China plans to crown President Xi Xinping as a “Great Leader”, the first since Mao

BEIJING: China’s ruling Communist Party will begin its 20th party congress on October 16, state media said on Tuesday, a landmark meeting expected to crown President Xi Jinping as the country’s most powerful leader in decades.
The Communist Party Congress (CPC) in Beijing will be held as Xi faces significant political headwinds, including a struggling economy, deteriorating relations with the US and strict zero covid policy which has accelerated China’s inward turn from the world.
Xi is widely expected to be reinstated for a third term as president, unprecedented in this era. A new top leadership lineup will also be unveiled as Xi strengthens his grip on the party and his position as the most powerful Chinese leader since the country’s founder, Mao Zedong.
The meeting, held every five years, is of “extreme importance,” according to a report by state broadcaster CCTV at Monday’s meeting of the country’s politburo.
The event will see some 2,300 Communist Party delegates descend on Beijing in a highly choreographed exercise to elect members of the party’s roughly 200-member Central Committee. The last meeting of the current Central Committee will be held in Beijing from October 9, the report said.
The Central Committee then votes on the 25-member Politburo and its all-powerful Standing Committee, China’s highest governing body, which currently consists of seven people. Voting is mostly a formality – the pecking order of the Politburo and its Standing Committee is likely to have been decided well in advance. Analysts predict “no surprises” in terms of format and timing. “Most people are not surprised that Xi will get a third term,” said Alfred Wu Muluan, an expert on Chinese politics.
It is likely that Xi will be honored with the title of “Great Leader” at the congress, Wu said. The term was last applied to Mao Zedong. Wu added that it was most likely set up by a secret two-week conclave of Communist Party leaders held in the seaside city of Beidaihe in August.
Analysts predict that Xi plans to shorten the name of his official political philosophy in the party constitution to “Xi Jinping Thought,” putting him on par with Mao.