China's Xi Jinping emerges as strong as Mao, Deng in party

Chinese President Xi Jinping was able to muster the strength to get his political thought incorporated into the party's constitution, signifying his growing power over the Communist Party and the nation.

China's Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping on Wednesday said that the coming five years will witness several important "junctures and signposts" indicating an overhaul of the party structure and its functions.

"As I look ahead to the next five years, I see several important junctures and signposts," Xi said at a press meet, Xinhua reported. Emerging as powerful as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping in the past, party general secretary and the country's President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, he was able to incorporate his political thought into the party's constitution.

With the inclusion of "Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era", Xi has surpassed veterans like Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao and the move will take his stature to another level and give more ammo to his growing power in China's closed politics.

"The Congress unanimously agrees on Xi Jinping's 'Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era' in addition to Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong, Deng Theory," read the amendment to the constitution. "The Congress urges all Party members to use the Thought to achieve unity in thinking and action, be more purposeful and determined in studying and applying it."

Xi has amassed power like no other leader after Deng in China. Last year, he was accorded the title of "core" leader, a distinction given only to Mao, Deng and Jiang. This honorific puts Xi at the top of China's inner ruling circle. He is one of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee, China's most powerful body.

Five of the super seven are to retire due to the unofficial retiring age of 68. Xi, 64 and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, 62, will stay on. It is speculated most of the new entrants into this league will be Xi loyalists.

Xi will retire as the party General Secretary in 2022 when he completes 68 years of age. "Domestically, it signifies that Xi has no serious rivals and the system has a consensus behind him which is unusual even in a highly authoritarian state like China," old-time China watcher David Kelly told IANS.

However, Kelly says Xi cannot be compared to Mao. "I was a student here in the 1970s when Mao was still alive. Xi simply does not have the passionate belief. Mao was almost a religious figure. Young people of that time, who had very limited exposure to the outside world, thought of him as almost supernatural."

Steve Tsang, Director SOAS China Institute, said,"Xi has not yet faced great challenges in the way Mao did, like the one over the Korean War, or Deng did in the form of Tiananmen protests of 1989...Xi's game is to make sure that he will not be so tested."

The 19th Central Committee will, in turn, elect the Political Bureau, the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau and the General Secretary at its first plenary session on Wednesday, reports Xinhua news agency.

According to the Party Constitution, the highest leading body of the CPC is the National Congress and the Central Committee it elects, and all constituent organizations and members of the Party are subordinate to the National Congress and the Central Committee.

The number of delegates to the National Congress and the procedure governing their election shall be determined by the Central Committee.

(Indo-Asian News Service)