china

Xi Just Became China’s Most Powerful Leader Since Mao Zedong

The Chinese president got himself written into the constitution.
October 25, 2017, 6:00am
Chinese President Xi Jinping raises his hand to show approval of a work report during the closing ceremony for the 19th Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

This article originally appeared on VICE News.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has solidified his position in one of the world's most powerful nations by getting his ideology enshrined in the Communist Party constitution, putting him on a par with party founder Mao Zedong.

By a unanimous vote at the end of the 19th Party Congress in Beijing Tuesday, the leader's "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era" was entered into the party's manifesto, an accolade not bestowed on either of his two predecessors

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Congress delegates also elected a new Central Committee, the party's elite decision-making body, with the most striking news being the retirements of high-profile anti-graft czar Wang Qishan and vice president Li Yuanchao.

Xi was also confirmed for a second—and supposedly last—five-year term as China's leader. Some suggest he's positioning himself to stay in power beyond 2022, but that will become clearer when the party announces its new Politburo Standing Committee, on Wednesday.

The lack of an obvious successor among the seven men and it will almost certainly be an all-male lineup—would point to Xi's intention to remain in power until 2027 or beyond.

China analyst Bill Bishop told the Guardian Xi now holds an almost unprecedented level of power. "It means Xi is effectively unassailable. If you challenge Xi, you are challenging the party. And you never want to be against the party."

Only two previous leaders have had their ideologies included in the party's constitution—Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.