China’s Communist Party is “totally correct” to stick with Karl Marx’s theory, President Xi Jinping has said in a speech ahead of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the German philosopher whom he described as the “greatest thinker of modern time”.

Since coming to power in 2012, Xi has stressed the party must not forget its socialist roots as it works to attain the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

In a speech at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Friday, Xi said, “Writing Marxism onto the flag of the Chinese Communist Party was totally correct … Unceasingly promoting the sinification and modernisation of Marxism is totally correct.”

“Today, we commemorate Marx in order to pay tribute to the greatest thinker in the history of mankind and also to declare our firm belief in the scientific truth of Marxism,” he said.

“We must win the advantages, win the initiative, and win the future. We must continuously improve the ability to use Marxism to analyse and solve practical problems,” Xi said beneath a massive portrait of Marx on a stage bedecked with scarlet and gold curtains.

A new class struggle: Chinese party members get back to Communist Manifesto basics

Xi also instructed all party members to adopt the reading of Marxist works and the understanding of Marxist theories as a “way of life” and a “spiritual pursuit”.

Xi’s speech came near the end of a week-long propaganda blitz by state media, with chat shows saying “Marx was Right” and cartoons of his wild youth aiming to show his theories remain relevant to modern China and the next generation.

Marx’s work became the inspiration for communism, an ideology that aims for shared ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes.

China launched its market reforms three decades ago but the party keeps an iron grip on power.

Today, China, the world’s largest self-identified socialist country, outwardly displays all the trappings of a modern capitalist society, from rampant consumption to a massive gap between the urban elite and rural poor.

Karl Marx at 200: the giant Chinese statue that has become a figure of controversy in Germany’s Trier

The apparent contradiction between party rhetoric and appearance has prompted many analysts to suggest the party is no longer really motivated by Marxism but puts practical and economic concerns above all else.

Reuters, Associated Press

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