POLITICS, SOCIETY AND MEDIA
The Party is everywhere: CCP strengthens grip over state, economy and society

At the Party Congress, Xi Jinping declared the CCP’s control over state, economy and society as the precondition for China’s ability to reach its domestic and foreign policy goals. In his political report, he stressed that the “China Dream” would remain mere fantasy without the CCP in charge.

Xi indicated plans to further increase the Party’s influence over the executive. The CCP so far issues abstract guidelines and leaves the implementation to government authorities. But Xi now suggested that local-level Party and state organs with similar functions might be merged in the future or at least share offices. The next session of the National People’s Congress, China’s legislative organ, in March 2018, could yield further clues as to what this might mean in practice.

Under Xi Jinping, the CCP has extended its organizational presence in private, including foreign companies. The Party thus secures its influence over economic decision making outside of the state sector – regardless of formal ownership or management structures. At the time of the Party Congress, the Party committees in private enterprises held meetings to discuss Xi’s report. Party-state media reported about such meetings in China’s leading technology companies such as Baidu or Tencent.

The Party has also broadened its propaganda work among the general public. It uses new formats and arguments to persuade citizens of its vision. It is however remarkable that Xi, despite his undisputed power, does not tolerate any form of dissent. We Chat, for example, was not allowed to let users change their names or profile pictures similar to international social media users who do this to express solidarity or disagreement with a current development.

Meanwhile, human rights groups reported at least 14 cases of jailed activists before the start of the Party Congress, and at least two forced disappearances.

MERICS analysis: 

“Ideas and ideologies competing for China’s political future. How online pluralism challenges official orthodoxy.” By Kristin Shi-Kupfer, Mareike Ohlberg, Simon Lang and Bertram Lang