Expert Speak Raisina Debates
Published on Jun 30, 2020
The Deification of Xi Jinping

In 2016, the Communist Party of China declared President Xi Jinping to be the “core” of the Chinese leadership. In 2018, his ideas were enshrined in the Constitution as “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”. Until that point, Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China, the man who had created a Party and an army that had fought Chiang Kai-Shek and the Japanese, who had seized power in 1949, and who had subsequently taken on the United States and the Soviet Union, was the only leader whose thinking had been elevated to the level of ‘Thought’. Xi had reached where none of his predecessors had gone before. He had achieved parity with Chairman Mao. It was presumed that he had nowhere else to go.

It now appears that such a presumption is misplaced. Xi is now being equated to Karl Marx—Zeus himself, on the Communist Mount Olympus.

On the 15th of June this year, the Study Times ran an article titled “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is 21st Century Marxism.” Its author is He Yiting. If the name does not immediately ring a bell, it is because he is not a Member of the elite Central Committee or its Political Bureau, nor is he a Minister. But, he is the Executive Vice President of the Central Party School, and is considered to be within the inner circle. Agnes Andresy, who studies the Chinese leadership, in her book, Xi Jinping: Red China, The Next Generation, calls him the “pen of Xi Jinping”.

He Yiting describes Xi Jinping Thought as “contemporary 21st Century Marxism”. According to him, Xi has given many new theories for the New Era, such as the theory of supply side structural reform, the economic ‘New Normal’ theory, the theory of the Strong Army in a New Era, the New Type of Great Power Relations theory, and the idea of a Community for the Shared Future of Mankind. All these, according to He Yiting, are “important symbols of a new leap in the modernization of Marxism in China and an important symbol of Marxism in the 21st Century.”  Along the way to declaring Xi Jinping as the true heir of Karl Marx, the author subsumes the ideological thoughts of all of Xi’s predecessors – Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, The Three Represents of Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao’s Scientific Concept of Development— into Xi Jinping Thought, declaring that President Xi stands on the shoulders of “giants and sages”.

Xi’s Thought is credited with bringing new and profound changes in the power balance between capitalism and socialism in the world, reshaping its political and economic map, and taking China towards the centre of the world stage. Praise is heaped upon him; he is the master strategist who will fight chaos in the world; the long term visionary who will provide Chinese solutions to global issues; the seer who saw the world’s peace deficit and development deficit and proposed the establishment of a Community for the Shared Future of Mankind. It seems that Marxism can be understood in the 21st century only through a deep study of Xi Jinping Thought.

Xi’s Thought is credited with bringing new and profound changes in the power balance between capitalism and socialism in the world, reshaping its political and economic map, and taking China towards the centre of the world stage

For Xi Jinping, this caps a remarkable first half of 2020, which has seen him tightening his grip on power everywhere. He has subordinated the Party by telling leading cadres at a special Democratic Life Meeting in May that leading cadres should, “dust their hearts and clear their minds and souls of ideological debris and waste”. He has insisted that public security organs should be “absolutely loyal to the core, absolutely pure and absolutely reliable”, and, just last week, has also taken personal control over China’s military reserve forces.  Ideological controls over film, TV, and publications—including online literature publishing—have been enhanced; and Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook accounts of Chinese university students and faculty will now be monitored more rigorously. He has tightened the grip over Hong Kong through the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong SAR. It has prompted a retired senior Central Party School Professor, Cai Xia, to say that all this is tantamount to turning the Party into a “political zombie”. She accuses “this one person, a central leader who has grasped the knife handle, the gun barrel and faults within the system itselfto turn 90 million Party Members into slaves. She predicts that in the next five years, China will go through another period of major chaos.

Xi has subordinated the Party by telling leading cadres at a special Democratic Life Meeting in May that leading cadres should, “dust their hearts and clear their minds and souls of ideological debris and waste”

Despite its opening up, China remains, to quote Churchill out of context, “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”. Whether President Xi is making haste because he sees the domestic and global flux as an opportunity or as a threat cannot be said with any degree of confidence. But it takes chutzpah to equate oneself with Marx, and he appears to be a gambling man. The rest of the world needs to note that.

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