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, and thus is often the paramount leader of China.

- President of the People's Republic of China

The term has been used less frequently to describe Deng's successors, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, who have all formally held the offices of General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (party leader), President of the People's Republic of China (head of state) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (commander-in-chief).

- Paramount leader

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Chinese Communist Party

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Founding and sole ruling party of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Founding and sole ruling party of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

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

Today the party's leader holds the offices of general secretary (responsible for civilian party duties), Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) (responsible for military affairs), and State President (a largely ceremonial position).

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

Xi Jinping

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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
Italian President Sergio Mattarella with Chinese President Xi Jinping in March 2019
Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks in Beijing with General Secretary of the Communist Party and President of China Xi Jinping, 2022

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.

Hu in November 2011

Hu Jintao

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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 Jintao (Mandarin pronunciation: ; born 21 December 1942) is a 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 was the paramount leader of China from 2004 to 2012.

Jiang in December 2002

Jiang Zemin

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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 Zemin (born 17 August 1926) is a 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.

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.

General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party

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

Since the mid-1990s, the general secretary has traditionally also held the post of president of the People's Republic of China.

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

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Sociopolitical movement in the People's Republic of China launched by Mao Zedong in 1966, and lasting until his death in 1976.

Sociopolitical movement in the People's Republic of China launched by Mao Zedong in 1966, and lasting until his death in 1976.

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.

Forced to take major responsibility, in 1959, Mao resigned as the President of China, China's de jure head of state, and was succeeded by Liu Shaoqi, while Mao remained as Party chairman and Commander-in-chief.

National Emblem of the People's Republic of China

Government of China

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Authoritarian political system under the exclusive political leadership of the Chinese Communist Party .

Authoritarian political system under the exclusive political leadership of the Chinese Communist Party .

National Emblem of the People's Republic of China
National Emblem of the People's Republic of China
The 12th National People's Congress held in 2013
Emblem of the Chinese Communist Party
Paramount leader and General Secretary Xi Jinping
The CMC is housed in the Ministry of National Defense compound ("August 1st Building")
Emblem of the People's Courts
Emblem of the People's Procuratorate

The President acts as a head of state in compliance with decisions made by the NPCSC, but exercises an independent power to nominate the Premier.

However, since 1993, as a matter of convention, the presidency has been held simultaneously by the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, the top leader in the one-party system.

Grassalkovich Palace in Bratislava is the seat of the President of Slovakia.

Head of state

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Public persona who officially embodies a state in its unity and legitimacy.

Public persona who officially embodies a state in its unity and legitimacy.

Grassalkovich Palace in Bratislava is the seat of the President of Slovakia.
World's parliamentary states (as of 2022): Republics with an executive president elected by a parliament Parliamentary republics Parliamentary constitutional monarchies in which the monarch usually does not personally exercise power Presidential republics, one-party states, and other forms of government
Elizabeth II is the reigning monarch and head of state of the United Kingdom and 14 other countries
Charles de Gaulle, President and head of state of the French Fifth Republic (1959–1969)
George Washington, the first president of the United States, set the precedent for an executive head of state in republican systems of government
George V, Emperor of India, and Empress Mary at the Delhi Durbar, 1911.
Tekiso Hati, ambassador of the Kingdom of Lesotho, presenting his credentials to Russian president Vladimir Putin
Daniel B. Shapiro, U.S. ambassador to Israel, presents his credentials to Israeli president Shimon Peres on 3 August 2011
A 1992 Letter of Credence, written in French, for the Czechoslovakian Ambassador to Lithuania, signed by the President of Czechoslovakia and addressed to his Lithuanian counterpart
Albert II, King of the Belgians inspecting troops on Belgium's national day in 2011
Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France and General Jean-Louis Georgelin, Chief of the Defence Staff, reviewing troops during the 2008 Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Élysées in Paris
Francis, from March 2013 the sovereign of the Vatican City State, an ex officio role of the Pope
Abdulmecid II is the 150th and last Caliph of Islam from Ottoman dynasty
Four generations of Danish kings in 1903: King Christian IX (left), Christian (X) (back), Frederick (VIII) (right), and Frederick (IX) (front)
The National Monument to Emperor Wilhelm I in Berlin, Germany, dedicated 1897, nearly 10 years after his death. The monument was destroyed by the communist government in 1950.
Title page of 1550 Italian edition of Machiavelli's The Prince
Bodin named on title page of Discorsi politici (1602) by Fabio Albergati who compared Bodin's political theories unfavourably with those of Aristotle
Frontispiece of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan (1651)

In China, under the current country's constitution, the Chinese President is a largely ceremonial office with limited power.

However, since 1993, as a matter of convention, the presidency has been held simultaneously by the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, the top leader in the one party system.

Li in 1954

Li Xiannian

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Li in 1954
Li in 1985
Li in the People's Liberation Army during the Civil War (1946)
Li as Vice Premier in August 1974, visiting Nicolae Ceaușescu in Romania
Li with his wife Lin Jiamei and Ronald Reagan (1985)

Li Xiannian (pronounced ; 23 June 1909 – 21 June 1992) was a Chinese Communist military and political leader, President of the People's Republic of China (de jure head of state) from 1983 to 1988 under Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping and then Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference from 1988 until his death.

If Hua had been successful in his efforts to achieve supreme power, Li would have become one of the most powerful officials in China, but Li's political career stalled when Deng Xiaoping eclipsed Hua as China's "Paramount leader".

Cover of the current constitution

Constitution of the People's Republic of China

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Nominally the supreme law of the People's Republic of China.

Nominally the supreme law of the People's Republic of China.

Cover of the current constitution

The posts of President and Vice President (which were abolished in the 1975 and 1978 constitutions) are re-established in the 1982 Constitution.

Chinese leader Hu Jintao said that "These amendments of the Chinese constitution are of great importance to the development of China [...] We will make serious efforts to carry them out in practice."