Chinese state media have given the first hint that an annual conclave of senior Chinese leaders is happening at the resort of Beidaihe, in a report saying the head of the Chinese organization department had visited government workers vacationing there.
Traditionally, top Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders visit the seaside town every summer on an unofficial retreat to discuss personnel moves and policy ideas behind closed doors.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) have not appeared on the main evening news since the start of this month, when normally they are on almost daily, suggesting they might have been in Beidaihe.
The Xinhua news agency in a short dispatch said that Chinese Organization Department Minister Chen Xi (陳希), who oversees the party’s personnel decisions, had been entrusted by Xi to visit “vacationing experts” in Beidaihe.
Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua (胡春華) had accompanied Chen, it said.
Chen told the experts to maintain their “strong patriotism” and to use it as motivation to contribute to the realization of the “great rejuvenation of China,” Xinhua said.
The retreat is often kept secret by the party.
This year’s meeting would be the first since Xi cemented his power by scrapping presidential term limits at the start of his second five-year term in March.
He has since then faced an escalating trade war with the US, development pains with his signature Belt and Road Initiative, and disquiet among sections of the political elite over the CCP’s increasingly nationalistic rhetoric.
Sources with ties to the leadership and foreign diplomats have told reporters that the Beidaihe meeting was likely to happen early this month.
Xi’s next meeting with a visiting foreign leader is not expected until the middle of this month, when he is due to have talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
The Chinese State Council Information Office, which doubles as the party spokesperson’s office, did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.
Beidaihe, about two hours east of Beijing by high-speed train, is steeped in party history, although sources with ties to the leadership have said Xi is not a fan of the place.
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