Seventh Plenum Report Cues Xi Surpassing Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao

The 18th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party issued a communiqué following the conclusion of its 7th plenary session on Oct. 14.

According to the communiqué, the Central Committee reviewed and passed three draft documents that will read out during the 19th Party Congress, including an amendment to the CCP constitution.

Most notably, the communiqué said that the 19th Congress would “implement the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s series of important speeches and new concepts, new thought, and new strategies on the governance of the country”—a formulation which offers a clue to the political philosophy which Xi will add to the list of banner terms of previous CCP leaders.

How “Xi Jinping Thought” will eventually be phrased in the CCP constitution is a hotly speculated topic since it will be a bellwether of Xi’s political strength.

Our take: The formulation in the 7th plenum communiqué is the result of Xi’s bartering with various CCP factions. Several points can be gleaned from its wording:

  1. The CCP doesn’t consider Xi Jinping to be on the same level as Mao Zedong, but appears to have deemed Xi to have surpassed Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.
  2. The degree of Xi’s power consolidation at the 19th Congress could fall somewhere between the two scenarios that we consider to have the highest probability of occurring. (Check out all of our five scenarios here.)
  3. Xi should have his name written into the CCP constitution, but his title may be kept as General Secretary and not CCP Chairman. There is a good chance that the Politburo Standing Committee system will remain intact at the 19th Congress, but the General Secretary’s power may be expanded in an upgraded Standing Committee.
  4. Xi may have traded away his assuming the role of “CCP Chairman” to keep Wang Qishan in office.