The Meaning of Xi Jinping Thought

National Revival and Military Power

Chinese President Xi Jinping reading in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 2013. Kim Kyung-Hoon / REUTERS

At the end of October, the Chinese Communist Party held its 19th National Congress. The CCP has held these gatherings every five years since 1977, when Deng Xiaoping, the father of reform-era China, took power at the 11th party congress. Mao Zedong had died the year before, leaving the party in turmoil and the country in shambles in the wake of his Cultural Revolution. Deng set out to establish order, institutionalize the relationship between the party and the state, and set China on the path toward opening and reform.

It took 20 years for “Deng Xiaoping Theory,” which laid out “the basic issues concerning building, consolidating, and developing socialism in China,” to be enshrined in the CCP constitution at the 15th National Congress, held in September 1997. Deng, who had passed away February of that year, didn’t live to see the day.

Having effectively ruled China for two decades, Deng must have had little doubt about his place in Chinese history. Then again, Mao ruled China for most of three decades only to have his own legacy discarded in less than twelve months. Perhaps that’s why China’s current president, chairman of the Central Military Commission, and general secretary of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping, has left nothing to chance. Just five years into his rule, he has arranged for “Xi Jinping Thought” to be enshrined in the constitution.

The resolution encapsulating Xi Jinping thought, which goes under the unwieldy title “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” was unanimously passed by the 2,287 delegates to the party congress. The resolution opens with an obligatory endorsement of all Xi’s policies to date, which were summed up in the 14 points of Xi’s opening speech to the congress. It ends with a pious exhortation to the party faithful to “think in big-picture terms” while firmly upholding the “leadership of the Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core.” In between is the heart of the

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