March 21, 2018 / 11:44 AM / in 8 months

China's decision makers pledge to confess mistakes to Xi

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s top decision makers on Wednesday pledged to President Xi Jinping that they would ask him for instruction on major tasks and inform him of major mistakes, state media said, in the officials’ first ever personal reports to the top leader.

Chinese President Xi Jinping walks to deliver his speech at the closing session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/Files

Over the last five years, Xi has amassed personal power to a degree not seen in China since Mao Zedong and has been anointed “core” of the ruling Communist Party, as well as having his signature political theory written into the party charter.

Last week, China’s rubber-stamp parliament voted nearly unanimously to amend China’s state constitution to scrap presidential term limits, allowing Xi to rule indefinitely.

China’s Politburo, a top decision-making body of the party comprised of 25 leaders, each recently submitted written reports to Xi that pledged that they would ask for pointers from Xi and the party’s Central Committee on major jobs, the official Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday.

The new system of annual reports is another sign of Xi’s personal control over the party and was introduced during a meeting of the party’s top leaders in October last year, when Xi consolidated his power and laid out his grand vision for China’s next three decades.

“We will be conscious to be loyal to the party, to be open and candid, and to be politically unequivocal and sincere people,” the officials said, according to Xinhua’s summary.

Maintaining the leadership of the party’s Central Committee with Xi at its core should be our “highest political principle and foundational political practice”, they added.

Xi’s consolidation of power has been spurred on by a fierce war on deep-seated graft within the Chinese Communist Party, which he has pledged must continue until all officials at all levels dare not and cannot be corrupt.

The leaders also said that they would be honest, guard against individualism, engage in self-criticism and implement central party policy in full.

Xi carefully reviewed the reports and left personalized comments, as well as stressing that leaders should be devoted to their work, according to Xinhua.

Critics of Xi’s consolidation of power fear that the swift undoing of institutional checks on power, as well as his failure to share decision-making, risk throwing China back to a time of strong-man politics and social upheaval.

Self-criticisms sessions were a common feature of Mao’s rule when he used them to build loyalty and consolidate power.

Chinese officials have dismissed such concerns of a backslide as unfounded.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd

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