Xi Jinping emerges as China’s powerful leader
At China’s week-long event of the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] event in Beijing, it has been amply clear that President Xi Jinping is not only all set to get an unprecedented third term, but also emerge as the most powerful leader after Mao Zedong.
Mao Zedong Thought had been enshrined in the party charter while he was in office. That special honour now goes to President Xi who is the first leader since Mao to have his philosophy added to the constitution while in office. The party constitution has been amended to include President Xi’s ideology, called Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.
In fact, this is exactly what President Xi has been striving to attain. The amendment places Xi at par with Mao, thereby ensuring his continued and unquestioned political dominance for the next five years, and perhaps, beyond.
Chris Buckley, chief China correspondent for The New York Times states:
“Mr. Xi is already looking well beyond the next five years, trying to build a lasting edifice of power and policies. He is fleshing out his own creed and promoting cohorts of younger protégés, technocrats and military commanders who may advance his influence for decades.
About China’s autocratic model under Xi, Buckley adds:
“The evolution of Mr. Xi’s public face has paralleled his transformation of China into a proudly authoritarian state, scornful of criticism from Washington, increasingly sure that Western democracy has lost its allure, and impatient for a bigger say in shaping the 21st-century global order.”
Xi Jinping is willing to go to any extent to make China a Superpower. Keeping this objective in view, he has brought his own trusted and dependable persons into positions of powers, both in the party and the military. It is also stated that President Xi is reorganizing both economic and political decision-making to promote his larger goals and objectives. He has talked about “common prosperity” and has promised to improve the personal income tax system and keep income distribution, and the means of accumulating wealth, well-regulated.
Such language could have substantial implications for China’s wealthy elite. All the same, we cannot still be sure of the shape of things to come under the Xi regime. There are several unknown factors at play in the corridors of power. Amidst this setting, drastic changes are very much on the cards. Still, we do not exactly know the direction President Xi would give to his future plan of action. Take Taiwan for example; he has made it clear that though he would strive for a peaceful resolution of the island-nation, he would never renounce China’s right to use force to take over the Taiwan Strait. He has also warned against foreign interference in this regard.
Xi has emphasised that the State should play a bigger role in managing the Chinese economy. All the same, it is a harsh fact that China’s current economic picture is grim and Beijing’s policies are responsible for its economic woes. To what extent President Xi will be able to rejuvenate the Chinese economy is difficult to say despite his promises to promote development and welfare.
Xi seems to be more committed to Marxism than to the markets. True, he has moved left on the economic front by turning hostile to private capital and markets. This would be disquieting for the experts who expected China to become capitalist dressed in Marxist attire. However, that would be too much to expect from a country that still swears by Mao and his brand of leadership.
Xi Jinping may believe that his country needs more time to bring about the desired changes in tune with the Chinese Dream. One of the objectives that Xi’s Chinese Dream is premised on is the military capability of fighting and winning wars.¹ India on its part has to keep itself alert. We must never forget the 1962 confrontation, nor the recent dispute in Ladakh. We cannot afford to trust China and must not forget that certain historical events could be the source of warning. In fact, while reviewing the present in light of the past, learning about the past has to be done in the light of the present. Most importantly, India must not overlook Mao’s famous dictum of ‘signalling left, and turning right’. (SAT)
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