Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, September 26, 2014

Chairman Xi

President Xi in China seems to doing what Putin is doing in Russia. He's just not going so far back in his nation's history.

The power of Xi Jinping
[I]n China Xi Jinping’s common touch and courting of public opinion are a striking departure. Since Deng Xiaoping came to power in the late 1970s, the party has been extolling the virtues of “collective leadership”… Mr Xi is not only jettisoning long-established convention; he is dismantling the very system of collective rule.

Since becoming military chief and general secretary of the Communist Party in November 2012 and president in March 2013, Mr Xi has been sending a clear message that the country is not just ruled by a faceless party—it is ruled by a man…

These changes in style hint at a profound shift in the nature of Chinese politics. Even as he plays to the public gallery, Mr Xi is tightening his grip on power among the elite. He has added a new layer of authority at the top, taken command of numerous committees, and now personally supervises overall government reform, finance, the overhaul of the armed forces and cyber-security. Always small, the number of decision-makers is shrinking further…

He does not want anyone to threaten his power in the way his predecessor, Hu Jintao, was overshadowed by Zhou Yongkang, a member of the Standing Committee who was in charge of the entire law-enforcement apparatus, from the police and secret police to the judiciary. Mr Xi is trying to eliminate all vestiges of Mr Zhou’s influence. Mr Zhou, who retired when Mr Xi took over, is now being investigated for corruption…

Beijing souvenir
At 61, Mr Xi is the first leader to be born after Mao seized power. He is a “princeling”, the privileged child of a revolutionary figure. But in common with many Chinese, he suffered during Mao’s Cultural Revolution…

These are nothing like the days of fanatical Red Guards waving Mao’s “Little Red Book”, but party-backed adulation for Mr Xi has reached levels rarely experienced since the 1970s. In the first 18 months of Mr Xi’s leadership, his name appeared in the People’s Daily, the party’s mouthpiece, more often than in the comparable period of any other leader’s reign since Mao…

Mr Xi’s bid for popular acclaim, however, does not involve any attempt to shed the secrecy that surrounds the doings of the party elite…. He has tightened controls on online social networks and launched a sustained campaign against political dissent, including the rounding up of dozens of activists. Even those calling for officials to be more open about their wealth are being targeted…

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