Profound disarray ahead of the key Chinese Party Congress is leading to speculation that a selection process once dominated by a single strong leader will have to become more competitive.
Never again, after this week’s party congress, will China’s ruling Communist Party select its top members through the secretive, confusing, and mistrustful conversations in smoky back rooms that have led to such disarray this year.
That is the view of Chinese analysts familiar with the inner workings of the party, who say that as proliferating interest groups complicate leadership transitions, party members are increasingly angry at being left out of the leadership selection process.
Just days before the 18th Party Congress opens on Thursday at the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square, the most important political meeting for a decade, varied rumors continue to swirl over just who will be named to the Communist Party’s top policymaking body, the Politburo Standing Committee. It is not even certain how many members the body will have.
The unprecedented confusion indicates that “the highly chaotic, black box … negotiating process carries high costs, is highly uncertain, and is very violent,” says Wu Qiang, who teaches politics at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. “They cannot go on like this.”
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