On November 17, China’s state news agency, Xinhua, published a 12,000-word feature on Chinese President Xi Jinping. Claiming that Xi’s era has come, the article comprehensively complemented Xi’s personal achievements and elevated Xi’s status to a level as high as Mao Zedong — the founding father of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) — and Deng Xiaoping — the person who launched China’s economic reform.
Whether it be non-governmental commercial websites or China’s state media’s websites or the Chinese government’s official website, the article has dominated all headlines with the most eye-catching of formats. This is a typical propaganda campaign launched by China’s propaganda department, since all Chinese websites as well as other mass media tend to follow the Chinese authorities’ instruction.
The article introduced Xi’s great achievements in a number of fields, including in anti-corruption, party-building, military, foreign policy, and poverty alleviation.
For example, in the field of anti-corruption, the article claims that Xi is “the core of the party formed during the ‘great struggle’.”
Specifically, to demonstrate Xi’s “far-reaching and relentless” clampdown on “big tigers” within the party, the article singled out six fallen senior officials — Zhou Yongkang (former member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau) , Bo Xilai (former top leader of Chongqing City), Guo Boxiong (former Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission), Xu Caihou (another former Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission) Sun Zhengcai (former top leader of Congqing City after Bo Xilai) and Ling Jihua ( former chief of the General Office of the Chinese Communist Party). The article referred to the six as “officials with ‘iron hats’ — those who were considered powerful and not easily removed.”
The article also revealed that a total of 43 members and alternate members of the 18th CCP Central Committee (the political body that comprises the top CCP leaders) as well as nine members of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (the highest internal-control institution within the CCP that oversees anti-corruption campaign) have been investigated over the past five years under Xi’s anti-corruption campaign.
Not only did the article repeatedly laud Xi’s series of success since he took office, but even attributed his “great achievements” to his parents and his “red background.” The article said:
Xi also draws strength from his parents Xi Zhongxun and Qi Xin, both of whom participated in the revolution at young ages. In 1962, Xi Zhongxun’s 16 years of suffering from political persecution began. However, he never gave in to adversity and ultimately helped clear the names of others who were persecuted. When his father was wronged, Xi Jinping went through some tough times. In one of his letters to his father, Xi Jinping noted that even when trapped in hard times, Xi Zhongxun still held “unswerving faith in communism and belief in the Party’s greatness, correctness and glory.”
“Your words and actions have pointed the correct direction for us to go forward,” he wrote.
Xi also recollected that, when he was five or six years old, his mother bought him picture books about Yue Fei, a patriotic military commander of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), and the story of how Yue’s mother tattooed four Chinese characters on his back to remind him of devoting himself to the country.
Besides heaps of flattery, the article also employed some terms with special political meanings to portray Xi. For example, the article called Xi “architect of modernization for new era.” The term “architect” was traditionally only used to describe Deng in China’s political dictionary.
As The Diplomat has been closely following, Xi’s power over the party and the state has reached the highest point since the close of the 19th National Congress of the CCP. Meanwhile, compliments and reports on Xi have been bombarding China’s people day and night.
Despite this fact, the article is still stunning even from the perspective of a Chinese reader given the focus of China’s large-scale propaganda campaign on Xi’s individual achievements rather than on the party as a whole.