Site of the first CCP Congress, in the former Shanghai French Concession
Flag of the HistoryChinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army
Mao Zedong declared the establishment of the People's Republic of China on 1 October 1949.
Chinese communists celebrate Joseph Stalin's birthday, 1949.
A temporary monument displayed in Changsha, Hunan Province, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the CCP's founding
A monument dedicated to Karl Marx (left) and Friedrich Engels (right) in Shanghai
A billboard advertising Xi Jinping Thought in Shenzhen, Guangdong
The 18th National Congress, convened in November 2012
Front cover of the Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party
Xi Jinping (second from left) with Enrique Peña Nieto (second from right), the former President of Mexico and a leading member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party
Badge given to party members

The paramount leader, also named supreme leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) is an informal term for the most prominent political leader in China.

- Paramount leader

Because of these posts, the party leader is seen as the country's paramount leader.

- Chinese Communist Party

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Deng Xiaoping at age 16, studying in France (1921)

Deng Xiaoping

Deng Xiaoping at age 16, studying in France (1921)
Deng's name is spelled Teng Hi Hien on this employment card from the Hutchinson shoe factory in Châlette-sur-Loing, France, where he worked on two occasions as seen from the dates, eight months in 1922 and again in 1923 when he was fired after one month, with the bottom annotation reading "refused to work, do not take him back"
Deng Xiaoping in NRA uniform, 1937
Deng with Liu Bocheng (right)
Deng Xiaoping with He Long (middle) and Zhu De (right) (1949)
Deng Xiaoping (left) met with the 14th Dalai Lama (right) in 1954
Deng Xiaoping (left) with future president Li Xiannian (center) and Premier Zhou Enlai in 1963
Deng Xiaoping (centre) with U.S. president Gerald Ford (left), 1975
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Deng Xiaoping (left) and his wife Zhuo Lin (right) are briefed by Johnson Space Center director Christopher C. Kraft (extreme right)
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Lizhi Park, Shenzhen, one of China's first special economic zones and is regarded as China's Silicon Valley
A model reconstruction of Deng Xiaoping's 1984 meeting with UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Shenzhen
A patrol boat in use during Deng Xiaoping's southern tour of 1992
Deng Xiaoping's ashes lie in state in Beijing whose banner reads "Memorial Service of Comrade Deng Xiaoping", February 1997
Statue of Deng Xiaoping in Shenzhen
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Shenzhen, Guangdong
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Qingdao, Shandong
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Dujiangyan, Sichuan
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Lijiang, Yunnan

Deng Xiaoping (22 August 1904 – 19 February 1997), also known by his courtesy name Xixian (希贤), was a Chinese revolutionary leader, military commander and statesman who served as the paramount leader of the People's Republic of China (PRC) from December 1978 to 1992.

Born in the province of Sichuan in the Qing dynasty, Deng studied and worked in France in the 1920s, where he became a follower of Marxism–Leninism and joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1924.

Jiang in December 2002

Jiang Zemin

Chinese retired politician who served as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2002, as Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2004, and as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003.

Chinese retired politician who served as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2002, as Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2004, and as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003.

Jiang in December 2002
Graduation photo of Jiang, taken in 1947.
Jiang in 1962
Jiang Zemin with U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1999.
Jiang Zemin with his wife and George W. Bush with his wife in Crawford, Texas, 25 October 2002.
Jiang Zemin's inscription engraved on a stone in his hometown, Yangzhou

Jiang represented the "core of the third generation" of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders since 1989.

As the involvement of the "Eight Elders" in Chinese politics steadily declined, Jiang consolidated his hold on power to become the "paramount leader" in the country during the 1990s.

Hu in November 2011

Hu Jintao

Retired Chinese politician who served as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 2002 to 2012, President of the People's Republic of China (PRC) from 2003 to 2013, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) from 2004 to 2012.

Retired Chinese politician who served as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 2002 to 2012, President of the People's Republic of China (PRC) from 2003 to 2013, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) from 2004 to 2012.

Hu in November 2011
Hu's birthplace, Jiangyan, Jiangsu
Hu Jintao in 1960
Hu Jintao with Leaders of the BRICS countries, from left, Singh, Medvedev, Rousseff and Zuma in April 2011
Hu with George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush in Beijing, 10 August 2008
Hu talks with U.S. President Barack Obama at the 2009 Pittsburgh G-20 Summit

Hu was the paramount leader of China from 2004 to 2012.

Hu rose to power through the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), notably as Party Committee Secretary for Guizhou province and the Tibet Autonomous Region, where his harsh repression of dissent gained him attention from the highest levels.

