Reading the Party Congress tea leaves – China’s latest political and current affairs news


A summary of the top news in Chinese politics and current affairs for October 10, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

Taiwan's Ministry of Health and Welfare's, Office of International Cooperation director, Hsu Ming-hui (R), talks during a news conference on how Taiwan would react if it is not invited to the World Health Assembly (WHA), in Taipei, Taiwan May 8, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Although the 19th Party Congress is China’s most significant political event since the Communist Party held its 18th Congress in 2012 that led to Xi Jinping’s selection as general secretary, it can also be rather boring to read about. The government churns out a steady stream of propaganda which does not tell us much about what will happen at the event, while news organizations and pundits attempt to figure out what the official messaging actually means. Here are some tea leaves for you to read:

  • The Guardian reports on the “scores of books” praising Xi that have been published in the runup to the 19th Party Congress.  
  • The South China Morning Post says that Xi is on track to achieve the first of the Party’s “two centennial goals” of building a “moderately prosperous society” by 2021, but stalled economic reform may mean trouble for the second goal — to become a “fully developed nation” by 2049.
  • The Council on Foreign Relations has published an article asking “whether a woman will be named to China’s highest governing body, the Politburo Standing Committee” at the 19th Party Congress. The answer is “almost certainly not,” and the piece looks at reasons for the extremely low numbers of women in senior leadership positions in China.
  • In Bloomberg, economist and Peking University professor Christopher Balding says that we should not “expect China to change” after the 19th Party Congress, arguing that “even an unchallenged Xi Jinping isn’t likely to push forward daring reforms.”