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Xi on track to follow footsteps of Mao

  • Laurent Thomet

    Agence France-Presse

Beijing, China   /   Tue, October 24, 2017   /   12:47 pm
Xi on track to follow footsteps of Mao China's President Xi Jinping gives a speech at the opening session of the Chinese Communist Party's five-yearly Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct. 18, 2017. President Xi Jinping declared China is entering a (Agence France-Presse/Nicolas Asfuri)

Chinese leader Xi Jinping's name was added to the Communist Party's constitution at a defining congress on Tuesday, elevating him alongside Chairman Mao to the pantheon of the country's founding giants. 

The inclusion of Xi's name along with his guiding philosophy for the nation cements his place as the most powerful Chinese leader in decades and suggests he could remain its paramount leader throughout his lifetime.

Communist China's founder Mao Zedong, and the architect of market reforms, Deng Xiaoping, are the only other Chinese leaders to have their names in the document -- and only Mao was alive when his was included.

Xi, 64, presided over the week-long congress's closing session where some 2,300 delegates approved the constitutional amendment to include "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era".

An official reading out the amendment said the concept will be "a beacon for the work of the party".

The concept places a heavy emphasis on the party's role in governing every aspect of the country from the economy to what people are writing on social media.

"We must work tirelessly and forge ahead on the journey of realising the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," Xi told the congress in concluding remarks.

Willy Lam, politics professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said adding Xi's name to the constitution will "enable him to be like Mao, leader for life as long as he's healthy".

Xi's predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, had their concepts included in the constitution but without their names and only when they retired.

The congress will also undoubtedly hand Xi a customary second five-year term as general secretary of the party.

Xi could also consolidate his power by filling the country's ruling council with allies, possibly without even presenting an obvious heir apparent.

The congress also elected a new Central Committee, which will choose the executive Politburo and the country's top ruling council, the Politburo Standing Committee, on Wednesday.