News You Really Need To See: “Chinese Politics: The Power of Xi Jinping”

“Chinese Politics: The Power of Xi Jinping”

The Economist, September 20-26, 2014, p.40

He pets calves, cups babies’ cheeks and kicks footballs.  He laughs and smiles in public. He holds his own umbrella, shuns a limousine, carries his own bowl of dumplings to a restaurant table and sits crossed-legged in a farmer’s hut.  His glamorous wife accompanies him on international tours; he stands tall and confident alongside world leaders.  Such behaviour is standard among modern politicians.  But in 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’ in which responsibilities are shared rather than concentrated in the hands of a capricious tyrant like Deng’s predecessor, Mao Zedong. … 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. … [P]arty-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, according to a study by the University of Hong Kong.”

Quickie Analysis:  A very good piece on China’s leader and how he is changing Chinese politics.

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