Burying Mao

Deng's logic of building "Red Capitalism" without formally discarding Maoism seemed sensible until one adventurer, Bo Xilai, a member of the Politburo of the CPC until recently, sought to exploit the contradiction for his own ends.

As the party boss in Chongqing, Bo Xilai revived the Maoist-era slogans and past techniques of political mobilisation to project himself as a potential top leader of the CPC.

Even as he became popular in Chongqing and generated some enthusiasm among the surviving leftists in the CPC, Bo fell foul of the party leadership.

When Bo was ousted from power last March, Premier Wen Jiabao talked about the dangers of China losing its many hard-won gains in recent decades amidst the possible return of left-wing populism.

Wen explicitly touched upon the taboo subject of Mao's Cultural Revolution and warned against the return of that "historical tragedy". "Leftism" was once again proclaimed a threat and it was a matter of time before Mao Zedong Thought was consigned to the dustbin.

New banner

In an important speech delivered a few weeks after Bo's ouster, Xi Jinping, who will be anointed the supreme leader of the party at the 18th Congress, laid out the new ideological framework of the CPC that was shorn of "Mao Zedong Thought".

"Let us uphold the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the Three Represents and fully implement the scientific concept of development," Xi declared.

Xi elevated Dengism to top of the list and paid respects to the ideological contributions of his two immediate predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.

"Deng Xiaoping Theory" underlines the importance of economic pragmatism and centrality of China's rapid development. It was written into the CPC constitution in 1997 and stood next to Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought.

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