Xi Jinping’s Bid for a Third Term: Shaping China’s Future

November 14, 2021 Updated: November 14, 2021

Commentary

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) just passed a resolution that lavished superfluous praises on its leader Xi Jinping, who is attempting to secure a third term ahead of the Party’s 20th Congress in 2022.

At the end of its 6th plenary session, the CCP adopted a historical resolution on the “major achievements and historical experience” of the Party over the past century. Although the full text is not published yet, a communique summarized the main ideas of this resolution.

According to the communique, the 100-year history of the CCP is divided into four phases: 1921–1949, 1949–1976, 1978–2012, and 2012-present. In the initial two phases, the paramount leader was Mao Zedong. The third phase was ruled by Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao; and two other CCP leaders were subsumed under Deng. The fourth phase is currently ruled by Xi. Thus, Mao, Deng, and Xi stand out as the three paramount leaders of the Communist Party in the last 100 years.

A simple word count reveals the disproportionate emphasis given to Xi. The total number of words in the communique devoted to Mao, Deng, Jiang, Hu, and Xi was 951, 383, 264, 217, and 2,091, respectively. In other words, in the 100-year history of the Party, the nine years under Xi was far more meaningful than the 91 years under the previous four leaders combined.

A party built on Marxism requires its leader to be idolized as a great Marxist to have legitimacy. In the communique, Mao was extolled as the leader who took “the first historic step in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context”; Deng “achieved a new breakthrough in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context”; while Xi’s Thought “is the Marxism of contemporary China and of the 21st century.” This narrative suggests that Xi’s contribution to Marxism is greater than his predecessors. In Xi’s mind, both Mao and Deng are not worthy of being considered great Marxist leaders.

In the CCP’s 100-year history, this is the third historical resolution. The previous two, initiated by Mao and Deng in 1945 and 1981, respectively, were adopted to solve serious problems the Party faced. The purpose of the 1945 resolution was to save the CCP after it suffered grave military defeat and had to flee to Yan’an in the remote northwest of China. The 1981 resolution tried to save the economy when it was on the brink of collapse, following Mao’s devastating Cultural Revolution. So both resolutions were created to solve problems—they paved the way for both Mao and Deng to be elevated to their paramount positions within the Party, after correcting previous wrongs.

Unlike the previous two, the 2021 resolution was adopted to fortify Xi’s position. In explaining why the third one is necessary, the communique cited the need to “resolutely uphold Comrade Xi Jinping’s core position in the Central Committee and in the Party as a whole.” It then went on to cite some of Xi’s slogans such as “maintain political integrity,” “think in big-picture terms,” “follow the core leadership,” and “always align with the central party leadership.” This statement betrayed Xi’s personal ambition, which is to make use of the historical resolution to secure another term, if not life tenure, in the Party’s 20th Congress next year.

There are ominous signs in the third historical resolution. First, the atrocities that the CCP committed under Mao was justified by the statement: “The Chinese people were not only capable of dismantling the old world, but also of building a new one.” People who had lived through Mao’s reign can vividly remember the meaning of the phrase “dismantling the old world.” It involved the following atrocities: the extermination of the landed and property class; the confiscation of private property without due process or compensation; the suppression of the non-conformist intellectuals and religious believers; the destruction of historical and cultural monuments, relics, and artifacts; and the cruel thought education—communism/socialism—forced upon the people during the Cultural Revolution, not to mention the policy errors that led to the massive starvation that claimed more than 35 million lives. These were the problems that Deng’s 1981 historical resolution sought to correct. Yet, in Xi’s third resolution, these atrocities were proudly exalted as “the ability to dismantle the old world.”

Second, the latest historical resolution took the cult of personality to an unprecedented height. In Mao’s time, he was extolled as Great Teacher, Great Leader, Great Commander, and Great Helmsman. These four Greats at the core of Mao’s personality cult wreaked havoc across the country.

However, Mao’s personality cult pales in comparison to Xi’s. To prepare the people to accept an almighty Xi, state-run media Xinhua News Agency lavished praises on the leader:

  • A party secretary who loves his people like his own parents.
  • A core leader who enjoys popular support.
  • A strategist and pragmatist who makes the country strong.
  • A paradigm shifter who opens up new horizons.
  • A great national leader with a global perspective.
  • A captain that carries on the Chinese traditions and paves the way for the future.

The Chinese people remember just too well how much they suffered from Mao’s personality cult, and that’s exactly what the second historical resolution aimed to rectify—by “taking down Mao from the altar.” Deng even managed to lay down in the CCP’s Constitution that the Party specifically prohibits any form of personality cult.

Unfortunately, Xi and the CCP have turned a blind eye to such bitter lessons from history, and resorted to creating another god.

As the prominent journalist Ted Koppel puts it: “History is a tool used by politicians to justify their intentions.” Thus, the CCP’s third historical resolution is a tool used by Xi to justify his bid for a third and perhaps life-long term.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Ching Cheong
Ching Cheong is a graduate of the University of Hong Kong. In his decades-long journalism career, he has specialized in political, military, and diplomatic news in Hong Kong, Beijing, Taipei, and Singapore.