Thursday, October 26, 2017

Xi Jinping follows in Putin's footsteps

The general secretary of the Communist Party, and president, of China Xi Jinping was initially chosen as a compromise by the Central Committee and Party delegates in 2012. It was a compromise between the desire to stay close to the Communist ideals and the desire to capitalize on the modern era reality that China has become a global economic power to be reckoned with.

But this son of an elite founding member of China's Communist Party, who has taken many twists and turns along his way to the top, is anything but a compromising figure. Throughout his first term as the general secretary, he has shown his willingness to dispose of the government of years past, instill a unified economic identity, continue to censor outside world, as well as cement his place in China's history books.

Soon after his father was imprisoned for being vocal and confrontational within China's Communist Party, the teenager Xi Jinping found himself target of the scorn of many of his peers and authorities that now viewed his family in a negative light. He learned his first lesson from his father - that being vocal in opposition to authority is an approach that doesn't achieve the desired result in China. So he immersed himself in his studies, went to the farm lands to perform manual labor with the country's peasant population. This was the call of Mao Zedong to all of China's population living in large cities.

This experience toughened up the young Xi and he soon found himself accepted as a member of the Communist Party, despite his father's tainted legacy. He began to establish a network of influential party members that would turn out to be his main support base in his pursuit for the top of the party hierarchy. He finally achieved that goal in 2012, when he was selected as the new general secretary of the Communist Party.

His actions after he took power in China, mimic those of the actions taken by Vladimir Putin, when he was elected to the reigns in Russia in 2000. A house cleaning of all the corrupt officials and a crackdown on unwritten, but previously accepted, bribe to conduct business policy. Just like Putin, Xi Jinping dismissed and imprisoned former long standing security and economic officials, that may have presented obstacles to his policies and vision. And just like Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping did it all under the guise of performing a service to the country and upholding the moral high ground for which every man, woman, and child should strive.

Xi Jinping, in a remarkably similar fashion to Putin, was able to consolidate power by antagonizing elements within the ruling party, and within China, which would have stood in his way of making unilateral decision on their behalf. This was something Vladimir Putin coined the "verticals of power" a decade earlier.

Unlike Russia, China does not have democratically elected leaders. Xi Jinping does not need the same trick that Putin used from 2008 through 2012, when Putin served as Russia's Prime Minister, to side step consecutive term limit law. Xi Jinping's continuity in power solely depends on the Communist Party election every five years. So this year, he brought down the hammer.

Having already brushed aside many of his potential opponents early on in his reign, he has now enshrined his name and ideology into the Chinese constitution. The "Xi Jinping Thought for the Modern Era with Chinese Characteristics" is an ideology that has been unanimously adopted by the Party Congress and has now been written into the constitution. With no apparent understudy declared to take over for him in the future, this new Mao-degree status paces the way for Xi Jinping to rule for decades without any significant opposition.

While Xi Jinping certainly started by following Vladimir Putin's blueprint for the consolidation of power, he has since then surpassed it. Xi Jinping doesn't have any real opposition within the country at this point in time, while Vladimir Putin's opposition keeps growing. But that is largely due in part to Russia's remaining free press coverage and recent economic woes. Neither of theses factors are present in China.

Will Xi Jinping rule China until his death? Does the economic trouble that has forced the Russian people to re-evaluate its leadership have a chance to do the same in China? Leave me your thoughts and questions in the comments below.

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