During its 19th National Congress, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced it would revise the party constitution, including adding Chinese President Xi Jinping’s name alongside those of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. While the majority of the China’s observers focused on Xi’s unusual elevation in influence and prestige, there was other unsettling content announced at the same time: the CCP vowed to “lead everything” and will add that claim into the party constitution, too.
According to a statement issued by China’s state news agency Xinhua on October 24, the 19th Party Congress “unanimously” agreed that the leadership of the CCP is “the fundamental feature and the greatest advantage of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
“Party, government, military, civilian, and academic, east, west, south, north, and center, the party leads everything,” the statement said.
Notably, the exact phrase was coined by Mao Zedong — the founding father of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) — in 1973, when China was suffering from the Cultural Revolution launched by Mao himself.
After Deng Xiaoping took over the top leadership role in the late 1970s, after Mao’s death, he consciously reduced the party’s power. At the 12th Party Congress, the CCP not only deleted the phrase “the party leads everything” but further limited the party’s leadership: “the party mainly leads politics, ideology, and the organization.” During the 13th Party Congress, which has been regarded as the most important conference in the PRC’s reforming history, Deng even said:
Under the slogan of absolute leadership, excessive power will be improperly concentrated to the party’s committee, and the committee’s power will then be concentrated to a few secretaries, especially to the first secretary. The first secretary has to oversee and be in command of everything. The party’s absolute leadership will often end up one individual’s leadership.
Unfortunately, history seemingly is repeating itself despite Deng’s warning.
According to the latest statement, the 19th Party Congress decided to add the “important political principle” — that the party leads everything — into the party constitution, since the principle can “enhance the whole party’s consciousness, unity the party’s mind and action, improve the party’s creativity, cohesion, and combat capacity, and ensure that the party is able to control all situations and coordinate all sides.”
In addition, the principle can “provide a fundamental political guarantee” for the party to carry out different work, the statement added.
Full of political jargon and propaganda like the above, the statement repeatedly mentioned the CCP’s leadership and claimed the leadership is “absolute,” “powerful,” “comprehensive,”and “unified,” just like language used during the Mao era.