A new era of Chinese Communist Party terminology under Xi Jinping?


A jargon-busting breakdown of some of the political buzzwords flying around the CCP 20th National Congress.

A new era of Chinese Communist Party terminology under Xi Jinping?

A man walks past a screen showing Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping’s report at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Oct. 19, 2022.

At the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 20th National Congress, which runs in Beijing from Oct. 16-22, its leader Xi Jinping is widely expected to be endorsed for an unprecedented third term in office, after amending the constitution to abolish presidential term limits in 2018.

The move comes amid growing concerns over a Mao Zedong-style personality cult around Xi, as institutions and political figures compete to show the utmost loyalty to Xi and his personal brand of political ideology.

Personal political ideologies — the best-known of these is likely Mao Zedong Thought, as immortalized in the Little Red Book — are used to consolidate power around Chinese leaders, and to ensure their place in the annals of party history since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, as they are named alongside foundational communist theorists Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin.

Each leader has brought with them a new set of political buzzwords, which function as a way for supporters to show political loyalty and unity, rather than as practical instructions for running the country. These come later, in the form of laws, rules, guidelines and directives from the Central Committee and the National People’s Congress.

Here is a breakdown of some of the key phrases linked to Xi’s political ascendancy — some of which are new, and some repurposed:

Xi Jinping thought in the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics

Xi’s personal brand of political ideology, which functions more as a way of asserting his personal power than bringing new political ideas to the table. Endorsed in November 2021 by a CCP resolution on party history, only the third in its century-long history, supporting “core leader” Xi Jinping to take China into a new era of international assertiveness and long-term Marxist rule.

The people’s leader

A description of Xi Jinping increasingly used by state media since 2019 to boost the image of the CCP general secretary as a lovable man of the people, and to amplify his claim that it was the Chinese people who put him in the top job. Late supreme leader Mao Zedong is the only other Chinese leader to have this epithet applied to him. 

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