Xi Jinping most mentioned in People's Daily since Mao, researchers find
President far outstrips recent heads of state in his coverage in the official People's Daily
President Xi Jinping's name has graced the pages of the Communist Party's flagship newspaper more frequently than any other leader since Mao Zedong, according to Hong Kong researchers.
In the 18 months since he ascended to the Communist Party's leadership in November 2012, Xi has been mentioned by name 4,725 times in the People's Daily newspaper, researchers with the University of Hong Kong's China Media Project found.
That compared with 2,001 and 2,405 times for his predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao during the 18 months after they each took office, according to the study led by Professor Qian Gang released earlier this month.
Xi's total was second only to that of Mao, who was named nearly 7,000 times in the 18 months after the 9th party congress in 1969 when the tumultuous Cultural Revolution was in full swing.
Mao was at the centre of a huge personality cult on the mainland and the ruling party has since sought to avoid a repetition. But the report concluded that "since the Deng Xiaoping era, there has been a gradual rise in intensity" in mentions of top leaders' names. Xi was featured in two of seven headlines on the People's Daily front page on Monday, compared with one for Premier Li Keqiang .
"With Central Military Commission chairman Xi Jinping's approval, new rules on military awards and commendations to take effect on August 1," read one headline. "A new 'China-Latin America era' begins: chairman Xi Jinping visits four countries in Latin America and attends China-Latin America leaders' meeting", read the other.
Xi came close to Mao in terms of front-page People's Daily mentions, the study found, with 1,311 for the incumbent and 1,411 for Mao.
By contrast Jiang had 1,003 in his corresponding period and Hu had 987.
Since Xi took power "the party newspapers have begun to advocate strongly on behalf of the leadership", the researchers said.
Xi also got far more attention from the People's Daily than other top current leaders, with 745 front-page headlines in the 18 months since taking office, compared to 365 for Li.