A flamboyant portrayal of China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, welcomes visitors to museum exhibitions celebrating the country’s decades of growth. Communist Party biographers have been reverently chronicling his rise, although he does not allude to retirement. In the newest official history of the party, more than a quarter of 531 pages are devoted to his nine years of rule.
Recently, no Chinese leader has been more fixated on history and his place in it than Mr. Xi, and as he approaches a crucial stage in his rule, this concern for the past is now central to his political agenda. At the opening of the high-level meeting in Beijing on Monday, a “resolution” will be adopted officially redefining the party’s 100-year history, likely to cement its status as a landmark leader alongside Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
While these are ostensibly historical questions, the Central Committee resolution – practically holy scripture for officials – will shape China’s politics and society for decades to come.
A pilot document on the party’s past, only the third of its kind, is bound to be the focus of an intense propaganda campaign. It will determine how the authorities will teach modern Chinese history in textbooks, films, TV shows and classrooms. This will inspire censors and police officers to enforce stricter laws against those who ridicule or even question the communist cause and its “martyrs.” Even in China, where the party’s power is near-absolute, it will remind officials and citizens that Mr. Xi defines their times and demands their loyalty.
“This is about creating a new temporary landscape for China around the Communist Party and Xi, in which it rides the wave of the past into the future,” said Jeremy R. Barme, a Chinese historian from New Zealand. “This is not really a resolution on past history, but a resolution on future leadership.”
By elevating Mr. Xi, the decision will bolster his credibility before the party convention at the end of next year, in which he is likely to win another five-year term as leader. An organized recognition of the historic document, which could be released days after the close of the Central Committee meeting on Thursday, will help prevent any doubts about Mr. Xi’s reputation.
Mr. Xi, 68, is China’s most powerful leader in decades, and has garnered broad public support to fight corruption, reduce poverty and spread China’s power around the world. However, party insiders looking to weaken Mr Xi’s dominance ahead of the convention could be targeting an early breaking of the Covid pandemic rules or easing tensions with the United States.
Such criticism, especially after the adoption of the resolution, can be considered heresy. Leading up to this week’s meeting, articles in the People’s Daily, the party’s main newspaper, praised Mr. Xi as the “primary” leader who has overcome the pandemic and other crises. The comments extolled him as the unwavering leader needed in perilous times when China’s rise could be threatened by internal economic risks or hostility from the United States and other Western powers.
“Xi Jinping is undoubtedly the key figure in the course of history,” reads an article by the official Xinhua News Agency about the upcoming resolution.
The resolution is likely to offer a comprehensive account of contemporary China that will help justify Mr. Xi’s policies by giving him the seriousness of history.
Mao led the country to fight oppression, Deng brought prosperity, and now Mr. Xi is propelling the nation into a new era of national power, says the party documents’ stage-by-stage description of the rise of modern China. and is likely to be enshrined in a resolution.
In the coming years, Mr. Xi’s priorities are focused on reducing wealth inequality through a common prosperity agenda, reducing China’s dependence on imported technology, and continuing to modernize its military to prepare for potential conflict.
Mr. Xi’s concept of history offers “an ideological framework that justifies more and more levels of party interference in politics, economy and foreign policy,” said Kevin Rudd, a former Australian prime minister who speaks Chinese and has long met with Mr. Xi. -nom. Si.
For Mr. Xi, defending the revolutionary legacy of the Chinese Communist Party also seems like a personal quest. He has repeatedly expressed fears that as China moves further away from its revolutionary roots, officials and citizens are at greater risk of losing faith in the party.
“To destroy a country, you must first eradicate its history,” said Xi Jinping, quoting a 19th century Confucian.
Mr. Xi’s father, Xi Zhongxun, was a high-ranking official under Mao and Deng, and the family endured years of persecution after Mao turned against the elder Xi. Rather than becoming disillusioned with the revolution like many of his contemporaries, the younger Mr. Xi remained loyal to the party and argued that defending its “red” legacy was essential to its survival.
“He has an intuitive idea that as the son of revolutionary Xi Zhongxun, he cannot let the revolution just slip away,” said Mr. Rudd, now president of the Asian Society.
Mr Xi also frequently cited the Soviet Union as a warning to China, arguing that it fell apart in part because its leaders failed to root out “historical nihilism” – critical reports of purges, political persecution, and mistakes that undermined faith in communist cause.
The new resolution will reflect this defensive pride in the party. While the titles of the two previous history resolutions said they dealt with “problems” or “issues,” Mr. Xi will be talking about the “main achievements and historical experience of the party,” according to a preparatory meeting last month.
The resolution will present the 100-year history of the party as a story of heroic sacrifice and success, the drumming of preliminary articles in the party media indicates. Traumatic times such as hunger and purges will continue to be overshadowed – acknowledged but not specified.
Mr. Xi “sees history as a tool that can be used against the greatest threats to the rule of the Chinese Communist Party,” said Joseph Torigian, an assistant professor at the American University who studied Mr. Xi and his father. “He’s also someone who sees that competing historical narratives are dangerous.”
Many Chinese people accept a proud version of their party past and believe that it has improved their lives. In 2019, 1.4 billion people visited revolutionary “red” tourism museums and memorials, and Mr. Xi is keen to visit such places during his travels. The village where Mr. Xi worked for seven years has become a site of organized political pilgrimages.
“Learning about revolutionary traditions must start with the little ones,” Xi said in 2016, according to his recently released compendium of comments on the topic. “Inject red genes into the bloodstream and immerse our hearts in them.”
In creating a landmark resolution, Mr. Xi is emulating two of his most powerful and officially respected predecessors. In 1945, Mao passed a resolution that cemented his authority in the party. In 1981, Deng oversaw one of them, who acknowledged the destruction of Mao in recent decades, defending his respected status as the founder of the People’s Republic. And both resolutions limit political discord and uncertainty.
“They created a common framework, a common vision of the past and the future among the party elite,” said Daniel Lees, a historian at the University of Freiburg in Germany who studies modern China. “If you do not unite the views of people in power circles about the past, it is very difficult to be on the same page regarding the future.”
During this year, Chinese officials have already completed a training program on Mr. Xi’s views on history. And the main texts of the campaign seem to be a preview of the coming decision, especially the new 531-page “short” history of the party.
This story details Mr. Xi’s successes in reducing corruption, alleviating poverty, and developing China’s technological capabilities. His response to the Covid pandemic, which began in China in late 2019, has demonstrated “discernment and decisiveness in making decisions,” the report said.
The new resolution is likely to praise both Mao and Deng, while pointing out that only Mr. Xi has the answers for a new era of China’s rise to power, said Suzanne Weigelin-Schwidrzik, a retired professor at the University of Vienna who is studying the use of historical party. …
“He is like a sponge that can take everything positive from the past – what he sees as positive about Mao and Deng – and he can bring them all together,” she said of the party’s portrayal of Mr. Xi. In this story, she said, “He is the end of China’s history. He has reached a level that cannot be surpassed. “
Liu Yi participated in the study.