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11/11/2013 | The Communist Party plenum - Behind closed doors

The Economist Staff

ON NOVEMBER 9th 370-odd of the Chinese Communist Party’s most powerful politicians will gather in Beijing for a four-day meeting that is being portrayed by state-controlled media as a launchpad for wide-ranging economic and social reforms. But the 3rd plenum of the 18th Central Committee, as the event is officially known, will not signal any change in the party’s time-honoured practice of cloaking such gatherings in bizarre mantles of secrecy.

 

Typically, there has been no public announcement of where the meeting is taking place. Global Times, an English-language newspaper under the control of the Communist Party’s main mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, suggested in a photo caption that it would be held in the Great Hall of the People, overlooking Tiananmen Square. This is highly unlikely. Past plenums have usually been held in the Jingxi Hotel, a dour Soviet-style building about 8km (5 miles) due west of Tiananmen. It is a tightly guarded building that is run (as reported in Chinese by a government news portal) by the Administration Department of the army’s General Staff. Participants can meet and sleep there without snarling up traffic with convoys to and fro. One of the few intimations that this would be the venue appeared in a Chinese-language report on the website of the Guangming Daily, a major Beijing newspaper, a day before the conclave. Its source was unnamed “experts”.  The hotel, it said, had an “air of mystery”. 

One reason, perhaps, for avoiding mention of the meeting’s whereabouts is a worry that it might become a magnet for malcontents. Big official gatherings often are, hence very tight security during the annual session of the country’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), which is held in the Great Hall of the People in March; as well as during Communist Party congresses which are held every five years in the same cavernous building. In advance of this plenum the authorities have been duly rounding up petitioners. Security precautions are likely to be even tighter than usual following the deaths of five people in a car crash in Tiananmen Square on October 28th that the government blamed on terrorists from the western province of Xinjiang.

Even the dates of the plenum were, as usual, kept secret until just a few days before it was due to begin. The party said in late August that the meeting would take place some time in November. But it was not until October 29th that it revealed the specific timing: November 9th-12th. The delay in making the announcement was not, it appeared, because of any lingering uncertainty about when to hold the event. Foreign diplomats had been able to work out that the party was blocking off days for it in early November because Chinese officials were avoiding arranging meetings between visiting foreign leaders and their Chinese counterparts during that period.

Unlike during NPCs, when foreign journalists have a once-yearly opportunity to put questions to the prime minister, or during party congresses, when some senior delegates (but not the party’s top leaders) can be interviewed, there will be no press events during the plenum. The official media will reveal nothing of the debates going on (nor even reveal whether serious debate does take place; if any has occurred during plenums past, rarely has worked leaked out). The only clue to the tone of the meeting will be a cryptic communiqué, probably about 5,000 characters long, issued at the end.  A far more detailed “resolution” will be adopted during the meeting, but its contents will not be made public until a few days later, to give lower-ranking party officials a chance to digest it first.

The plenum will mark the start of a busy season for those trying to calculate the trajectory of the world’s second-largest economy over the coming decade. Another meeting, the annual Central Economic Work Conference, will be convened in December (almost certainly, as usual, in the same Jingxi Hotel) to put flesh on the vague policy pronouncements issued in the plenum’s resolution. It too will issue a statement summarising its conclusions (no pesky press conferences). A few days later the yearly Central Rural Work Conference will take place; again in the same hotel, behind closed doors. It will publish more details of the party’s plans for the countryside. But the Jingxi Hotel will remain firmly closed to the media. A journalist from Hong Kong’s pro-Communist Ta Kung Pao newspaper reported (here, in Chinese) that plainclothes police told him to move on when he tried to photograph it from the other side of the road.

The Economist (Reino Unido)

 


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11/10/2009|
10/10/2009|
10/10/2009|
07/10/2009|
07/10/2009|
04/10/2009|
30/09/2009|
30/09/2009|
27/09/2009|
27/09/2009|
27/09/2009|
22/09/2009|
20/09/2009|
18/09/2009|
18/09/2009|
18/09/2009|
16/09/2009|
16/09/2009|
16/09/2009|
08/09/2009|
07/09/2009|
06/09/2009|
06/09/2009|
05/09/2009|
05/09/2009|
26/08/2009|
21/08/2009|
19/08/2009|
19/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
19/07/2009|
19/07/2009|
18/07/2009|
18/07/2009|
27/03/2009|
22/03/2009|
22/03/2009|
27/01/2009|
27/01/2009|
27/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
11/01/2009|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
23/11/2008|
23/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
22/08/2008|
22/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
24/05/2008|
24/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
29/04/2008|
11/02/2008|
05/01/2008|
09/12/2007|
18/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/09/2007|
26/08/2007|
25/08/2007|
11/07/2007|
16/06/2007|
16/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
24/04/2007|
24/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
28/02/2007|
28/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
17/11/2006|
30/09/2006|
28/07/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
06/03/2006|
21/02/2006|
17/02/2006|
31/01/2006|
10/01/2006|
28/12/2005|
31/10/2005|
26/09/2005|
29/08/2005|
11/08/2005|
08/08/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|

ver + notas
 
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House