BEIJING -- A recent string of references in official Chinese media to "Xi Jinping Thought" suggests that Beijing is preparing to enshrine the president's name alongside Mao Zedong's in the Communist Party charter when the party holds its twice-a-decade congress this autumn.
The policies advanced by Beijing since Xi took office in 2012 could rightly be called Xi Jinping Thought, proclaimed an editorial in the latest issue of the party journal Dangjian Yanjiu, or Party-Building Research. The piece called the president's philosophy the most vibrant form of Marxism seen in modern China.
Dangjian Yanjiu is offered mainly by subscription and is not available for general sale. Yet the piece drew a flood of comments to the editors, and the journal says the issue sold out completely aside from copies kept for archival purposes.
Xi Jinping Thought prioritizes "five in one" construction, or integrated economic, political, cultural, social and ecological development. The policies to advance this goal are summed up by the "Four Comprehensives" -- building a moderately prosperous society, deepening reform, advancing the rule of law and strictly governing the party.
A recent piece by State Councilor Yang Jiechi, China's top diplomat, in the journal Qiushi referred to "General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy." This thinking represents the Central Committee's "new governing philosophy and strategy as they apply to diplomacy and is an integral part of the theories of socialism with distinctive Chinese features," Yang wrote.
Mao, Deng, Xi?
The Communist Party constitution states that the party is to be guided by the philosophies of past top leaders. Of these, only two carry the names of their creators: Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory. Since "thought" ranks above "theory" in China, revising the charter at the twice-a-decade party congress this fall to add Xi Jinping Thought would confer on Xi a degree of authority rivaling Mao's.
It would also give Xi's anti-graft crusade added legitimacy. The Four Comprehensives include "comprehensively strictly governing the Communist Party" -- that is to say, stamping out corruption. Adding this to the constitution would imply that the campaign, which has helped Xi consolidate power, will continue even after the leadership reshuffle at the party congress.
In a piece carried Monday by the official People's Daily, Wang Qishan, head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, boasted that more than 60% of corruption cases were initially sniffed out by a special inspection team led by Wang himself. The piece stressed that the team has the blessing of Xi, who told it to serve as the party's eyes and ears. The watchdog will keep serving as the party's "sword" after this fall's congress, Wang said.
Wang has been in the spotlight lately for other reasons. Tycoon Guo Wengui, who fled to the U.S. amid accusations of bribery and other crimes, has accused Wang's family of being mired in corruption. Some say this may affect Wang's prospects at the party congress.
But the watchdog chief reasserted his influence with the People's Daily piece. That it was published so soon after Sun Zhengcai, the now-deposed party chief of Chongqing, was taken into custody Friday on suspicion of "disciplinary violations" -- code for graft -- suggests that Wang meant to send a strong message to the party.