Updated Aug 4, 2023, 12:40pm EDT
securityEast Asia

Amid party chaos, Chinese officials may have started their annual seaside vacation

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The News

Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s Chief of Staff indicated three country’s leaders have begun their annual summer retreat in Beidaihe — a coastal resort east of Beijing where top officials typically vacation for two weeks during the summer.

Despite the relaxed setting, the retreat is usually a chance for both current and retired members of the Chinese Communist Party to gather and speak candidly about issues concerning the party’s leadership.

This year, the annual event is taking place amid struggles to revive the Chinese economy, questions around the disappearance of former Foreign Minister Qin Gang, and the largest and most widespread floods the country has ever seen.

We’ve gathered news and insights about the present and historical significance of Beidaihe.

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  • “Beidaihe is like the Hamptons for Chinese communists,” Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief of The China Project said in a recent newsletter, adding that similar to secret conversations that take place among New York’s financial elite in the Hamptons, “what happens at Beidaihe stays at Beidaihe.”
  • Paulson Institute think tank Macro Polo called Beidaihe “China’s Camp David— claiming that Beidaihe has been “synonymous with top leaders’ final preparations for the Party Congress” dating back to when Mao Zedong led the Chinese Communist Party. Marco Polo writes, in a thread, that Mao leveraged a 1958 Beidaihe meeting to “push the envelope on the Great Leap Forward and deploy the shelling of Kinmen.” In 1971, when Lin Biao, an alleged heir to Mao escaped Beidaihe to the Soviet Union, his plane apparently “crashed” over the skies of Mongolia. But Beidaihe “no longer brings the high-level political drama that it used to,” Marco Polo writes.
  • Over 1.2 million people in the province of Hebei, where Beidaihe is located, have been evacuated because of violent flooding, yet the resort where Chinese officials are staying has allegedly been left untouched. Before Xi left for vacation, he instructed emergency personnel to work harder to rescue those affected by the floods in northern China. But according to Radio Free Asia, Chinese netizens are suggesting that Hebei and the surrounding areas of the province were “sacrificed” to alleviate flooding in Beijing.