrase that means the party treats Xi as the core of the party, and his ideas are his guiding principles; He will be joined by important policies and principles, the latest fruits of theoretical innovation, as well as the party’s new experience in governance and administration.

3- Clarify the new requirements to support the party leadership: The revised Party Constitution is also expected to clarify these new requirements to advance the full and strict autonomy of the Party under the new circumstances; In order to better navigate the Great Social Revolution through active self-reform. The meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee also pointed out that it is necessary to firmly adhere to the centralized and unified authority and leadership of the Central Committee. It is also of great importance to exercise full and strict autonomy of the Party, push forward the new project of Party building in the new era, improve its conduct, uphold integrity and fight corruption.

4- Structural changes in the party’s composition: Some critics have suggested that the upcoming constitutional amendment could restore the top position of the party chief that was abolished in 1982, and, according to some news reports, also expect to change the composition of the Politburo Standing Committee, which includes the seven members who hold the real power in China. It is also worth noting that some current members are expected to leave due to reaching retirement age.

multiple connotations

no doubt that Making amendments to the Party Constitution in line with new conditions and tasks will help the entire Party to better study, adhere to, implement and safeguard this fundamental document. Proponents of these amendments promote that The new revised constitution will play a positive role in China’s development in all fields in the future; This is as follows:

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1- Strengthening the authority of the president: The step of introducing some constitutional amendments is one of the most important goals of strengthening President Xi Jinping’s authority and position within the party, and it is widely expected that Xi will secure a third five-year term of leadership; which cements his position as the most powerful leader of China; Its persistence is seen as a major policy shift in the leadership structure; All of Xi’s predecessors, with the exception of founder Mao, retired after two five-year terms.

2. Promote the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics: The participants in the meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, on September 9, said that the amendment of the Party Constitution helps the whole Party to advance and promote the new grand project of its construction, and they also stressed the importance of including important Party theories and major strategic ideas that must be recognized by the National Congress. Twentieth of the Communist Party of China in its Constitution; To enable it to fully embody the latest achievements of Marxism applied in the Chinese context, and to fully demonstrate the new philosophy of governance.

3- Supporting the newly developed strategies for national governance: Appropriate amendments to the CPC Constitution, under the new situation and new tasks, will help the whole Party to better study, monitor, implement and protect the Constitution, and fully reflect the new ideas and strategies on national governance put forward by the CPC Central Committee since the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.

In this context, the “Cyberspace Administration of China” launched a 3-month campaign, targeting “online rumors and fake information about major meetings, important events and policies” in China, pointing out that dealing with violators will be “firm, fast and strict.” Online platforms to blacklist accounts that publish such content, pointing out that government agencies are directed to respond quickly to this matter; And in an attempt to tighten control over the course of affairs before the annual conference of the party.

4- Dealing with external issues: The upcoming constitutional amendments are inseparable from the foreign issues that concern the Chinese decision-maker; China-US relations are witnessing escalating tension on most issues. Beijing is trying to stress and preoccupy the United States with a number of simultaneous international files, whether it is the Taiwan file, or the growing Sino-Russian rapprochement, especially in the energy field in light of Western sanctions against Moscow against the backdrop of the Russian military intervention in Ukraine; “China is ready to work with Russia to continuously implement the spirit of high-level strategic cooperation between the two countries, safeguard common interests, and promote the development of the international system in a more just and rational direction,” said Yang Jiechi, a foreign affairs official of the Communist Party of China. Accordingly, it can be said that dedicating the authority and influence of the Chinese president through the upcoming amendments to the Constitution of the Communist Party aims to give him more support in dealing with foreign issues.

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Securing judgment

In sum, the point of view of the members of the Communist Party of China is that making appropriate amendments to the Party Constitution in light of the new situation and new tasks will help the Party advance the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, as well as the new project of building the Party better, as well as calling on Party members to include The Party Constitution, the main views and strategic ideas to be elaborated in the report of the Twentieth National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

But although Xi Jinping is preparing for the most important political event in the country, this coincides with facing a number of challenges at the local and international levels. Internally, Beijing faces the risk of the relative spread of the Lanjia virus, and the increase in cases of the emerging corona virus, and this was embodied during the closure of the city of Shanghai for two months this year in order to curb Corona, as well as the discontent of the Chinese public with the strict measures taken by the Chinese authorities in this regard. This is in addition to lower expectations for economic growth in China. On the international level, China is facing an escalating tension with the United States against the backdrop of the intense American presence in the Indo-Pacific region, the disputes over the Taiwan file, as well as the growing talk that China and Russia are pushing for radical changes in the structure of the current international system.

Accordingly, Xi is trying to secure his rule at the domestic and international levels with all his might, hoping that he will be able to meet these challenges; Xi is taking advantage of China’s strong presence on the international scene to increase his popularity at home so that he can face internal challenges and unify the Chinese side, so that this line can be his back also in the face of external opponents, especially the United States.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

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