China begins key meeting of top leaders ahead of CPC conference

China began an important meeting of its top leaders Sunday ahead of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), with President Xi Jinping delivering a working report at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Xi provided the working report on behalf of the Political Bureau (Politburo) of the CPC Central Committee and briefed the 20th CPC National Congress on the draft report of the outgoing 19th CPC Central Committee, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

More than 300 senior CPC officials attended Sunday’s meeting, and all officials present would also be briefed on the main thrust of the party’s political and economic policies, in addition to deliberating on draft amendments to the CPC constitution.

An official statement said the 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) – China’s anti-graft watchdog – would also submit a report at the meeting.

Xi is expected to secure an unprecedented third term at the end of the congress, which begins on October 16 and will last at least a week. The date when the new leadership – alongside Xi – will be unveiled is not yet known.

Xi, 69, securing a third term marks a break from a party custom of leaders retiring at age 68.

At the previous National Congress in October 2017, a report titled Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics was incorporated into the party constitution. The move was taken as recognition of the Chinese president’s growing status and influence.

This time, the ideology could be shortened to Xi Jinping Thought. By the end of the congress, Xi is likely to emerge as a leader with status equal to Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China. He is expected to continue as president, head of the Central Military Commission and, most importantly, general secretary of the CPC – the source of his power.

As many as 2,296 delegates will attend a series of meetings prior to and during the convention.

A total of 771 deputies, or 33.6% of the total, are from the front lines, including 192 laborers or migrant workers, 85 farmers and 266 professionals and technicians, Xinhua reported.

“The number of female delegates reached 619, or 27 percent of the total, an increase of 2.8 percentage points from the CPC’s 19th National Congress five years ago,” the report said, adding: “There are 264 delegates from ethnic minorities, those of 40 ethnic minority groups”.

Tight security has been put in place around Beijing, with authorities banning the use of drones and low-flying objects until the end of the month.

Access to the city is tightly controlled with additional Covid-19 prevention protocols requiring those entering to carry mandatory health certificates and to isolate themselves in designated hotels and quarantine zones if coming from areas with Covid cases. Outdoor activities are also limited in the city.

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