On Thursday, November 15, at the first plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Vice President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Xi Jinping was formally elected both chairman of the CPC Military Commission and general secretary of the Communist Party of China. Xi succeeded Hu Jintao, who remains the president of the PRC.
The newly “elected” 376 members of the Communist Party Central Committee also elected five new (pre-selected) members to the Standing Committee of the Politburo. The Politburo consists of seven (formerly nine) Communist Party members.
The election of Xi as general secretary and the five new members of the Politburo came as no surprise to the party delegates, who had carefully choreographed the 18th Party Congress long in advance. The Congress was attended by many Chinese Communist dignitaries including Maj. General Mao Xinyu, the only living grandson of Mao Tse-tung. The votes were merely for show, consistent with the party’s strongly held commitment to tradition and formality.
The “new” Chinese party leadership was selected from a cadre of its traditionalist rank and file, all of whom subscribe strictly to Marxist dialectical principles. According to The Epoch Times, the five new Politburo members include:
• Zhang Dejiang, 66, a party elitist and Hu Jintao loyalist replacing Bo Xilai.
• Yu Zhengsheng, 68, a well-connected party functionary and opportunist who after fully supporting Bo Xilai turned his back on him amidst a scandal earlier this year in which Bo was accused of having the phones of party members tapped and of helping cover up a murder of a British businessman by his wife.
• Liu Yunshan, 65, the director of the propaganda department since 2007 and a Hu Jintao loyalist, closely connected to the Chinese Communist Youth League.
• Wang Qishan, 64, vice premier since 2008 and well-regard financial “reformer” who ran the state-owned China Construction Bank from 1994 to 1997.
• Zhang Gaoli, 65, also a well-connected party member who served as party secretary of Tiajin since 2007.
The most important selection, however, was that of party chairman, the new general secretary of the CPC Xi Jinping, 59. Xi is seen as more aggressively communist than Hu Jintao; as vice president, Xi demonstrated an adherence to core Communist Party ideals.
Since 2007, Xi has been president of the Central Party School in Beijing, which indoctrinates its pupils in the philosophies of Karl Marx and Soviet founder and revolutionary Vladimir Lenin.
Speaking to Bloomberg News, Sidney Rittenberg, Sr., who was a translator for Mao and close acquaintance to Xi’s father, said, “From Xi’s speeches it’s quite clear he takes Marxist theory very seriously… Not just slogans and lip service — he tries to analyze things.”
Xi was born on June 15, 1953, in Fuping, Shaanxi Province, to communist revolutionary, CPC founder, and close associate of Mao Tse-tung, Xi Zhongxun. In 1962, during China’s Cultural Revolution, Xi Zhongxun fell out of favor with the party elite, and was purged from his post as vice premier and imprisoned.
By the late 1960s/early 1970s, the younger Xi had become a young intellectual at the Wen’anyi Commune in Yanchuan County, Shaanxi Province. In 1974, he was accepted into the Communist Party and became a local party secretary. The next year, he enrolled as an organic chemistry student in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Tsinghua University, where many of China’s top Communist Party brass, including President Hu, obtained their higher education. Xi graduated in 1979 from Tsinghua with a degree in chemical engineering.
For the next three years, Xi served as a secretary at the general office of the State Council and Central Military Commission. In 1982, he became deputy secretary of the CPC Zhengding County Committee in Hebei Province. The following year, he was promoted to secretary and served concurrently as first commissar and party committee first secretary at the Zhengding County Military Affairs Department.
Xi continued to rise in the party ranks and by 1988 became the vice mayor of Xiamen, in the Fujian Province. For the next 10 years, he remained for the most part in Fujian, rising higher in the party.
In 2000, Xi became deputy secretary of the CPC Fujian Provincial Committee and governor of the Fujian Province, while also serving as deputy director of the National Defense Mobilization Committee for the Nanjing Military Area Command. He also continued serving as first commissar of the Fujian Provincial Antiaircraft Artillery Reserve Division until 2002.
During this time, Xi “studied Marxist theory and ideological and political education in the In-service Postgraduate Class at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Tsinghua University, and [was] awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws,” according to China Daily, the CPC state-run newspaper.
In 2007, Xi briefly served as secretary of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee and first secretary of the Party Committee of the Shanghai Garrison Command, until he was elected as a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo. He was subsequently elevated to membership in the secretariat of the CPC Central Committee and named president of the Central Party School in Beijing.
In 2010, Xi was elevated to the vice presidency of China, and promoted to vice chairman of the Communist Party as well as vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC). In 2012, just this week, Xi was promoted, replacing Hu Jintao as chairman of the CPC and chairman of the CMC.
In his brief acceptance speech, Xi discussed the importance of unity and the need for ending corruption:
To fulfill our responsibility, we will rally the whole Party and the people of all ethnic groups in China in making continued efforts to free up our minds, carry out reform and opening up, further release and develop the productive forces, work hard to resolve the difficulties the people face in both work and life, and unwaveringly pursue common prosperity.
Xi’s rise to power is not yet over. In March 2013, he is slated to succeed Hu again as president of China. Looking forward, Xi vowed his commitment to maintain Marxism as the central ideology of the Chinese Communist Party: “Our party will always be the firm leadership core of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.”