Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping's tribute to father seen as a bid to shore up his position

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 October, 2013, 4:58pm

Beijing yesterday marked the centenary of the birth of President Xi Jinping's father, revolutionary leader and party liberal Xi Zhongxun , with a commemoration at the Great Hall of the People.

While it is quite common for the government to stage events to celebrate the centenary of revolutionary leaders, activities marking the elder Xi's anniversary have more political meaning.

Analysts said the flurry of activities illustrated the president's need to consolidate power by reminding people of his family's connection with the formative years of the Communist Party ahead of the party's autumn plenary session, at which leaders are expected to lay down the reform blueprint of Xi's administration.

A solemn-looking Xi, acting in a non-official capacity, was shown by CCTV attending the event with his mother, Qi Xin, and wife, Peng Liyuan.

Xi Zhongxun, who died in 2002, was a leading political figure whose revolutionary pedigree dates to the 1930s when he helped build revolutionary bases in Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.

State media did not report whether the president made any remarks at the event, although state television's main newscast carried the news as its second item.

Although it is not unusual to hold such commemorations at the Great Hall for senior figures, some see the flurry of activities as disproportionate to Xi Zhongxun's status.

"The commemorative activities have gone beyond what someone of his rank would normally deserve - after all, his highest rank was vice-premier. That shows the urgent need for the junior Xi to consolidate power by playing the card of his father," said Zhang Lifan , a political commentator in Beijing.

"Xi is trying to get more political support by reminding people of his father's legacy and the scale of such commemorative events shows he has not attained the real authority within the party and there is an urgent need to consolidate his power." Another Beijing-based commentator, Chen Ziming , said Xi was trying to save his plummeting popularity among intellectuals because of the suppression of civic activists by associating himself with his reformer father.

"Xi Zhongxun was one of the rare reformers and president Xi's commemoration of his father's legacy is damage control. But a one-time show will not work," Chen said. "So far we haven't seen him learning much from his father."

Zhang said Xi had been swinging between the left and the right since he took office as president in March and it was hard to tell if he would be committed to reform once he consolidates his hold on power.

Video: China state-run TV releases documentary about Xi Jinping's father, Xi Zhongxun