Chinese Leader Tightens Grip on Power Through Vast Network of Institutes That Teach ‘Xi Jinping Thought’

May 19, 2021 Updated: May 26, 2021

Chinese leader Xi Jinping is solidifying his control over Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials and the wider populace by establishing institutes around the country to propagate his eponymous dogma—known as “Xi Jinping Thought.”

Since becoming the CCP’s paramount leader in 2012, Xi has moved to centralize power and encourage a personality cult echoing back to the Party’s first ruler Mao Zedong, analysts have noted. A key plank of this strategy is the dissemination of Xi’s own political ideology, officially called “Xi Jinping Thought for Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.”

The concept was first outlined in a speech given by Xi during the National Congress of the Communist Party in 2017, during which the doctrine was enshrined in the CCP’s constitution—making Xi the first leader since Mao to have an ideology carrying his name to be adopted into the Party charter while still in office.

Xi Jinping Thought, encapsulated in a collection of writings and “important speeches” given by the leader, calls for drastically advancing the country’s economic and technological might by 2035. It also envisages a “world-class” military that can match the United States’ armed forces by mid-century.

The end goal is to transform China into a “great modern socialist country” by 2049—the 100th anniversary of the CCP coming to power.

Since the birth of Xi’s ideology, research institutes dedicated to its study and promotion have been set up in more than 20 universities across the country. Courses have also become mandatory learning for students at dozens of colleges and universities. The regime has even released a mobile app teaching Xi Jinping Thought, touted to be one of the most popular.

CCP officials have also been ordered to study Xi Jinping Thought. To achieve this, the regime has set up hundreds of Xi Jinping Thought institutes all across the country from large cities to far-flung villages to implant the ideology across the officialdom, according to leaked government documents recently obtained by The Epoch Times. The documents, issued by the provincial government in southwest China’s Guangxi Province, reveal the workings of the institutes and their wide geographical reach, information which has not previously been publicly disclosed by the regime.

“[All officials] must consciously use Xi Jinping Thought for Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era to arm your minds, guide your practice, and progress your tasks,” the Guangxi regional government ordered officials in a leaked document issued on July 15, 2018.

Higher-ranking officials have also been assigned to monitor the progress of lower-level officials’ learning of Xin Jinping Thought, the documents showed.

China
Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping and other leaders applaud at the closing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China on March 11, 2021. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Xi Jinping Thought Institutes

According to an internal document by the Guangxi Provincial government issued in November 2019, the regime started rolling out Xi Jinping Thought institutes in July 2018.

The document said that Guangxi, which has a population of about 50 million, had set up 138 Xi Jinping Thought institutes in its cities, districts and government offices. The institutes are officially called “New Era Civilization Practice Centers.”

Meanwhile, 21,294 stations teaching Xi Jinping thought, officially called “New Era Civilization Practice Station,” had been set up across Guangxi’s villages, townships, and neighborhoods.

Another document from July 2018 detailed how the centers should run. It said that centers should treat the teaching of Xi Jinping thought as its “most important task” and work to spread the thought deeply and clarify its historical significance.

Centers were instructed to set up classrooms big enough to accommodate 100 people, print learning materials and distribute it to all officials, organize tests, and arrange activities at least once a week.

The document not only asked officials to learn Xi’s thought, but also ordered them to spread the ideology through media and on social media platforms such as through videos and messages.

Xi Jinping Thought Stations that run in smaller communities, meanwhile, were instructed in a May 2018 document to organize learning in formats that people like, such as seminars, study circles, competitions, and quizzes. They were also encouraged to organize classes in people’s homes, farms, or factories.

Stations were also asked to turn aspects of Xi Jinping Thought into songs that could be sung by locals. Officials were tasked to make sure each resident in the village or neighborhood studied the ideology by tracking their study progress.

Learning Revisionist Party History

In the lead up to the centenary of the CCP’s establishment on July 1, the regime has kickstarted a nationwide campaign to study Party history, as interpreted by Xi.

Two recently published books that mark Xi as its author, “An Abbreviated History of the Chinese Communist Party” and “On the History of the Chinese Communist Party,” whitewashed the atrocities committed during Mao’s rule and glorified the accomplishments and ideologies espoused by Xi.

In an April document, the Guangxi regional government ordered all officials to study this latest version of history by reading these two books as well as several other official Xi books.

It also arranged 15 provincial-level inspection teams to monitor officials who work in different government departments, universities, television stations, newspaper, radio, academies, associations, state-owned enterprises, and city governments. The teams were tasked to check the officials’ learning progress, as well as test them.

“[The inspection teams] need to tour [the lower-ranking government departments] and guide [the officials], inspect the departments randomly, investigate by talking with different people, and observing the [lower ranking officials’] studying,” the document said.

In March, over 100 officials across different departments in Guangxi’s provincial government shared their key learnings from their classes on Xi Jinping Thought, according to the document.  In these sharings, all officials expressed their loyalty to Xi and his administration.

Huang Jinqiu (alias), a senior journalist in mainland China, told the Chinese-language Epoch Times that the officials have no choice but to declare allegiance to the leader.

“It became the CCP’s culture that all officials must express their loyalties to Xi and the party in public,” Jin said.

Jin said Chinese officials try to portray that “they are very leftist, they are very loyal, and they support CCP’s rule to protect themselves from being investigated or sacked.”

“It doesn’t matter how corrupt you are, you will be safe if you are loyal to Xi Jinping,” he added.

Cathy He contributed to this report.