China's People's Daily equates Xi on par with Mao Zedong
Beijing: China's ruling CPC has proclaimed President Xi Jinping as a "lingxiu" - a leader with the highest prestige, equating him with party founder Mao Zedong.
The People's Daily, the Communist Party of China's (CPC) flagship newspaper, published an article swearing allegiance to Xi - who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and the Central Military Commission (CMC) - and called on the people to grasp a historic opportunity facing China.
It is the first time that the daily has referred to 64- year-old Xi as "lingxiu".
The CPC identified Xi as the core of the party in 2016.
"We are fully aware of our responsibilities. We should resolutely support the core, faithfully follow the lingxiu, use our courage and morale...and make strides towards a brighter future," the article said.
Lingxiu means "leader" with a positive political connotation and refers to highly revered state leaders.
"The word lingxiu means more than just a leader. It is often bestowed on a leader who enjoys the highest prestige, who is the most capable and who is widely recognised by the entire party," Su Wei, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Chongqing, told state-run Global Times.
Since he took power in 2013, Xi has emerged as the most powerful Chinese leader in recent times as he now heads the party, the military and the presidency, unlike his predecessor Hu Jintao, who only got the coveted post of head of the military two years after taking power.
Also, Xi's name was included in the constitution of the CPC, making him the only leader after Mao and his successor Deng Xiaoping to get this honour, at the once-in-five-years congress of the CPC held in October which also approved a second five-year term for him.
Since then, all organs of the party have declared Xi as the topmost leader of the party setting aside the principle of collective party leadership that was followed in the last three decades.
Su said the emergence of a "lingxiu" is the symbol of a mature political party, adding that in the last five years Xi's achievements in various fields, especially the anti- corruption drive, have been widely acknowledged.
The military's official PLA Daily also referred to Xi as "lingxiu" in January last year, quoting PLA Navy sailors and military officers from aircraft carrier Liaoning as saying that "we are sailing in the sight of lingxiu".