By: Paige Williams
WASHINGTON — In a move intended to show military loyalty before a government reshuffle later this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping has his troops to call him “chairman,” according to Nikkei Asian Review.
The name-change was revealed during Xi’s high-profile trip to Hong Kong for the 20th anniversary celebration of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule.
The night before the July 1 ceremony, Xi attended a military inspection parade. Instead of the standard term shouzhang, a generic Chinese word used to refer to a leader or commander, his troops called him "zhuxi” during the lowkey inspection.
Zhuxi, or chairman, is reserved for the top leader of the state, but has recently been exchanged in favor of the term General Secretary. Only one other modern Chinese leader has used Chairman — Mao Zedong, the revolution leader and eventual dictator of the communist nation.
“This significant departure from party protocol reflects the president's ambitions in this politically sensitive year,” said Katsuji Nakazawa, senior staff writer for Nikkei Asian Review.
Xi’s move symbolizes his full control of the military’s loyalty and his desire to establish himself as China's most powerful leader since Mao. Xi was recently named "core" of the communist party and has been pushing party loyalty, a prerogative characteristic of Mao, according to the Economist.
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