For ChiCom Party scholar, there will be no personality cult for Xi as there was for Mao

For ChiCom Party scholar, there will be no personality cult for Xi as there was for Mao

[Mao’s Cult of personality]

Xie Chuntao, director of the Central Party School’s academic department, said that the “respect and love” ordinary Chinese feel for Xi was “natural” and “heartfelt” and bore no similarities to a cult of personality. Collective leadership is still present, but with a “larger individual role” for Xi.


China has learnt from its history and will not allow President Xi Jinping to develop a Mao-style personality cult, a leading Communist scholar said.

The political ideology sanctioned by Xi at the end of the recent party congress breaks with the recent past by presenting a new line of leadership without a clear successor.

This has fuelled speculation that as China’s strongman Xi might try to retain power after his second five-year mandate in 2022.

Xie Chuntao, director of the Central Party School’s academic department, said that the “respect and love” ordinary Chinese feel for Xi was “natural” and “heartfelt” and bore no similarities to a cult of personality.

“The Communist Party has had a cult of personality before,” Xie explained. “This lesson has long been had, and I believe this will not reoccur.”

The Central Party School is the training ground for top cadres and is influential in interpreting and disseminating party directives.

Xi’s official portrait on the People’s Daily’s front page after the unveiling of the party’s new top leadership last month dwarfed a group photograph of the members of the Politburo Standing Committee.

Since Deng Xiaoping introduced the concept of collective leadership three decades ago to prevent the rise of another Mao-like cult of personality, the official portraits of all newly selected Politburo Standing Committee members have been presented together on the front page in a grid.

Xie acknowledged the photo treatment was out of the ordinary, but said Xi deserved the prominence. He argued collective leadership is still very much alive, albeit with a “larger individual role” for Xi.

“It is an objective fact that he is a strong leader,” Xie said. “If there isn’t someone with the trust of the people and strong ability . . . then I think it’s hard to do anything well.”

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3 comments on “For ChiCom Party scholar, there will be no personality cult for Xi as there was for Mao

  1. [Methinks the Comrade scholar doth protest too much]

    China Urges Rural Christians to Replace Jesus Images with Xi Jinping

    [Xi’s cult of personality]

    14 Nov 2017

    Chinese officials and residents in a rural area of Jiangxi province have revealed a government plan to “melt the hard ice” in the hearts of Christians towards communism by denying them pivotal poverty relief packages if they do not replace images of Jesus in their households with photos of President Xi Jinping.
    One official stated that the move was necessary because Christians are “ignorant” and need to be taught to worship the state, not God.

    The move is the latest in a string of crackdowns against Christianity in the Xi era. Xi’s regime views Christianity, which has experienced a popularity boom in the past decade, as a challenge to the supremacy of the Communist Party’s growing cult of personality around Xi himself.

    The South China Morning Post first picked up on the social media posting that revealed the program, noting that the post showed someone replacing their Christian images with Xi Jinping’s official headshot and praised local Communist Party officials for having transformed locals “from believing in religion to believing in the party.”

    The social media post tracked efforts in the town of Huangjinbu, in southeastern Jiangxi province. It claimed that up to 600 residents had “voluntarily” replaced their images of Jesus, resulting in 453 new photos of Xi hanging on living room walls.

    The Washington Post, which also reported on the post, noted that Communist Party officials in Yugan county in Jiangxi, where Huangjinbu is located, had noted with panic the rapid growth of the region’s Christian population an expressed “a sense of crisis” about it in a regional meeting in October. This new effort may have been a result of brainstorming to solve the problem of more people believing in Jesus than communism.

    The South China Morning Post confirmed the efforts with Qi Yan, identified as “chairman of the Huangjinbu people’s congress.”

    “Many rural people are ignorant. They think God is their savior. … After our cadres’ work, they’ll realise their mistakes and think: we should no longer rely on Jesus, but on the party for help,” Qi told the newspaper. Some, he added, became Christians due to “illness in the family,” which the communists argue can only be cured through “the Communist Party and General Secretary Xi.”

