China on Thursday said a key Chinese Communist Party meeting held once every five years will start on Oct. 18, marking the formal countdown to the gathering at which President Xi Jinping will begin his second five-year term as head of the ruling party.
The 19th National Party Congress will also see the selection of new members of key bodies, including the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee that Xi is expected to pack with allies to the detriment of rival factions. The congress typically runs for about 10 days.
Xi has emerged as China's most powerful leader in decades, dominating the party, government, military and state economy. The congress will also be scrutinized for signs that Xi intends to remain beyond the 10-year terms served by his predecessors, the most telling of which would be the failure of a clear successor to emerge.
Xi, who has already assumed the title of "core" of the party leadership, is also expected to further cement his authority by having his thoughts on political theory written into the party constitution.
The congress will also offer an opportunity to reinvigorate Xi's campaign against corruption that has been his signature political achievement, alongside a muscular foreign policy and efforts to shore up the party's presence and influence in the economy and society, including among academia and the vibrant online sector.
In its announcement read on the national evening news report, the official Xinhua News Agency said the congress would review the achievements of the past five years, thoroughly analyze the current domestic and international situation, and ``mobilize the entire party and people... to strengthen self-confidence in the in the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics.''
The congress "is an extremely important meeting being held at a crucial time for the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics," said the announcement, which also referenced Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and the political theories of other Chinese leaders.