Xi bolsters status with resolution on CCP’s history

Xinhua via AP
Members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, and Premier Li Keqiang, third right, attend the sixth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the party in Beijing on Thursday

BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping has paved the way to ensuring he keeps a grip on power for years to come — perhaps until even 2035.

Xi, who is the Chinese Communist Party’s general secretary, led the adoption Thursday of the third resolution on the party’s history, at the sixth plenary session of the party’s 19th Central Committee. Adoption of the resolution looks set to accelerate the party’s efforts to make China a major power that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States by the middle of this century.

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency carried a communique of the session that placed the “new era” since the 2012 launch of the Xi administration alongside the “new period of reform, opening-up and socialist modernization” orchestrated by Deng Xiaoping, who led China’s reform and opening-up policy, and Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao and former President Jiang Zemin. It classified the “new era” under Xi as distinct from the era of China’s founder Mao Zedong and the era of Deng, Jiang and Hu. The communique referred to Xi’s achievements more often than it did to the achievements of Deng, Jiang and Hu combined.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The full text of the resolution on the party’s history had not been released as of Friday evening, but it is expected to follow the composition of the communique, in which Deng, who ushered in China’s rapid economic growth, was grouped together with Jiang and Hu, indicating Xi’s elevated status.

The communique makes no direct mention of negative elements of China’s history, such as the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution launched by Mao, or the 1958-60 Great Leap Forward, a movement to boost agricultural production that led to famines in farming villages.

This reflects Xi’s historical perspective, which emphasizes the achievements realized by the party, such as the founding of modern China and years of high economic growth.

2035 targets

Government-controlled media also have started reporting that Xi is in good health, a development that is likely linked to his desire to launch a third term in office at next year’s party national congress.

On Nov. 6, Xinhua reported that Xi swims to stay in shape and has “enough stamina to deal with affairs of the Party, government and the military.” Mao, who held on to power until his death, also enjoyed swimming. It is possible the comment about Xi was a nod to Mao, who swam in the Yangtze River to give the image that he was in good health.

Xi has compiled national strategies that include goals for 2035. His administration has announced such targets in fields including economic strength, science, technology and national defense. In a recent commentary, Xinhua emphasized only long-term objectives through 2035, and did not touch on the milestone year of 2049 — the centenary of Communist China’s founding. This has triggered speculation that Xi might consider holding on to power until 2035, when he will turn 82, the age Mao was when he died.

According to the Xinhua commentary, China, as a major power in the east, would join the ranks of modernized nations and redraw the global map by 2035. It also stressed that China would bring an end to the mindset that becoming modernized means becoming Westernized, and show a new option for the modernization of all mankind.

The commentary could be interpreted as an expression of confidence that China’s one-party system will be recognized worldwide and that Beijing will be able to stand up to the world order led by the United States and Europe.