Tue, Jul 29, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Xi rivals Mao in mentions in state media, report says

CULT OF PERSONALITY?In his 18 months in power, Xi was mentioned 4,725 times in the ‘People’s Daily,’ compared with 2,001 times for Jiang and 2,405 for Hu

AFP, BEIJING

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) name has graced the pages of the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship newspaper more frequently than any other leader since founding father and former Chinese leader Mao Zedong (毛澤東), researchers have said in a report.

The report by the University of Hong Kong’s China Media Project comes amid a much-publicized anti-graft crackdown that some analysts say Xi has used to root out political enemies and solidify his grip on power.

In the 18 months since he ascended to the party’s leadership in November 2012, Xi’s name has been mentioned 4,725 times in the party’s flagship newspaper, the People’s Daily, researchers found.

That compared with 2,001 and 2,405 times respectively for his predecessors Jiang Zemin (江澤民) and Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) over the 18 months after they took office, the study led by professor Qian Gang (錢鋼) and released earlier this month said.

Xi’s total was second only to that of Mao, who was cited by name nearly 7,000 times in the 18 months after the ninth party congress in 1969, when the tumultuous Cultural Revolution was in full swing.

Mao was at the center of a huge personality cult in China and the ruling party has since sought to avoid a repetition of that, but the report concluded that “since the [former Chinese leader] Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) era [in the 1980s], there has been a gradual rise in intensity” in mentions of top leaders’ names.

Xi came even closer to Mao in terms of front-page People’s Daily mentions, the researchers said, with 1,311 for the incumbent and 1,411 for Mao. By contrast, Jiang had 1,003 in his corresponding period and Hu 987.

In the 18 months since Xi took power, “the party newspapers have begun to advocate strongly on behalf of the leadership,” the study said.

Xi was also the center of attention for the People’s Daily compared with other members of the current leadership, with 745 front-page headlines in the 18 months since taking office, compared with 365 for Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強).

The other five members of the party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee each received only double-digit mentions.

In addition to being China’s president and the general secretary of the ruling party, Xi has also assumed control of several top bodies, including the party’s newly established Central National Security Commission.

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