China’s Xi Jinping anointed ‘core leader’, on par with Mao, Deng
China’s Communist Party gave President Xi Jinping the title of “core” leader on Thursday, putting him on par with past strongmen like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, but it signalled his power would not be absolute.
President Xi Jinping was anointed the “core” of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Thursday at the end of an opaque Party meeting that put him at least in words at the same level of China’s iconic leader, “chairman” Mao Zedong.
Experts said Xi is still far from acquiring the enormous status that Mao has in Communist China but Thursday’s announcement made one aspect clear that Xi is now among the strongest leaders at helm in decades.
“A key meeting of the CPC has called on all its members to closely unite around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core,” state run Xinhua news agency reported.
China will continue to be ruled by a collective leadership – It’s just that the leader at the helm is now the CPC general secretary, chairperson of the Central Military Commission and also the “core” of the CPC.
“They discussed the matter at the sixth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, calling for a combination of collective leadership with individual responsibility,” the Xinhua report said.
“Xi is no doubt more powerful than his two predecessors in a comparable stage of leadership cycle but he has not yet established himself as the strongman, let alone a leader of Mao’s stature. The current plenum is likely to be a key moment when he may try to establish himself as a leader beyond being just first among equals.
The outcome of the plenum should provide pointers on if he can get his way,” Steve Tsang Director of China Policy Institute, had told HT on Wednesday.
The Xinhua report stressed the importance of “collective leadership”.
“As an important part of the CPC’s fundamental organisation principle of democratic centralism, the collective leadership system “must always be followed and should not be violated by any organisation or individual under any circumstance or for any reason,” said the communique quoted by Xinhua.
The consolidation was of power around the-already powerful Xi was expected by experts.
“It’s clear from state media coverage of the sixth plenum that the emphasis is on unity within the party, and unity around the leadership of Xi Jinping. One of the most important catchphrases we are seeing right now is: “To govern the nation, we must first govern the Party; in governing the Party, we must be strict,” David Bandurski, a researcher at the University of Hong Kong’s China Media Project said.
It is around the all-powerful figure of Xi that the unity of the CPC has to be forged.
“The message here is that the senior leadership will not tolerate division and dissenting opinion within the party over the direction of the country. Xi Jinping expects loyalty and unity,” Bandurski said.
Xi is expected to further cement his power in the next one year.
State media announced that “…the 19th CPC National Congress will be held in Beijing during the second half of 2017.”
“A resolution on convening the 19th CPC National Congress was deliberated and passed at the sixth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee held from Monday to Thursday.
The 19th CPC National Congress is a major event in the political life of the Party and the state, the communique said.”