Chinese President Xi Jinping seems to be preparing for a delay in the Communist Party's key meeting, which is traditionally held every five years and is crucial in planning China's long-term economic reforms. This potential delay, seen as another deviation from the established political norms, is a significant shift in China's political landscape, as it dictates the country's economic strategy and policy-making direction.
A Break from Tradition
The Central Committee's third plenary session, the most significant decision-making body of the party, is typically convened a year after new leadership assumes power. However, despite Xi's third term being confirmed at the 20th Party Congress in October 2022, and the most recent Politburo meeting concluding on November 27, there has been no mention of a third plenary session. This silence around the session, combined with Xi's current trip to Shanghai, suggests that the meeting will not take place until at least next month.
Significance of the Third Plenary Session
Historically, the third plenums have served as launching pads for new policy directions or reforms. For instance, late supreme leader Deng Xiaoping laid the groundwork for decades of rapid economic growth at the Third Plenum of the 11th party congress in 1978. Xi's potential postponement of the session might indicate his fear of losing control over the event, given the widespread dissatisfaction with his economic management, which has recently manifested in spontaneous public mourning activities for the late former premier, Li Keqiang.
Implications of the Postponement
Xi Jinping's decision to delay the party meeting signals his deviation from the decades-old norms. This move, which leaves little time for the conclave to gather this year, has led analysts to anticipate that it will be deferred to early 2024. This development underscores a broader pattern of Xi breaking with tradition and consolidating power since he assumed office. It could also reflect Xi's desire for greater control over the economic reform process or a response to current challenges facing the country.