    Qi claimed that the government has only forced individuals to place photos of Xi over their Christian images in “the center of their home,” not their bedrooms or other private areas.

    A local resident, which the South China Morning Post identified as “Liu,” stated that many families were forced to remove their images because they would otherwise not receive their poverty relief packages, putting their lives in jeopardy.

    Christian persecution has become a hallmark of Xi-era Chinese Communist Party (CPC) rule, both due to Xi’s efforts to amass power and Christian groups’ efforts to spread the word of the Gospels. The former have been more successful than those of Xi’s recent predecessors, and Xi himself became the most powerful (CPC) chairman in modern memory at the party’s congress in October, where the party enshrined his name in the constitution, alongside Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. The Washington Post, in their piece on Huangjinbu, notes that some Chinese media have begun referring to Xi as “Great Leader,” a title previously reserved for Mao.

    Xi prepared for his elevation at the party congress by severely limiting the mobility of Christian leaders, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA). At the time, RFA reported that the party had “slapped a travel ban on a number of Christian believers” in southern China, preventing them from traveling to conferences in Hong Kong where they may speak openly about their persecution. Some, friends and family say, were arrested or simply went missing.

    China only formally allows two Christian churches to practice: the Catholic Church and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, a state-controlled Protestant entity. All open Christian worship is heavily regulated and officials control who delivers sermons and what they say during services. Even in more autonomous regions like Hong Kong, the Communist government has exerted its control over Christian events. Hong Kong Christian activist Derek Lam, for example, noted in an August New York Times column that Beijing had begun hijacking Christian youth events to promote “One Belt, One Road,” a communist infrastructure project intended to grant China complete dominance of the Asian economy.

    Most Christians in China are estimated not to belong to either of the legal churches, but to worship in underground “house” churches, which are illegal. Researchers have estimated the total Christian population in China to be around 100 million, compared to 85 million members of the CPC.

  2. [More on Comrade Xi, which sounds like that of a familiar figure]

    Xi Jinping ‘Emperor for Life’. But really?

    Willy Wo-Lap Lam

    At the recent Chinese Communist Party Congress Xi filled major government bodies with friends and loyalists. But there are no possible successors. Like France’s King Louis XIV, Xi can say, “The Party? It’s me”. The Central Committee filled with managers of state owned firms: a sign that economic reforms will be slow. Nationalism is a double-edged sword. If Xi fails, his many enemies in the Party will coalesce.

    Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The just-ended 19th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress has confirmed Xi Jinping’s status as China’s “Emperor for Life.” The 64-year-old “core leader” has filled the country’s highest-ruling councils—the Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC)—with his cronies and loyalists. No cadres from younger generations were inducted to the PBSC, lending credence to the widely held belief that the 64-year-old Xi will remain China’s top leader until the 21st Party Congress in 2027 or beyond (Apple Daily [Hong Kong], October 26;, October 25). Moreover, the fact that “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” has been enshrined in the CCP Constitution has buttressed Xi’s status as a Mao-like “Great Helmsman” for the Party and country. Projects planned for the “New Era” run into the 2030s and 2040s, which could provide Xi with a rationale to stay at the helm beyond the usual ten years. In a startling parallel to French King Louis XIV’s famous pronouncement that “I am the state” (“l’etat, c’est mois”), Xi’s near-total command of the levers of power is his way of telling all Chinese that “The Party? It is me!”

