‘Dirty dozen or so’ set to be dumped from Communist Party’s inner circle
At least eight full members and three alternate ones expected to be expelled when Central Committee meets this week
The ruling Communist Party’s powerful Central Committee is expected to expel nearly a dozen members brought down by President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crusade, when it meets in full in Beijing on Wednesday.
Xi’s first term saw the downfall of more full and alternate Central Committee members than that of any of his predecessors.
In all, 17 full Central Committee members and another 17 alternate members have fallen from grace since Xi took the party’s helm in late 2012 – more than the total for the four previous Central Committees combined.
While some of the disgraced members were replaced at previous Central Committee plenums – or full meetings – others snared in the last year or so are still on the books to be sacked this time around, ratifying the Politburo’s earlier decisions to expel them from the party.
This time, the list will be long – six full members and three alternate members have been expelled from the party while two other full members have been put on probation since the sixth plenum in October last year.
The closed-door gathering will be the seventh and last plenum of the Central Committee’s roughly 200 members before its five-year terms ends at an all-important national party congress next week.
The congress, which starts on October 18, will select a new Central Committee, which will in turn endorse the line-up of the party’s top rungs of power – the Politburo and its Standing Committee – for Xi’s second term in office.
The party assemblies take place behind closed doors but precedent and convention offer some clues as to the meetings’ agendas.
The Central Committee’s seventh plenum has traditionally been a chance to make final preparations for the party congress – usually only days away.
While the top leaders will have already made the key decisions, the Central Committee will still discuss three reports to be submitted to the party congress. Apart Xi’s work report on his first term, the Central Committee will also discuss drafts on amendments to the party charter as well as the report by the party graft watchdog.
It is widely expected Xi’s theory will be enshrined in the party charter and observers are watching closely to see what the inclusion will be called. It is also the first time the Central Committee has reviewed a report by the graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, before the party congress.
The full members to be sacked include former high-flying Chongqing party chief and Politburo member Sun Zhengcai, former top insurance regulator Xiang Junbo and Huang Xingguo, former acting party chief of the port city of Tianjin.
The seats left by the eight full members will be filled by eight alternate members at the top of the waiting list. Some of the new candidates include Shu Xiaoqin, director of the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, and Li Qiang, the Jiangsu party boss seen as a protégé of the president.
In addition, two disgraced military generals – both full Central Committee members – and another alternate member are still under investigation. They might also be expelled if the results of their cases are announced at the plenum.
Observers will also be watching closely for changes to the Central Military Commission, which has been through a personnel shake-up in the past few weeks, after a massive overhaul of the military.
All of the Central Committee’s members meet at least once a year and the first two gatherings focus on personnel matters. The first is held right after the end of the party’s five-yearly national congress to unveil the new Politburo and its Standing Committee; the second proposes the list of candidates for government, legislature and political advisory body leaders.
The other plenums approve broad policy directions, with the third seen as the most important because it is given over to political or economic reform. The fourth is about how to improve the party’s governance and the fifth is usually dedicated to discussions about the government’s five-year plans. The sixth plenum examines culture, and social and party morality.