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Xi Jinping Tightens Grip, Eases Out Li Keqiang

Xi Jinping's grip on the CCP can be gauged by the fact that its constitution was amended to include 'Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era' in its charter

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is most likely to resign in March 2023 when the National People’s Congress is scheduled to meet. He may be replaced by Wang Huning, who has worked relentlessly on ideology, party organisation, discipline and the fight against corruption within the Chinese Communist Party.

He has been promoted in the Polit Bureau Standing Committee to number 2.

The CCP Congress was attended by 2,296 delegates who elected 205 members of the Central Committee. The CC has elected a 25-member Polit Bureau and the seven-member all-powerful Standing Committee.

It is the Standing Committee that rules the party and the country if there is collective leadership, a rare quality under Xi Jinping.

Four current members have not been included in the new Standing Committee, to be unveiled on Sunday in the Great Hall of The People.

Li Keqiang is one of the people who has been left out.

Foreign Minister Wang Yang, once tipped to be the Premier too has been left out.

Han Zheng, former Shanghai party chief, and Li Zhanshu, the speaker of the National People’s Congress have not been included.

With these changes in the Standing Committee, the way for Wang Huning has been paved.

The three who remain on the Standing Committee are Xi, 69, Wang Huning, known for his work on ideology, and Zhao Leji who heads the CPC discipline apparatus.

It was Jiang Zemin who brought Wang Huning to the higher echelons of the party.

Zemin made Wang head of the Central Policy Research Office, a party think tank. He remained there for 15 years before being elevated to the Polit Bureau in 2017, by Xi Jinping.

Wang Huning has worked closely with three presidents- Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping. He has been the chief speech-writer of these three presidents as well.

Wang has been elevated because he is a rare combination of national policy adviser, chief speech-writer and principal theorist to the country’s top leader.

His importance and closeness to the party General Secretary can be understood by the fact that he has accompanied him on many important state visits and significant internal trips.

He was on Xi Jinping’s trip to Hong Kong in July for the 25th anniversary of the city’s return to China.

Xi Jinping’s grip on the CCP can be gauged by the fact that its constitution was amended Saturday to include ‘Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era’ in its charter.

Two ‘Establishments’ and ‘Two Upholds’ were included in the CCP constitution at the closing session of the party Congress Saturday.

One of the Two Establishments means to establish Xi’s status as the ‘core’ of the CPC’s Central Committee and of the whole party. The second establishment means the inclusion of Xi Jinping Thoughts in the charter.

A resolution was passed in this context. It was made mandatory for all party members to “uphold Comrade Xi Jinping’s core position on the Party Central Committee and in the party as a whole.”

This resolution was passed unanimously in the closing session of Congress.

The amendment also included the opposition to Taiwan’s Independence in its charter.

A resolution was passed, that reads, “The Congress agrees to include in the party constitution statements on… resolutely opposing and deterring separatists seeking ‘Taiwan independence.’

Another amendment to the CCP constitution includes “developing ‘fighting spirit’, promoting ‘Chinese-style modernisation’, recognising the party as the ‘supreme political leadership force’ and gradually achieving ‘common prosperity.’

Interestingly, all these phrases have been used by the party General Secretary several times.

The most significant ‘princeling has emerged as the new ‘tsar’ of the communist party and the party has put its seal on it.

Pramode Mallik

is former BBC Producer and a commentator on international affairs.

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