In the run-up to China’s 20th Party Congress, China’s mainstream state media and some senior officials have been referring to CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping as the “people’s leader”. Some analyses have it that this title will be written into the amended party constitution after the congress.
In the history of the CCP, founding leader Mao Zedong was called the “great leader”. Mao died in 1976, and his successor Hua Guofeng was called the “wise leader”. After reform and opening up in late 1978, the CCP started to rethink the idolisation of individuals, and so Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin were not called “leaders”, but the “core”.
When Hu Jintao became president in 2002, the word “core” was also removed in favour of a “party centre with comrade Hu Jintao as general secretary”. And when Xi became president in 2012, the official terminology was also a “party centre with Xi Jinping as general secretary”.
... mainstream media such as People’s Daily, Xinhua and CCTV called Xi the “people’s leader”, stressing the motif that “the people’s leader loves the people, and the people love the people’s leader”.
At the sixth plenary session of the 18th Central Committee of the CCP in October 2016, Xi was officially named the “core” of the party, marking the completion of the rebuilding of its “core”.
And in October 2017, the first plenary session of the 19th Politburo stated that the party would identify the key points of the overall framework and focus on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era as its guiding thought, and focus on Xi as the deserved party leader upheld by the party and loved by the people.
Speeches by party and national leaders tied to ‘Two Establishes’
Before the congress started, mainstream media such as People’s Daily, Xinhua and CCTV called Xi the “people’s leader”, stressing the motif that “the people’s leader loves the people, and the people love the people’s leader”.
He [Beijing party secretary Cai Qi] added that the historic changes in the party and the state over the past five years have all stemmed from the strong leadership of Xi at the helm...
After the congress opened on 16 October, Chinese state media such as the People’s Daily and Xinhua News Agency reported on the speeches of various “party and state leaders” which consistently mentioned the “decisive significance” of the “Two Establishes” proposed at the sixth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee, which refers to “Comrade Xi Jinping’s core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole” and “the guiding role of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”. Some leaders also referred to Xi as “the people’s leader”.
Politburo member and Beijing party secretary Cai Qi emphasised General Secretary Xi’s role as the leader of the whole party and the whole nation in the new era, and the “people’s leader who has heartfelt love from us”. He added that the historic changes in the party and the state over the past five years have all stemmed from the strong leadership of Xi at the helm, and that Xi deserved to be called a wise leader, the chief architect of reform and opening up and modernisation in the new era, and the core of the party. He reminded party members to resolutely uphold at all times and under all circumstances the authority and centralised, unified leadership of the CCP Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core.
... if “the people’s leader” is enshrined in the party’s constitution, this implies that Xi will lead or guide the entire party as its top leader for life.
Politburo member and vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Wang Chen said that the glorious achievements of the party and the state since the CCP’s 18th Party Congress could be fundamentally attributed to Xi’s core position in the party, and as the people’s leader and the commander-in-chief of the army, and to the scientific guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.
At a press conference on 17 October, Tian Peiyan, deputy head of the Central Committee’s Policy Research Office, said, “General Secretary Xi Jinping is the outstanding figure of our great era, the people’s leader that all people look up to.”
Analysts think that the Two Establishes will be written into the revised CCP constitution as a major political achievement, paving the way politically and theoretically for Xi’s third and fourth term in office. The position of “leader” is clearly higher than “core” — if “the people’s leader” is enshrined in the party’s constitution, this implies that Xi will lead or guide the entire party as its top leader for life.
For Lianhe Zaobao's special reports on the 20th Party Congress, click here.
This article was first published in Lianhe Zaobao as ““人民领袖”或写进二十大修改后党章 分析：意味习近平可终身以最高领导人身份领导党”.
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