Chinese leader Xi Jinping may be set to become the third leader in the history of the People’s Republic of China to seek a historical resolution that could allow him to extend his rule over the country indefinitely.
Bloomberg reported on Sunday that Xi is seeking an official resolution — known as a historical resolution — that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may bring forward this week during their last major meeting before China’s twice-a-decade congress meets at the end of 2022. While ostensibly a historical document, the New York Times reported a historical resolution may be used to declare Xi as the defining leader of the current era, on par with the communist government’s founder, Mao Zedong, and place him firmly as the leader of the CCP.
Wu Guoguang, professor of history at the University of Victoria in Canada, told Bloomberg that these historical resolutions carry such weight because of what he described as China’s system of “documentary politics.”
In the first-ever historical resolution in 1945 titled “Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party,” Mao declared that he alone had the “correct political line” to lead the CCP, making him essentially unchallengeable as the leader of the party and, by extension, the country.
Deng Xiaoping passed the second-ever historical resolution in 1981, just four years after Mao’s death. Deng’s historical resolution navigated condemnation of some of the chaos of Mao’s so-called Cultural Revolution while not totally discrediting his and the CCP’s past rule. Deng’s resolution essentially painted him as a reformer positioned to transition the party into its next phase of leadership. Following that resolution, Deng was able to push forward some reforms to liberalize China’s economy and bar the formation of any “cult of personality” around others.
By passing a historical resolution, Xi would essentially be able to place himself on the level of Mao and Deng.
Following his 1945 resolution, Mao continued to serve as the chairman of the ruling CCP until his death in September 1976.
Following his 1981 resolution, Deng continued to hold office as the Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission until 1989. BBC reported that even after withdrawing from all offices except the chairmanship of the China Bridge Association, Deng was still considered China’s “paramount leader” and was believed to be in charge of major decision-making in the country rather than China’s official Politburo Standing Committee.
A historical resolution for Xi would come ahead of his reported plans to break with precedent and seek a third term as the president of the People’s Republic of China. The New York Times reported Xi is already “very likely to win” another five-year term.
Bloomberg reported a declaration at the CCP’s Politburo last month may provide some clues about the exact direction Xi may go in with a historical resolution. The CCP’s People’s Daily newspaper reporter that, at the Politburo meeting, the party declared the rejuvenation of the China nation a “historical inevitability” under Xi’s leadership.
CNN reported another sign that Xi is seeking to secure a more-lasting leadership role over China may be demonstrated the 2018 publication of his eponymous political theory, titled “Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” Xi’s political theory has already been adopted as part of the CCP’s constitution, which is a privilege previously only granted to Mao and Deng.