    Composition of the New Leadership

    In the CCP, power rests with those who can put loyal cadres in high positions. During the recent congress Xi did just that. As expected, General Secretary Xi and Premier Li Keqiang remain in the PBSC, China’s highest ruling body. The five new inductees to the PBSC, all born in the 1950s, have sworn fealty to the “supreme commander.” Li Zhanshu, Xi’s confidant and hatchet man, will become Chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s parliament, next March. Party theorist Wang Huning is taking charge of the ideology and propaganda portfolio. Another loyalist, the out-going Director of the Organization Department, Zhao Leji, will head the Party’s top anti-corruption agency, the Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection (CCDI). Vice-Premier Wang Yang, regarded as an economic and financial reformer, will be named Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s highest advisory council. And the veteran Party chief of Shanghai, Han Zheng, is slated to be the next Executive Vice-Premier, the principal deputy to Premier Li.

    The dominance of the inchoate Xi Jinping Faction (which consists of his underlings, cronies, and protégés when he worked in Fujian and Zhejiang Provinces from 1985 to 2007, as well as his classmates at Tsinghua University and fellow natives of Shaanxi Province) is most pronounced in the larger 25-member Politburo. Fifteen of the Politburo members are Xi loyalists, plus cadres who have publicly sworn total allegiance to Xi. Not counting PBSC members Li Zhanshu, Zhao Leji and Wang Huning, prominent faction members who have made it to the Politburo include the following: the Party Secretaries (PS) of Chongqing, Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, respectively Chen Min’er, Cai Qi, Li Qiang and Li Hongzhong; the PS of Guangdong Province and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Li Xi and Chen Quanguo; Xi’s chief adviser on economic matters, Liu He; the new Director of the General Office of the Central Committee Ding Xuexiang; the just-promoted heads of the Organization and Propaganda Departments, respectively Chen Xi and Huang Kunming; and the two Vice-Chairmen of the Central Military Commission, Generals Xu Qiliang and Zhang Youxia (Radio French International, October 25; Oriental Daily News [Hong Kong], October 25).

    Given that most Xi Jinping faction members are relatively young, it will take them five years (until the 20th Party Congress in 2022) before they can exert tighter control over party, government and military organs. The PBSC to be formed at the 20th Party Congress could consist of mainly Xi Faction members. However, evidence suggests that there has been some pushback to Xi’s expanding power. Xi had to make compromises regarding the wording of the CCP Constitution, and in his work report, Xi devoted space than anticipated to partially reinstating some of Deng Xiaoping’s Open Door reformist policies.

    Enshrinement of Xi’s Theoretical Contributions in the Party Constitution

    Xi suffered a minor setback regarding the enshrinement of his “theoretical contributions” in the CCP Constitution. Xi had wanted “Xi Jinping Thought” (习近平思想) to be inserted; this would have automatically elevated him to the same level as Chairman Mao, whose Mao Zedong Thought (毛泽东思想) has long been celebrated alongside Marxism-Leninism in the supreme document. Instead, “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” was honored in the CCP Constitution as a guiding thought for the Party and state. While not quite the elevation Xi hoped for, his influence in the new document is remarkable. While the names of his two predecessors, former presidents Jiang and Hu are not in the Constitution, “Xi Jinping” is mentioned 11 times. One clause even stipulates that CCP members must “resolutely safeguard the authority of the dangzhongyang [“party center”] with Comrade Xi Jinping as core” while another admonishes Party members to “seriously study Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” (Ming Pao [Hong Kong], October 29; People’s Daily, October 28).

    Yet the ultimate test of whether Xi lives up to his preferred image as the “Mao Zedong of the 21st Century” is whether the new Helmsman can introduce comprehensive reform in political, economic and social sectors. The much-touted “Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a New Era” consists of a bevy of slogans—many of them recycled from earlier speeches by Xi—regarding China’s achievements by the year 2035 and 2050. Xi said in his opening speech of the Congress that by the year 2020, China will become a “moderately prosperous society.” The country will have attained all-rounded socialist modernization by 2035. And by 2050, China would become a “great modern socialist country” that is “prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful” (Xinhua, October 29; People’s Daily, October 28). Yet according to independent Party historian Zhang Lifan, “‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’ is not a new concept—and merely adding the term ‘New Era’ does not give a sense that there is theoretical innovation involved.”

