Xi Jinping Thought enshrined in Party constitution – China’s latest top news

Jeremy Goldkorn’s selection of the top stories from China on October 24, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

Hold high the banner of Xi Jinping Thought

The Communist Party’s 19th Congress ended on October 24 with the publication of a list (in Chinese) of the new lineup of the Central Committee, and a resolution approving the work report on the Party’s last five years that Xi Jinping recited on October 18.

  • Xi’s right-hand man and leader of the anti-corruption campaign, Wang Qishan 王岐山, is not on the list, ending months of speculation about whether he would retire from the Politburo Standing Committee.
  • The new members of China’s most senior leadership group, the Politburo Standing Committee, will be announced on October 25. Based on interviews with political insiders, both the New York Times (paywall) and the South China Morning Post have published this list of likely candidates: Xi Jinping 习近平, Li Keqiang 李克强, Li Zhanshu 栗战书, Han Zheng 韩正, Wang Huning 王沪宁, Zhao Leji 赵乐际, and Wang Yang 汪洋.
  • Of the 204 members of the Central Committee, only 10 are women, while there are 16 representatives from minority ethnic groups.

But the most significant news from the 19th Party Congress is not about personnel changes: The Party has agreed to include “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism With Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” in its own constitution.

  • This is much more significant than the putative alliances between Xi and members of the Part elite: Xi’s name is now embedded in Party dogma, an honor only previously given once to a living leader, Mao Zedong, and once to Deng Xiaoping posthumously.
  • Being enshrined in the Party constitution means that Xi will be China’s major political player as long as he is alive and the Communist Party is ruling China.
  • Confirming this is Xinhua News Agency’s top story of the day (in Chinese): “Hold high the great banner of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism With Chinese Special Characteristics for a New Era.” The last time a Party leader’s thought banner was “held high” in central state media was in the 1980s when Deng led the nation.
  • Furthermore, the inclusion of “era” in Xi’s formulation nods to his previous division of China’s recent history into Mao’s era of revolution, and Deng’s era of reform and opening up, each about 30 years. Xi has set himself up to dominate the next three decades.

Further reading:

  • What’s on Weibo reports on a “Support China’s New Era” campaign that went viral on Chinese social media.
  • The New York Times has an explainer (paywall) from veteran China reporter Chris Buckley titled “China enshrines ‘Xi Jinping Thought.’ What does that mean?”
  • The Associated Press has a report on Xi becoming China’s most powerful ruler in decades, which quotes a retired academic who complains that the goals Xi laid out during the 19th Party Congress “have nothing to do with the people but are just jargon that people shouldn’t take seriously.”

The ghost scam in New York’s Chinatown

The New Yorker has a sad, interesting piece (paywall) by Jiayang Fan on Chinese scammers who con vulnerable immigrants out of their life savings with superstitious mumbo jumbo. Well worth a read.


Yesterday, we mischaracterized a Wall Street Journal report (paywall) on Chinese agents trying to persuade exiled tweeting tycoon Guo Wengui 郭文贵 to stop circulating allegations of high-level corruption in China as an attempt to “nab” him. The Journal report does not include any allegations of attempted “nabbing.”