General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party

The general secretary of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party is the paramount leader of China.

The general secretary is the head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the highest-ranking official within the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping greeting U.S. President George W. Bush in August 2008.
Xi Jinping with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on 28 September 2010.
Portrait of Xi in Beijing, September 2015
Holographic portraits of Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping in a shop in China
Xi giving a speech at the U.S. Department of State in 2012, with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then Vice-President Joe Biden in the background. Seated in the front row is former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
BRICS leaders Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi, Dilma Rousseff, Xi Jinping and Jacob Zuma at the G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, 15 November 2014
Xi with the first lady during the Moscow Victory Day Parade on 9 May 2015
Xi with Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, 23 January 2016
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives in China, 8 November 2017
Xi in an official visit to Warsaw, where he and Poland's President Andrzej Duda signed a declaration on strategic partnership
Xi, who was on a four-day state visit to the UK, addressed both Houses of Parliament at Westminster, 21 October 2015
World leaders assemble for 'family photo' at G20 summit in Hamburg
Countries that signed cooperation documents related to the Belt and Road Initiative
According to the Qiushi, the Chinese Dream is about Chinese prosperity, collective effort, socialism, and national glory.
A billboard promoting Xi Jinping Thought in Shenzhen
The Governance of China in different languages presented at Shanghai Library
Hong Kong protesters throw eggs at Xi Jinping's portrait on National Day
Xi Jinping met with then-Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou in November 2015 in their capacity as the leader of mainland China and Taiwan respectively.
Xi Jinping, Peng Liyuan and U.S. President Barack Obama in the Lincoln Bedroom
Xi with Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, 23 January 2016

Xi Jinping (born 15 June 1953) is a Chinese politician who has been serving as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) since 2012, and President of the People's Republic of China (PRC) since 2013.

Xi has been the paramount leader of China, the most prominent political leader in the People's Republic of China, since 2012.

President of the People's Republic of China

Head of state of the People's Republic of China.

Head of state of the People's Republic of China.

Mao Zedong
Liu Shaoqi
Dong Biwu
Song Qingling
Li Xiannian President (18 June 1983 – 8 April 1988)
Yang Shangkun
Jiang Zemin President
Hu Jintao
Xi Jinping
Zhu De
Ye Jianying

However, as a matter of convention, the presidency is held simultaneously by the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, who also serves as the chairman of the Central Military Commission, thus is often the paramount leader of China.

For example, the leader meets foreign dignitaries and receives ambassadors in his capacity as president, issues military directives as chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), and upholds party rule as the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Hu Yaobang in 1986

Hu Yaobang

High-ranking official of the People's Republic of China.

High-ranking official of the People's Republic of China.

Hu Yaobang in 1986
Hu Yaobang at Yan'an in the 1930s
Hu Yaobang and his wife Li Zhao
Hu Yaobang, Zhu De, and Liao Chengzhi at the National Youth Congress in 1953 (left to right)
(from left) Zhao Ziyang, Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng at Hu Yaobang's memorial service in the Great Hall of the People, on 22 April 1989
Hu Yaobang's Former Residence.
Hu's Statue in his hometown Liuyang

He held the top office of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 1981 to 1987, first as Chairman from 1981 to 1982, then as General Secretary from 1982 to 1987.

Hu Yaobang's rise to power was engineered by Deng Xiaoping, and Hu rose to the highest levels of the Party after Deng displaced Hua Guofeng as China's "paramount leader".

Cultural Revolution propaganda poster. It depicts Mao Zedong, above a group of soldiers from the People's Liberation Army. The caption reads, "The Chinese People's Liberation Army is the great school of Mao Zedong Thought."

