China’s Communist Party makes final preparations for key congress

BEIJING, Oct 11 (Reuters) – China’s Communist Party opened a meeting on Wednesday to make final preparations for a key party congress later this month, state media said, a five-yearly event where President Xi Jinping is expected to further tighten his grip on power.

The seventh plenary session of the party’s Central Committee will review draft reports on the work of the party, its discipline and anti-corruption commission, and amendments to be made to the party’s constitution, all of which will be delivered at the 19th Party Congress that opens on Oct. 18, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The congress will “summarise historical progress and precious experiences” in advancing socialism with Chinese characteristics gained with Xi at the party’s core, Xinhua said.

“The congress will also thoroughly examine the current international and domestic situation and draw out guidelines and policies that respond to the call of the times,” the news agency said, without giving specifics.

Details of the speech that Xi, the party’s general secretary, will give at the opening session of the congress are closely guarded secrets, although the event is more about ideology than concrete policies.

It is unclear how long the plenum will last, but it could be just a single day. It will end with a long communique, issued by Xinhua, that is usually full of party phraseology but could be short on specifics.

Last October, the party gave Xi the title of “core” leader, a significant strengthening of his position ahead of the congress, at which a new Standing Committee, the pinnacle of power in China, will be constituted.

The party’s constitution will be amended at the end of the congress, likely to include a reference to Xi’s thinking or ideology as a guiding party principle.

Mao Zedong and the reformist former leader Deng Xiaoping already have their names enshrined in the document, although Xi’s two immediate predecessors, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, do not. (Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Paul Tait)

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