24 Oct 2017

Xi Jinping given same status as Mao Zedong

8:00 pm on 24 October 2017

China's Communist Party has voted to enshrine the ideology of its chairmain Xi Jinping in its constitution, elevating him to the same level as founder Mao Zedong.

Xi Jinping delivers a report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on behalf of the 18th Central Committee at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Xi Jinping delivers a report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on behalf of the 18th Central Committee at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Photo: AFP / Xinhua News Agency

The unanimous vote to write in 'Xi Jinping Thought' happened at the end of the Communist Party congress, China's most important political meeting.

Mr Xi has steadily increased his grip on power since becoming leader in 2012.

This move means that any challenge to Mr Xi will now be seen as a threat to Communist Party rule.

The congress began last week with a three-hour speech by Mr Xi where he first introduced his philosophy called "socialism with Chinese characteristics in a new era".

Top officials and state media then began repeatedly mentioning this ideology, calling it "Xi Jinping Thought", in a sign that Mr Xi had cemented his influence over the party.

Previous Chinese Communist Party leaders have had their ideologies incorporated into the party's constitution or thinking, but none, besides founder Mao Zedong, have had their philosophy described as "thought", which is at the top of the ideological hierarchy.

Only Mao and Deng Xiaoping have had their names attached to their ideologies.

School children, college students and staff at state factories will now have to join 90 million Communist Party members in studying "Xi Jinping Thought".

More than 2000 delegates have spent the week-long congress picking provincial party chiefs, governors and heads of some state-owned enterprises.

On Tuesday, they finalised the make-up of top bodies such as the Central Committee and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

On Wednesday, the new Central Committee will decide who gets to be in the higher-level Politburo.

Though delegates get some say, in reality the elections are guided by the Party's top leadership where at each stage voters pick from pre-selected candidates.

Also on Wednesday, the Party will reveal the new members of its pinnacle body, the Politburo Standing Committee. Mr Xi is widely expected to remain as party leader.

Those in the Standing Committee will be especially scrutinised. The BBC's Robin Brant in Beijing says its make-up may give signs about who Mr Xi has in mind to succeed him.

Mr Xi's term ruling China has been marked by significant development, a push for modernisation and increasing assertiveness on the world stage.

However, it has also seen growing authoritarianism, censorship and a crackdown on human rights.

- BBC

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