China hints at move to strengthen Communist rule
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's ruling Communist Party will discuss a proposal to amend its constitution at its congress in early November, state media said on Monday, a move aimed at strengthening one-party rule over the next five years.
State news agency Xinhua did not elaborate on what the amendments could be, though they have previously formed the guiding principles on which major policy decisions such as moving China in the direction of a market economy have been based.
"The meeting stressed the importance of making a draft amendment to the CPC (Communist Party of China) Constitution that conforms to the needs of the CPC's theoretic innovation, practice and development and will also promote the CPC's work and strengthen its construction," Xinhua said, citing a statement from the meeting of the politburo.
The party "constitution" is less a legal document and more an organizational guide and compilation of the ideological justifications that China's Communists have accumulated - and often quietly shelved - in their evolution from a party of Mao Zedong and mass revolution to one of mass markets and dynamic growth.
Cheng Li, an expert in Chinese politics at the Brookings Institution think-tank in Washington, told Reuters the amendments could include new language on the rule of law and intra-party democracy.
The constitution has also cemented legacies of previous leaders, enshrined landmark policies such as letting capitalists into the party, and stressed economic modernization as a priority of the nation.
In 2007, the party issued an amended version of its charter enshrining the slogans and enhanced influence of President Hu Jintao, who steps down as party leader on November 8 at the 18th Congress.
The changes were a symbolic victory for Hu in this top-down one-party state where ideological jargon is the language of power, telling officials and citizens which leaders to heed.
(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Nick Macfie and Alison Williams)
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