BEIJING, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- One November afternoon three years ago, Xi Jinping met an elderly woman while visiting a poor mountain village in central China's Hunan Province.
A ballad about their brief tete-a-tete, titled "Don't Know How Should I Address You?" after the question the farmer asked Xi when she first saw him, was a hit earlier this year.
Since taking the helm of China's ruling party four years ago, Xi has collected a string of new titles.
He is head of an array of "leading groups" overseeing areas such as China's economic development and national defense. He is commander-in-chief of a newly installed joint battle command center under the Central Military Commission. He is "Xi Dada" or "Papa Xi" on Chinese social networks.
But none carries the weight of his latest title: the "core" of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and its Central Committee.
The endorsement of Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, as the core leader at the sixth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in late October was perhaps the most attention-grabbing event of China's political calendar this year.
In a communique released after the October meeting that brought together high-ranking CPC officials in Beijing, the Party called on all its members to "closely unite around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core."
Being the core does not confer Xi any extra power. Still, analysts point out that the new position is key for China to keep itself and the Party on the right track of development, and it marks the turning of a new chapter in the long march toward achieving the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.
THE NEED FOR A CORE
The CPC, which turned 95 this year, has been the sole ruling party of New China since its founding in 1949.
In the nearly seven decades since, the country has managed to turn itself from a nation scarred by foreign aggression and civil war into the world's second-largest economy and a major player on the world stage.
The CPC's leadership proved pivotal in this epic transformation.
For any country or political party, having a core figure at the center of leadership is of vital importance to both state and party governance.
This is especially true for China, which boasts a population of over 1.3 billion, and for the CPC whose membership exceeds 88 million.
Without an authoritative, influential and experienced Party chief at its very core, the country and Party could fall flat in uniting the people and pooling wisdom to formulate and implement suitable policies.
As China enters the home stretch in building a "moderately prosperous society," identifying a core leader is more relevant than ever.
China has committed to the "two centenary goals," pegged to the 100th anniversaries of the CPC and the People's Republic of China.
By 2020, China's GDP and per-capita income should double from 2010 levels and the building of a moderately prosperous society should be completed. By the middle of this century, China should become a modern socialist country that is "prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious."
By drawing up an overall plan for promoting all-round socialist economic, political, cultural, social and ecological development, Xi is determined to lead his country toward the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation at a time when sustaining a fast rate of growth is becoming increasingly difficult.
While at it, he has also proposed the strategic layout of the "Four Comprehensives" and the philosophy of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development as engines of growth.
Today, China is one of the world's fastest growing major economies and a top trading body. It boasts a strong military of over 2 million and is the biggest contributor to international peacekeeping personnel among permanent members of the UN Security Council.
With inclusive programs such as the Belt and Road Initiative -- proposed by Xi and launched in 2013 -- and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), China has also shown that it is committed to connecting regions and countries while creating development opportunities for all.
The Chinese president's vision and ventures toward a fairer global governance system have also helped China create an open, inclusive and responsible image on the international stage.
Never before have the Chinese people been so close to realizing their dreams.
In an editorial published in late October, the CPC mouthpiece People's Daily hailed Xi's core status as of great importance to China and the CPC.
"China and the CPC ... need a core for the Party and its Central Committee, to bond the Party, to unite the people, to tide over the challenges and to continue to forge ahead," it read.