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China’s diplomacy chief strongly supports Xi as internal CCP strife brews

Yang Jiechi supports Xi Jinping at center of CCP and foreign policy decision making, as political infighting continues

Xi Jinping at BRICS Summit in South Africa, 2017

Xi Jinping at BRICS Summit in South Africa, 2017 (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪), Director of China's Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office published an article in strong support of Chinese president Xi Jinping on August 1, at a time when Chinese Communist Party (CCP) factionalism is becoming more evident.

Yang argued that Xi should be safeguarded at the core of China's foreign policy and threw his weight behind the centralized leadership, in a message that could be considered a counter what some China watchers view as a potential pushback against Xi's increasing power.

"The most important achievement is to establish the guiding position of Xi Jinping's diplomatic thinking" Yang wrote, adding that Xi's "diplomatic thought" is an essential aspect of "Xi Jinping's new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics," according to CNA.

Yang stressed that the CCP must "resolutely safeguard" the authority of the Party Central Committee, the inner leadership of the CCP and that diplomatic power must continue to be centralized within the inner leadership.

The showing of support for Xi by Yang, comes at a time when party factionalism is becoming more evident, and Chinese society is becoming increasingly vexed towards the party leadership.

Richard McGregor, senior fellow at Australian think tank, the Lowy Institute wrote that recent weeks have seen a push-back against Xi's power and position in the CCP. He says the sources of discontent are from the old guard, rival factions within the CCP, academia and other public policy groups.

Japanese news outlet, the Sankei Shinbun reported on July 31 that Xi may be facing criticism from elders of the CCP, as most of the old guard are against a prolonged trade war with the U.S.

Taiwan News reported on August 1 that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克强) is distancing himself from CCP party line, and could be at the head of a push to reduce Xi's authority within the party.

There appears to be a general mood within the CCP that the cult of personality developed around Xi may have been premature, in the context of economic headwinds and strained relations in the region.

Dali Yang, professor at the University of Chicago told the New York Times that "the propaganda system has been put on the defensive for contributing to the cult and also messing up the messaging concerning the U.S.-China trade conflict."

Taiwan News suggests that all this may come to a head at the Beidaihe meeting, where senior CCP politicians and elder statesmen will meet in Hebei Province later this week.