Politics Watch: Decoding the Third Plenum Communique

Chinese state media released a communique on the Chinese Communist Party 19th Central Committee’s third plenary session discussions on Feb. 28.

After deliberations at the Third Plenum (Feb. 26 to Feb. 28), the Central Committee:

1. Settled on a list of candidates for top state jobs and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

2. Adopted a decision and a bill on deepening reform of Party and state apparatuses, and passed a portion of the bill proposals to the incoming National People’s Congress for review.

3. Again emphasized the need to strengthen the Party’s leading role in reform.

The backdrop:
The Third Plenum was held during a period where the Second Plenum is usually convened. Meanwhile, constitutional amendments were discussed during this year’s Second Plenum in January.

Our take:
1. Going by the content of the Third Plenum communique, Xi Jinping is planning to introduce sweeping reforms to the Party and state apparatuses, as well as the military. 

  • Party and state apparatuses and organs will be merged and their power rebalanced;
  • The power relations between Party central and the local governments will be redistributed;
  • The relationship between the state government and the ministries and commissions will be adjusted.

2. In our Feb. 25 brief on the Third Plenum, we wrote that:

  • Xi spent his first term consolidating power in the Party apparatus through political reform and an anti-corruption campaign;
  • He then strengthened his control over the military through a sweeping military modernization and reform effort;
  • After the 19th Party Congress, Xi is reforming the state apparatus to consolidate his power over it.

3. We believe that Xi will formally begin his new round of reforms after the Two Sessions.