Xi Jinping’s “New Era” of China
By admin October 24, 2017

On October 18, the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) convened to set the tone for policymaking in the next five years, but this weeklong quinquennial party congress made of more than 2300 delegates will also largely be consolidating President Xi Jinping’s already enormous power. With nearly 400 members, about 70 percent, of the Central Committee having reached retirement age or having been purged for corruption, the congress will be electing the largest number of ruling elite positions since 1969, the height of the Cultural Revolution.

President Xi opened his address with the notion that China has entered a “new historic juncture,” where the “Chinese dream” is within reach, but it will take tremendous effort from the people and the leadership to achieve. This China Dream vision is one Mr. Xi has vigorously pursued since he took power in 2012, a great “rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” It is clear Mr. Xi envisions himself to lead the nation in achieving this goal, addressing rigorous policies to fight corruption, assert dominance in foreign policy, and promote the Communist party in all spheres of life. These three areas are evident and fundamental to his leadership.

Xi Jinping is the son of the revolutionary veteran Xi Zhongxun, one of the Communist Party’s founding fathers and a vice-premier. Due to his family’s prominent background, Mr. Xi was seen as a “princeling” child of the elite. However, this changed drastically when his father was purged in 1962 and at age 15, Xi was sent to the countryside for “re-education.” This consisted of hard labor in the remote and poor village of Kiangjiahe for seven years. Surprisingly, this experience did not prompt Mr. Xi to turn against the Party but embrace it. Initially rejected because of his father’s name, he finally was accepted in 1974, and he worked hard, rising from a local party secretary to party chief of Shanghai. His exceptional profile landed him a position into the Politburo Standing Committee, the highest decision-making committee within the Communist Party, historically composed of five to nine members. Xi was picked as President in 2012, a time that many believed collective leadership would shape China’s future – one that so far has been proven wrong with the authoritarian consolidation of power by President Xi.

Historically, the party congresses of the CPP used to be a mechanism for the division of power and spoils in moving China away from totalitarianism seen in Mao Zedong’s era. Thus, critics and some analysts see Mr. Xi’s move as an anomaly and likened him to becoming the next eternalized chairman after Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaopeng. Additionally, Mr. Xi is often criticized for the central government’s increasing clampdowns on freedoms, including online censorship and arrests of dissidents. Even so, Mr. Xi is thought to enjoy reasonably widespread support among ordinary Chinese citizens. Once the party’s congress disperses later this week, the world may be able to glean further clues about China’s internal direction depending on who is named to the Politburo Standing Committee.

Further Reading:

China’s President Xi Jinping

How Xi Jinping has dragged China backwards in political, economic liberalisation

Xi Jinping, China’s new revolutionary hero

China’s Reform Hopefuls Watch for Names. Only One May Matter.

China’s leader Xi Jinping declares the start of a “new era”

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