Xi Jinping: The Chinese President and the Communist Party - Seeker's Thoughts

Recent Posts

Seeker's Thoughts

A blog for the curious and the creative.

Xi Jinping: The Chinese President and the Communist Party

In his first term, Xi initiated an aggressive campaign against official corruption and Party insubordination, in an attempt to protect China from various threats such as economic inequality; pollution; unrest in Hong Kong and Xinjiang; and diminishing respect for the Party.



At the Nineteenth Party Congress held in October 2017, he broke with tradition by not nominating an heir apparent. Instead, he concentrated power in himself.


What is Xi Jinping?


Xi Jinping, born to a revolutionary leader, endured both the Cultural Revolution and China's economic boom as an innocent victim before rising to become President 10 years ago. Now at age 69, Jinping has strengthened state control of both economic activity and society as one of China's most powerful leaders of modern times.


He rose to power over three decades, tightening state control of economy and society while pushing a robust foreign and defense policy. He is widely credited with raising China's international standing and positioning it as a world superpower.


Self-confident and astute, he can be found equally at ease among struggling farmers or in foreign capitals. State media have even called him a 'Chinese Renaissance Man' due to his ability to navigate both fields simultaneously.


As a mark of his authority, in 2017 China's Communist Party included his philosophy - known as "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era" - as part of its constitution, elevating him alongside former party founder Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, who instituted economic reforms during the 1980s. This document has become part of China's future development plan and can serve as guidance towards reaching advanced nation status.


He has also advocated for an anti-corruption campaign and amassed power. As leader of the Communist Party, he can appoint all cabinet ministers and other government officials directly. Additionally, he has revised laws and regulations to strengthen its role and increase his own personal power and influence.


He has expanded China's global reach, engaging in an economic trade war with the US and increasing its hold over Hong Kong. Human rights groups have voiced criticism against his administration's crackdown on Muslims in Xinjiang region; critics accuse it of engaging in genocide as it fights terrorist attacks; while his administration also backs efforts to reclaim disputed territory in South China Sea.


How did Xi Jinping become President of China?


China's ruling elite is organized in a hierarchical structure. Xi Jinping was born into it; his father, Xi Zhongxun, once served as deputy prime minister under Mao Zedong and was an early supporter of Mao's revolutionary ideology; but during the Cultural Revolution his father was imprisoned, leaving Xi to grow up poor in rural Shaanxi province before joining the Communist Youth League and supporting Mao's revolutionary doctrine fervently.


In 1982, Xi was appointed a rural official. However, his privileged upbringing wasn't appreciated by his local peers who saw him as a threat to their own ambitions. But over time he earned himself a reputation as both an effective administrator and dedicated party worker; being reelected three times to provincial government and rising from deputy county secretary position all the way up to head of horse-car county position in total.


As his star rose, Xi was also groomed for higher offices by the Party headquarters in Beijing; however, he realized that in order to achieve power at the top he needed to return to rural areas in order to broaden his network of loyal followers and less reliant upon Party leaders from Beijing.


By 2016, he had earned enough prestige to become a core leader of the Communist Party, traditionally reserved for Mao or Deng's close followers. He was appointed vice president, chairman of the Central Military Commission and general secretary before being honored with inclusion into its constitution - something previously reserved only for Mao or Deng - allowing him to circumvent term limits for further terms in office.


Xi Jinping stands out among his predecessors by understanding the need to modernize China, including its world's second largest economy. While serving as governor of Zhejiang province in 2002, he created policies encouraging private businesses. When an alleged corruption scandal involved former President Jiang Zemin from 1989 until 2002 was revealed, Xi used socialist incantations to soothe conservatives.


What is Xi Jinping's Vision for China?


As Xi begins his third five-year term as general secretary of the Communist Party and solidifies his power, his vision for China's future remains clear: to become a great power on par with America.


To realize his dream, President Xi is focusing on strengthening both the economy and his political control of China's bureaucracy. To this end, there has been an aggressive crackdown on freewheeling sectors of the economy such as online platforms and for-profit education as well as tightened restrictions on foreign investment in China; this has caused urban unemployment as well as diminishing consumer trust which threaten growth.


He has also escalated tensions with the United States over Taiwan, seeing it as a key test of his leadership credentials as China prepares to undergo its leadership transition and Nineteenth Party Congress this year. Tensions across the strait have increased substantially with military drills conducted on both sides and incursions by Chinese air aircraft into Taiwan's designated air defense identification zone by Chinese aircraft.


Finally, Xi is working to strengthen China's international profile through more assertive approaches to issues, including trade and the South China Sea. He is also taking aggressive steps in Xinjiang where his government has unleashed a campaign of religious and social oppression which some have termed genocide.


Xi's new top policy body confirms his vision of one country, ideology, party and leader by selecting his proteges and proven loyalists as members of its membership. Xi appears confident of his vision but worried about potential threats to his grip on power; politics comes before economic management while anti-China forces are blamed for policy failures. Achieving his goal of an economically vibrant China may take much work - it remains unclear if China can ever attain it.


What is Xi Jinping's Strategy for China?


Since China's rise to global power, its leadership has pursued multiple national security and geostrategic goals that often converge into an orderly hierarchy of geographically-rooted priorities that reflect China's long imperial history. These priorities extend to various international institutional arrangements as well as everyday lives around the globe.


According to his own words, Xi Jinping is a long-term strategist focused on the larger picture. His strategy seeks to strengthen political authority and economic legitimacy at home while expanding China's international presence abroad and protecting what the Party considers its core interests from challenges.


The Chinese leadership's guiding vision is one of making China an "all-round winner," which requires taking an integrated approach to economic, national security and foreign policies that goes beyond GDP growth alone. Therefore, under Xi's government significant constitutional amendments have been made; an all-level national security agency was formed; major new initiatives launched and international cooperation expanded significantly.


These policies aim to address three underlying public contracts that have come under strain over time. The first contract involves trading economic opportunity for accepting restrained politics; however, this agreement has come under pressure in light of growing public expectations that parties can deliver something other than growth alone as well as mounting popular discontent.


Another contract between the Party and public lies within economic affairs, between economic growth and state ownership of key sectors. Unfortunately, this agreement is under threat due to rising inequality and an inability to create enough jobs to keep pace with population growth. Furthermore, it is being further undermined by efforts to increase private sector participation in key services, natural and strategic sectors; all part of Xi's grand strategy for greater control of the economy.


The 2022 Central Economic Work Conference report, outlining the Party's priorities for the coming year, is less ideological than previous ones and includes multiple references to "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics." Furthermore, it calls for more centralized and rigorous management of state enterprises while upholding longstanding ideology that rent seeking will be key to economic success.


No comments:

Post a Comment