Chinese President Xi Jinping has been elevated to the rank of his most powerful predecessors.
The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China voted unanimously Tuesday to incorporate the Chinese leader’s political ideology — “Xi Jinping Thought” — into the country’s constitution, putting Xi on par with Chairman Mao Zedong, who created “Mao Zedong Thought” and ruled over China with an iron fist for decades.
The introduction of “Xi Jinping Thought” into the constitution prevents political rivals from challenging the president without undermining the CPC and marks a “new era” in the communist party. Mao Zedong made China an independent power, Deng Xiaoping made China prosperous, and now, Xi Jinping aspires to make China strong.
Xi, the “core” of the party, holds more than a dozen political titles, putting him at the head of multiple state-level decision-making bodies linked to politics, the economy, and the military. His 14-point political ideology, which demands things like “absolute authority of the party over the people’s army,” further integrates Xi into the Chinese political system.
Since he took power five years ago, the Chinese president has launched a massive anti-corruption campaign which led to the downfall of over one million Chinese officials, some of which were political rivals. The Chinese military has seen the largest turnover of senior military officials in modern Chinese history, which is part of Xi’s extensive reform efforts.
Among the officials brought down for corruption and other crimes was Sun Zhengcai, a rising political star who some China watchers suspected might be Xi’s eventual successor. He was ousted for “serious discipline violations” last month. During the National Party Congress, Liu Shiyu, leader of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, mentioned Sun as one of several shocking cases of “figures in important and high places who were both corrupted and contrived to usurp the leadership of the party and seize power.”
“Anyone challenging Xi Jinping can now be seen as committing a political crime,” Nicholas Bequelin, the regional director for East Asia with Amnesty International, told The New York Times. “I think that is very different from what everybody understood before.” The inclusion of the president’s political ideology into the Chinese constitution enhances Xi’s power.
Some observers suspect that the Chinese president may attempt to stay in power after the end of his second term. It is unclear whether Xi has privately selected his successor, but it is certain that he has amassed more power than almost all of his predecessors, making him one of the most powerful Chinese leaders to rule the country in decades.
Xi’s power and vision for his country suggests that China may become more assertive in pursuing its national interests when dealing with other states in the global community.
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