The struggles of the first century of Communist Party rule are being buried by the need to cohere around what Xi calls “the great rejuvenation” of China.
The full self-portrait won’t be released until after the meeting—which consists of four days of closed sessions—but it’s been clear for months that Xi is determined to eradicate what he calls “historical nihilism,” the corrosive doubt that could threaten the dominance of his party. During the summer, China’s official online Rumor Refutation Platform, a Web site that collects public tips and reports levels of purportedly false content online, warned of attempts to “smear Party history” through what it called efforts to “slander and discredit revolutionary leaders.” Under Chinese law, a person found to have spread a rumor faces up to fifteen years in prison. A list of the “top-ten” most-circulated “rumors” ranged from deep strategic questions—“Did the Communist Party avoid confronting the Japanese army directly?”—to sensitive details, such as the suggestion that Chairman Mao’s son died during the Korean War because he gave away his battlefield position by “cooking egg fried rice.” (Mao Anying died in an air strike in 1950. The fried-rice story, which has never been confirmed, outrages nationalists and Party agencies.)