As expected, Xi Jinping Thought has joined Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory in the pages of the Communist Party of China’s constitution, significantly strengthening the power of its namesake, putting him on a level that we’ve only seen once before.
After Xi kicked off the 19th Party Congress last week with a nearly 3.5-hour speech in which he managed to say very little, top officials and state media quickly began embracing the country’s newest creedo: “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.”
On Tuesday, as the congress was brought to a close, that mouthful of an ideology was officially added to the party charter, purportedly launching the world’s most populous country into a “new era” under its much-applauded “core leader.”
I need to know: Does the New Era of Xi Jinping Thought (call it "NEXJT") last 10,000 years or just 1,000 years? And do we get any days off?
— Chris Buckley 储百亮 (@ChuBailiang) October 24, 2017
“Enshrining Xi’s thought into the Party Constitution has proved the main highlight of the congress, signifying a leap forward in the sinicization of Marxism,” China’s official Xinhua news agency noted afterward.
While it may have 14 fundamental principles, an unusually high number in Communist Party parlance which typically likes to see things in threes, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is conveniently vague allowing it to be shaped to address any sort of problems that might emerge in the upcoming years.
“The resolution stresses that Xi’s thought must be upheld on a long-term basis and constantly developed,” Xinhua points out. Meanwhile, the Global Times held the ideology forth as a way of thinking which would cure all that ails China and the world.
“How to solve all kinds of major problems in the new era? How to utilize China’s strength? How to make the win-win principle transcend traditional geopolitics among major powers? Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era will lead us to the answers,” the party tabloid proudly trumpeted.
Before Xi came along, only Mao Zedong had its personal political philosophy enshrined in the party constitution while he was still alive to take advantage of that fact. Deng Xiaoping Theory was only added after the leader’s death, and neither of Xi’s most recent predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, got to put their names on their mottos.
Because of this, foreign media outlets across the world have declared that Xi has finally attained “Mao-like” status, making him China’s most powerful leader since the Great Helmsman and predicting that this means that Xi is looking to remain at the top for the foreseeable future.
“It means Xi is effectively unassailable: If you challenge Xi, you are challenging the party — and you never want to be against the party,” the Guardian quotes China watcher Bill Bishop as saying.
Mao meets his match: Xi Jinping in Communist Party constitution. New era officially belongs to him. Schoolchildren to study 'Xi Thought'.
— Carrie Gracie (@BBCCarrie) October 24, 2017
At the same time, many of Xi’s pet projects have also been added to the party constitution, including the One Belt, One Road initiative and his signature crackdown against government corruption.
However, it appears that while Xi may have his very own ideology, he can’t quite have it all. Conspicuously left off the list of Communist Party Central Committee members was Wang Qishan, China’s top graft buster and the country’s second-leading man. Going into the congress, much speculation swirled around about whether the 69-year-old official would accede to the party’s unwritten age restrictions and retire, which now appears to be the case.
We're in basement playing cards, and Wang Qishan just showed up, sat down, lit up a J, and asked to be dealt in. Anything we should know?
— The Relevant Organs (@relevantorgans) October 24, 2017
Whether the party’s enshrinement of Xi Jinping Thought, means that Xi will break with tradition again and stay on after his second five-year term is over in 2022 is still not clear. However, more evidence will be presented later today when the members of the Politburo Standing Committee are announced with China watchers on the look out for a possible successor.
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