“Party, government, military, civilian, and academic; east, west, south, north, and center, the Party leads everything.” So declared the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after its 19th National Congress in October 2017. While more attention was paid to CCP General Secretary and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s enshrinement in the Party constitution at the same meeting, the return to a Mao-era mantra of absolute CCP control was even more telling about the Party’s vision for China going forward.
Under Deng Xiaoping, the CCP limited its leadership “mainly” to “politics, ideology, and the organization.” There was more of an effort to separate out Party and state functions, although in practice of course the division was strictly limited. Since the 1990s, the top posts of Party and state have been held by the same individual, and it’s no secret that the CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee is the real nexus of power in China.
Now under Xi, the trend toward some, albeit limited, separation of Party and state was reversed. Xi has made it his central mission to consolidate CCP control once again, and not only over the state apparatus but over every sector from entertainment and technology to religion and education. And Xi and the CCP still want more.