What is China’s 19th Communist Party congress and why does it matter?
This quinquennial gathering will indicate the strength of Xi Jinping’s authority
quinquennial: recurring every five years. 名词：quinquennium. 其中前缀quinquen: 表示five.
perennial / annual: 每年的
biennial 每两年的 bis: two
triennial 每三年的 tres: three
quadrennial 每四年的 quadr- 前缀表示四
ON OCTOBER 18TH Xi Jinping, the leader of China’s Communist Party, will kick off a big party gathering in the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. It will look like innumerable other party meetings. There will be a huge throng, 2,300-strong, mostly men in dark suits, a few of them in tribal costumes. There will be long speeches with impenetrable verbiage. No policies will change. But this meeting matters more than most because party congresses take place just once every five years and this is the first one to be chaired by Mr Xi. Like all congresses, it will revise the party constitution and elect a new political elite—the 370 or so members of the party’s Central Committee, to which all important decision-makers belong. It will also be a coronation and a test for Mr Xi. The coronation will reveal how much authority he has accumulated over the party. The test will reveal whether he is a rule-breaker or a rule-keeper.
throng：a large gathering of people.
tribal costumes: 民族服饰
impenetrable: impossible to understand.
im-表示否定的前缀(prefix)，penetrate表示渗透，穿透； penertrable 是其形容词格式。impenertrable本来表示无法穿透的意思，但也有难以理解的意思。
Party constitution :党章。 constitution：a statement of the principles of and laws of a nation.
Central Committee: 中央委员会
China’s Communist Party has held congresses since its foundation. The first was in 1921. But the practice of quinquennial gatherings dates to Deng Xiaoping’s attempts in the 1980s to introduce a sense of order and predictability after the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. Deng also introduced a number of other rules, or norms, that have more or less been kept for 20 years. Among them: that the leader should retire after two terms and appoint a successor after the first (meaning, in Mr Xi’s case, now); that there should be fixed retirement ages for top leaders (68 for the Central Committee); that people should move up the party in incremental steps, not leaps and bounds; and that at the end of his term the leader should be granted a kind of ideological canonisation, with an ideology associated with him written into the party’s constitution. All these rules are up for grabs at the coming congress.
successor: a person who follows next in order.
up for grabs: available.
The 19th congress is unusual because an exceptional number of people will retire or, following their arrest, be replaced. Mr Xi has already replaced the party leaders and governors in all but one of China’s 31 provinces, as well as most of the leadership of the army and roughly half his ministers. The replacement of almost three-quarters of the Central Committee will complete his dominance over the party. The congress will also reveal how Mr Xi intends to use his authority. If he replaces the prime minister with the anti-corruption chief, Wang Qishan, that would signal an extremely assertive approach and a willingness to break the rules. (Recent prime ministers have served two terms; at 69, Mr Wang breaches the retirement rule, too.) If Mr Xi promotes the 57-year-old Chen Min’er to the Standing Committee of the Politburo (the committee with the highest prestige), and no one else from the so-called sixth generation (born in the 1960s), that would indicate Mr Chen was being groomed as a successor. It would also show that Mr Xi is willing to ignore the rule about step-wise promotion, since Mr Chen has enjoyed a meteoric rise. But if Mr Xi promotes two sixth-generation leaders, that would imply the president is not willing to appoint a successor yet, which may in turn suggest he is considering staying on after the end of his normal term in power in 2022. If the congress changes the constitution to include a named reference to Mr Xi’s ideological writings, that would be a strong marker of his authority. His two predecessors received this honour only when they were retiring, and their names were not mentioned. Including Mr Xi in the party’s constitution would make him an ideological arbiter.
assertive:Use assertive to describe someone who is self-confident enough to make bold statements and forceful actions.
Standing Committee of Politburo: 政治局常委
arbiter: someone chosen to judge and decide a disputed issue 裁决人
The question is whether his elevated position will make any difference to policy. Mr Xi’s supporters say it will. They argue that economic reform is being stifled by opposition in the bureaucracy and that once Mr Xi has his allies in place he will be able to override resistance. But the chances must be against a burst of market-oriented change. Mr Xi has not exactly been powerless up till now. He pushed through a big change to state-owned enterprises in 2017, and that did little to introduce competition either into the management of enterprises or the sectors they dominate. Reform, under Mr Xi, has meant trying to improve the efficiency of the state sector by setting targets and sending in teams of inspectors. That seems unlikely to change.
stifle: to cut off or hold back.