19th Congress of the Communist Party of China opens today

BY PETE SANKEY
Senior associate editor
sankeyp@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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BEIJING, China — The 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) opens here today with even higher expectations of President Xi Jinping, who pushed the reform agenda to make the Asian country one of the biggest players in the world economy.

Tuo Zhen, spokesman for the congress, said to journalists gathered last night for a press conference at the media centre of the Great Hall of the People here in the capital Beijing, that the congress is of vital importance as it is being held when China is striving to clinch final victory in building a society of moderate prosperity in all respects, and the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered into a crucial period.

“Delegates to the congress will reflect on the work of the party in the past five years, and look back over the historical course the Party Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping as its core, has been through, and take stock of the experience it has gained in uniting the Chinese people and led them in upholding and developing Chinese socialism since he 18th National Congress,” said Tuo.

According to Tuo, delegates — numbering 2,280 — will over the seven days of the congress be taking an in-depth analysis of the current domestic and international environments and developing a full understanding of the new expectations of the people and the new requirements in the development of the cause of the party and the country.

Tuo said: “The congress will formulate a programme of action and major policy and principles tailored to the needs of the time, and set out overall strategic plans and their implementing steps.”

In final preparation for the congress, a meeting was held yesterday, during which the agenda for the conference was adopted. Among the major items on the agenda are deliberations on the report of the 18th Central Committee, the 18th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and deliberate and adopt amendments to the Constitution of the party. It will also elect the party's 19th Central Committee and the 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Tuo said the drafting of the report for the 19th congress was firmly based on research and stressed that various groups were consulted, alluding to the participatory process despite China's one-party system.

“The Party Central Committee commissioned 59 organisations to conduct research on 21 key topics, resulting in 80 reports. The drafting group set up nine task forces and sent them to conduct field research in 16 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government. It also required dedicated research reports on special issues from relevant party and government departments and 25 national think tanks. All this laid a solid foundation for the drafting of the report,” said Tuo.

“Democracy prevailed in the whole drafting process, and comments and suggestions were widely solicited inside and outside the party. To make the report more inclusive, the Party Central Committee issued a circular to all localities and departments to seek their opinions on what should be included in the agenda of the congress,” added Tuo.

He said that once the draft took shape, more comments were sought and 4,700 people contributed their views. They included members of the 18th Party Central Committee and the 18th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, delegates to the 18th and 19th national congresses, leading party officials, the government, armed forces, people's organisations, heads of party committees of provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government.

“General Secretary Xi Jinping chaired six meetings to hear comments and suggestions from various sources [and] the drafting group also heard the views of some senior retired party officials,” Tuo told foreign and local journalists.

The CPC, said Tuo, also placed great emphasis on election of delegates for the 19th Congress — 2,280 from the 89-million membership and 4.5 million primary-level party organisations nationwide.

Said Tuo: “The delegates all met the criteria laid down by the Party Central Committee. With balanced composition and distribution, the delegates are from all walks of life, ensuring a broad representation. They come from all professions and fields, including the economy, science and technology, national defence, the judiciary, public security, education, publicity, culture, public health, sports, and social governance. Workers, farmers and professionals make up 8.7 per cent, 3.8 per cent, and 12.4 per cent, respectively. The number of women and ethnic minority delegates both increased, making up 24.2 per cent and 11.5 per cent, respectively.

“Of the delegates, 70.6 per cent are 55 or younger, and 94.2 per cent have a junior college education or higher. These delegates joined the party in different periods, with 87.8 per cent of them being admitted after the advent of the new period of reform and opening up and a socialist modernisation.”

Tuo, in responding to questions from journalists, stressed the CPC's desire to continue its poverty reduction programme.

“Chairman Xi Jinping has stressed that no one should be left behind and one of the key programmes is to lift more rural people out of poverty,” he said.

At the same time, he said, the outlook remains positive and China will continue its aggressive push to achieve growth.

In addition, he stressed that Xi's leadership will continue its fight against corruption. “[Persons involved in graft] will be disciplined no matter how high their position in the party,” said Tuo.

The congress spokesman also announced that, like previous congresses, the party's constitution will be amended during the 19th Congress in response to the innovations in theory and developments in practice.

“Experience has shown that making appropriate amendments to the party Constitution in line with new developments and tasks can help every member of the party better understand, abide by, apply, and uphold the party's Constitution, and enable the Constitution to better guide and regulate the party's work and building,” he said.

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