Well, that took a while, but finally, dear readers, the CCP has changed the phrasing of how its leadership structure is described to say formally that it has Mr Xi “at its core.” It’s an odd phrase – which will be reflected and repeated in countless slogans on walls and signboards all over China in the coming days and weeks – that we should all unite around the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party with XJP at its core.
The last leader to have his name included in this way was Jiang Zemin. His successor, Hu Jintao, Xi’s predecessor, did not. Mao and Deng had it, of course. Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang didn’t. We’d bet Hua Guofeng did, but who has the time to go and check that kind of fact. It’s good to have a chance to mention Hua Guofeng’s name, however.
So what does the elevation of the phraseology mean? This is where you need to pull out a China Watcher armchair and do some serious mulling. The official announcement made the point of stressing that the leadership was still “collective.” But given the long list of posts Xi now holds, he could do a lot of meetings with just himself. The collective leadership system “must always be followed and should not be violated by any organization or individual under any circumstance or for any reason,” it said. There are those who say this is part of the push for a third term, but we remain skeptical of that line of thought. If anyone was in any doubt, this surely mean that the 19th Congress is now pretty much wrapped up, a full year in advance. But then, there’s the 20th Congress just five years after that. Nothing is forever, not even at the core. Have a good autumnal weekend!