China targets ‘unity in thought’ with campaign on Xi’s philosophy

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has embarked on a new campaign to educate its members and leaders on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced in April that the study of ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ or ‘Xi Thought’, which encapsulates the vision and ideology of China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, would be required study for the bureaucrats, businesspeople, officials, military personnel and many others that make up the tens of millions of members of the CCP.While such campaigns have a reputation for being dull and uninspiring affairs, this time there is a website, an account on Chinese social media platform WeChat and an app.

The campaign is designed to “use the Party’s new theories to achieve unity in thought, will and action, carry forward the great founding spirit of the Party and see that the whole Party strives in unity to build a modern socialist country in all respects, and advance the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Such campaigns are essential for the central leadership and the accompanying digital tools also provide a way to monitor what people are studying and ensure party members stick with the programme.

Jørgen Delman, a professor of China Studies at the University of Copenhagen, notes such campaigns are often activated after the selection of new party leaders.While President Xi remains at the centre of the Chinese power structure after gaining an unprecedented third term as general secretary last year, many of those around him were only appointed to their current positions in October and March.

“Additionally, education campaigns are an instrument that the central leadership uses when dissatisfaction arises with the way central party tenets are processed and implemented further down the party ladder,” Delman told Al Jazeera.

But there are also signs that the campaign on Xi Jinping Thought is more than just routine.

Before he left Russia after a three-day visit in March, Xi told President Vladimir Putin in Moscow that “right now there are changes the likes of which we haven’t seen for 100 years.”Xi Jinping’s philosophy
Xi Thought is an ideology mostly pieced together from directives, speeches and writings of the Chinese leader over the years and now encompasses 10 affirmations, 14 commitments and achievements in 13 areas.

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