China prepares to write Xi Jinping into history

Domestic News

The sixth plenum, a top Communist Party leadership meeting that started in Beijing today, is expected to approve a resolution that codifies General Secretary Xi Jinping’s image as an indispensable figure in Chinese history and governance, and set the stage for his “third term” that would begin at the 2022 Party Congress.

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Illustration for SupChina by Derek Zheng

Today in Beijing, the top leaders in the Chinese Communist Party — the Central Committee made up of about “400 men (and a handful of women), including state leaders, military chiefs, provincial bosses and top academics,” as Bloomberg has it — are kicking off their most important meeting of the year.

  • The Central Committee plenum is held about once a year, with seven sessions between each twice-a-decade Party Congress that cover different themes.
  • This plenum, the sixth since the 2017 Party Congress, would hold higher importance simply because it is the last chance to make major decisions before the next Party Congress.
  • This plenum is even more important, because General Secretary Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 is widely expected to use it to codify his image as an indispensable figure in Chinese history and governance, and set the stage for his “third term” that would begin at the 2022 Party Congress. The New York Times reports:

A high-level meeting opening in Beijing on Monday will issue a “resolution” officially reassessing the party’s 100-year history that is likely to cement his status as an epoch-making leader alongside Máo Zédōng 毛泽东 and Dèng Xiǎopíng 邓小平.

While ostensibly about historical issues, the Central Committee’s resolution — practically holy writ for officials — will shape China’s politics and society for decades to come.

The deliberations are secret and the resolution “could be published days after” the end of the meeting, which concludes on Thursday, November 11, the NYT says.

State media gear up for a Xi lovefest

“This is a man of determination and action, a man of profound thoughts and feelings, a man who inherited a legacy but dares to innovate, a man who has forward-looking vision and is committed to working tirelessly,” Xinhua News Agency tweeted on November 5, with a picture of Xi during his speech from this summer marking the 100th anniversary of the CCP.

  • The central message of that speech — that the CCP is indispensable to China’s rise, and China is now “advancing with unstoppable momentum toward rejuvenation” — was echoed in a Politburo meeting last month (in Chinese) that approved the agenda for the current plenum.

The CCP and the Chinese people have solemnly proclaimed to the world with their heroic and tenacious struggle that the Chinese nation has made a great leap from standing up [under Mao], getting rich [under Deng] to becoming strong [under Xi], and that the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered an irreversible historical process.

A new 531-page official history (in Chinese) of the 100 years of the CCP “devotes over a quarter” of its space to Xi’s nine years in power, the NYT notes.

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