China's ruling Communist Party on Thursday declared that President Xi Jinping is the party's "core", a title he had not previously had, putting him in a more powerful position ahead of a key congress next autumn. Under the current informal retirement ceiling, five of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the party's highest body, must step down, leaving only Xi and the prime minister, Li Keqiang.
At the same time, a key meeting of the Communist Party of China (CPC) made a decision to carry on with the collective leadership system, introduced in 1981 to ensure that no individual dominated the party leadership.
The concept of core leader was coined by Deng Xiaoping, who led China's market opening in the 1980s, to denote those leaders who had achieved nearly absolute authority, namely Mao Zedong, Jiang Zemin and Deng himself.
Analysts have hinted that Xi may seek a third term after a traditional 10 years as the country's leader, though he can indefinitely remain party leader - the position from which he gets most of his power.
Over 1.01 million officials of the 88.75 million-strong CPC were punished in the anti-graft campaign amid allegations that Xi has also used it to consolidate his hold on the party.
The concept of "core" leader was formulated by Deng in the 1990s. And, because some believe that General Secretary Xi Jinping is attempting to break decades-old norms created to ensure stability and continuity, the meeting will be scrutinized for clues as to the degree to which he has consolidated power inside the ruling organization.
It was not, however, applied to Xi's predecessor Hu Jintao, who was seen as a weak leader by Chinese standards, never rising above "general secretary" status.
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It said that most respondents believe that Xi has leadership qualities, namely "strategic willpower with full confidence", "bravery to tackle problems head-on" and "intelligence to cure both the symptoms and root causes of problems".
It was taken to mean those leaders with absolute authority and who should not be questioned.
Delegates said they would address election malpractice and put an end to the buying and selling of official posts and vote-rigging. State broadcaster CCTV aired over the past week an eight-episode documentary, co-produced with the party's discipline-inspection commission, that tracked the corruption cases of more than 40 officials and showed their often-tearful confessions.
It stressed that the basis of upholding the Four Cardinal Principles is upholding Party leadership as well as the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
"To avoid concentrating all power in one person can help avoid awful mistakes", said Hu Xingdou, political science professor at Beijing Institute of Technology.
Requesting an official post, honour or special treatment is not allowed under any circumstances, it said. Su said the bureaucracy in the late Joseph Stalin's administration, including the appointment system and planned economy, were alienated from the public and damaged people's interests. It also endorsed the expulsion of former party chief of Liaoning Province and senior national legislator Wang Min and former Beijing deputy party chief Lyu Xiwen.
They were also aimed at preventing corruption among party officials as the entire nation was embarking on sweeping economic reforms. He would "no longer bother about, no longer meddle in" the party's decision-making once the new leadership is selected, he said during the meeting.