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In 2017, the cult of personality returned to China

The “thought” of XI Jinping has been embedded in the Communist Party’s constitution—and will now be taught at some 20 Chinese universities

By Isabel Hilton  

Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: Xinhua/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

In the closing years of the Cultural Revolution, as the personality cult around the ageing dictator Mao Zedong reached its zenith, there were a number of informal rules that could be applied to university essays to avoid a poor mark, or, worse still for a Chinese student, a political shadow.

The rules were simple: open any given section with a Mao quotation, introduced by the ubiquitous phrase, “Chairman Mao teaches us that…” , check the Party line on the…

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