The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) passed a historic resolution during a high-level party meeting on Thursday that could ensure Xi Jinping’s leadership of China for the rest of his life.
The Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency reported the CCP passed a historical resolution recognizing Xi as the core of the CCP’s central committee. While such resolutions are ostensibly historical documents, the measures serve to characterize individual Chinese leaders as essential to the CCP’s accomplishments and the direction of the Chinese government.
“The Party has established Comrade Xi Jinping’s core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole and defined the guiding role of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” a translation of the resolution states. “This reflects the common will of the Party, the armed forces, and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups, and is of decisive significance for advancing the cause of the Party and the country in the new era and for driving forward the historic process of national rejuvenation.”
Xi is one of only three Chinese leaders to ever be recognized through a historical resolution.
Mao Zedong, the founder of the modern People’s Republic of China, was the first Chinese leader to be recognized with a historical resolution in 1945. In that resolution, 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.
Following his 1945 resolution, Mao continued to serve as the chairman of the ruling CCP until his death in September 1976.
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.
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.
With the passage of this latest historical resolution, the CCP has elevated Xi as on-par with Mao and Deng.
A historical resolution for Xi comes ahead of his reported plans to seek a third five-year term as the president of the People’s Republic of China. The Washington Post reported that, in 2018, the Chinese government did away with presidential term limits, paving the way for Xi to extend his rule beyond the customary two terms. The New York Times reported Xi is already “very likely to win” another term.