    Implications for Economic Reforms

    To realize the “New Era in Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,” Xi listed in his Congress Report fourteen policy directives. The first and most important one is to uphold “the Party’s leadership over all sectors” of the country. Party members and ordinary citizens are called upon to “self-consciously safeguard the authority of the Party’s central authorities and [its] concentrated, unified leadership.” On economic issues Xi apparently made at least theoretical concessions to Party and State Council cadres who favored a faster pace of liberalization, saying the government would “unswervingly encourage, support and provide guidance to non-state sector economic development, so that the market will take up a decisive role in the distribution of resources.” Xi changed the CCP Constitution to emphasize that the market would play a “decisive role”—and not just a “fundamental role,” as stated in the old version of the document—in the allocation of resources. In an apparent effort to lure foreign investment, the Party chief even reintroduced the concept of “national treatment,” where multinationals registered in China receive the same treatment as domestic firms (Economic Daily [Beijing], October 23; Ming Pao, October 20).

    However, it is clear that the party-state apparatus’ control over different economic sectors will be enhanced, not reduced. For example, the government has started buying shares in major private firms such as Tencent; while the number of government shares are just symbolic, this could lead to the appointment of party representatives on the board of directors of these giant private companies (Radio France International, October 12; Wall Street Journal, October 11). Moreover, the reform of SOE conglomerates, which is said to be a major economic liberalization policy in the coming few years, has been slow and circumscribed. Although Beijing has pledged that these conglomerates should have mixed ownership, it is clear that the party-state will remain the major shareholder—and that the bulk of the top management will be party-state appointees (South China Morning Post, September 6; China Securities Journal, June 28). Xi’s pro-forma backing for market forces and the participation of foreign companies could provide a theoretical justification for sidelined reformers in the State Council, led by Premier Li, to lobby for a bigger role in economic decision-making.

    The prominence of the party-state authorities in enterprises is illustrated by the unprecedented number of SOE chiefs who have been appointed to the policy-setting Central Committee. At least twenty such state entrepreneurs have attained this rare honor of joining the policy-setting Central Committee, albeit as alternate or non-voting members (Ta Kung Pao [Hong Kong], October 25;, October 24). (See photo 2)

    The conflation of Party and business—which is the most important implication of the promotion of 20 state entrepreneurs to the Central Committee—could signal another round of “the party-state making advances, the private sector beating a retreat” in the economy.

    Implications for Foreign Policy

    “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” bears striking similarities to Xi’s better-known mantra the “Chinese Dream”. Both slogans carry heavy nationalistic overtones. Xi’s goal is render China into a “great modern socialist country” by or before the year 2050. As Xi noted last week, his administration would “comprehensively push forward major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, so as to usher in a multi-directional, multi-faceted, and three-dimensional diplomatic arrangement.” State Councilor Yang Jiechi, who is the highest official in charge of diplomacy, has been promoted a Politburo member and vice-premier, a sure sign that the Xi administration is devoting more resources to diplomacy.

    Conclusion: Who Will Challenge the New “Emperor”?

    While Xi has emerged as possibly the most powerful leader since Mao, it is important to note that the CCP, which has 90 million members from disparate backgrounds, is not necessarily a monolithic party. In addition to alienating members of the rival Shanghai Faction and the Communist Youth League Faction, Xi has made a tremendous number of enemies through his Machiavellian use of the anti-corruption operation to eliminate or intimidate cadres who refuse to profess full fealty to him.

    At this stage, these anti-Xi elements are lying low; but they could suddenly coalesce and pounce on Xi should the latter make a terrible foreign or domestic policy blunder. Xi’s consolidation of power has significantly increased the probability that he will make such an error. As historian Zhang Lifan pointed out: “Xi wants to dictate all policies. And if he were to make a major mistake, nobody and no institutions would be able to rectify the blunder” (Central News Agency [Taiwan], October 26; BBC Chinese, October 25). For example, nationalism is a double-edged sword. Should Xi get into an ugly confrontation with the U.S. in say, the South China Sea—and should the Maoist dictator be seen as failing to stand up to the Americans—he might lose not only face but also power. His legions of enemies could seize the opportunity to oust him—or at least to deny him the feudalistic dream of being monarch for life.

