We are just under one-third the way through the month of August, but key terms in the official discourse of the Chinese Communist Party are heating up fast – and they point once again to efforts to shore up the position of the country’s top leader, Xi Jinping.
One of the key phrases to watch in the coming weeks is the so-called “Two Establishes,” or liangge queli (两个确立), which emerged in the wake of the Sixth Plenum last November. The phase is essentially a giftbox of loyalty to Xi, establishing him as 1) the unquestionable “core” leader of the CCP, and 2) his ideas as the bedrock of China’s future under the CCP.
Unpacked, the “Two Establishes” is a claim to the legitimacy of Xi Jinping’s rule, and a challenge to any who might oppose him. As such, the phrase is an important part of the process of “loyalty signaling,” or biaotai (表态), the registering of support for the top leader.
So what are we seeing right now?
According to CMP’s preliminary analysis, the “Two Establishes” phrase has appeared already in 33 articles in the Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper this month. That compares to 47 articles using the phrase for the whole of July 2022, when the phrase reached a broiling Tier 2 on CMP’s discourse scale, which defines a six-tier system based on a historical analysis of keywords appearing in the China Communist Party’s flagship People’s Daily.
This means it is likely that the “Two Establishes” will climb into to Tier 2 for August by mid-month, and surpass last month’s total by a healthy margin.
How is this phrase actually used? Looking at page two of the People’s Daily today, we find the phrase in an article called, “Hebei Strives to Deliver Excellent Results on the Road to the New Test” (河北努力在新的赶考之路上交出优异成绩单). This article, part of a series called “China These 10 Years,” quotes Hebei’s top leader, Ni Yuefeng (倪岳峰), as saying that his province is “using real actions to greet the opening of the Party’s 20th National Congress.” This tells us that the article should be understood in the context of the upcoming congress, which will likely bring a third term for Xi Jinping and the further elevation of his leading ideology as “Xi Jinping Thought” (习近平思想).
The opening of the article makes clear its role in signaling support for Xi Jinping and his banner ideology, and it’s here that we find our phrase:
Since the 18th National Congress of the CCP, Hebei has persisted in taking as its guide Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era, deeply studying and implementing the important instructions of General Secretary Xi Jinping and the decisions and deployments of the CCP Central Committee, deeply comprehending the decisive meaning of the “Two Establishments” . . . .
Twice, at the beginning and the end, the article raises the need to follow Xi Jinping’s “important instructions” (重要指示), a concrete term that since at least 2015 has been used exclusively to emphasize Xi’s leading role over the rest of the Politburo Standing Committee (who must content themselves with “written comments”).
The more Xi Jinping’s hot words heat up in the coming weeks, the more we should be able to visualize his stratospheric rise far above the heads of the PSC.