Welcome Jinping’s ‘New Era’, but he is not the new Mao, say Neo-Maoists

A group of hard-line conservatives who want things in China as they used to be under the founding leader of the country, Mao Zedong, has welcomed President Xi Jinping’s ‘New Era’ of socialism.

However, they don’t want to put him on the same pedestal as Mao.

At the ruling Communist Party’s leadership conclave that wrapped up this week, Xi laid out a confident vision for a proud and prosperous China, with the party firmly in control, and cemented his authority as the country’s most powerful leader since Mao took power in 1949 and declared the founding of modern China.

Delegates praised Xi using Mao-era honorifics, and he became the first serving Chinese leader since Mao to have a named ideology written into the party charter, signalling that it will be in effect beyond his second five-year term, which began this week.

“Their similarity is that they both want to rejuvenate the Chinese nation, they both want an independent, powerful, new China,” Song Yangbiao, a Beijing-based neo-Maoist freelance journalist, told Reuters.

“Chairman Mao freed the Chinese people from the oppression of the West, while Xi Jinping has dedicated himself to giving new China a greater voice on the global stage,” he said.

But Song said that it was “not realistic” to revive Mao’s party chairman title and confer it on Xi. That elevation is a possibility that has been floated, according to some sources with ties to the leadership. “Chairman Mao’s authority was built from a long and arduous struggle. Xi’s power came from the bureaucracy in a time of peace. The history is totally different,” he said.

Some mainstream party cadres at the congress did not have such reservations. Many called Xi a wise and great “lingxiu”, or leader, an honorific only used for Mao Zedong and his short-lived successor Hua Guofeng. Bayanqolu, party chief of northeastern China’s Jilin province, went so far as to call Xi “party helmsman”, a term not in general use in senior Communist Party circles since Mao, who was called the “Great Helmsman”.

“Accepting Xi as a powerful leader, accepting him as the most powerful leader since Mao, is a necessary trait of Xi’s new era,” said Sima Nan, a television pundit, blogger and defender of Mao and the Communist Party. “Look at how much he has said, how much he has written, how many people he has met – when does he have time to sleep?” he said in reference to Xi.

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