China's President Xi Jinping elevated to same level as Chairman Mao by Communist party

 
Jasper Jolly
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Thousands of delegates gathered for the 19th Communist party congress (Source: Getty)

China's President Xi Jinping today confirmed his hold on power, as an amendment to the Communist party constitution gave him equal status to his infamous predecessor, Chairman Mao.

The constitution of the single political party will now include a reference to "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era", according to state news mouthpiece Xinhua.

That places Xi alongside Mao, who also had a "Thought" incorporated. Successive leaders since then have been added to the constitution after retirement, but none until now matched the prominence during their careers given to Mao, the despotic head of the party who ruled until his death in 1976.

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The amendment came on the last day of the 19th Communist party congress, at which the political elite of the world's second-largest economy gather to rubber-stamp the leadership's political direction in a carefully stage-managed event.

The amendment describes the "decisive role of market forces in resource allocation, advancing supply-side structural reform and enhancing the country's cultural soft power", Xinhua reported.

Xi, who was anointed last year as China's "core leader", last week announced the "new era" in the country's economy, saying the main challenge facing China is navigating the tension between “unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life”. That represented a change from a previous focus on economic growth foremost.

Read more: Xi Jinping announces 'new era' in China's economy in epic three-hour speech

The party will announce its new standing committee on Wednesday, putting in place the most powerful members of the government. The reshuffle takes place once every five years.

The party's broader central committee, of around 200 members, did not include Xi’s top anti-graft official, Wang Qishan. This suggests that "Xi has stuck to an unwritten retirement rule", which had been seen as an indication of the President's own intentions for retirement, according to Freya Beamish, an economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. However, Xi may not himself follow the rule when he passes the unofficial retirement age, she added.

Read more: China’s paradoxical growth plan is still attractive for global funds

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