Pilgrimage to the Paulownia tree in Henan province is the latest sign of a personality cult being developed around the president

Tributes to the man now seen as China’s most powerful ruler since Mao have come in myriad forms: Xi Jinping tapestries, oil paintings, pop songs, exhibitions, university departments even.

Now he has received a hardwood homage with reports that senior Communist party officials have made a pilgrimage to a tree honouring their country’s increasingly supreme leader.

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