XI expanding his rule



May 15, 2022

XI expanding his rule

Dr. Tahseen Mahmood Aslam looks at the rising ambitions of the Chinese ruler

In a curious evolution the communist rule that claimed egalitarianism as the corner stone of its spirit gave rise to dictatorial rule heavily dependent upon developing personality cult of the ruler in power. Both the large and powerful communist entities, the Soviet Union and China, successively were ruled by dictators portrayed as glorified icons dearly revered and loved by the people despite strong proofs to the contrary. In this context, it is pointed out that in the enigmatic process of wielding political power in China, Xi Jinping has manouevered to be placed alongside the Chinese cult figures of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. In historical context it was Chinese Communist Party’s third historical summation that has catapulted XI expanding his rule in the category of immortals during his lifetime.
Interestingly, the first two resolutions criticised the past to legitimise setting out on a brave new path forward. For Mao in 1945, it was the last nail in the coffin of his rivals for party leadership by exposing their leftist mistakes, which had almost brought the party to ruin. For Deng, the challenge was to break with the immediate disasters of the Great Leap Forward famine and the political turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, without discrediting Mao entirely and his success enabled China to move into the reform era.
Delineating the facts it has become quite clear that Xi Jinping is expected to officially expand his rule in China.The 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China is planned to be held in 2022 in which XI is widely expected to use the event to formally extend his rule for five more years or even more, something unseen since the times of Mao Zedong. It is reported that the Communist Party’s congress is participated in by 2,000 delegates every five years to elect the party’s general secretary, among other high-ranking government positions.
Deng Xiaoping introduced a system for an orderly succession in the 1980s to prevent a repeat of the turbulent, 27-year, one-man rule of Mao Zedong and Xi is aiming to bring the system to an end. It is conjectured that Xi Jinping is expected to either run for a third term as president or resurrect the title of party Chairman, something unseen in several decades that would virtually put him in the same league as Mao. It must be kept in view that in a historical resolution by the Chinese Communist Party in 2021 Xi was elevated to the same historical status as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
Xi Jinping hails from a political family and his father Xi Zhongxun was part of the earliest generation of Chinese Communist leadership. The elder Xi was considered a moderate within the party which carried him and his family many problems. The family was exiled and in the process provided the younger Xi an opportunity for detached examination of the political process and mould himself accordingly and he came into the political mainstream with renewed vigour and accordingly rose within the political apparatus in the following decades. Xi Jinping’s career saw him gradually inch up the political ladder and he succeeded Hu Jintao in 2012 as President of China, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and Chairman of the Central Military Commission making him the paramount leader of the country.
Unlike his predecessors, Xi Jinping has sought to break the tradition of a reserved, collective rule based on consensus over a personalistic leadership. Instead, Xi has redefined the Chinese government around himself. As the president he has developed a cult of personality and engineered a removal of term limits, thereby allowing him to become ruler for life. Xi Jinping has even managed to add his political thought within the Chinese Constitution that is extremely unusual even by Chinese standards. Removing term limits also breaks the generational renewal accustomed within the Chinese leadership. Instead of having younger, more modern Communist party members succeed him in 2022, Xi seeks to extend his rule for at least 5 more years and potentially for life.
Under Xi’s watch, the governmental policies and practices have solidified China’s place as a global superpower as the country surpassed the United States as the world’s biggest economy. The Chinese government launched The Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, a massive infrastructure project in over 70 countries. The project has been described as the backbone of China’s economic and geopolitical agenda. One drawback of Chinese phenomenal economic progress is that it is not accompanied by the promotion of human and social rights. Actually it is just the reverse of equity and fairplay compelling many to observe that Xi Jinping is methodically dismantling virtually every one of the reforms that made China’s spectacular growth possible over the last four decades.
Xi’s rule is also notorious from socio-political point of view as a tighter control of the media and the population has gone hand in hand with Xi’s taking more centralised approach to ruling China. Xi introduced in 2021 stricter media rules that range from limiting online game hours to banning effeminate men on TV. Moreover, under the guise of a strong, national identity, the central government has also cracked down on minority groups such as the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Xi has seen that his thought remains supreme and for this reason ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ has been included into the Chinese school curriculum. Among the 14 principles of Xi Jinping Thought is total rule of the party in every aspect of life. It also establishes that the Chinese dream is inseparable from a peaceful international environment and a stable international order.
Xi however is challenged by the West particularly the United States and there exists a kind of Cold War in which the tensions between America and China have considerably grown. Many observers however consider a conflict between the United States and China unlikely, since both countries still depend on each other economically. One of the areas of contention is the self-ruling territory of Taiwan that China officially regards as a breakaway province and has threatened to recover it through force. However, President Biden claimed in October 2021 that the United States would defend Taiwan in case China made the first strike on the island. This is a potential point of conflict and may become a serious source of friction in the coming times. The Chinese government has also developed over the last decade closer ties to Vladimir Putin and Russia.
However, the Chinese government has adopted a neutral, distant attitude to the war in Ukraine, seemingly leaving Russia alone to face sanctions from the United States, the European Union, and their allies. Maybe the backlash against Putin and his government’s attempt to occupy and maintain the Donbas region in Ukraine provides second thoughts on trying something similar with Taiwan. Nevertheless many observers are of the opinion that Xi’s position looks unassailable now and that the only thing that could virtually stop Xi Jinping is being forced to step down by the same political elite that have anointed him. With his political rivals neutralised and a tight control on Chinese society, nobody is sure for how long will Xi Jinping remain in power. What is certain is that Xi has already left a lasting effect around the world and will be remembered as one of the most important and influential leaders of modern China. TW

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Dr. Tahseen Mahmood Aslam is an educationist with wide experience


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