October 25th 2017
Photo: China congress: The precision of the party
BBC – China has revealed its new senior leadership committee, breaking with tradition by not including a clear successor to President Xi Jinping.
The omission cements Mr Xi’s grip on leadership for the next five years, a day after his name and his teachings were written into the constitution.
But it raises questions over whether Mr Xi, 64, intends to rule beyond 2022.
Five new appointments were made to the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, China’s most powerful body.
Why does the Politburo Standing Committee matter?
The committee is the top body of China’s all-powerful Communist Party. Its role is to discuss and decide on major policy issues.
The party’s constitution says China’s top leader must also be a member of the standing committee. So appointments are keenly watched.
In the new line-up, Premier Li Keqiang, 62, is the only member to retain his position, apart from Mr Xi.
What kind of signal does the new line-up send?
Chinese leaders have traditionally hinted at possible heirs through committee reshuffles at the beginning of their final term.
There had been speculation that Mr Xi would elevate his protégé Chen Miner and Guangdong party secretary Hu Chunhua, both of whom are in their 50s – young enough to be credible successors.
But the fact that the new appointees were all in their 60s, and likely to retire at the end of this five-year term, sends a different signal.
The absence of any younger members will fuel speculation about Mr Xi’s long-term intentions.
Could Xi break the 10-year rule?
The tradition emerged in the 1990s, when veteran leader Deng Xiaoping sought to avoid a repeat of the chaos that had marked the Mao era and its immediate aftermath.
Mr Xi’s two predecessors have followed the orderly pattern of succession. But since he came to power in 2012, he has shown his readiness to write his own rules.
The party voted on Tuesday to entrench Mr Xi’s name and ideology. The unanimous vote to incorporate “Xi Jinping Thought” into the constitution significantly strengthens Mr Xi’s political control.
Even if he decided to stand down in 2022, his influence is now so great that he could continue to effectively rule the country.
Analysis: On the offensive
Carrie Gracie, BBC News, Beijing
Breaking the mould on the succession, as with so much else, is part of the Chinese president’s New Era, as he has termed it.
But don’t imagine that now the Congress is over, you can forget about Mr Xi’s New Era. In the clash of political civilisations, he has put
China on the offensive.
In his speech to Congress, he set out a vision not just for the five years ahead but for 30, and talked of a socialist model which provides, “a new option for other countries and nations”.
At home China is accelerating its ability to listen to every call and track every face, online posting, movement and purchase. Expect it now to export not just the governance model but the cyber weapons to make that work.
Even as the party unveiled its new leadership, it excluded major Western news organisations from the ceremony.
Officially no reason was given for barring the BBC, Financial Times, Economist, New York Times and Guardian, but unofficially
journalists were told that their reporting was to blame – another sign of Xi’s determination to control the message at home and abroad.
How has Xi changed China?
Mr Xi has assumed an unprecedented number of positions since coming to power in 2012, including the title of a “core” leader of China.
His first term has been marked by significant development, a push for modernisation and increasing assertiveness on the world stage.
It has also seen growing authoritarianism, censorship and a crackdown on human rights.
He has spearheaded a sweeping anti-corruption campaign which has seen more than a million officials disciplined. It has been seen by some as a massive internal purge of opponents.
What is Xi ‘thinking’?
At first glance, “Xi Jinping Thought” may seem like vague rhetoric, but it describes the communist ideals Mr Xi has continuously espoused throughout his rule.
Its 14 main principles emphasise the Communist Party’s role in governing every aspect of the country, and also include:
• A call for “complete and deep reform” and “new developing ideas”
• A promise of “harmonious living between man and nature” – this is a call for improved environmental conservation, and could refer to the stated aim to have the bulk of China’s energy needs supplied by renewables
• An emphasis on “absolute authority of the party over the people’s army” – which comes amid what analysts call the largest turnover of senior military officials in modern Chinese history
• An emphasis on the importance of “‘one country two systems” and reunification with the motherland – a clear reference to Hong Kong and Taiwan
– 30 –
Clinton team and Democrats ‘bankrolled’ Trump dirty dossier
October 25th, 2017
BBC – US President Donald Trump has seized on reports that Hillary Clinton’s team was behind a sleazy dossier of allegations linking him to Russia.
Unfounded claims that Mr Trump had been filmed with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel surfaced in the closing stretch of last year’s White House race.
Mrs Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) reportedly helped fund the research.
“The victim here is the President,” Mr Trump tweeted on Wednesday.
He dismissed the dossier shortly before his inauguration as “fake news”.
According to US media reports, Perkins Coie, a law firm representing the Clinton campaign and DNC, hired intelligence firm Fusion GPS in April 2016.
Fusion GPS, based in Washington DC, was paid to dig up dirt on Mr Trump, who was then Mrs Clinton’s rival for the presidency.
The intelligence firm subcontracted Christopher Steele, a former British spy who previously worked in Russia, to compile the research.
Attributed to unnamed sources, it claimed that Mr Trump had colluded with Russian officials during the election campaign.
The unsubstantiated dossier also alleged that Kremlin intelligence had filmed Mr Trump with prostitutes at Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton hotel in 2013.
Image copyright PA Image caption Christopher Steele, a former British spy who worked in Russia, compiled the research
The opposition research was initially funded by an unknown Republican consulting firm, which pulled the plug once Mr Trump captured the party’s nomination.
The Clinton campaign then picked up the tab, according to the reports.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted: “The real Russia scandal? Clinton campaign paid for the fake Russia dossier, then lied about it & covered it up.”
Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington
Political campaigns have been in the business of digging up dirt on their rivals since the dawn of democratic elections. A choice bit of “opposition research”, deployed at an opportune moment, can be a decisive factor in a close election.
So it should come as little surprise that supporters of a Republican candidate went to work building a file on Donald Trump during the party primaries or that Democrats took the baton as the general election geared up.
What’s unusual – and what will pique the interest of investigators and fuel the suspicions of conservatives – is that after the election, once Hillary Clinton was defeated, the FBI would pick up funding for this investigation.
A topic as sensitive as this – allegations of foreign influence on a presidential campaign – doesn’t seem like something the US government should be outsourcing.
There have been plenty of accusations, on both sides of ideological divide, that the FBI has become politicised. Stories like this won’t help diminish those concerns.
In fact, they will almost certainly be cited to undermine the results of ongoing inquiries into Mr Trump’s possible Russia ties, whether or not the eventual findings have a connection to this now-infamous dossier.
The DNC said its new leadership had nothing to do with creation of the dossier.
A spokeswoman told the Washington Post, which broke the story: “But let’s be clear, there is a serious federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and the American public deserves to know what happened.”
Some of Mr Steele’s allegations began circulating in Washington in the summer of 2016 as the FBI began looking into whether there were any links between Trump aides and the Kremlin.
Special counsel Robert Mueller and several congressional panels are investigating the same alleged connections, but to date have found no evidence.