What is the Plenum?

The Plenum is an annual meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China – the 376-member grouping that sits atop the pinnacle of state power in China. The Central Committee is further subdivided into key state organs such as the Politburo, Politburo Standing Committee, and the Central Military Commission. Plenums are often less a forum for real debate and more a clearing house for government policy and personnel changes. In the past they have been the stage for the major dramas of modern Chinese history – the fall, and eventual rehabilitation, of major figures of the Revolution and the launching of the reform movement in 1978. This upcoming plenum will be the Fifth Plenum of the 18th Central Committee, which was assembled in November 2012 and will serve until 2017.

 

Why is the Fifth Plenum Important?

The Xi administration has thus far been defined by its sweeping crackdown on corruption, executed by the Wang Qishan-headed Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Thousands of cadres have been arrested and imprisoned since 2013, from the lowly village bureaucrat on the take all the way up to Zhou Yongkang, former member of the Politburo Standing Committee. The crackdown is ongoing, and is pushing into the new frontiers of party discipline and transgressions in the financial sector.