China’s ruling Communist Party enshrined President Xi Jinping’s political thought into its constitution on Tuesday, putting him in the same company as the founder of modern China, Mao Zedong, and cementing his power ahead of a new top leadership reshuffle.
The party unanimously passed an amendment to include “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” as one of its guiding principles at the end of its week-long congress.
The party was due to announce its new Standing Committee, the apex of power in China, on Wednesday. The current committee is made up of seven people.
Also included in the amended constitution was the party’s “absolute” leadership over the military, that the fight against corruption will continue, Xi’s “Belt and Road” development initiative, supply-side reforms, and giving play to the “decisive role” of market forces in resource allocation.
“The congress holds that the leadership of the Communist Party of China is the most essential attribute of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the greatest strength of this system,” the party said in a statement. “The party exercises overall leadership over all areas of endeavor in every part of the country.”
Whether Xi was able to have his name “crowned” in the party constitution had been seen as a key measure of his power. His elevation echoes Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory. No other leader since Mao has had an eponymous ideology included in the document while in office. Deng’s name was added after his death in 1997.
Xi’s more recent predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, both had the party constitution amended to include their guiding thoughts, but without their names directly attached.
Jiang had his “Three Represents” embracing private entrepreneurship written in, while Hu, Xi’s immediate predecessor, had his economic doctrine of “scientific development” included.
Xi has rapidly consolidated power since assuming party leadership in late 2012 and the presidency the following year.
The party gave Xi the title of “core” leader a year ago, a significant strengthening of his position ahead of the congress, which is held once every five years.
The party also announced a new Central Committee, the largest of its elite ruling bodies. It does include anti-corruption tsar and current Standing Committee member Wang Qishan, which means he will not be on the new Standing Committee. He may well be given another role that is unlikely to be announced for months to come.
China’s top banking regulator, Guo Shuqing, and veteran banker Jiang Chaoliang, both front runners to succeed Zhou Xiaochuan as central bank governor, both made it on to the Central Committee.