One year in, China's Xi amasses control

One year in, China's Xi amasses control

BEIJING - China's Xi Jinping took over as Communist chief one year ago to calls for economic reform and faint hopes of greater political tolerance - but has focused instead on consolidating power, burnishing nationalist credentials and stifling dissent.

When Xi strode into Beijing's Great Hall of the People on November 15, 2012 after being anointed in a five-yearly congress, his relaxed demeanour and open admission of problems such as party corruption hinted at the possibility of change.

But since that day a signature of his tenure has been "the absolutely crucial importance of maintaining the absolute leadership of the Chinese Communist Party - in other words, the system will not change", said Kenneth Lieberthal from the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington.

"He spent the last year amalgamating the leverage he needs - or that he hopes to have - within the system and teeing up the themes," he said, including "making the party a more disciplined and respected organisation".

Nearly a century after its founding, the organisation has ballooned from an ideological hard core to the world's largest political party.

Many of its 85 million cadres are drawn less by Mao Zedong Thought than the benefits of membership of the ruling elite.

In a high-profile campaign, Xi vowed to crack down on rampant graft among both high-ranking "tigers" and low-level "flies".

He has presided over the jailing for life of fallen party princeling Bo Xilai, and mounted a parallel austerity drive.

The new general secretary has been "genuinely alarmed" by the "deterioration" of the institution, suggested Lieberthal.

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