China needs a strong leader like Mao Zedong and President Xi Jinping "fits the bill", an official publication of the ruling Communist Party said on the eve of a key meeting of the party, speculated to amend the decades-old rule stipulating collective leadership to bolster Xi's position.
The four-day meeting of the plenum of Communist Party of China (CPC) kicks off China's political season which will culminate in changes at the top leaders except Xi and Premier Li Keqiang in the autumn next year when the party convenes its 19th Congress during which a new Politburo Standing Committee will be appointed.
Xi, 63, currently heads a seven member Standing Committeeof the CPC which virtually rules China. Since he took over the leadership in November 2012, Xi has emerged as the most powerful leader of China in recent times starting his ten year tenure as head of the Party and powerfulmilitary, besides the Presidency.
While the Standing Committee in the past represented collective leadership principle enunciated over three decades ago, critics say Xi's emergence as a powerful leader has overshadowed other six members of the Committee including Li.
By next year, a new Standing Committee would be appointed for which jockeying has reportedly started. During the plenum, the party leadership will deliver workreport of the party rule under Xi, official media reported.
The meeting would review key issues concerning the strict management of the Party and conduct revision of intra-Party supervision regulations, according to announcement by the party in July this year.
Speculation is rife that the meeting would amend the collective leadership rule. Since he was elected as General Secretary of the party in November, 2012, Xi systematically consolidated power both in the party and the military by carrying out a massive anti-corruption drive breaking established norms like not prosecute retired leaders and officials.
As he consolidated his power emerging as a rare leader controlling the party, military and the presidency, Xi now looks to amend the party structure to continue beyond the 10 year period stipulated by the party. His tenure is set to end in 2022.
Ahead of tomorrow's meeting, Peoples' Tribune, which is affiliated with party's official organ People's Daily said,"China needs a leader like Mao and Xi fits the bill." Analysts said the call to make Xi a strongman leader wasan attempt to raise Xi's status to the equivalent of "Great Leader", the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Postreported.