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Reports from HPR's political reporter Wayne Yoshioka

Asia Minute: China’s Political Season

Craig Nagy / Flickr
Craig Nagy / Flickr

Just in case you haven’t been paying attention, we are now exactly two weeks away from Election Day. The results will set the tone for the next four years of government leadership in the United States. But in China, a political gathering underway this week may have an impact that lingers even longer. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

One of the most important political meetings in China is going on right now in Beijing.  The Communist Party Plenum gathers nearly 400 top party officials for about four days.  Last year’s meeting did away with China’s one-child policy.

Nearly 40 years ago, it was a party plenum that led China to market reforms under Deng Xiaoping.  Plenums can also spark bare-knuckle politics—with rising and falling party stars.

This year’s agenda sounds pretty dry.  The state-run China Daily says they’ll discuss “the norms of political life within the party…and a revision to an intra-party supervision regulation.”  Behind that bureaucratic verbiage, the impact could be dramatic.  Unlike political conventions in the United States, none of this is open to the public, the media, or anyone outside the party elite.

This year, analysts say the policy clues may be subtle—but the proceedings could lay the groundwork for Xi Jinping to extend his term as China’s paramount leader.  Right now, that term is due to expire in 2022.  The real indicator of Xi’s political future will not come until next fall….with the meeting of the Communist Party Congress.  That’s a larger gathering of some 2,000 party members—an event that takes place once every five years.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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