It is still not clear how much more power Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping will gain with his anointment as the “core” of the party leadership, political analysts said on Friday.
A statement on Thursday at the close of the Central Committee’s meeting urged the party’s 88 million party members to “closely unite around the Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core”. But it also stressed collective leadership, saying: “No party organisation or individual should suppress or undermine intra-party democracy.”
Intra-party democracy refers to consultation within the party on decision-making and a less opaque mechanism for the appointment of officials.
According to the document, the party’s various responsibilities in terms of decision-making, implementation and supervision have to be carried out in line with the democratic principles and procedures stipulated in the party’s charter and regulations.
It said the party should embrace both centralised authority and “internal democracy”, both discipline and freedom, both unified will and individual freedom of thought.
It also said the collective leadership system played a key part in “democratic centralism” – meaning no organisation or individual could overturn the collective leadership system.
The gathering this week is seen as crucial to next year’s party congress, which will herald a massive reshuffle of personnel.
Steve Tsang, from the school of contemporary Chinese studies at the University of Nottingham, said the statement was a careful balancing act.
“The post-plenum releases are all finely balanced – core leader status versus collective leadership; paying tribute to anti-corruption work … versus stress on the norms of the collective leadership,” he said.
Tsang said the statement could indicate that while consolidating his position and power at the meeting, Xi failed to get his way completely.
“They all suggest to me that no agreement was reached on whether succession arrangements should be made at the 19th party congress [next year], and all such matters would have to be decided at the … congress,” he said.
Beijing-based political analyst Zhang Lifan said it remained to be seen whether party members, especially senior cadres, would respect and listen to the “core”.
“If they do, Xi will be able to assign his cronies to key positions in the power reshuffle during the next party congress,” Zhang said.
“If they refuse to do so, the scenario will certainly become more complicated.”
A mainland media source said the propaganda authorities asked media outlets not to play up Xi’s “core” designation to avoid too much emphasis on the achievements of an individual.