At the end of October, the Chinese Communist Party held its 19th National Congress. The CPC has held these gatherings every five years since 1977, when Deng Xiaoping, the father of reform-era China, took power at the 11th party congress. Mao Zedong had died the year before, leaving the party in turmoil and the country in shambles in the wake of his Cultural Revolution. Deng set out to establish order, institutionalize the relationship between the party and the state, and set China on the path toward opening and reform.
It took 20 years for “Deng Xiaoping Theory,” which laid out “the basic issues concerning building, consolidating, and developing socialism in China,” to be enshrined in the CPC constitution at the 15th National Congress, held in September 1997. Deng, who had passed away February of that year, didn’t live to see the day.
Having effectively ruled China for two decades, Deng must have had little doubt about his place in Chinese history. Then again, Mao ruled China for most of three decades only to have his own legacy discarded in less than twelve months. Perhaps that’s why China’s current president, chairman of the Central Military Commission, and general secretary of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping, has left nothing to chance. Just five years into his rule, he has arranged for “Xi Jinping Thought” to be enshrined in the constitution.
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