Amendments to the Chinese Communist Party charter have transformed the ruling party from an organization for political cooperation to a "gang" led by general secretary Xi Jinping, analysts told RFA.
The amendments, the final version of which was published on Wednesday, describe Xi Jinping’s thought as "the essence of Chinese culture and the spirit of the times" and endorsing Xi's ideology and tasking the party's 90 million members with "safeguarding" his position as "core" leader.
Former Communist Party school professor Cai Xia said the amendments effectively turn the party into Xi's personal "gang," as its members are obliged to uphold his leadership.
"This concept of the 'two safeguards' actually reduces the party to a gang," Cai told RFA. "Why? Because political parties are about coming together and cooperating to achieve common political goals. The relationship between members is one of comradeship and equality," she said.
"But now that he has enshrined [these amendments] in the party constitution,... it's no longer a political party when you have 90 million people in the party all revolving around a single person," she said.
"The Communist Party has become a gang organization with him as its gang boss," said Cai, who now lives in the United States.
Xi began a third term in office on Sunday, packing the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee with his close political allies, in a consolidation of personal power not seen in Beijing since the personality cult surrounding Mao Zedong, political commentators told RFA.
The Central Committee reselected Xi as general secretary, breaking with decades of political precedent by granting him a third term after his predecessors were limited to two, prompting speculation that he may now stay in post indefinitely given the lack of an obvious successor.
Political analyst Chen Daoyin said the constitutional changes bake in Xi Jinping's absolute leadership through the party machine.
"We hadn't yet seen [this insistence on] the absolute leadership of the party over the armed forces ... which is effectively putting the gun ... in Xi Jinping's hands," Chen said.
"They also emphasize that, in the organizational line of the 'new era,’ that the evaluation and appointment of party officials is also in his hands," he said. "It turns maintaining [Xi's leadership] into an obligation for every member of the party."
"This means absolute power for Xi Jinping ... because of that binding power on party members and officials,” Chen said.
Ming Chu-cheng, honorary politics professor at National Taiwan University, said the "two safeguards" refers to "resolutely safeguarding general secretary Xi Jinping's position at the core of the party."
Xi's smooth transition to an unprecedented third term in office was marked by rare public protest, including against his zero-COVID policy, both at home and overseas.
On the eve of the congress, a lone protester dubbed “Bridge Man” unfurled a banner with anti-Xi slogans on a highway overpass before quickly getting carried off by police. Chinese authorities were quick to shut down social media accounts circulating images of the banner, but photos and videos of the incident got wide attention among Chinese living overseas.
Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.
This content originally appeared on Radio Free Asia and was authored by By RFA Mandarin.