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Provincial chiefs vie to heap praises on, pledge loyalty to Xi Jinping ahead of his third term

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(TibetanReview.net, Jun26’22) – Amid speculations and even suggestions of challenges to the continuance of Xi Jinping as China’s top party and state leader for a third term, at least nine provincial party chiefs have written long front-page articles in party publications in the past two months, extolling him and pledging loyalty to him, reported the scmp.com Jun 26. They and others have also used the provincial party congress meetings for confirming delegations to the five-yearly Party Congress to be held later this year to make the same points.

The report cited a political scientist as saying the praise by senior officials was unusual for its critical timing ahead of the crucial party congress when China will get a new leadership lineup with Xi still at the top.

The provincial party chiefs were stated to have used words such as “beacon”, “compass” and “fulcrum” to refer to Xi’s status while pledging loyalty to him.

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The report noted that regional chiefs are a major talent pool from which the party picks its top leaders and many of those who recently threw their lot in with Xi are considered front runners to join the 25-strong Politburo, the party’s decision-making body.

This year, with the date of the 20th Party Congress yet to be announced, waves of praises are seen to have already started.

Writing on the front page of Study Times, a publication from the Central Party School, Lou Yangsheng, party boss of Henan province, was reported to have said on Jun 22 that Xi’s political theory should be taken as a “lifelong lesson” by local officials, and called for an “item-by-item” and effective implementation of “lingxiu’s instructions”.

Lingxiu is a reverential term for “leader” that was common during the era of Mao Zedong and his successor Hua Guofeng more than three decades ago, but has rarely been used since the late 1970s, the report noted.

Li Ganjie, party secretary of Shandong province, was reported to have written on the front page of Study Times May 30 to applaud Xi for “taking the helm” while praising his instructions as a “compass”, “golden key” and “fulcrum”.

Ma Xingrui, the party secretary of Xinjiang, has called for a “complete and accurate” implementation of Xi’s Xinjiang strategies in his Study Times article in May.

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Praises of Xi and pledging of loyalty to him were also stated to abound at provincial party congress meetings, set to wrap up in late June, to confirm delegations to the party congress.

Li Hongzhong, party secretary of Tianjin, was stated to have called on cadres in his report to the Tianjin party congress on Jun 17 to love Xi “emotionally” as well as to follow his instructions.

Li Xi, party secretary of Guangdong, in his report to the provincial congress on May 22, has said Xi “has a keen insight into every matter” which had helped the province overcome hardship in the past.

And during a meeting in Jiangxi province this month, party secretary Yi Lianhong has called for integration of the “two upholds” – the status of Xi as the “core” and the authority of the Central Committee – “into the blood and cast into the soul”.

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Officials around the country were also reported to have found other ways to magnify their support for Xi. Nanning, the capital of Guangxi region in southern China, was not only handing out free copies of a book of Xi quotes, but last month it held several reading sessions of the pocket-sized red book, the report said.

In Fujian in southeastern China has held an exhibition on Xi’s leadership when he was head of the province decades ago.

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Gu Su, a political scientist at Nanjing University, has said the praise by senior officials, which served the personality cult of Xi in an obvious way, was unusual for its timing ahead of the 20th Party Congress.

“There was no such strong expression for an individual” for the party congress before Xi’s term, regardless of whether a leader was being replaced, he has added.

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