    *Courtesy of the Jamestown Foundation

  3. [More of the same on the same, which also sounds like more of the same on the same familiar figure; the comrade scholar of the above item on the denial of a cult of personality for Xi “knows which side of his bread is buttered” when it comes to speaking about Comrade Xi]

    Xi Jinping’s new era begins with scholars reduced to silence

    Wang Zhicheng

    Guizhou University cancelled the classes of Prof Yang Shaozheng, who was told to “keep my mouth shut and not make any kind of political statements.” Fearing Chinese retaliation, publisher withdraws a book by Australian scholar Clive Hamilton. To avoid ending up like the USRR, Xi will brook no criticism. Conferences across the country outline Party congress goals.

    Beijing (AsiaNews) – The new era Xi Jinping outlined in his long speech in last month’s Communist Party congress has led to scholars forced into silence, censored publications and blocked websites because of any remarks vaguely critical of the Party.

    Whilst Party officials and universities pledged to study fully Xi’s “thoughts”, which are now contained in the Party’s constitution, all views not fully aligned with the supreme leader are being purged.

    According to Radio Free Asia, Yang Shaozheng, a professor with the Institute of Economics at Guizhou University, was told that his classes were cancelled.

    Prof Yang said he was told that it was “something he said,” and that the order to terminate his classes had come from “higher up.” In the past, he had studied the farm sector and the way it was taxed.

    Recently, he sent some articles to a retired publishing editor in Chongqing, deemed “sensitive material” by the police. “They told me … that I had better keep my mouth shut and not make any kind of political statements.”

    Beijing’s censorship seems to extend abroad as well. Charles Sturt University author and ethicist Professor Clive Hamilton said that publishers of one of his book pulled the plug on it due to Chinese pressure.

    This is “the first instance where a major Western publisher has decided to censor material of the Chinese Communist Party in its home country,” Hamilton said.

    Allen & Unwin described their decision not to publish his book, titled Silent Invasion: How China is Turning Australia into a Puppet State, as a “delay” based on legal advice.

    The book details the low-key and sometimes clandestine efforts of Chinese Communist Party agents within Australia’s borders to influence public opinion.

    For China’s ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, allegations of interference are “groundless” and stirring up “China panic”.

    Meanwhile, a few days after the Communist Party congress, Party and government officials hit the road to promote its “spirit” and Xi Jinping’s thoughts. The latter were enshrined in the constitution, and praise the “Chinese dream” of making the country a great power by 2050, provided that every aspect of life is under the guidance of the Communist Party.

    Several conferences have already taken place various provinces, including Heilongjiang and Jilin in northeastern China, Shanxi in northern China, Anhui and Fujian in eastern China, Yunnan in southwestern China, and Hainan in southern China.

    At the Party Congress, Xi had stated that the Party must strongly oppose actions that undermine its authority. That is why every criticism, however minimal, must be nipped in the bud.

    Like Allen & Unwin, the Cambridge University Press (CUP) in August censored more than 300 articles from the China Quarterly academic journal’s China website at the request of media regulators in Beijing. CUP later reversed the decision under pressure from scholars.

    For many years, Xi Jinping and the Party have been afraid of ending up like the Soviet Union, which explains why every critical view of the Party’s history is censored.

    Indeed, “Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse? An important reason was that their ideals and beliefs had been shaken,” Xi said in a speech he gave in Guangdong in 2012.

    “To dismiss the history of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Communist Party, to dismiss Lenin and Stalin, and to dismiss everything else is to engage in historic nihilism, and it confuses our thoughts and undermines the Party’s organisations on all levels.”

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