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China crowns Xi with name once reserved for Mao Zedong
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Oct 30, 2017

All the president's men: Xi ally given top Shanghai post
Beijing (AFP) Oct 29, 2017 - China's ruling Communist party on Sunday promoted Li Qiang, an ally of President Xi Jinping, to its top post in Shanghai, state media said -- demonstrating Xi's increasing grip on power throughout the country.

Li Qiang, 58, has been appointed party chief of Shanghai, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The announcement comes days after the conclusion of the 19th Party Congress, a key Communist conclave that handed Xi a second term and crowned him as the most powerful Chinese leader in decades.

Li worked under Xi in Zhejiang province from 2003 and 2007, when the latter was the party chief there.

He was elevated to the country's powerful 25-member Politburo earlier this week during the party congress, a twice-a-decade meeting to reshuffle leadership roles.

Xi has promoted a number of officials known to him from his Zhejiang days to top political and military posts, including Cai Qi, the party secretary of Beijing.

In Shanghai, Li has replaced Han Zheng, a protégé of former President Jiang Zemin who was this week elevated to the country's all-powerful seven-person Politburo Standing Committee.

All Shanghai party secretaries since 1989 save one have ended up with a seat on the top body, which calls the shots in governance of the world's second-largest economy.

Last June, Li was promoted from governor of the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang to party secretary of neighbouring Jiangsu, the province with the second strongest economy in the country.

That Jiangsu position will now be filled by Lou Qinjian, the former secretary of Shaanxi province, according to Xinhua.

China's ruling Communist Party has dusted off a Mao-era honorific for President Xi Jinping, cementing his status as the most powerful ruler since the Great Helmsman himself.

The term "lingxiu" has more reverential and spiritual connotations than the ordinary term for leader, and has not been used since the time of Mao's successor Hua Guofeng.

But it has begun to pop up again in state media and in government meetings.

After the 19th party congress ended last Tuesday, Xi was formally handed a second term as its leader.

With no clear successor emerging in a revamped ruling council, known as the Politburo Standing Committee, he could dominate the nation for decades to come.

Xi's eponymous ideology was enshrined in the party's constitution -- a honour not given to his two predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, whose contributions remain anonymous.

China's historic achievements since the 18th party congress were "most importantly and most fundamentally thanks to our 'lingxiu' and core Xi Jinping navigating and steering the way," the state-run Henan Daily said Monday.

"General Secretary Xi Jinping is the party's fully worthy 'lingxiu', supported by the whole party and loved and esteemed by the people," the Politburo concluded Friday at its first meeting since the unveiling of the new leadership line-up.

For decades China has been governed in an ostensibly collective fashion by the seven-person Standing Committee. But since Xi took the reins in 2012, power has been increasingly centralised in a sole pair of hands: his.

Mao, at the height of his personality cult during the early years of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, was hailed as a "great teacher, great lingxiu, great commander-in-chief, and great helmsman" -- a slogan known as the "four greats".

Chinese universities start 'Xi Thought' institutes
Beijing (AFP) Oct 30, 2017 - Xi Jinping Thought will now be taught, researched and promoted in universities across China, ensuring that the leader's eponymous philosophy is implanted in students' hearts and minds.

At least twenty universities have established research institutes for Xi's ideology, which was enshrined in the Communist Party's constitution during its 19th national congress this month.

The distinction places Xi on a par with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. It means that his dogma -- "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" -- will become a mantra for a new generation.

According to media reports Sunday, the research institutes will not "hide in the ivory tower" but advocate the incorporation of Xi thought in all aspects of daily life.

"We will gather many experts and professors to disseminate and preach Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era in businesses, neighbourhoods and villages," Jiang Hongxin, head of Hunan Normal University's newly-founded Xi Thought research centre, told the People's Daily, the party mouthpiece.

Liu Ying, party secretary of the Tianjin University of Technology's Communist Youth League, told AFP the idea of forming a Xi Thought "learning group" came to her spontaneously during his marathon speech at the congress's opening.

"After studying these ideas, students will have more confidence not only in the country, but also in their own lives," she said. "They will have a greater belief in the Chinese dream" -- one of Xi's pet slogans.

Planned activities for the group include tours to promote Xi Thought in rural communities and visits to Liangjiahe, the northern village where Xi spent seven years as a "sent-down youth" during the Cultural Revolution.

Liu's attitude mirrors that of many institute directors, who in interviews with Chinese media over the weekend espoused a deep devotion to spreading Xi-isms.

"The (research) centre has a unique duty, which is to push forward Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era in curriculums, in classrooms and in minds," Chen Xianda, a professor at Renmin University of China, told the Beijing-based Guangming Daily.

One institute director said the lessons must "enter brains and hearts," while another said the Xi Thought organisation would "guide the entire school, from top to bottom, in implementing the spirit of the 19th congress".

The education ministry also released guidelines Monday for mandatory elementary and high school extracurricular programmes that include activities to "foster emotional attachment to the Chinese Communist Party".

NATO challenges Russia on military drill numbers
Brussels (AFP) Oct 26, 2017
NATO members challenged Russia on Thursday over "discrepancies" in Moscow's account of controversial military exercises last month, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said. The Zapad drills that Moscow staged jointly with Belarus on NATO's eastern flank caused concern in Poland and the Baltic states due to their size and over Moscow's intentions. Zapad is Russian for "west" and Western nati ... read more

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