The authority of President Xi Jinping is poised to be buttressed further still with last Friday’s decision of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to incorporate his Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era into the country’s Constitution, which is not to be confused with the party’s statute. In a span of three months, one watershed document has been followed by another. Xi’s political philosophy was included in the party’s charter during the plenum last October; the process has now been extended to the document that determines governance in China or theoretically most countries.
The party’s resolve to expand the scope of the Thought of Xi has been couched with the argument that China’s Constitution is in urgent need of amendment. The CPC has been less than explicit on explaining the underpinning on amendment, though it is quite apparent that both the President and the omnipotent party have signalled their intent to trim the sails to the winds of change. New achievements, experiences and requirements of the development of the party and nation should be embodied in the revised Constitution, according to the communique. “We should keep pace with the times and improve the Constitution while maintaining its consistency, stability and authority,” the document said.
The incorporation of the Thought can thus be reckoned to be the first major step towards that end. As it turns out, the second plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, which was held in Beijing on Thursday and Friday, has been no less significant than the party plenum. Unwittingly or otherwise, Mr Xi is on course to ascend the pedestal of Chairman Mao a little over 40 years after his passing ~ a generational gap. However, unlike the “little Red book”, the seminal work on Communist ideology despite the revisionist trends in China and further afield, there is as yet no plan in Beijing to publish the Thought of President Xi… exemplified last year with the shake-up in the People’s Liberation Army and the structure of the party.
The amending process of the Constitution will be keenly watched by the comity of nations as China graduates to replace America in the geopolitical hierarchy. While details are yet to be worked out, the CPC Central Committee has made the contours clear. It has underlined the need to hold what it calls “the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics and fully implementing the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress” in amending the Constitution.
Also to be noted is the indication that the amending process will cover Marxism-Leninism, Mao’s Thought, Deng Xiaoping’s Theory, the Theory on the Scientific Outlook on Development, and Xi’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. Indeed, the Communist philosophy of the country, as it has evolved over time, will form the bedrock of the amendments.