Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China has learnt from its history and will not allow President Xi Jinping to develop a Mao-style personality cult, a leading Communist scholar said.
The political ideology sanctioned by Xi at the end of the recent party congress breaks with the recent past by presenting a new line of leadership without a clear successor.
This has fuelled speculation that as China’s strongman Xi might try to retain power after his second five-year mandate in 2022.
Xie Chuntao, director of the Central Party School’s academic department, said that the “respect and love” ordinary Chinese feel for Xi was “natural” and “heartfelt” and bore no similarities to a cult of personality.
“The Communist Party has had a cult of personality before,” Xie explained. “This lesson has long been had, and I believe this will not reoccur.”
The Central Party School is the training ground for top cadres and is influential in interpreting and disseminating party directives.
Xi’s official portrait on the People’s Daily’s front page after the unveiling of the party’s new top leadership last month dwarfed a group photograph of the members of the Politburo Standing Committee.
Since Deng Xiaoping introduced the concept of collective leadership three decades ago to prevent the rise of another Mao-like cult of personality, the official portraits of all newly selected Politburo Standing Committee members have been presented together on the front page in a grid.
Xie acknowledged the photo treatment was out of the ordinary, but said Xi deserved the prominence. He argued collective leadership is still very much alive, albeit with a “larger individual role” for Xi.
“It is an objective fact that he is a strong leader,” Xie said. “If there isn’t someone with the trust of the people and strong ability . . . then I think it’s hard to do anything well.”