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September 20, 2017

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Will Xi's 'Chinese dream' come true?

In office for less than a year, China's new leader Xi Jinping appears poised to join the pantheon of Communist Party giants, with his thinking likely to be incorporated into the party's constitution at the next congress in 2017.

This is consistent with a relatively new tradition within the Chinese Communist Party whereby each new leader seeks to distinguish himself by making a contribution to ideological development.

However, Xi seems to have done this in record time, unveiling his thoughts less than three weeks after his election as the party's general secretary last November.

The new tradition started in October 1997, months after the death of paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, when the party charter was amended to stipulate: "The Chinese Communist Party adopts Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory as the guide to action."

Mao, of course, had dominated the party from the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949 until his death in 1976. His "Thought" had been incorporated into the party constitution in 1969.

Mao's chosen successor, Hua Guofeng, was moved aside by Deng, who installed Hu Yaobang in his place, then replaced him with Zhao Ziyang, who was also purged when he objected to the Tiananmen Square military crackdown.

So the three party leaders after Mao were all removed by Deng, who finally installed Jiang Zemin as party leader in 1989.

Deng, who declined to be the nominal party leader or head of state, may well not have approved having his "Theory" incorporated into the party constitution.

It was Jiang who oversaw the posthumous elevation of Deng for having introduced the concept of "socialism with Chinese characteristics," which allowed China to depart from orthodox Marxist doctrine.

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