China Updates: Things to watch at the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party
Summary: The Chinese Communist Party is holding its once every five years National Congress starting on Sunday, Oct 16. The key things to watch will be General Secretary Xi’s speech and delivery of the 19th Central Committee’s Work Report which will give investors a glimpse of Chinese leadership’s assessment of the world and the current state of the country and its policy priorities for China for the next five years. On Oct 23, investors will learn about who will be among the top leadership for the next five years in China from the decisions of the 1st plenary session of the newly elected 20th Central Committee.
The Chinese Communist Party’s (the “CCP”) 20th National Congress will convene this Sunday, Oct 16. A total of around 2,300 delegates of CCP members from all over China will gather in Beijing to attend this once every five years important political event to approve the review and approve the Work Report of the 19th Central Committee, to elect the members of the 20th Central Committee and the members of the 20th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and to amend the CCP’s constitution.
The Work Report of the 19th Central Committee presented on Sunday, Oct 16
The Central Committee is the de jure highest official body of the CCP and its Work Report was written by a drafting team under the Standing Committee of the Politburo and supervised directly by General Secretary Xi Jinping. The Work Report reviews and gives the CCP top leadership’s assessment of the work in the past five years and most importantly, the directions of policy priorities for the next five years. On Sunday, Oct 16, Xi will make a speech and presents the Work Report to the 20th National Congress.
While there is speculation among some analysts looking for a shift in policy priorities away from stability and national security to economic growth, we are skeptical of this view. Over the past 10 years, Xi has laid out his grand vision of the future of China and the blueprint of how to get there. For his incoming third 5-year term in the most powerful position in China, the general secretary of the CCP, we see no reason for him to change course or make substantial adjustments to the fundamental principles and strategies he has cultivated over the past decade. The Work Report will likely affirm Xi’s “holistic national security concept” in foreign policy, the “dual circulation” and “common prosperity” in the new development paradigm, and "Dynamic Zero-COVID" in pandemic control as the strategies going forward.
The amendment of the party constitution and election of the members of the 20th Central Committee next Saturday, Oct 22
The 20th National Congress is scheduled to adjourn next Saturday, Oct 22. On that day, the delegates will, among other things vote on the amendment to the CCP’s constitution. Little is made known about the details of the proposed amendments but the general expectation is that the amendments will be about cementing further Xi’s core leadership position and the role of Xi Jinping’s thoughts in the CCP’s constitution. The delegate will also vote on approving the Work Report.
One of the highlights of the last day of the National Congress is for the 2,300 delegates to elect 205 full members and 171 alternate members to the 20th Central Committee who will in turn vote on who will get into the top leadership on the following day.
Deciding on the constituency of the Politburo and its Standing Committee, the Central Military Commission, and the Central Secretariat next Sunday, Oct 23
On Sunday, Oct 23, the newly elected 20th Central Committee will hold its 1st plenary session. In this session, the Central Committee will elect members to the CCP’s 25-member Politburo and its 7-member Standing Committee who will exercise the power of the Central Committee when the Central Committee is in recess. The Standing Committee of the Politburo will collectively reign over China in the coming five years.
The Central Committee will also elect the General Secretary of the CCP, the members of the Central Secretariat, and the Central Military Commission and its Chairman. It is expected Xi will be elected to remain in his positions as General Secretary of the CCP and as Chairman of the Central Military Commission.
The state positions are not on the agenda of the CCP’s National Congress
The 20th National Congress is an event of the CCP, not of the state. The state positions of the President of the People’s Republic of China, Premier and Vice Premiers of the State Council will not be decided in the 20th National Congress or the subsequent first plenary session of the 20th Central Committee. The nomination of those positions will be decided in the 2nd plenary session of the 20th Central Committee which is expected to be held in February 2023 and the nomination will need to be taken to the National People’s Congress for approval in March 2023.