Xi Jinping's political thoughts enter CCP charter bearing his name

Delegates holding up their ballot folders outside the Great Hall of the People after the closing session of the 19th national congress in Beijing yesterday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Move elevates him to status comparable to Mao and Deng, reinforces his position as without peer in party leadership

President Xi Jinping's political thoughts, bearing his name, have been enshrined in the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) Constitution, elevating him to a status comparable to Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

Mr Xi's political slogan, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, was passed unanimously by some 2,300 delegates at the close of the week-long 19th national congress yesterday morning.

Delegates also elected the 19th Central Committee, the party's top organ of authority with 376 members, as well as a new Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the top anti-graft body.

Notably absent from the new list were Vice-President Li Yuanchao, 66, and CCDI head Wang Qishan, 69, signalling their retirement. Mr Zhao Leji was the top-ranked official on the new 133-member CCDI, making him likely to be the next anti-corruption czar.

The Central Committee will today decide China's top leadership for the next five years. It will elect from its ranks the Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), the party's apex of power.

Mr Xi's political thought taking its place alongside Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory as part of the guiding ideology of the party reinforces his position as without peer in the party leadership, and his stature as China's strongest leader in decades.

His two immediate predecessors' principles were also inscribed into the charter, but did not bear their names. Mr Jiang Zemin's is known only as the Three Represents, while his successor Hu Jintao's contribution is called the Scientific Outlook on Development.

  • Who's in, who's out

  • BEIJING • China's ruling Communist Party yesterday announced a new Central Committee, the largest of its elite ruling bodies, at the closing session of its 19th party congress, held every five years.

    The list offers clues to who will fill top party positions in President Xi Jinping's second term. The party will announce its new Politburo Standing Committee, which now has seven members headed by Mr Xi and is the apex of power in China. It will be selected by the new Central Committee today.

    Here are the noteworthy names: Wang Qishan, 69: The anti-corruption czar and current Standing Committee member is not in the new Central Committee, ending months of speculation about whether he would remain for another term and break an unofficial retirement rule of not taking a new position after the age of 68. Mr Wang may still get a leadership role outside the Standing Committee.

    Zhao Leji, 60: Head of the party's Organisation Department, which oversees personnel decisions, Mr Zhao made both the Central Committee and Central Commission for Discipline Inspection Committee lists, suggesting that he may take over from Mr Wang Qishan as top graft-buster. Li Yuanchao, 67: The Vice-President is on the cusp of retirement at the age of 67, and is expected to retire from the 25-member Politburo after he was not included in the 204-member Central Committee.

    Yang Jiechi, 67: China's top diplomat could keep his job as state councillor or be further promoted to Parliament or its advisory body after he made it back to the Central Committee. If Mr Yang retires, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, 64, and Mr Song Tao, 62, minister of the party's International Liaison Department, are the top contenders for Mr Yang's job. Both Mr Wang and Mr Song are Central Committee members.

    Liu Jieyi, 59: The veteran diplomat, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, was elected to the Central Committee. Mr Liu is expected to take over as minister of the Taiwan Affairs Office, replacing Mr Zhang Zhijun, who is retiring.

    Li Xiaopeng, 58: The Transport Minister, the oldest son of former premier Li Peng, became a full member of the Central Committee. Five years ago, he was the lowest vote-getter among alternate members of the Central Committee.

    REUTERS

Key to the latest declaration by Mr Xi is that China has entered a "new era", having assured the basic needs of its 1.4 billion citizens, and that it now needs a visionary, epoch-defining plan.

The ambitious declaration broadly sees China becoming a top innovative nation by 2035, and with global influence by 2050. Mr Xi yesterday called on the CCP to "create new accomplishments befitting this great epoch, and stride forward to an ever promising future".

The congress yesterday endorsed Mr Xi's report delivered when the meeting opened last Wednesday, and said his political thoughts "represent the latest achievement in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context". It also enshrined China's long-term commitment to promoting international cooperation through its Belt and Road Initiative, an economic plan that seeks to promote regional integration through massive development of infrastructure along key trade routes.

 

All eyes are now on who will make it to the elite PSC, which will be confirmed today.

Five of its seven members apart from Mr Xi and Premier Li Keqiang have retired, and observers expect an empowered Mr Xi to stack the top body with loyalists. Front runners include Mr Xi's chief of staff Li Zhanshu, 67; Vice-Premier Wang Yang, 62; and state think-tank director Wang Huning, 62. All three are sitting Politburo members.

Two rising stars may enter the PSC if Mr Xi follows party succession norms: Chongqing party boss Chen Min'er, 57; and Guangdong party boss Hu Chunhua, 54.

Mr Xi and Mr Li entered the PSC five years before they assumed the top posts in 2012. But many observers believe Mr Xi is more likely to delay anointing China's next leader till the next congress, setting the stage for a possible third term for him. "If Xi appoints two successors, it means he is ready to quit in 2022," said Hong Kong-based analyst Willy Lam. "But he has no intention of doing so."

 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2017, with the headline 'Xi's political thoughts enter CCP charter bearing his name'. Print Edition | Subscribe