Chinese President Xi Jinping has cemented his position as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
On the last day of the twice-a-decade National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), delegates approved the inclusion of political thought named after Xi into the CPC constitution.
His body of political thought — ‘Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’ — was enshrined in the CPC constitution Tuesday.
Over the years, the CPC has included the political thought of leaders — termed guiding principles — into the CPC constitution to honour leaders.
Before Xi, Mao was the only leader to have his eponymous guiding principle, Mao Zedong Thought, included in the CPC constitution while still alive.
Deng Xiaoping Theory was added to the party charter after his death, while Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao’s thoughts were included in the charter as ‘The Theory of Three Represents and the Scientific Outlook on Development’, but without their names.
Writing in the Financial Times of September 23, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd termed Xi China’s paramount leader.
“Five years ago I said he would be China’s most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping. I was wrong. He is now China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong. Mr Xi has maintained an iron grip on the party through an anti-corruption campaign that has seen 278,000 officials punished, 440 at ministerial rank and above, including many politburo rivals,” he said in the article.
He said that Xi could continue as China’s paramount leader “beyond the next five years, and possibly for the next 15”.
Announcing changes to the party charter, the CPC in a statement Tuesday said, the amendment has “…Systematically addressed the major question of our times — what kind of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era requires us to uphold and develop and how we should uphold and develop it.”
It stated that under the guidance of Xi’s thought, “…the CPC has led the Chinese people of all ethnic groups in a concerted effort to carry out a great struggle, develop a great project, advance a great cause, and realize a great dream, ushering in a new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
Along with his political thought, the National Congress also agreed to include several statements about the People’s Liberation Army.
“The CPC shall uphold its absolute leadership over the PLA and other people’s armed forces; implement Xi Jinping’s thinking on strengthening the military; strengthen the development of the PLA by enhancing its political loyalty…and pursue the Belt and Road Initiative,” the resolution said.
Addressing the closing session of the NC, Xi said, “Today, we more than 1.3 billion Chinese people live in jubilation and dignity. Our land of over 9.6 million square kilometres radiated with enormous dynamism…”
“Living in such a great era, we are all the more confident and proud, and also feel the heavy weight of responsibility upon us.” He said that China must have the courage and resolve. “…and stride forward to an ever promising future.”
Separately, Reuters reported that a key Xi ally, top corruption fighter Wang Qishan, will not be on the new Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of power in China, to be revealed on Wednesday as he was not among those named on Tuesday to the 204-member Central Committee.