Secretary-general: 'Majordomo' of the Party Congress

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On the afternoon of Nov.7, Cai Mingzhao, spokesman for the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (NCCPC), disclosed that the preparatory meeting of the NCCPC approved Xi Jinping as the secretary-general of the congress.

The secretary-general has to arrange and coordinate all events of the seven-day congress, including setting the agenda, arranging numerous documents, event organization, publicity, security, and information flow, liaison and communications for 38 delegations with 2,270 delegates. As a core figure of the congress, how does a secretary-general come into being? What are his/her responsibilities?

'Majordomo' of the Party Congress

According to the common practice since the 7th NCCPC, a preparatory meeting should be held, with all the delegates to the congress attending, to approve important matters including the congress agenda, presidium and the nomination of the secretary-general by means of a "hands-up vote". Then, the presidium will hold its plenary session to decide on the secretary-general and vice secretary-generals in the same manner.

Thus, the secretary-general and the vice secretary-generals become core coordinators of the NCCPC, with the secretary-general serving as the "majordomo".

Xi Jinping, secretary-general of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China

The Constitution of the Communist Party of China (CPC) did not stipulate the duties and responsibilities of this secretary-general. However, the duties of the secretary-general of local Party congresses are outlined in the New Guide for Grassroots Party Organizational Work.

According to this guideline, the secretary-general is the organizer of daily affairs when the Party congress is in session. His/her duties and responsibilities include:

(1) Hosting the first plenary session of the presidium;

(2) Assisting the Standing Committee of the presidium in its daily work;

(3) Under the leadership of the presidium, handling all the matter-of-fact work during the congress;

(4) Heading the congress secretariat, and signing and issuing various documents of various meetings.

The secretary-general is selected by the Party Committee from all the congress delegates. Usually, it is held by the deputy secretary of the Party Committee who has been taking charge of all the preparation work for the congress.

Based on specific needs, a national congress may have one to three vice secretary-generals who work to support the secretary-general. Their duties and responsibilities include: supervision of the work of one or more groups under the Secretariat; organizing collection of responses from delegates on the reports delivered at the congress, the lists of candidates for the CPC Central Committee and the CPC Central Commission of Discipline Inspection, the method of voting, and resolution drafts of the congress; and assisting the secretary-general in handling related work according to the congress agenda.

The vice secretary-generals are nominated by the Party committee, and are voted upon and approved at the First Plenary Session of the congress presidium. In general, this position is assumed by a Congress delegate. But, whenever needed, a CPC member who is not a delegate to the congress can also take the position.

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