Chinese Communist party elevates Xi’s status in ‘historical resolution’

Analysts say move is designed to put president on same level as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping

Xi Jinping’s grip on power has received a big boost after the ruling Communist party (CCP) passed a rare “historical resolution” praising the president’s “decisive significance” in the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

It is only the third resolution of its kind in the party’s 100-year history. The two previous resolutions were passed under Mao Zedong, who led the Communists to power in 1949, and Deng Xiaoping, whose reforms in the 1980s turned China into an economic powerhouse.

The official summary of the resolution from the meeting said that under Xi’s leadership, China had “made historic achievements and undergone a historic transformation”. It praised Xi, Mao and Deng for leading the country to achieve “the tremendous transformation from standing up and growing prosperous to becoming strong”.

Analysts said the resolution was designed to elevate Xi’s status to the level of Mao and Deng and to help secure his political future, after the party removed presidential term limits in 2018.

“The party central committee called on the entire party, the entire army and people of all ethnic groups to unite more closely around the party central committee with comrade Xi Jinping as the core, to fully implement Xi Jinping’s new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” said a Xinhua readout of the meeting.

The official summary – or communique – of the meeting said: “Establishing comrade Xi Jinping’s position as the core of the central committee as well as of the whole party … was of decisive significance in advancing toward the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

The summary also said that the party central committee finished “many major tasks that weren’t finished before and promoted historic achievements and historic changes in the cause of the party and the country”.

The resolution was passed after a major shift of power dynamics at the top of the CCP in recent years, and was aimed at convincing party officials as well as the wider population about the progress made under Xi’s leadership, said Ling Li, an expert who studies the CCP at the University of Vienna

“The resolution serves two purposes: first, it justifies the path to power of the winner of the power struggles by passing verdicts to those who lost; and second, it builds a case about the distinctive performance of the party under the winner,” she said.

Yu Jie, a senior fellow on China at the London-based thinktank Chatham House, said Xi was not taking all the glory. “Instead, he admitted and recognised the foundation established by his predecessors in different periods,” Yu said.

When term limits were removed, Chinese officials and experts said Xi might need more time to implement his agenda. “Don’t change pilot right after takeoff … [He] can reduce uncertainty for China, as the country enters a decisive period of development. I see no problem with that,” said one high-profile state broadcaster.

Xi faces no obvious rivals, but critics say an attempt to stay in power has the potential to alienate younger party figures, who might see their chances for promotion diminished.

Political scientists also point to the experience of other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where long periods of one-person rule have resulted in a worsening of decision-making and poor economic performance.

As well as confirming Xi’s strongman status and demonstrating the party’s supremacy, the document also told party members to “be absolutely certain that we make no disruptive mistakes on fundamental issues”.

Those fundamental issues included party legitimacy, economic reform and opening up, and territorial integrity, said Yu. “It implies that China will only charter a path led by the party,” she said.

The resolution comes as Beijing’s relationship with many western capitals is deteriorating over issues including the situations in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

The communique said the world was undergoing “great changes unseen in a century”, intertwined with the Covid pandemic. It admitted that, internally, China was facing an “extremely arduous task” in controlling Covid and developing its economy and society.

Associated Press and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report


Vincent Ni and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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