Wang Huning, the most central figure behind the CCP’s theoretical positioning under Xi Jinping, addressed a meeting of propaganda ministers. Image from 2013 by the Russian Presidential Press and Information Office, available at Wikimedia Commons under CC license.
At a meeting in Beijing yesterday meant to set the tone for the propaganda work of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over the coming year, Wang Huning (王沪宁), head of the Central Secretariat and the Party’s most influential ideological theorist today, sent a clear message that all endeavors in news and public opinion in 2022 would tilt toward the opening in the fall of the 20th National Congress of the CCP.
Speaking to propaganda ministers from across the country, Wang emphasized the preeminent importance of Xi Jinping’s banner phrase, or qizhiyu (旗帜语), as the principle guiding the propaganda work. A mark of Xi’s power and legacy, the banner phrase, “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era” (习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想), is likely to be shortened in the coming months to the far more potent “Xi Jinping Thought” (习近平思想), putting Xi on par with his predecessor Mao Zedong and paving the way for his leadership beyond his current second term.
Wang also stressed the need for propaganda leaders to maintain a firm grasp of the so-called “442 formula,” another formulation meant to consolidate Xi Jinping’s personal power as the leader of the CCP. The formula comprises the “Four Consciousnesses” (四个意识), “Four Confidences” (四个自信) and “Two Protections” (两个维护). The first of these terms refers to the need to 1) maintain political integrity, 2) think in big-picture terms, 3) uphold the leadership core (in other words, Xi Jinping), and 4) keep in alignment with the CCP’s central leadership.
Propaganda leaders, said Wang, must “firmly grasp the main line of welcoming, publicizing and implementing the 20th National Congress.”
Echoing Wang words, Huang Kunming (黄坤明), head of the CCP’s Central Propaganda Department, said that “must implement the main line of the CCP’s 20th National Congress in the conduct of propaganda and ideology work.”
Buckle your seatbelts for a long road trip through the official discourse of power and succession. 2022 has hardly begun, but for the propaganda ministers of the CCP there can be no doubt that the year’s biggest news story – the Beijing Winter Olympics notwithstanding – will be unfolding more than 10 months from now.