Story highlightsConstitutional change expected to give Communist Party sweeping new anti-corruption powersParamilitary police placed under direct party control this week
Hong Kong (CNN)Chinese President Xi Jinping had a good 2017, but 2018 may be looking even better.
The ruling Communist Party (CCP) will discuss changing the country’s constitution for the first time since 2004 next month, with analysts predicting Xi will further cement his grip on power.The change could clear the way for the creation of a National Supervision Commission (NSC), a country-wide anti-corruption task force with sweeping new powers, though some have speculated there could also be a move to abolish term-limits on the Presidency, allowing Xi to serve on past 2022. This comes on the back of a move by Xi this week to shore up his command of the country’s armed forces by moving control of paramilitary police from the government to the CCP.Chinese President Xi Jinping has shored up control over the country’s military and the Communist Party in recent years.Absolute powerRead MoreIn October, the CCP enshrined “Xi Jinping Thought” as a guiding principle, elevating him to a level no Chinese leader has held since Mao Zedong. What an all-powerful Xi Jinping means for the rest of the worldAt the same time, Xi unveiled a new leadership team which did not include any obvious successor, increasing speculation he may hold on to power at the end of his second five-year term as President. Margaret Lewis, an expert in China’s legal system at National Taiwan University, said Xi had already scored a “major political victory” with the addition of his “Thought” to the party constitution, and “does not need to change the rules on term limits to remain extremely powerful.” Unlike the presidency, there is no restriction on how long Xi could serve as CCP General Secretary, the position from which his true power flows, though traditionally both titles have been held by the same person. Deng Xiaoping, during his time as leader, gave up most official positions but retained a huge amount of control over decision making, Lewis said. “Titles matter, but there is more to power in China,” she said, particularly the “extent to which other top leaders act as a check on his power.” This week, the Politburo, the party’s top body, underwent a Mao-era style self criticism session in which they vowed to follow Xi’s lead, according to state news agency Xinhua. “Xi has shown firm faith and will, clear commitment to the people, extraordinary political wisdom and tactics and a strong sense of responsibility, in leading the CPC and China in the great struggle with many new contemporary features,” the Politburo said in a statement following the “meeting of self reflection.” William Nee, a China researcher for Amnesty International, said self criticism meetings “are a very old tool … to get people to admit their faults publicly, talk about the problems in their work styles and to profess loyalty to the party center and in this case explicitly to Xi Jinping.” Lewis said the session was typical of how under Xi “there is little tolerance … for the slightest wobbling off the party line.” Constitutional changesCreation of the National Supervision Commission would expand that discipline and control to a broad swath of society, analysts said. Tackling corruption has been a major priority for Xi, but it has previously been focused on party bodies and the military, attracting considerable public support even as some critics accused him of using the campaign to go after potential rivals and shore up his power base. In a recent report analyzing the proposed NSC framework, Amnesty warned it would “legalize a form of arbitrary detention and create a new extra-judicial system with far-reaching powers that has significant potential to infringe human rights.” Most significantly, the NSC would replace the much-criticized shuanggui system — in which party members under investigation were held in secret prisons and subjected to abuse and torture — with a new “retention and custody,” or liuzhi, system. JUST WATCHEDChina’s new leadership teamReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH
China’s new leadership team 07:43That system would apply not only to party members, but also to people working in state-owned companies, scientific research, education, healthcare and other public bodies, in what Nee described as a “very worrying” development. The NSC is one of several new laws which “give the party and the government sweeping powers,” he said. While much of these changes involve legalizing activities which already go on unofficially, Nee said this may be motivated by a desire to gain international legitimacy for and cooperation with China’s anti-corruption drive. Under “Operation Foxhunt,” Beijing has requested many foreign governments to extradite people accused of corruption and issued Interpol notices for alleged economic criminals, with limited success. “One sticking point for a lot of countries in repatriating allegedly corrupt officials is the (existing system) is technically an extra-legal body,” Nee said. Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingChinese President Xi Jinping speaks in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on Wednesday, October 25, as the new lineup was unveiled for the Chinese Communist Party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee. The new lineup did not include an heir apparent to Xi, who analysts predict will dominate the country’s politics for decades to come.Hide Caption 1 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXI, left, stands with his father, Xi Zhongxun, and his younger brother, Xi Yuanping, in 1958. Xi Zhongxun was a communist revolutionary who held several positions in the National People’s Congress.Hide Caption 2 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingFrom 1969 to 1975, Xi worked as an agricultural laborer in Liangjiahe, China. He was among the millions of urban youths who were “sent down,” forced to leave cities to work as laborers in the countryside.Hide Caption 3 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi, right, poses for a photo as a college student in 1977.Hide Caption 4 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingA 1979 photo of Xi as he worked for the general office of the Central Military Commission. From 1979 to 1982, Xi was the personal secretary for Defense Minister Geng Biao.Hide Caption 5 