China’s ruling Communist Party began its key four-day meeting in Beijing on Monday
The 200 top members of the world’s most powerful political party—with 88 million members—gathered in Beijing’s Jingxi Hotel to discuss changes to party's structure and management. Also known as the Sixth Plenum, the annual meeting comes at a time when President Xi Jinping has been consolidating his power within the organisation and the country.
The meeting takes place before the party congress which will approve who will lead China for the five years following October 2017. However, according to The Economist, the meeting is not expected to take up this controversial issue.
China's official press agency Xinhua reported at the beginning of plenum that the party needs to strengthen “the leadership core” through new rules, hinting at Xi’s new road map for the further centralization of power.
Before the plenum, the party already announced that they would discuss possible reforms for rules which govern "intra-party political life". These rules were introduced in 1980 to prevent the rise of a cult figure after Chairman Mao Zedong's death when a small group tried to seize power.
According to the party's official newspaper People's Daily, the rules helped stabilise internal politics and propelled China into three decades of economic boom. Xinhua argued changes in the rules will "forge an even stronger, energetic leadership core, ready and waiting to guide China to its new starting point."
Since Xi took the office, he has incrementally gained power. He appointed himself as commander and chief of the Chinese military.
He also launched a graft campaign which is one of the broadest in China’s modern history to crack down on high-level officials and civil servants, trying to unwind a culture of bribery which jeopardised economic growth.
The party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said 43,231 party members were investigated and "dealt with" in the first 11 months of 2015. Over 29,000 were disciplined by the party.
However, critics say Xi is using the anti-corruption campaign to eliminate his possible enemies on his way to consolidate the power.
State media said new rules on the campaign will be unveiled at the end of the plenum.
"We are closer now than at any period in history to realising the great goal of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," Xi said, using “rejuvenation” word which describes impressive recent achievements and future planned development of the country.
"We have more confidence and ability than at any period in history to realise this goal."