Resurgence of personality cult feared in China

opinion January 29, 2018 01:00

By The Yomiuri Shimbun
Asia News Network

The Communist Party of China has decided on a plan to write President Xi Jinping’s guidance doctrine, formally known as “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” into the preamble to its Constitution. The doctrine will be added to the Constitution at the National Congress of the Communist Party set for March.



The thought of a reigning leader will be enshrined in the Chinese Constitution for the first time since the nation’s founding father Mao Zedong was given such status. The first revision in 14 years will be made to the Constitution.

In terms of ideology, the plan to enshrine Xi’s thought in the Constitution can be regarded as a milestone in his consolidation of power – following the writing of his thought into the party constitution at a party congress last October.

The core of Xi’s doctrine is designed to realise “China’s dream of achieving a great restoration of the Chinese people”. This is the slogan trumpeted by Xi since he came to power. 

To realise this dream, China has aimed to become a great power on par with the United States in all aspects – including militarily, economically, scientifically and technologically – while maintaining a political system that differs from democratic states.

Xi has emphasised that the Communist Party needs to fully enforce one-party rule by providing guidance in every sector of society, including in politics, the economy, culture and education.

Given its robust economy and the political confusion in the United States and elsewhere, Xi seems to be more confident in its power. China’s gross domestic product expanded by 6.9 per cent last year over the previous year, marking the first shift to accelerated growth in seven years.

A problem is that China cannot expect to develop advanced technologies and information technology systems that would become global standards as long as the country seeks to tighten control on speech and corporate activities.

And adverse effects will certainly be exerted on the global economy if the Chinese model becomes deadlocked and its growth slackens.

Under the planned constitutional revision, China will establish a national supervisory commission to bolster its system for cracking down on corruption by government employees. 

Xi will most certainly maintain and expand the anti-corruption campaigns he has employed to eliminate his political foes.

It will be necessary to pay heed to any moves toward the idolisation of Xi and the suppression of criticism against him.

The Communist Party, having reflected on the fact that the excessive power concentrated in the hands of Mao brought about such calamities as the Great Cultural Revolution, has banned cults of personality, whoever that may be. In a resolution adopted in 1981, the party concluded that the Cultural Revolution was mistakenly caused by its leaders.

It has been reported that China will delete independent sections related to the Cultural Revolution, and expressions that admit the error of Mao, in revisions of history textbooks for junior high school students to be made shortly.

China, alerted to the possibility of the party’s authority and legitimacy being rattled, seems to be trying to rewrite history.

Should Xi become an absolute leader on par with Mao, the tragic consequences of the Cultural Revolution must not be repeated.