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China adopts pivotal resolution on history to boost Xi’s clout

China’s ruling Communist Party adopted a pivotal resolution on the country’s modern history on Thursday, state-run media reported, in an apparent move to pave the way for President Xi Jinping to serve a controversial third term as leader.

The resolution on the major achievements and historical experiences of the party during its 100-year history marked the first such declaration in 40 years and only the third of its kind since it was founded in 1921.

Xi, who has been leading the party since 2012, is certain to be re-elected as general secretary at its twice-a-decade congress in fall next year, with foreign affairs experts saying his status and influence are expected to only increase inside China.

A similar resolution was first issued in 1945 under Mao Zedong, who founded the People’s Republic of China in 1949, and the second came in 1981 under Deng Xiaoping, who advanced a policy of reform and opening-up in the socialist state.

By the Communist Party endorsing the resolution, Xi has become a figure equivalent to other powerful leaders in China’s history, the experts said.

The latest resolution was adopted at the four-day sixth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the party from Monday, which was held behind closed doors. It did not indicate who is likely to succeed Xi as leader.

A communique of the session carried by the official Xinhua News Agency later Thursday said Xi has “demonstrated great historical initiative, tremendous political courage, and a powerful sense of mission.”

Combined photo shows (from L) Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Xi Jinping. (Kyodo)

Ichiro Korogi, an expert in Chinese politics at Kanda University of International Studies near Tokyo, said, “Xi is trying to become a historic figure” as he believes that the resolution would give him authority and help defeat his political rivals at home.

“He has been writing his own history” to bolster his clout, Korogi said on a Japanese TV program.

In China, the Communist Party has decided how to interpret the history of the nation under its effective one-party rule. Chinese citizens have not been allowed to cast doubts on or take objection to the interpretation.

Nearly 100 million members of the ruling party have been unable to act in defiance of the interpretation based on the concept that the Communist Party has made achievements while overcoming failures.

The basic logic that justifies the long-term rule by Xi is that the party should attain the reunification of Taiwan with the mainland as well as the goal of “common prosperity,” aimed at reducing income gaps in China, pundits said.

Especially, the reunification of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait is defined by the Communist Party as a historical mission that must be accomplished under strong leadership, they added.

Xinhua said the resolution highly evaluated Xi’s policies on Taiwan and Hong Kong, although many democratic countries have lambasted Beijing for jeopardizing security of the self-ruled island and violating human rights in the former British colony.

“We firmly oppose foreign interference. We have maintained the initiative and ability to steer cross-Strait relations” under Xi’s leadership, the news agency quoted the communique as saying.

The communique also said that Xi’s measures “have helped to restore order in Hong Kong and ensure a turn for the better in the region,” according to Xinhua.

China and democratic Taiwan have been governed separately since they split amid a civil war in 1949. Beijing regards the island as a renegade province.

The Communist-led government, meanwhile, has recently been taking tough actions against Hong Kong since large-scale protests sparked by a now-withdrawn bill to allow extraditions to the mainland morphed into a pro-democracy movement in 2019.

In 2018, China removed from its Constitution a two-term limit for the president and vice president, which would enable Xi to hold onto power for life.

Strict security was in place in the capital Beijing this week around what appeared to be a venue of the plenary session — the ruling party’s most important gathering after its congress.

The Global Times, a tabloid of the Communist Party, emphasized on Monday the importance of this week’s session as the first major political event since the 100th anniversary of the party’s founding on July 1.

The resolution being introduced at this historic juncture profoundly affects China and even the world, the newspaper added.

The communique said the ruling party has decided to hold its next congress in the second half of 2022, where new members of its leadership may be unveiled.

Gist of communique on Chinese Communist Party’s plenary session

The Communist Party:

— adopts resolution on major achievements and historical experiences of party during 100-year history.

— hails President Xi Jinping’s great historical initiative, tremendous political courage and powerful sense of mission.

— highly evaluates Xi’s policies on Taiwan and Hong Kong.

— does not indicate who is likely to succeed Xi as party leader.

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