Top party meeting endorses Xi Jinping to lead China in building 'new world'

The Chinese Communist Party is promoting a canonical view of its own history, analysts say.
By Qiao Long, Cheng Yut Yiu and Fong Tak Ho
2021.11.11
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Top party meeting endorses Xi Jinping to lead China in building 'new world' A man walks in front of a picture of China's President Xi Jinping at the Museum of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, Nov. 11, 2021.
AFP

The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on Thursday passed a resolution on party history, the third in its century-long history, presenting "core leader" Xi Jinping as the right person to take China into a new era of international assertiveness and long-term "Marxist" rule.

While previous resolutions on CCP history have signaled major shifts in the party line, they have also served to consolidate power in the hands of a single faction within the ruling party.

The first historical resolution in 1945 affirmed the political line pursued by late supreme leader Mao Zedong, and established him at the helm of the CCP, while the second, passed in 1979, established economic reformer Deng Xiaoping's position as supreme leader.

A communique issued by the Central Committee at the end of the sixth plenary session on Thursday describes the work of governing China during the past year as "extremely arduous and difficult," and vows to continue to "seek progress while maintaining stability."

It throws its weight behind "new patterns of development," including promoting scientific and technological self-reliance, modernizing the military, and China's "wolf-warrior" diplomatic policy of recent years, calling it "superpower diplomacy with Chinese characteristics."

With the aim of enhancing "political awareness" along with "cultural confidence," the communiqué vows to "resolutely support the core position of Comrade Xi Jinping at the core of the CCP Central Committee and the entire party."

Regarding the resolution on party history, the communique said the CCP's main task is to "strive for national independence and liberation, and create the fundamental social conditions for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation."

Late supreme leader Mao Zedong is credited in the communique with "establishing the correct revolutionary path ... of seizing power with military force," and obliterating a century of humiliation at the hands of foreign powers.

The wording is in stark contrast to the CCP's 1981 "Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party since the Founding of the People’s Republic of China," in which the CCP under Deng penned a 13-page historical commentary that laid the responsibility for the "leftist errors" leading to the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) at Mao's door, while also lauding his leadership at great length.

The 1981 resolution was largely addressed to the rank-and-file of the CCP and the people of China, who needed to know the likely direction in which Deng would take them following the death of Mao (1976), the power struggle that led to the fall of his designated successor Hua Guofeng, and the trial of the Gang of Four in November 1980.

But this resolution's target audience appears to be the international community.

"The Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people solemnly declare to the world ... that Chinese people have now stood up, that the times when Chinese people were slaughtered and bullied is past," it said, adding: "The Chinese people don't just excel at destroying old worlds; they are also good at building new ones."

Late supreme leader and economic reformer Deng Xiaoming is credited with "emancipating minds" with his shift to economic development, and as the creator of "socialism with Chinese characteristics," while former president Jiang Zemin is credited with bringing the party into the 21st century, and former leader Hu Jintao with his "scientific approach to development."

In a nod to Xi's likely confirmation next year for a third term in office, general secretary Xi Jinping is positioned as a deep-thinking, farsighted, big-dreaming leader to take China forward and "build a Marxist party to rule for the long term."

Under Xi, lax governance by the CCP is a thing of the past, with the party now presiding over the "modernization of governance capabilities," communiqué said.

Independent political scholar and veteran dissident Zha Jianguo said the communique was essentially a hodge-podge of political slogans from the past few years of CCP propaganda.

"All of it has been used many times before in party propaganda," Zha said. "Why do they keep on repeating it?"

"Because they want to use these slogans to standardize the thinking of the entire party and the entire country, and unify the thinking of the Chinese people," he said.

Precedent for worship

Political scholar Wei Xin said the communiqué went further than that, in that it sets a precedent for the worship of the CCP and its version of history.

"They are creating a form of worship of party history," Wei said. "This worship of party history over the past century has turned the CCP from a revolutionary party to a highly totalitarian regime that is narcissistic and self-perpetuating in its worship of its own version of history."

"It's akin to the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte in the 19th century," he said.

Artist Cian Ci posted a political cartoon to his Twitter account on Thursday satirizing the CCP resolution by depicting the three leaders whose power was consolidated by their respective historical resolutions turning towards each other in a self-referential loop, making Nazi-style salutes.

The sixth plenum communiqué claimed victory for the CCP in strengthening "national security," especially in taking tighter control of Hong Kong, and "firmly implementing the principle that patriots should run Hong Kong."

The party also "resolutely opposed acts of Taiwan separatism and interference by external forces," it said.

"The CCP and the people of China solemnly declare to the world that [they] have made a great leap, have stood up, and are getting richer and stronger," it said.

'A continual tightening up'

Hong Kong political commentator Johnny Lau said the CCP under Xi has moved to assert Beijing's direct control over Hong Kong since the fourth plenum.

"There has been a continual tightening up of what they mean by 'one country, two systems,' which meant something different back in the day, before the 1997 handover," Lau told RFA.

"There's already a huge difference, and people are saying that Xi Jinping has basically overturned the more lenient definition made under Deng Xiaoping," he said.

Benson Wong, former assistant politics professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, said the references to Taiwan are largely formulaic, and give little away about what Beijing is planning next.

"Actually, the lack of comment on Taiwan could be said to reflect a failure [of CCP policy]," Wong said. "If you compare the comments on Hong Kong and Macau with those on Taiwan, you can spot the differences in how successfully those issues have been handled [from Beijing's point of view]."

The communiqué was published a day after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington and its allies would take unspecified "action" if China were to use force to annex Taiwan.

"There are many countries, both in the region and beyond, that would see any unilateral action to use force to disrupt the status quo as a significant threat to peace and security, and they too would take action in the event that that happens," Blinken said, but declined to specify what kind of action he meant.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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Wangchuk
Nov 15, 2021 09:46 AM

More and more each year Chinese Communist Party rhetoric sounds like militaristic Japan prior to WW2.

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