The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) met behind closed doors yesterday for a final gathering that will decide the fate of Shanghai's sacked CCP boss and hammer out a new leadership lineup ahead of a critical five-yearly congress.
The Central Committee, which has 198 full and more than 150 alternate members, will hear a report on an investigation of Chen Liangyu (
Chen, who has also lost his seat in the CCP's decision-making Politburo, would be formally expelled from the party, Hong Kong's Beijing-funded Ta Kung Pao newspaper said, a move that would strengthen Hu's hand.
Chen, seen as a political ally of Jiang, had defied economic cooling measures introduced by Hu, who doubles as national party chief and Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶).
The plenum was also expected to endorse a plan to enshrine Hu's political ideas into the party Constitution, allowing him to take his place alongside Mao Zedong (
Hu's concepts of "scientific development" and building a "harmonious society" are aimed at correcting the country's path from that of the previous administration which featured breakneck growth at the expense of the environment.
In addition, the meeting was to finalize key personnel changes to take place at the 17th Party Congress opening on Monday.
Xinhua news agency said yesterday's meeting would also discuss a draft amendment to the party Constitution, along with a report on the party's measures against graft and other abuses among its members.
Long under preparation, the draft document is expected to spell out Hu's agenda for spreading more balanced economic growth, fighting corruption, and increasing spending on social services such as education and health care.
Opinions on the draft congress document and party constitution amendment have been solicited from both former and newly elected party delegates, Xinhua said.
The document is also expected to address political reform, although no bold moves are expected.
More than 2,200 delegates will attend the Congress, at which Hu will seek to oust rivals, name an heir and shake off Jiang's lingering influence.
Hong Kong's Ming Pao newspaper quoted a former secretary to Mao Zedong as saying China's Communists must wage an internal revolution to become a modern political party, the outcome of which will determine the fate of the country's reforms.
"This transition can be said to be the Party's self-revolution," Li Rui (李銳), 90, was quoted as saying.
"Nearly 30 years of reform and opening already have prepared the economic, thought and organizational foundations for this revolution. Whether or not all of our reforms can succeed will be decided by reform of the political system," Li said.
Such outspokenness is rare in China's one-party system. But it follows comments Li made last week that China could be dragged back to past decades of chaos unless long-delayed democratization catches up with three decades of market reform, as well as candid calls for liberalization from other, older party intellectuals.
Ahead of the Congress, China called for Communist newspapers and periodicals to expand their influence, and Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang (
Human rights groups are seizing on the Congress to press their causes, with Chinese Human Rights Defenders issuing an open letter to Chinese leaders.
"We have realized that what causes the human rights disasters on this land is that power is not supervised and restricted," the letter said. "To supervise and limit public power, we must realize democracy."
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