18th Party Congress

In a sign of compromise, Politburo reveals date of 18th party congress

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 September, 2012, 8:27am

The highly anticipated meeting of the Communist Party's decision-making Politburo yesterday and its announcement of the date for the crucial 18th national congress suggest the leadership has finally reached a compromise on major issues.

Those issues involved a once-a-decade transition of power after months of wrangling.

But analysts also said the delay in the announcement was an indication of intense horse-trading among factions over the leadership line-up and major policies in recent months.

"I think [the announcement] means that the leadership has finally reached agreement on important things, such as the leadership line-up," said Professor Steve Tsang, from the school of contemporary Chinese studies at the University of Nottingham in Britain.

The party wrapped up a Politburo meeting, chaired by party chief and President Hu Jintao , yesterday, with an announcement that the party's 18th national congress will convene on November 8.

The important congress meeting will appoint the next generation of Chinese leaders.

China-watchers said internal fighting over the leadership line-up, accompanied by division over the handling of ousted Politburo member Bo Xilai , appeared to have delayed the final decision on the timing of the congress.

"There's been a little bit of a delay in the decision and announcement of the date of the party congress," said Professor Zhang Lifan , a political affairs analyst.

Analysts said the announcement of the starting date of the congress - held once every five years, and usually in mid-October - was overdue, pointing out that the dates for the past three congresses had all been announced in late August.

In line with precedent, current and retired leaders should have finalised every important detail of the party's 18th national congress at their summer summit, which ended in mid-August.

They said a Politburo meeting should then have been held early this month to announce the date of the last plenum of the party's 17th Central Committee, at which paperwork for the congress would have been finalised.

The party congress should convene a few days after the Central Committee's last annual plenary session.

The Politburo announced yesterday that the Central Committee plenum would be held on November 1.

Zhang said it was unusual for a Politburo meeting to be held on the eve of the week-long National Day holidays.

"It is usual and it is an 11th- hour meeting to finalise important things," Zhang said.