China: a sixth CCP plenum to consolidate Xi Jinping's grip?

Poster of Chinese leader Xi Jinping near the entrance to the Forbidden City in Beijing, Saturday, September 18, 2021. AP - Mark Schiefelbein

Text by: Stéphane Lagarde Follow

4 min

The internal Parliament of the Chinese Communist Party is meeting from Monday, November 8 in Beijing.

This Sixth Plenum of the 19th CPC Congress is expected to produce a " 

historic resolution

 " placing current President Xi Jinping on the same level as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

A rewrite of the past, to control the future and consolidate the hold of the Head of State over the Chinese state apparatus. 

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From our correspondent in Beijing

It doesn't matter whether the smoke is white or black, it is a major resolution for the future of the world's second-largest economy that should emerge from the Great Hall of the People in the days to come, according to state media.

For the propaganda fanfare, there is no doubt: the future of China rhymes more than ever with "Xi Jinping".

This weekend thus gave rise to a concert of praise for the current Chinese number One.

Avalanche of posts on social networks, in particular via

the official Twitter account of the New China news agency

, which sees in the secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party, "

 a man of determination and action, a man of thoughts and feelings. deep, a man who has received a heritage but dares to innovate, a man who has a vision turned towards the future

 ”.

► To read also: China: the central committee of the CPC meets in a gloomy economic context

"Revolutionary heritage"

Written in the Constitution

, the thought of the Chinese president is taught from elementary school to universities; publications are also regularly supplied

to dedicated research centers,

such as this new large 300-page white paper containing "50 important manuscripts of comrade Xi Jinping", published on Sunday by the presses of the Central Institute for Research on History and Documentation of the CCP.

It is in this context of strong support from the official media that this plenary session "in secret" of more than 400 members of the central committee opens. The sixth plenums are traditionally devoted to building the party and preparing for the renewal of its leadership. It is also the rare opportunity to validate decisions marking history such as, for example, the abandonment of the one-child policy in 2015 or the opening of the Chinese economy to red capitalism in 1978.

The wait for a resolution on the major stages of the

CCP, which has just celebrated with pomp its centenary

, would allow the current head of state very attached to "the revolutionary heritage" to make the synthesis between Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping and to anchor his name in the history of the party.

This third reassessment in the history of the CCP after those of Mao and Deng, should also allow Xi Jinping to strengthen his grip on the state apparatus.

 "Historical resolution"

The CPC General Secretary intends to extend his tenure 

as head of the China ship

at the regime's next major political meeting next year.

The 20th CCP Congress scheduled for fall 2022 is, in the numbers - and the Chinese are reading the numbers - a traumatic moment for the Communists.

The XXth Congress of the CPSU - which said of "de-Stalinization" in 1956 - preceding the fall of the USSR.

But for Xi Jinping as for his supporters, there is no question of repeating the same mistake.

Since coming to power in 2012, the Chinese number One has set the bar on the left by insisting on a return to the roots of the party and not hesitating to trigger a " 

deep revolution

 " in several sectors of the economy. The document, which will be adopted behind closed doors this week in the "Great Hall of the People" in Tiananmen Square, is expected to shape Chinese society and politics for decades to come. A major power issue for the second largest economy in the world which follows a long battle for influence within a Chinese power wrought by internal strife.

Such a “historic resolution” requires many compromises, underlines Alex Payette, specialist of the Chinese Communist Party (

see box

).

An event monitored remotely by observers, in a Chinese capital where, as at every political meeting, controls have been tightened.

Some human rights lawyers claim that their health QR code, - the health pass on their smartphone - has turned red on the eve of the plenum in order to prevent them from leaving their homes.

Sixth CPC Plenum: "Historic Resolutions" Are Still Very Controversial Within the Party

Alex Payette, a specialist in the Chinese Communist Party and president of the Cercius Group, a strategic and geopolitical intelligence consultancy firm, answers Stéphane Lagarde's questions.

RFI: In a recent article published on the Asialyst site, you pointed out the rarity of "historic resolutions", such as that expected during the plenary session of the central committee of the party meeting this week in Beijing. What are these "resolutions" for?

