Meetings are bloody boring. Invariably, people just sit there pointlessly droning on and on, all while desperately trying to sound intelligent, productive, and like they vaguely know what they are doing. There are lots of ideas, things get jotted down, and the whole thing goes on for far too long. Nothing ever, ever gets done. Smart people make doodles while looking like they are taking notes. Others surreptitiously play Angry Birds on their phones. I tend to doze off and think about more important things, like lunch. Well, imagine what a Communist Party meeting is like. Yeah, pretty damn similar, and there are lots of them. Not a month goes by without talk of some really, really, high-level meeting, where incredibly important things get discussed, debated, and discussed some more.
There are so many of them it that it is all a bit mind-boggling. Here are a few of the big Party meetings explained:
1) National Congress of the Communist Party (中国共产党全国代表大会)
This one is big, so big in fact, that it only happens every five years. The last one (the 18th, 十八大) happened back in November 2012. It venue is always the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and comprises about 2,000 or so delegates who represent the Party.
Here they decide things like who gets to be the secretary general of Communist Party of China (CPC), on the Standing Committee of China’ s Politburo (中央政治局常委, the seven most powerful men in the Party), China’s Politburo (中央政治局委员, the top 25 men in the Party), and CPC’s Central Committee (中央委员, the top 350 or so cadres). If necessary, changes and review of the parties rules might also happen here, though it’s widely acknowledged that most important key decisions are actually made way in advance of the actual congress it itself.
2) CPC Central Committee Plenary Sessions (中国共产党中央委员会全体会议)
Now, over each five year term of the National Congress, the Party’s Central Committee has various meets up. These are called plenums and are, of course, very important—a lot of power is held here. There are usually seven of them, but there may be may be more. Each plenum has a specific function.
First Plenum (一中全会): usually happens as part of the National Congress of the Communist Party, and decides on who is in the Politburo, Standing Committee (top 25 guys in the party), and sets the future agenda.
Second Plenum (二中全会): This proposes candidates for the leadership personnel of the state government and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (中国人民政治协商会议全国委员会), which are then ratified by the National People’s Congress (more of which later).
Third Plenum (三中全会): this is the Plenum superstar and more important than all the rest. It was the third plenum in 1978 (十一届三中全会) that decided on the Reform and Opening Up, and ever since this plenum has been about “deepening reform” and broad economic changes.
Fourth Plenum (四中全会): this one decides how to improve CPC governance. One can only imagine that there is a lot to talk about.
Fifth Plenum (五中全会): This introduces the CPC’s next five-year-plan. You really can’t beat a good five-year plan.
Sixth Plenum (六中全会): Discuss how to improve the general morality of society and CPC in addition to cultural reforms. Presumably another biggie.
Seventh Plenum (七中全会): Discuss the Politburo work report and decide the time for the next National Congress of the Communist Party.
3) Lianghui (两会, Two sessions）
This is an annual meeting held in the spring, and is so-called because it is the meetings of two different assemblies: The National People’s Congress (NPC, 全国人民代表大会) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative conference (CPPCC, 中国人民政治协商会议). The NPC is the nation’s 3,000 member legislature, and in theory holds the bulk of state-power…
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