Chinese Communist Party resolution affirms 'cult of personality' around Xi Jinping

The resolution also shows that Beijing thinks its crackdown in Hong Kong is working, commentators say.
By Malik Wang, Gigi Lee and Cheng Yut Yiu
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Chinese Communist Party resolution affirms 'cult of personality' around Xi Jinping China's President Xi Jinping is shown in a file photo.

A historical resolution passed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s Central Committee seeks to position current leader Xi Jinping as the political heir of late supreme leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping who will take the country to new heights, surpassing the achievements of his predecessors, analysts told RFA.

The resolution -- which sets out the CCP's approved view of its own history -- does so in order to mark "a new journey" for China under Xi's "core leadership," the preamble to the resolution, the full text of which was published on Nov. 1, says.

Its purpose is to help people think "in big-picture terms," follow Xi as core leader, and unite the Chinese people to realize the Chinese Dream, it says.

U.S.-based political commentator Hu Ping said the omission of former leaders including Hua Guofeng, Zhao Ziyang, and Hu Yaobang from the document suggest that Xi is only interested in associating himself with hugely powerful leaders from the party's past.

"Xi Jinping wants to position himself as not just surpassing Deng, but Mao as well," Hu said. "The whole issue of Mao Zedong is linked to the cult of personality around him."

"The resolution had to mention him because he's the most important one, because when they talk about Mao, they are also talking about the present," he said.

While the language used by the 2021 resolution on the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) is somewhat similar to that of the 1981 resolution under Deng, most of the "disastrous results" of that era of factional fighting and social turmoil are blamed on Lin Biao and Jiang Qing, who "took advantage of Comrade Mao Zedong's mistakes."

It omits criticism of the cult of personality around Mao that featured in the 1981 resolution, which said Mao's "personal arbitrariness gradually undermined democratic centralism in Party life and the personality cult grew graver and graver."

Dismissing Mao's mistakes

Liu Mengxiong, a former member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said the change is part of a subtle re-characterization of Mao's legacy in official historical documents, including textbooks, over recent years.

"In the past few years, we have seen that textbooks have changed "a decade of civil strife" to "arduous exploration," in other words, they are playing down Mao Zedong's mistakes," Liu told RFA. "They even ... opened up the tomb of Jiang Qing [in Beijing] this year."

He said the fact that the third resolution mostly agrees with the second on the catastrophic nature of the Cultural Revolution was rather a way to distract people from an increasingly sympathetic view of the cult of personality around Mao under Xi's leadership.

"Xi Jinping's core position in the CCP Central Committee is now established," he said. "The ideas of contemporary Chinese Marxism and 21st century Marxism proves that nobody is now in a position to challenge him."

"The [1981] resolution mentions collective leadership, but that is no longer a thing," Liu said. "I am certain that this has laid the foundation ... for Xi's re-election [to a third term in office] at the 20th Party Congress next year."

Establishing Xi's authority

U.S.-based commentator Wang Juntao said Xi has succeeded in destroying the system for leadership succession set up under Deng.

"He made this resolution to establish his dictatorship," Wang said. "Actually, now that he has the base from which to do this, he doesn't really need [the resolution]."

"[They are talking about] establishing the absolute authority of Xi Jinping, and his political ideology, which is absurd, because that was exactly the sort of thing they repudiated in the 1981 resolution that concluded that Mao Zedong made mistakes," he said.

Meanwhile, the resolution presents the CCP's moves to take political control of Hong Kong under a draconian national security law as a successful response to the 2019 protest movement.

"The central authorities have firmly supported the law-based efforts of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to end violence and chaos and restore order ... taken resolute steps to stop and prevent interference in the affairs of the two special administrative regions by external forces, and cracked down on acts of separatism, subversion, infiltration, and sabotage," the 2021 resolution says.

"These measures, which address both the symptoms and root causes of relevant issues, have helped to restore order in Hong Kong and ensure a turn for the better in the region," the resolution claims.

Hong Kong current affairs commentator Willy Lam said the wording on Hong Kong shows that little is likely to change if Xi stays in power at next year's Party Congress.

"This resolution is tantamount to declaring that Xi Jinping won't be retiring at the 20th Party Congress," Lam said. "It also shows that although Western countries have criticized his crackdown in Hong Kong, he believes that his actions were correct."

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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