CCP Considers Delaying Party Congress

Amid perhaps the greatest political turmoil it has seen since 1989, Reuters reports that China’s Communist Party is “seriously considering” pushing back its upcoming party congress by several months as it wrangles over the direction of a once-in-a-decade leadership transition:

The two most senior posts, of president and premier, are not considered in much doubt. But any delay in the congress, no matter the official reason, would likely fuel speculation of infighting over the remaining seats in the nine-member politburo standing committee which calls the shots in China.

The makeup of those remaining positions could in turn influence the ability of the incoming new president, Xi Jinping, to forge a consensus among those immediately below him on how to run the world’s second-largest economy and a military superpower.

Delay could also further unnerve global financial markets whose perception of Chinese politics as a well-oiled machine has already been shaken this year by the extraordinary downfall of an ambitious senior leader, Bo Xilai, in a murder scandal.

The top party leaders are considering a proposal to move the 18th congress, originally scheduled for September or October, to between November and January, three sources said, in a step that has been taken twice before in the past five congresses.

A Chinese political scientist also told Reuters that a delay would indicate that the party needed additional time to deal with the fallout from the purge of former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai, who many believed would gain a seat on the Politburo Standing Committee before his dismissal in March.