Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, October 01, 2018

Campaigning in China

Even if most people in China don't remember Mao Zedong, President Xi does and wants to invoke the populist image of Mao.

For Xi Jinping, Being a Man of the People Means Looking the Part
He held up stalks of wheat and made small talk with farmers. He stood side by side with workers at an oil plant and spoke of building an “invincible” China. He called for China to become more “self-reliant” in the face of a trade dispute with the United States…

It was a chance for Mr. Xi to put himself on a pedestal with Mao Zedong, to rekindle a populist image and to fire back at President Trump and “protectionist” policies.
Xi in Heilongjiang
Mr. Xi, who has been criticized for inspiring a personality cult with parallels to the Mao era, has taken note. In one image from his tour of a farm in Heilongjiang Province, Mr. Xi is shown under an idyllic blue sky, confidently stepping forward while an adoring crowd of farmers looks on.
Famous 1950's poster of Mao and peasants
The image is familiar. Its arrangement mimics the look and feel of painted propaganda posters from the 1950s, which often featured Mao mingling in bucolic settings.

“This is a visual sign not just of Xi’s current predominance, but of his claim to historic greatness,” said David Bandurski, co-director of the China Media Project, a research program affiliated with the University of Hong Kong…

Mr. Xi used his visit to reiterate calls for China to move more quickly to build its own technologies, so that it is less dependent on the United States. With trade tensions growing between the two countries and threatening supply chains, Mr. Xi has spoken frequently about the need for China to develop its own microchips, software and other technologies, part of its strategy to become a leading superpower of the 21st century…

“The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation depends on our economic competitiveness,” he said, using a favorite phrase to describe China’s rise, as a crowd of workers applauded feverishly. “Only then can China be forever invincible.”…

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