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China to Enshrine Xi's Name in Constitution

  • Agence France-Presse

FILE - China's President Xi Jinping arrives for the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam, Nov. 10, 2017.

China's Communist Party proposed on Friday to engrave President Xi Jinping's guiding philosophy in the country's constitution, further cementing his status as its most powerful leader in decades.

Xi's eponymous "thought" was already enshrined in the Communist Party constitution at the 19th Party Congress in October, elevating him to the same status as modern China's founder Mao Zedong.

The architect of China's economic reforms, Deng Xiaoping, is the only other leader whose name appears alongside his guiding principle in both the state and party constitutions.

The party's Central Committee proposed at a two-day meeting that "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" should also be added to the state constitution, said the official Xinhua news agency.

The constitutional change must be approved by the National People's Congress, which is expected to hold its annual plenary session in March.

The forthcoming amendment would need to "enshrine the major theoretical points and major principles and policies stipulated by the 19th Party Congress -- especially Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era -- into state law," the body said in a statement released by Xinhua.

"The plenum believes that is a major event in the country's political life," it said.

A major outcome of the 19th Party Congress was the decision to establish a new anti-graft agency, the National Supervisory Commission, that will coordinate investigations at all levels of government and expand their remit to include non-party members.

The Central Committee noted in its statement that reforms to the state supervisory system would be included in the amendment.

"It is necessary to establish an anti-corruption work organ under the unified leadership of the party according to law, and establish a centralized, authoritative and efficient national surveillance system," it said.

The elevation of Xi, 64, into the Communist Party constitution in October had already brought him into the pantheon of the country's most powerful leaders.

Earlier this week, the Party mouthpiece People's Daily further cemented that status by publishing an article that for the first time referred to Xi as "lingxiu" -- a Mao-era honorific with more reverential and spiritual connotations than the ordinary monikers.

"We should resolutely support the core, faithfully follow the 'lingxiu', use our courage and morale...and make strides toward a brighter future," read the article published Monday.

China's ruling body, the Politburo, in October used the term to refer to Xi and the military's official PLA Daily and Henan Daily have also used it.

Mao, at the height of his personality cult during the early years of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, was hailed as a "great teacher, great lingxiu, great commander-in-chief, and great helmsman" -- a slogan known as the "four greats."

The party congress unveiled a new seven-member ruling council that did not include a clear successor to Xi, leaving the impression that he could break with recent tradition and seek a third term in office in 2022.