Xi Jinping joins Mao pantheon: What it means for China & world

china-cpc2BEIJING: It’s the Xi Jinping Moment as China’s Communist Party elevated and exalted the 64-year-old princeling with the common touch to the pantheon of the party immortals, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, making him the most powerful Chinese leader in decades. On a cold winter morning in Beijing on October 24, the Xi Jinping Thought shone the path to realising the Chinese Dream as the week-long Party Congress concluded by enshrining the 64-year-old leader’s philosophy into the Chinese constitution, and setting him up for a prolonged stay in power, much beyond 2022 when his second term ends.

More than 2,000 delegates gathered in the majestic Great Hall of the People in Beijing’s iconic Tiananmen Square and unanimously voted to incorporate “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in a New Era” in the constitution on the final day of the week-long 19th Party Congress, a twice-a-decade meeting of the party’s ruling oligarchy.

“The congress unanimously agrees that Xi Jinping Thought… shall constitute one of the guides to action of the party in the party constitution,” said a CPC resolution at the closing ceremony of the 19th Congress of the CPC.

china-cpc1Xi Jinping, who had inspired and enthralled the party elite and the nation with his three-and-a-half hour speech on the opening day of the congress, exuded quiet authority and poise as he spoke about   “great strength and vitality,” of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the 21st century.

“Our party shows strong, firm and vibrant leadership. Our socialist system demonstrates great strength and vitality. The Chinese people and the Chinese nation embrace brilliant prospects,” Mr Xi said to ringing applause from over 2,000 delegates.

“At this great time, we feel more self-confident and proud. At the same time, we also deeply feel a heavy sense of responsibility,” he said in terse speech.

Explaining his guiding philosophy for making China great again, Xi Jinping said:

“The original aspiration and the mission of Chinese Communists is to seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. This original aspiration, this mission, is what inspires Chinese Communists to advance,” he said.

Underscoring people-centric development, he exhorted the party elite “to always breathe the same air as the people, share the same future and stay truly connected to them.” This focus on positioning people at the heart of the CPC’s governing philosophy is linked with Mr Xi’s drive to promote a culture of austerity and to wage a war against corruption since he took charge five years ago.

With his position elevated to the level of party legends Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, Xi Jinping looks set to rule and guide China for the next few years, without any bar on his tenure, and with unparalleled authority. Mr Xi is only the third Chinese leader to be honoured and canonized by the CPC with the inclusion of his name in the party constitution.

Xi Jinping Thought will now be on a par with Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory as a “guide to action” and revitalisation of the CPC and the Chinese nation. It will be now mandatory learning for Chinese students from primary schools through to universities.

“As China enters a new era, the CPC must write a new chapter of 21st century Marxism with a broader vision to achieve the goals set at the milestone congress,” Chen Shuguang, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, told Xinhua news agency.

This ceremonial elevation of Xi Jinping in the CPC pantheon will have significant ramifications for the world as it deals with the most powerful Chinese leader in decades, who has his own vision of making China a global power, which could bring him in conflict with other power centres.

(Manish Chand is Editor-in-Chief of India and World magazine and India Writes Network. He is in Beijing to report and analyse the 19th National Congress of the CPC)

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Manish Chand
Manish Chand
Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.