“But 95 percent of the election results have been fixed before the congress,” says Li Datong, a former editor of Freezing Point, a Communist Party youth magazine. “The congress has meaning only as propaganda, showing off the achievements of the past 10 years” since outgoing party General Secretary Hu Jintao took the top job.
The slogans are indeed self-congratulatory. “Welcome the successful 18th Party Congress Marking Great Achievements” reads an electronic signboard splashing party propaganda across Tiananmen Square.
“Sailing the broad sea under a boundless sky” proclaimed a headline in Tuesday’s People’s Daily, the official party organ, above a dense page-long account of accomplishments such as the launching of space rockets, the planting of trees, record grain harvests, and the construction of high-speed railways.
The tasks that the congress has supposedly set itself are equally portentous.
“The party needs to figure out how it will draw on past invaluable experience, open up a path of innovation, meet the people’s needs, solve problems concerning the people’s vital interests, and introduce more suitable policies at the macro and micro levels for improving the people’s living standards,” according to another article in the People’s Daily.
Delegates will do no such thing, say analysts who point out that the Communist Party’s congress, which meets every five years, is not a deliberative body. The meeting will listen to President Hu’s report on his last five years in office, but nobody is expecting his successor, Xi Jinping, to announce any bold moves.