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi listens to villagers in north China’s Zhengding County in 1983. At the time, he was secretary of the Zhengding County Committee.Hide Caption 6 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi poses for a photo as he sits in his office in 1983.Hide Caption 7 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi — in the back row, second from right — poses with a group in Muscatine, Iowa, in 1985. As part of an agricultural delegation, he was making his first trip to the United States.Hide Caption 8 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi receives a key to the city from Muscatine Mayor Gerald Powell.Hide Caption 9 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi visits San Francisco in 1985.Hide Caption 10 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi and his new wife, folk singer Peng Liyuan, pose for a photo on China’s Dongshan Island in 1987.Hide Caption 11 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi, as the Communist Party secretary of Ningde, China, participates in farm work in 1988.Hide Caption 12 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi and Peng in 1989.Hide Caption 13 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi, left, meets with citizens of Fuzhou, China, in 1993. He was the city’s party secretary from 1990-1996.Hide Caption 14 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi, front left, helps reinforce a levee of the Minjiang River in 1995.Hide Caption 15 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi meets with Wu Poh-hsiung, vice president of the opposition party Kuomintang, in 2000. From 1996-2002, Xi held various posts in China’s Fujian Province, including governor.Hide Caption 16 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingAs Shanghai’s party secretary in 2007, Xi welcomes former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Pepsi President and CEO Indra Krishanamurthy Nooyi.Hide Caption 17 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi talks with hearing-impaired students at a school in Shanghai in 2007.Hide Caption 18 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi brings blankets to a villager after ice storms in 2008. That year, Xi became China’s vice president.Hide Caption 19 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi kicks a soccer ball in 2008 as he inspects a field in Qinhuangdao, China. The stadium was hosting games during the 2008 Summer Olympics.Hide Caption 20 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi chats with former US President Jimmy Carter in 2009. Carter was attending a Beijing dinner that celebrated 30 years of US-China relations.Hide Caption 21 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi feeds swans during an official visit to Hungary in 2009.Hide Caption 22 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi and US Vice President Joe Biden inspect an honor-guard contingent during a welcoming ceremony in Beijing in 2011.Hide Caption 23 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi pushes his father as he walks with his wife and his daughter, Xi Mingze, in 2012.Hide Caption 24 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi became China’s President in March 2013. Here, he walks with US President Barack Obama before a bilateral meeting in Rancho Mirage, California, in June 2013.Hide Caption 25 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi meets with former US President Bill Clinton in Beijing in 2013.Hide Caption 26 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi visits Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba, in 2014.Hide Caption 27 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi and Peng pose with the Obamas before a state dinner in Washington in 2015.Hide Caption 28 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi has dinner with US President Donald Trump at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in April 2017.Hide Caption 29 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi shakes hands with teachers and students while visiting a university in Beijing in May 2017.Hide Caption 30 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi inspects a military garrison in Hong Kong in June 2017.Hide Caption 31 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin before a meeting in Moscow in July 2017.Hide Caption 32 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingXi, center, attends the closing session of the 19th National Congress in October 2017.Hide Caption 33 of 34 Photos: Chinese President Xi JinpingUS President Donald Trump and XI take part in a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People on Thursday, November 9, 2017, in Beijing during Trump’s visit to Asia. Hide Caption 34 of 34Military mightAs well as shoring up his power over the party, Xi’s tenure has seen a major reform of the country’s armed forces, bringing them thoroughly under his personal control. “The importance of the Party’s control over the military is an oft-repeated phrase, but Xi has emphasized it heavily during his tenure,” Tom Rafferty, China manager at the Economist Intelligence Unit, told CNN earlier this year. That continued this week, with command of paramilitary police forces placed under the party’s Central Committee and the Central Military Commission, both of which are headed by Xi. The People’s Armed Police (PAP) are often deployed to tackle riots, large-scale protests and terrorist attacks, and are “very involved in the maintaining of social order,” Nee said, particularly in Tibet and Xinjiang, both of which have large non-ethnic Chinese populations and history of protests and unrest. Previously the PAP answered in part to the State Council, a governmental body that is nominally separate from the party system. Xi ally Wang Ning, an army general who had no police experience prior to taking the job, has helmed the PAP since 2015. In an editorial Wednesday, the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the party, said the move was “a significant political decision … that will strengthen the party’s absolute command over the (People’s Liberation Army) and other branches of the people’s armed forces and will ensure the stability and prosperity of the party and the nation.”Hong Kong-based China analyst Johnny Lau Yui-siu told the South China Morning Post the move was designed to “put all China’s military power in Xi’s hands.”