Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, October 30, 2017

Xi Jinping Thought

Tom Phillips, writing for The Guardian, has this analysis of the rise of Xi Jinping.

Xi Jinping becomes most powerful leader since Mao with China's change to constitution
The symbolic move came on the final day of a week-long political summit in Beijing…

“The congress unanimously agrees that Xi Jinping Thought … shall constitute [one of] the guides to action of the party in the party constitution,” a party resolution stated…

Some see the historic decision to enshrine Xi’s concept as a clear hint that he will seek to remain in power beyond the end of his second - and supposedly last - five-year term…

An even clearer indication of whether he is set on staying in power should come… when Xi introduces China’s new top ruling council, the politburo standing committee…

If the committee’s line-up - which is almost certain to be made up of seven men - includes no obvious successor, that would represent further proof that Xi plans to rule at least until 2027 and possibly beyond…

Bill Bishop, the publisher of the Sinocism newsletter on Chinese politics, said the birth of Xi Jinping Thought confirmed the rare levels of power and prestige enjoyed by its creator. “It means Xi is effectively unassailable … If you challenge Xi, you are challenging the party – and you never want to be against the party.”

Jude Blanchette, an expert in Chinese politics from New York’s Conference Board research group, said:… “If you tower above the party, then it is very difficult for anyone below you to decide they don’t want to implement your commands.”…

Bishop said two factors explained Xi’s emergence as one of the most dominant figures in modern Chinese history. One was the 64-year-old’s own ambition. “Xi is sort of a Chinese Machiavelli”, who grew up in a revolutionary family hearing tales of Mao’s legendary political manoeuvrings. “A lot of that stuff must have sunk in,” Bishop said.

But Xi’s rise also reflected a broader consensus within the party that a strongman was needed to help China avoid a Soviet-style collapse. In 2012, on the eve of Xi taking power, Bishop said there had been a sense among China’s political elites that “if Xi didn’t clear things up, then the place was going to implode and the Communist party was done”.

Back then, a common refrain was: “Xi is our last hope.”…

In a triumphalist editorial… the party’s official news agency, Xinhua, said the advent of Xi Thought underlined how China was now rising “like never before”.

“China is set to regain its might and re-ascend to the top of the world,” it boasted. “Those expecting China to fall will be disappointed. Finger pointing and questioning the legitimacy of the Chinese way are of no avail. It is time to understand China’s path, because it appears it will continue to triumph.”…

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