December 6, 2017 / 7:21 AM / 11 days ago

Chinese state media takes praise for leader to new heights as Xi tightens grip

BEIJING (Reuters) - The official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party has lavished unusually high levels of praise on President Xi Jinping’s signature leadership, as China’s strongest leader in decades consolidates his personal power.

Xi’s leadership was cast as having forged a new way of governance for China that the paper said had been applauded worldwide and had brought China to new heights of economic, political and diplomatic success.

The paean, even more effusive than usual for the state mouthpiece, came in two parts written under the official nom de plume of the People’s Daily for important commentaries and was carried on its front page on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Billed as an exposition on the changes in leadership, thought, mission and “rejuvenation” for China revealed during a course-setting meeting of the top party leadership in October, it marked the latest assault in a propaganda onslaught vaunting Xi’s contributions to China and the world.

Xi has amassed positions and accolades at a level much higher than his immediate predecessors, being named the “core” of the party leadership last year and having his named theory written into the party charter in October.

Such an honor has not been given to a sitting leader since Mao Zedong, communist China’s founding leader.

Chinese state media has taken praise for Xi to new levels since the twice-a-decade conclave. Xi was given Mao-like prominence with his portrait taking up nearly the entire front page of the People’s Daily.

“A unique path, a unique theory, a unique system, a unique culture; Xi Jinping’s thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era has developed a rich path for China that has transcended Western-centric theory, and hugely excited many developing countries to confidently choose their own path,” the paper said.

“Without Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, we would not have a party center that is moving closer daily to the center of the world stage,” the People’s Daily said.

China has expanded the reach of its foreign policy and military under Xi, who has talked about the need for China to be confident in its own political system and to provide Chinese “solutions” and “wisdom” for global issues.

However, concerns abroad about China using its influence to sway foreign business, academic, and political institutions have also grown.

Xi told foreign political groups in Beijing on Friday that China would not export its political system and would provide more opportunities for the world through its development. He was speaking as he opened China’s first ever “high-level” inter-party dialogue.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Paul Tait

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