China widens personality cult around 'unrivaled helmsman' Xi

The village where he labored as a teen has become a shrine, a tree he planted an icon. State media applaud him endlessly, private businessmen praise his speeches and universities are devoting new departments to his theories.

At the start of his second five-year term as leader of China's ruling Communist Party, Xi Jinping is at the center of China's most colorful efforts to build a cult of personality since the death of the founder of the People's Republic, Mao Zedong, in 1976.

Efforts range from the trivial to the borderline hysterical, such as when state broadcaster China Central Television led its evening national news bulletin Friday with more than four minutes of uninterrupted clapping for Xi as he met with adoring citizens.