For the Chinese Communist Party, these historic resolutions 历史 决议 are significant changes that affect the foundations of the regime. It is about ushering in a “new era” - building on the legitimacy of the “previous regime”. This was the case in 1945, during the 7th Plenum of the 6th Congress, as in 1981 during the 6th Plenum of the 11th Congress. The first resolution "on certain historical questions / issues of the Party" aimed to highlight the mistakes of communist leaders opposed to Mao, as well as to underline the contribution of Mao's leadership to Marxist-Leninist thought, but also to the revolution. In this sense,the first resolution confirms Mao's position as leader of the Party after the Yan'an rectification movement which also served as a purge and the "victory" of the Communists against the Japanese during World War II. It is, in this sense, the beginning of the Mao era as the supreme leader of the Party. The second resolution [on some historical problems of the Party since the founding of the People's Republic] comes in 1981, as the forces of Deng Xiaoping and the reformers return to the central government after being purged during the Cultural Revolution. The resolution then aimed to separate the communist heritage from the excesses of the left, and in particular the Cultural Revolution.Reformers had to “assess” Mao's legacy and possible “mistakes” before they could move forward. That said, the real goal was to have a discussion within the Party about the leader's mistakes and to warn Mao's last allies, then still in the Party-state structure, that China was going. take a new direction, without permanent revolution and therefore in the minds of the reformers. That being said, Deng Xiaoping was walking on eggshells. He said the Cultural Revolution was wrongly started by Mao, but then used by counterrevolutionary groups to harm the Party. Impossible to deny Mao without denying the legitimacy of the Party.discussing the leader's mistakes and warning Mao's last allies, then still in post in the Party-State structure, that China was going to take a new direction, without a permanent revolution and therefore in the minds of the reformers. That being said, Deng Xiaoping was walking on eggshells. He said the Cultural Revolution was wrongly started by Mao, but then used by counterrevolutionary groups to harm the Party. Impossible to deny Mao without denying the legitimacy of the Party.discussing the leader's mistakes and warning Mao's last allies, then still in post in the Party-State structure, that China was going to take a new direction, without a permanent revolution and therefore in the minds of the reformers. That being said, Deng Xiaoping was walking on eggshells. He said the Cultural Revolution was wrongly started by Mao, but then used by counterrevolutionary groups to harm the Party. Impossible to deny Mao without denying the legitimacy of the Party.but then used by counter-revolutionary groups to harm the Party. Impossible to deny Mao without denying the legitimacy of the Party.but then used by counter-revolutionary groups to harm the Party. Impossible to deny Mao without denying the legitimacy of the Party.

The first two "resolutions" came at a time of crisis within the apparatus, what is it today? 

We first note that this is a resolution that comes late. Should we consider the period 2017-2021 as a period of crisis? One would have thought that Xi would have tried to pass the resolution in 2017, in order to keep an equidistance of thirty-six years as for the other two resolutions. What is certain is that Xi Jinping must also take stock of the experience of reforms of the past forty years. As Deng Xiaoping had to revisit the Great Leap Forward and Mao's Cultural Revolution, Xi Jinping must look back on the events of 1989. Problem: Going back to 1989 would be to oppose a discourse on the unification of leadership and would emphasize the ideological divisions that remain within the Party, but also the divisions that exist between the Party and Chinese society.In this sense, it would defeat all the Party's unification efforts and rhetoric about the “new era” of development. This third resolution thus risks being confronted with the same problems as the first two, in the sense that it obliges to speak about the successes and the errors of the Party under the Deng Xiaoping era.

The big question is therefore to know what the Party thinks on the subject in terms of success and failure. The great achievements are probably the policy of reform and openness and the sidelining of the revolution in favor of governance. For errors, it's trickier. (And) what about

June 4, 1989

 ?

Can we avoid talking about it?

Both options are risky for the current leadership.

It is very complex, because if, for example, we put the corruption and the disparities in wealth on the back of the reforms resulting from the 2nd resolution, then the last four decades will be discredited, as will the Party for that matter.

In this sense, Xi Jinping should both "applaud" the reforms, but say that the excesses do not come from the leadership of his predecessors, which would allow him to promise to complete the work accomplished in the next "era".

In this sense, the “historic resolutions” are not only technical, but always very controversial within the party.

 What is this third “historic resolution” for Xi Jinping for?

It's a complex way to climb to the top of internal struggles in order to be able to implement your vision of the Party, back to basics, return to interventionism, without having to yet be tied to the constraints of the Deng Xiaoping era. .

For the Party, it is at the same time a look back, but also forward.

It is therefore difficult and it is possible that an attempt will be made during the Sixth Plenum, but that it will be necessary to wait until next year for the resolution to be adopted - given the linguistic gymnastics required - when the The Central Committee will be able to agree on what to say about the events of 1981 to 1991. Otherwise, the Party risks breaking up, both as a whole and with Chinese society.

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