Voice of China’s reformists becomes mouthpiece of ‘Xiism’

Voice of China’s reformists becomes mouthpiece of ‘Xiism’

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“The Chinese Communist Party’s instructions are the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics.” That was the front-page headline of the People’s Daily newspaper, the main mouthpiece of the party, on Thursday. The paper quoted President Xi Jinping’s article for the latest edition of Qiushi, a journal of party theory.

Xi called for a further concentration of power in typical fashion: “The party will instruct everything” from politics and the military to the civilian and academic sectors. “Our party must mature even further and become stronger, and step up our combat power.”

The bimonthly Qiushi has carried Xi’s articles on its front page for 39 consecutive issues over the last 18 months.

Xi’s prolific contributions to the journal seem unusual for a top leader. Former President Hu Jintao contributed articles 16 times during his five-year second term.

It is as if the publication has transformed into a journal of “Xiism” since 2018.

The Red Flag journal, the predecessor of Qiushi, was first published in 1958. With its title handwritten by founding father Mao Zedong, it started out as a magazine that conveys a “correct interpretation” of Marxism.

During the Cultural Revolution, the journal was included among the country’s most prestigious “two newspapers and one magazine,” alongside the People’s Daily and the People’s Liberation Army Daily.

After paramount leader Deng Xiaoping hammered out his “reform and opening up” policy in 1978, Red Flag survived as the voice of conservatives who supported Mao’s revolutionary strategy.

But in 1988, then General Secretary Zhao Ziyang embarked on a reform of the journal. He effectively forced Red Flag to cease publication and launched Qiushi in its place.

The name “Qiushi” comes from a Chinese term for “practical search for the truth” — an expression often used by Deng and other reformists when they criticized those who insisted that Mao’s instructions were absolute. The journal’s title was handwritten by Deng, and Qiushi became a vehicle for reformist views.

In its first edition, in July 1988, Qiushi carried an article headlined “An immediate problem facing China’s political system,” written by a Zhao aide. Even after Zhao fell from power following the Tiananmen Square incident, the journal maintained its reformist tone.