The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has adopted a landmark resolution on the party’s “major achievements and historic experiences,” according to a communique published by the official Xinhua news agency on Thursday, in a move expected to further strengthen President Xi Jinping’s hold on power.
It is only the third “history resolution” issued by the CCP in its 100-year existence; the other two, in 1945 and 1981, cemented the supremacy of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, respectively.
This resolution is a way for Xi to codify his authority in the present and project his long-lasting power and influence into the future.
The communique states that, under Xi, the Communist Party has “solved many tough problems that were long on the agenda but never resolved, and accomplished many things that were wanted but never got done.”
It pledged to “resolutely uphold Comrade Xi Jinping’s core position on the Central Committee and in the Party as a whole and uphold the Central Committee’ authority and its centralized, unified leadership to ensure that all Party members act in unison”.
The resolution was passed during the sixth plenum of the CCP’s 19th Central Committee, a four-day meeting behind closed doors in Beijing which brings together the country’s top leaders.
In 2018, China’s largely ceremonial parliament changed its rules to remove presidential term limits, paving the way for Xi to potentially rule for life.
Xi has already managed to establish his own eponymous political theory and have it written into the party’s constitution, a measure previously only reserved for Mao and Deng. By issuing his own resolution, Xi seeks to further entrench his status as a towering leader on the same level as the same two predecessors.
Mao’s resolution in 1945 established him as the unchallenged authority within the party, after a three-year “rectification” campaign that brutally purged his political and ideological opponents.
Deng’s resolution in 1981, meanwhile, acknowledged Mao’s errors in launching the Cultural Revolution – a political campaign that plunged the country into a decade of chaos and torment – although it concluded that Mao’s contributions to the Chinese revolution “far outweighed” his mistakes. By admitting to and moving on from past mistakes, Deng was able to usher in a new era of reform.
Under Xi, China has adopted more autocratic domestic policies while turning increasingly confrontational abroad.
He has greatly tightened his grip over the Party’s 95 million members, emphasizing “absolute loyalty” from senior officials as well as the rank and file. Beijing’s recent crackdown on the private sector and so-called “social ills” is seen as Xi’s determination to reassert the Party’s dominant role in every aspect of Chinese society and to reshape the country according to his worldview.
Xi’s second five-year term as the Party leader ends next year, but he is expected to seek an almost unprecedented third term and beyond at the 20th Party Congress in late 2022.