Beijing – Top Communist Party leaders wrapped up a key meeting in Beijing by passing an important resolution on the country’s past, state media said Thursday, which is expected to cement President Xi Jinping’s grip on power.
Xi, the uncontested leader of the world’s most populous nation, has been heading a pivotal plenary of the ruling party’s top figures since Monday in the Chinese capital.
Some 400 members of the powerful Central Committee passed China’s resolution on “Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party’s Centennial Struggle” — only the third ever such resolution in its 100-year history.
The previous two resolutions were issued under former leaders Mao Zedong in 1945, and Deng Xiaoping in 1981.
The lengthy declaration called for upholding “the correct view of party history,” said official news agency Xinhua, adding that the party has “written the most magnificent epic in the history of the Chinese nation for thousands of years.”
“The Party Central Committee called on the entire party, the entire army and people of all ethnic groups to unite more closely around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, to fully implement Xi Jinping’s new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” the Xinhua read.
This year’s closed-door plenum paves the way for the 20th party congress next autumn, at which Xi is widely expected to be handed a third term in office, securing his position as China’s most powerful leader since Mao.
Analysts say the resolution will help Xi shore up his grip on power by setting in stone his vision for China and diminishing the role of previous leaders.
The “thought” of Xi “is the epitome of Chinese culture and soul,” the text reads, saying that his presence at the “heart” of the ruling party “is of decisive importance … to promote the historic process of the great renewal of the Chinese nation.”
Xi’s tenure has been marked by a sprawling anti-corruption crackdown, repressive policies in regions like Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, and an increasingly assertive approach to foreign relations.
He has also created a leadership cult that has quashed criticism, stamped out rivals and dissent and introduced his own political theory — dubbed “Xi Jinping Thought” — to school students.
State TV’s evening news broadcast said Xi’s resolution was of “wide-ranging historical significance,” showing footage of Xi addressing rows of delegates in the Great Hall of the People in front of red flags and the Communist symbol.
The first such resolution on the party’s history passed under Mao helped him cement his authority over the Communist Party four years before it seized power.
The second, adopted under Deng, saw the regime adopt economic reforms and recognize the “mistakes” of Mao’s ways.
Unlike the 1981 resolution, Thursday’s communique completely glosses over the widespread turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, a devastating period of political upheaval in the 1960s and 70s.
Instead, it refers to the period as one of “socialist revolution and construction.”
Chairman Mao is mentioned seven times in the document, while Deng only five times.
In comparison, Xi Jingping is mentioned 17 times.
Xinhua this week described Xi as “undoubtedly the core figure in charting the course of history.”
“The Party is rewriting its past in order to shape the future around Xi Jinping,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan of the Baptist University of Hong Kong.
He predicted that there would be an “even greater form of taboo” on the dark days of Chinese history as a result.
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