Cultural Revolution

Sociopolitical movement in China from 1966 until Mao Zedong's death in 1976, launched by Mao, the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party and founder of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Sociopolitical movement in China from 1966 until Mao Zedong's death in 1976, launched by Mao, the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party and founder of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Cultural Revolution propaganda poster. It depicts Mao Zedong, above a group of soldiers from the People's Liberation Army. The caption reads, "The Chinese People's Liberation Army is the great school of Mao Zedong Thought."
People in the countryside working at night to produce steel during the Great Leap Forward
The purge of General Luo Ruiqing solidified the Army's loyalty to Mao.
Mao waved to the "revolutionary masses" on the riverside before his "swim across the Yangtze"
A struggle session of Wang Guangmei, the wife of Liu Shaoqi.
Mao Zedong and Lin Biao surrounded by rallying Red Guards in Beijing. Source: China Pictorial
Tiananmen Square on September 15, 1966, the occasion of Chairman Mao's third of eight mass rallies with Red Guards in 1966. Source: China Pictorial
The remains of Ming Dynasty Wanli Emperor at the Ming tombs. Red Guards dragged the remains of the Wanli Emperor and Empresses to the front of the tomb, where they were posthumously "denounced" and burned.
The Cemetery of Confucius was attacked by Red Guards in November 1966.
Anti-Liu Shaoqi rally
Propaganda oil painting of Mao during the Cultural Revolution (1967)
Marshal Lin Biao was constitutionally confirmed as Mao's successor in 1969.
Graffiti with Lin Biao's foreword to Mao's Little Red Book, Lin's name (lower right) was later scratched out, presumably after his death.
Jiang Qing (left), who was the wife of Mao Zedong and a member of the Gang of Four, received the Red Guards in Beijing with Premier Zhou Enlai (center) and Kang Sheng. They were all holding the Little Red Book (Quotations from Mao) in their hands.
Jiang Qing
Deng Xiaoping became the paramount leader of China in 1978. He started "Boluan Fanzheng" that brought the country back to order, and initiated China's historic Reforms and Opening up.
A struggle session of Xi Zhongxun, the father of Xi Jinping (September 1967). Xi Zhongxun was labelled as an "anti-Party element". However, since late 2012, Xi Jinping and his allies have attempted to play down the disaster of the Cultural Revolution and reversed many reforms since the Boluan Fanzheng period, sparking concerns of a new Cultural Revolution.
Quotations of Mao Zedong on a street wall of Wuxuan County, one of the centers of Guangxi massacre and cannibalism during the Cultural Revolution.
The Cultural Revolution Cemetery in Chongqing, China. At least 1,700 people were killed during the violent faction clash, with 400 to 500 of them buried in this cemetery.
The Tibetan Panchen Lama during a struggle session.
Struggle session of Sampho Tsewang Rigzin and his wife during the Cultural Revolution.
A 1968 map of Beijing showing streets and landmarks renamed during the Cultural Revolution. Andingmen Inner Street became "Great Leap Forward Road", Taijichang Street became the "Road for Eternal Revolution", Dongjiaominxiang was renamed "Anti-Imperialist Road", Beihai Park was renamed "Worker-Peasant-Soldier Park" and Jingshan Park became "Red Guard Park." Most of the Cultural Revolution-era name changes were later reversed.
Yao Tongbin, one of China's foremost missile scientists, was beaten to death by a mob in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution (1968). This caused Zhou Enlai to order special protection for key technical experts.
Remnants of a banner containing slogans from the Cultural Revolution in Anhui.
The ballet The Red Detachment of Women, one of the Model Dramas promoted during the Cultural Revolution.
Posters from the Cultural Revolution period
Buddhist statues defaced during the Cultural Revolution.
The central section of this wall shows the faint remnant marks of a propaganda slogan that was added during the Cultural Revolution, but has since been removed. The slogan read "Boundless faith that in Chairman Mao."

In December 1978, Deng Xiaoping became the new paramount leader of China, replacing Chairman Hua Guofeng, and started the "Boluan Fanzheng" program which gradually dismantled the Maoist policies associated with the Cultural Revolution, and brought the country back to order.

Mao and many other members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) opposed these changes, believing that they would have negative repercussions for the worldwide Communist movement, among whom Stalin was still viewed as a hero.

Zhao (top left) pictured with Mao Zedong in Wuhan, January 1966

Zhao Ziyang

Chinese politician.

Chinese politician.

Zhao (top left) pictured with Mao Zedong in Wuhan, January 1966
Zhao was hosted by US president Ronald Reagan at the White House on 10 January 1984 as part of a broader effort to improve China's relations with the West.
No. 6 Fuqiang Hutong, where Zhao lived
Zhao Ziyang's final burial site in 2019, with his son on the right.

He was the third premier of the People's Republic of China from 1980 to 1987, vice chairman of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 1981 to 1982, and CCP general secretary from 1987 to 1989.

After ousting Hua Guofeng as China's "paramount leader" in 1978, Deng Xiaoping recognized the "Sichuan Experience" as a model for Chinese economic reform.

National Emblem of the People's Republic of China

Leadership core

National Emblem of the People's Republic of China

In modern Chinese politics, a leadership core or core leader refers to a person who is recognized as central to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.

The leadership core operates as part of the Leninist-inspired framework of democratic centralism, and is intended to represent a vital center rather than a hierarchical peak, which differentiates it from the role of paramount leader.