President Xi Jinping likes campaigns.

The one he launched against corruption more than three years ago went down well with the public who have enjoyed the daily spectacle of disgraced cadres and business executives being dragged before the courts like common criminals. Many of them pictures of contrived contrition.

Now the president appears to have a new campaign in mind which he hopes will be just as popular: party loyalty. It could well be put to the test at the National People's Congress, the annual gathering of China's rubber-stamp parliament now conveying in Beijing.

On one day last month Xi made the rounds of state media, popping into the headquarters of the China Daily, Chinese Central Television and the Xinhua news agency.

The journalists could barely contain their glee as they queued up to have their photographs taken with him. Amid the adulation, the Supreme Editor in Chief delivered some breaking news of his own.

He reminded them that their loyalty first and foremost was to the party. He didn’t mention the millions of readers and viewers these news outlets are supposed to serve.


WATCH: Hunting tigers and flies: China's media crackdown


Professor Andrew Nathan, a political scientist at Columbia University, who follows China closely, says Xi's strategy left no ambiguity

"His purpose there was to say the media have to fall in line with the central party, which means him," Nathan said.

Listening Post - Testing China's journalistic limits

"That no dissent is allowed in the media. That people who think there should be some professional journalistic ethic about independence and telling the truth do not understand the function of media which is to promulgate the party line to the people.”

Online the sycophancy has gone into overdrive.

"If you want to marry, marry someone like Xi Dada [uncle]"

This is a lyric to a song which has gone viral on the internet. The libretto doesn't exactly roll off the tongue and one senses the heavy hand of the propaganda department.

"If you want to marry, marry someone like Xi Dada who is decisive in acts and is serious in [all his] work; no matter [whether] it’s flies or tigers, monsters or freaks he will get them down and never let it go."

This passage alludes to Xi's anti-corruption campaign, and the 750,000 officials - of all ranks - who have so far been “punished".

Not to be left out, the state news agency, Xinhua, has turned to hip-hop. It recently released a cartoon video extolling party slogans.

Again they need to work on the lyrics. “It’s everyone’s dream to build a moderately prosperous society comprehensively ..."


OPINION: Curbing Chinese corruption


Professor Nathan says the videos are aimed at enhancing Xi's image as a calm and confident leader.

"He is creating a cult of personality around himself. He is dominating the media. He is putting out a sort of Maoist line of leadership where everyone has to line up with him."

Nathan believes Xi is now arguably the strongest leader the country has had since Chairman Mao. Quite an achievement for a president regarded as a reformer when he took power more than three years ago.

Last week Xi ordered the Communist party’s eight million members to study Mao’s 1949 guidelines on party discipline. In January China’s top presidential aide Li Zhanshu proclaimed that all Communist party agencies of ministerial level and above must have “absolute loyalty” to the party.

The president has also been zeroing in on the military after announcing sweeping reforms last year that amount to the biggest overhaul of the People’s Liberation Army. More than once since coming to office he has felt compelled to remind his top generals that allegiance to the party transcends all else.

Source: Al Jazeera