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Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the podium during the unveiling of the Communist Party's new Politburo Standing Committee in October 2017. Photo: Lintao Zhang / Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping started 2018 as he ended 2017, demonstrating to all 80+ million Chinese Communist Party members that he is demanding absolute loyalty.

Why it matters: Politics are still very much in command in the Xi era, and the focus on Party loyalty and political correctness is about ensuring regime security and improving the implementation of central government policies through all levels of the bureaucracy. If Xi succeeds, we may see a much higher functioning PRC government that is able to execute on many of its ambitions goals.

What's happening:

  • On January 5, he opened a three day study workshop for newly-elected members and alternate members of the CPC Central Committee and provincial and ministerial-level officials. His important "January 5 speech" is now the subject of a growing nationwide study campaign.
  • On January 11, Xi kicked off the Second Plenary session of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the Communist Party body whose mission is not only fighting corruption but also enforcing ideological, political and policy discipline among officials.

Xi's message: In his speech, reported by Xinhua:

  • Xi emphasized that party officials should "always be reliable, align themselves to the Party's central leadership in thinking and deeds, follow the Party's instructions and fulfill their responsibilities."
  • He stressed the importance of the party's political work in realizing "the absolute upholding of the authority of the CPC Central Committee and its centralized, unified leadership."
  • "We cannot indulge ourselves in empty talk without working for the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics and national rejuvenation. We can neither afford to lose the grand vision because realizing Communism is a long process," he said.

What's next: On January 18–19, the Communist Party Central Committee will hold the second Plenum of the 19th Party Congress. The biggest expected outcome of that meeting is a proposal to revise the Constitution to incorporate the planned National Supervisory Commission that will enhance the scope and powers of anti-corruption efforts.

The big question: It has long been assumed in Western business and policy circles that the Chinese leaders are not really Marxists and this talk of Communism is empty. What if Xi actually believes in it?

Go deeper

Updated 7 mins ago - Science

Nor'easter slams East Coast with flooding rain and powerful winds

A residential area in Middlesex County as floodwater from the nor'easter covers streets in New Jersey on Tuesday. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A monster storm was slamming the Northeast with record rainfall and powerful winds over Tuesday night — causing flash flooding that resulted in people having to be rescued in New Jersey and New York roads to close.

Threat level: All of southern New England westward to New York City and northern New Jersey was under the threat of flash flooding and coastal flooding from the nor'easter through Tuesday night into early Wednesday, per the National Weather Service.

12 mins ago - World

Blinken speaks with Sudan prime minister after his release

Sudan's Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok. Photo: Ebrahim Hamid/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke on the phone on Tuesday evening with Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok after the military released him from custody.

Why it matters: Hamdok’s release was a result of pressure on Sudan’s military leader General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan from the U.S. and other countries but also from the different political parties in Sudan and massive protests in the streets.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Brazil senators vote to recommend criminal charges for Bolsonaro

Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.

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