In modern Chinese politics, a leadership core or core leader (Chinese: 领导核心; pinyin: lǐngdǎo héxīn) refers to a person who is recognized as central to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Four individuals so far have been given this designation: Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Xi Jinping. The leader of the fourth generation, Hu Jintao, has never been referred to as core throughout his term as General Secretary. The designation is not a formal title and does not hold legal weight, but its use in official party documentation gives its holder a precisely defined place in theory on their relative standing to the rest of the CCP leadership. The leadership core operates as part of the Leninist concept of democratic centralism, and is intended to represent a vital center rather than a hierarchical peak, which differentiates it from the role of paramount leader. Although all core leaders have also been paramount leaders, not all paramount leaders are or have been designated 'leadership core'.
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