By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 22, 2007
On Monday, China’s Communist Party Congress, which is only held every five years, on concluded a week long session that featured discussions with representatives from across China.
October 22, 2007 was the day that President Hu Jintao introduced to the media his newly chosen inner circle, the members of the Standing Committee’s Political Bureau.
The new senior member of the Standing Committee is Xi Jinping, the son of a Chinese guerrilla leader who rose through the ranks to become Communist Party chief in Shanghai. Mr. Xi is considered an expert on business development, the economy and the Taiwan issue. He is 57 years old and has a PhD in economics. His elevation means he is the likely successor of Mr. Hu when his presidential term ends in five years.
The party Congress is always shrouded in secrecy. In fact, in years past, the Congress was often only announced to the media after it had concluded. To gain a better understanding of the Congress for our Peace and Freedom readers, we spoke to several Chinese academics and China watchers.
Mr. Hi Hu Shung at Beijing’s Peoples’ University told us not to confuse the Congress with an open and well publicized American political convention. He said all the key decisions were made before the Congress and the Congress is a mere stage play to give delegates the feeling of participation.
Mr. Yo Dashung of the Provisional Party School at Jangsu confirmed this by quoting an old Chinese proverb: “Little things are accomplished in big meetings. Big things are accomplished in small meetings. And things of vital importance are decided with no meeting at all.”
The Congress also features the crashing together of several languages and regional cultures. Although the official language of government in China is Mandarin, about one-third of the delegates to the party Congress do no speak Mandarin or have trouble with the language. Cantonese is the second language of China but there also exists the language of the Tibetans, Uighurs, Yis and Zhuangs, which further confuses the mix. There are also numerous local dialects — some say as many as 300.
One delegate to the Congress told us, “We have so many different groups in China we have to have our own translating staff — like at the U.N. It can be great fun but it also leads to misunderstanding and confusion. But the Communist Party doesn’t let us handle much of real importance at the Congress so it is harmless, really.”
Communist Party General Secretary and Chinese President Hu Jintao, center, waves as he stands with the new members of the Politburo Standing Committee, in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People Monday Oct. 22, 2007. From left are Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang, Liaoning Party Secretary Li Keqiang, head of Communist Party Ideology Department Li Changchun, Premier Wen Jiabao, President Hu Jintao, National People’s Congress Chairman Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Jia Qinglin, Shanghai Party Secretary Xi Jinping, and He Guoqiang, the head of the Communist Party Organization Department. The Standing Committee, the inner circle of Chinese political power, was paraded in front of assembled media on the first day following the end of the 17th Communist Party Congress.(AP Photo/Greg Baker)