China’s ruling Communist Party on Thursday declared that President Xi Jinping is the party’s “core”, a title he had not previously had, putting him in a more powerful position ahead of a key congress next autumn.
A statement released by the party following a four-day meeting of top party leaders in Beijing, and carried by state media, referred to Xi as “core of the party centre”.
Xi is also head of the party and the military, as well as being head of state.
Late Chinese strongman Deng Xiaoping coined the phrase “core” leader. Deng said Mao Zedong, himself and Jiang Zemin were core leaders, meaning they had almost absolute authority and should not be questioned.
But Xi had yet to assume that mantle.
Since assuming office almost four years ago, Xi has rapidly consolidated power, including heading a group leading economic reform and appointing himself commander-in-chief of the military, though as head of the Central Military Commission he already controls the armed forces.
The plenum meeting which has just ended paves the way for a once-every-five-years congress in the second half of next year, at which Xi will further consolidate his power and could give a clue as to who may replace him at the 2022 congress.
A new Standing Committee, the pinnacle of power in China consisting at present of seven people, will be announced at the congress.