Source: FPI

Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping has in his recent speeches stressed the “party core” and his ability to effectuate “self-purification and self-renewal” of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), an analyst noted.

“Xi, who has not traveled abroad for more than 630 days, seems busy handling challenges from different quarters as he lays the groundwork for the 20th Party Congress next year, whose theme is likely to be the confirmation of the strongman as the party’s ‘core for life,’ ” Dr. Willy Wo-Lap Lam, a Senior Fellow at The Jamestown Foundation and former contributing editor at Geostrategy-Direct.com, wrote on Oct. 14.

Xi built his authority, Lam noted, via his ability “to bring down a relatively large number of ‘tigers,’ or senior cadres, for economic crimes and disciplinary problems.”

Another huge factor in Xi remaining on the mainland for so long is a “ferocious power struggle” with powerful factions and officials in the CCP, including former Vice-President Zeng Qinghong and current Vice President Wang Qishan, Lam noted.

“Not-so-subtle instances of in-fighting among these influential figures and their cliques have emerged in the wake of the revelation last month by the semi-official NetEase and Sohu websites that several senior officials in the political-legal apparatus, which includes the police, the secret police and the courts, had plotted ‘sinister and treacherous” actions against a top party leader, generally thought to be Xi,” Lam wrote.

China’s economic woes have worsened “the factional back-stabbing,” Lam added. “In the wake of the near-bankruptcy of Evergrande Group, one of the largest real-estate conglomerates in the world, more property and financial firms are reportedly unable to service their multi-billion yuan debt burdens. The total national debt reached 335 percent of GDP at the end of last year, while external debt alone has breached the $2.68 trillion mark.”

So far, Xi’s rivalry with Zeng Qinghong and Wang Qishan “has manifested itself mainly in verbal innuendoes,” Lam noted.

Top Chinese propaganda outlets Xinhua and the People’s Daily have run a series of commentaries saying that the anti-corruption campaign will not tolerate any “Iron Head Princes”.

“The anti-graft movement has no upper limits. The CCP is not afraid to face problems squarely and to rectify its mistakes… we are good at self-purification and self-renewal,” the outlets declared.

Pledges about the CCP’s capability to “self-reform and self-purify” were repeatedly made by Xi in major speeches including his address marking the centenary of the CCP’s establishment.

Lam noted that “Iron Head Prince,” which was one of the titles Qing Dynasty emperors gave to senior noblemen, “is considered a reference to Zeng Qinghong. This is due to the fact that the last Iron Head Prince bore the title of Prince Qing.”

Meanwhile, Xi is looking to the 20th Party Congress in 2020 in hopes of confirming his “ability to retain his status as party General Secretary, State President and Chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission for a decade,” Lam wrote. “In the meantime, internecine bickering within the party could move beyond rhetorical allusions, and bring about the downfall of at least a couple of former Politburo and PBSC members.”