Xi's political thoughts bound for CCP charter

A man takes photos of a party flag of Communist Party of China made with flowers.
A man takes photos of a party flag of Communist Party of China made with flowers.PHOTO: REUTERS

Chinese President's guiding ideology likely to be enshrined in party Constitution next month

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has said its Constitution would be amended at its upcoming national congress, indicating President Xi Jinping's political thinking would be written into the charter.

The CCP's 19th national congress next month would be revising the party's Constitution, state news agency Xinhua said yesterday.

The party's decision-making Politburo deliberated a draft amendment of the charter, Xinhua reported, adding this would be discussed at the congress and include "major theoretical viewpoints and major strategic thought".

Mr Xi has been quickly consolidating power since assuming the party's leadership five years ago.

After he was designated the "core" of the party leadership last October, an important elevation of his status, it was speculated that his political thinking might be enshrined in the party charter.

Recent comments by political heavyweights on the need for Mr Xi's political thoughts to be studied diligently and put into practice fuelled this speculation. These included remarks by Beijing party chief Cai Qi, a Xi protege, who wrote in the People's Daily last month about persisting in using "General Secretary Xi's important thought as a banner to lead the way".

However, in a Politburo statement late last month announcing that the congress would be held from Oct 18, there was a line saying the meeting would implement the "party central's new ideas and new strategies for state governance".

This, said Hong Kong-based political analyst Willy Lam, took many by surprise, including himself.

"It was a deliberate attempt to show that new ideas do not belong exclusively to Xi Jinping and that they were the result of collective decision-making," he said.

It likely meant that there was opposition to the formulation of Mr Xi's political thinking as "Xi Jinping Thought", putting it alongside "Mao Zedong Thought" and ahead of "Deng Xiaoping's Theory", he said.

It was thought then that Mr Xi might postpone the writing of his guiding ideology into the charter, particularly if it would not bear his name. His two predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao had their political thoughts written into the charter, The Three Represents and Scientific Outlook On Development, but these do not bear their name.

Yesterday's announcement indicated that a compromise had been reached and that while Mr Xi's name would be included, the term would be less lofty than "Xi Jinping Thought".

That would have been "a bit outrageous" because Mr Xi had been in power for only five years and had nothing like the grand achievements of Mao, said Dr Lam.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2017, with the headline 'Xi's political thoughts bound for CCP charter'. Print Edition | Subscribe