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China's Communist Party

Beijing to discuss revising constitution for first time since 2004

President’s political theory ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ is expected to be added, along with amendment to set up new anti-graft super agency

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 December, 2017, 8:48pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 December, 2017, 8:48pm

Around 400 of the Communist Party’s most powerful cadres will meet next month to discuss making the first amendments to China’s constitution since 2004, according to state-run Xinhua.

The proposal will be discussed during the second plenum of the 19th party congress, as decided by a 25-member Politburo session on Wednesday.

It is widely expected that “Xi Jinping Thought” – the president’s political theory which was incorporated into the party charter at the congress in October – will be added to the constitution, along with a change to set up a new anti-graft super body.

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The second plenum is to be held in January, the earliest in the past 30 years, but an exact date was not given. It is usually a largely ceremonial meeting at which suggestions for appointments to state offices – including the president, premier and ministers – are made, which then go to the National People’s Congress to confirm. The NPC is usually held in March.

No details of the amendment were given in the Xinhua report, but legal experts expect it to include new clauses for the National Supervision Commission.

The all-encompassing anti-graft commission has been piloted at the provincial level this year. It will be on a par with the State Council, China’s cabinet, the lawmaking National People’s Congress, the supreme court and the supreme prosecutors’ office.

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It is being set up under a national supervision law that is expected to be submitted to the NPC for passage in March.

It will have more independence than existing anti-graft bodies and will operate in parallel to the cabinet, legislature and supreme court.

Xi’s name is also expected to be written into the country’s constitution, said Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan.

“The revision will be in line with the party’s constitution and will include the addition of Xi’s political philosophy,” he said. “It will be a confirmation of the party’s ‘new era’ narrative.”

The preamble to China’s constitution states that the party is guided by Marxism and Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the Three Represents – the latter three being the theoretical legacies of Mao, Deng and former president Jiang Zemin.

The Three Represents were added the last time the constitution was amended, in 2004, two years after it was enshrined in the party charter.

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Xi’s tongue-twisting contribution – Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era – could be next.

“Hu’s theory is supposed to be added as well, if Xi follows tradition,” Zhang said, referring to Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao, whose Scientific Outlook on Development was included in the party charter as a “guiding principle” in 2012. It has yet to be added to the constitution.

It will be the fifth time the Chinese constitution has been amended since it came into force in 1982. Previous revisions include the replacement of “planned economy” with “socialist market economy” to describe the country’s economic system in 1993.