China has opened another research centre into Xi Jinping Thought as part of the drive to enshrine his ideology at the heart of the country’s governance. The new addition, dedicated to his thoughts on ecology, brings the total of such research centres to 18, according to the official Xinhua news agency. China announced the opening of 10 such centres in 2017, many affiliated to leading educational institutes such as Peking University, Tsinghua University, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Central Party School. Others are affiliated to the local governments in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Four coastal provinces – Shandong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Fujian – have since established similar centres, while a number dedicated to specific policy areas have also been set up. A research centre dedicated to his thoughts on diplomacy was established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last year, while the National Development and Reform Commission has one dedicated to economic policy and one run by the Law Commission is dedicated to his views on the rule of law. Xi tries to build symbolic bridge between Communist Party’s past and future The latest centre, run by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, will be dedicated to “Xi Jinping’s Thoughts on Ecological Civilisation”. Last year Xi signalled he wanted China to play a leading role in the battle against climate change by telling the United Nations that the country aimed to become carbon neutral by 2060 . Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, said these research centres would serve to consolidate Xi’s power. “In the past, policy areas such as the economy used to be under the purview of the premier. But Xi is now taking over almost all areas and he has to demonstrate that he is a leader with great ideas in all areas,” Wu said. “It is Chinese tradition that a great leader must also be a great thinker. What’s happening is a combination of Communism and Confucianism.” The announcement follows Xi’s speech last week hailing the Communist Party’s successes in its first hundred years and comes ahead of next year’s 20th National Congress, which will see the promotion of a new crop of younger leaders. Xie Maosong, senior research at the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the focus of the new research centres had been carefully chosen and the party wanted to ensure they carried out meaningful research. “They want to make sure these centres … have the capacity to interpret and advise on the application of the theories,” he said. From Mao to Xi: how Communist Party leaders have shaped its ideology He said Fujian and Zhejiang had been chosen because Xi had previously worked there and suggested that Shandong was picked because it was where Confucianism was born. “When Xi visited Qufu in Shandong 13 years ago, he said he wanted to promote Chinese traditional culture. Establishing a research centre in Shandong means that they want some kind of synergy between Communism, Xi Jinping Thought and 5,000 years of Chinese civilisation” he said. He argued the timing was also noteworthy, saying: “The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party will be held next year and we should expect to see more studies about how to put Xi’s thoughts into practice.” He said the research centres affiliated with government ministries will offer advice on how to translate Xi’s ideas into policies. Wu said he expected the ideological drive to gather pace. “From now until the party congress, it is going to be all about Xi’s campaigns,” he said.