Chairman Xi Jinping’s dramatic elevation to the topmost slot of the Chinese Communist Party has certainly ruffled some feathers here in Bengal. The election of Jinping is being pitted as one of the historic events in Chinese political history as the leader is being bracketed with the two of his great predecessors, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Jinping is being portrayed to be above the party and it is something that India’s communist parties find hard to digest. They always uphold the party above individuals. The politburo or the central committees remain the supreme decision making bodies of communist parties in India.
India will be cautiously judging China’s stance under its new leader in the Dokalam standoff and on other controversial bilateral issues. In a unanimous vote conducted at the end of China’s most important twice-a-decade political meeting, the Communist Party Congress, the country’s President Xi Jinping was elevated to the stature of the legendary Mao Zedong. Jinping, who has steadily increased his grip on power since becoming the leader in 2012 managed to rise in within the party, with his name and ideology now enshrined in the party constitution.
The vote was conducted in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, where over 2,000 delegates sat under the red star and raised their hands to incorporate the “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era” into the party’s constitution. Apart from the party’s founder Mao Zedong, none of the previous Chinese Communist Party leaders who have had their ideologies incorporated in the party’s constitution, have had their philosophy described as “thought,” which is at the top of the ideological hierarchy. Reports pointed out that only Zedong and Deng Xiaoping have had their names attached to their ideologies and Xiaoping's name was only added to the constitution after his death in 1997. Mao waged a bloody war in 1949 to create the People’s Republic of China and Deng opened China’s economy in 1978, which paved way for China’s meteoric rise as a global economic power house.
Speaking to party delegates, Jinping said, “The Chinese people and nation have a great and bright future ahead. At this great time, we feel more self-confident and proud. At the same time, we also feel a heavy sense of responsibility.” He also promised in his philosophy, to address China’s “unbalanced and inadequate development.” Jinping has described his concept as pivotal to setting China on the path of securing a “decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.”
He has reportedly set the target dates of 2021 - the 100th anniversary of the party’s founding and the People’s Republic’s centenary in 2049 for establishing a prosperous and modern society. China’s constitution was also amended to include references to the party's “absolute” leadership over the armed forces which have been modernising rapidly under Jinping and a commitment to promote his signature foreign policy and infrastructure initiative known as One Belt, One Road. Further, the Congress also selected the party’s central committee, a top ruling body and a new central discipline commission.
The meeting effectively marks the start of Xi’s second five-year-term as party general secretary but the chances are now higher that this will not be his last. The inclusion of Xi’s name in the party’s document makes him only the third Chinese leader to be so honoured. Xi’s power is not unlimited and many of his key policy measures reflect ideas adopted by the party before he took power. Yet he is being increasingly seen as China’s Putin. Francois Godemont, director of the China-Asia Programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations, commented on the recent developments on China and said, “In retrospect, it was an overwhelming assertion of authority to a degree unseen since Mao.”
Experts say, Xi Jinping thought embodies two important principles. First, that the Party is in complete control in China, from the economy to the internet, politics, culture and religion. It also envisions the organisation to be more disciplined and more responsive to people’s needs but ascertains that its leadership must not be questioned. Lastly, the thought encompasses the vision that China is on a path to become a true global superpower on its own terms.