China's President Xi Jinping poised to take absolute power at Communist Party Congress

China's President Xi Jinping poised to take absolute power at Communist Party Congress

China's President Xi Jinping poised to take absolute power at Communist Party Congress

Updated 17 October 2017, 11:25 AEDT

Having swept aside his rivals, Xi Jinping is set to turn China's most important political event into his coronation.

China's most important political event, the twice-in-a-decade party congress, will start tomorrow in Beijing. Many China watchers are likening it to President Xi Jinping's coronation.

Key points:

  • Televised forced confessions and show trials are hallmarks of Mr Xi's first five years
  • Chinese call 19th party congress the start of a new historical era
  • Mr Xi is set to put his loyalists into top decision-making bodies

In his first five-year term Mr Xi has been busy removing rival power bases, and at the 19th party congress he will put in place his loyalists in the top decision-making bodies, giving him absolute and unquestioned power.

There is growing speculation his "thoughts" will be enshrined in the party constitution and he will be named party chairman, a title not given since Mao Zedong.

A parade of televised forced confessions and show trials has been one the hallmarks of Mr Xi's first five years in power.

Potential rivals, human rights lawyers and activists have been imprisoned.

Professor Wu Qiang has been one victim but so far he has escaped arrest. He is one of the few brave enough to still speak out against the dangers of dictatorship.

"Xi's replacing collective leadership with a one-man party authoritarian rule. He's reformed the security, the military and economic systems, everything is reported to him. He is in the process of transforming the party," he said.

Professor Wu was removed from his position at the prestigious Tsinghua university because he refused to write propaganda extolling the virtues of Mr Xi and his policies.

"Xi's personal power will be consolidated at the congress and a new China with a strong nationalism will be built. It will be a formidable country in the Asia Pacific area," he said.

Nicholas Bequelin from Amnesty East Asia said human rights under Mr Xi had taken a big step backwards.

"What you have now is a system is betting that repression works and the party has to control and manage and prevent society becoming a challenge to party. The danger is that it's not sustainable," he said.

To ensure his dominance, Mr Xi has removed rival power bases with a sweeping anti-corruption campaign.

More than a million party members have been disciplined, arrested or jailed.

The President's supporters say China needs a strong leader. Victor Gao, an unofficial Government spokesperson, said Mr Xi as a paramount leader would give China certainty and direction.

"I don't think the system after the congress will be dictatorship, it will be focused on efficiency and loyalty to the party to get things done," he said.

"It's good to have strong leadership at the top rather than a fragmented leadership."

The 19th party congress opens at the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square. The Chinese are calling it the start of a new historical era.

Mr Xi will lay out his vision in a state of the union address and then behind closed doors, put his men into the top decision-making bodies the politburo and its standing committee.