All hail Xi Jinping, the new ‘King of China’

A new revolution? The Economist described Xi Jinping as “the most powerful man in the world”.

Should we welcome China’s new era? After an extraordinary week, Xi Jinping has cemented his control of his vast country. But there are fears China is tilting back towards dictatorship.

Xi Jinping now stands as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. He was sworn in for a second term as General Secretary of the Communist Party and all-powerful leader of the world’s most populous nation.

He has not named a successor, leading many to predict that he will stay in power beyond 2022.

Speaking of his “extraordinary elevation”, Donald Trump praised Xi, saying: "Some might call him king of China."

Writing in The Spectator, Cindy Yu says that, once again, “a leadership personality cult is emerging in China”.

“Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” is now enshrined into the party’s constitution.

But what exactly is “Xi Thought”?

“Make China great again” is a central message. That goal already has guided Xi’s policies of building up the military and raising China’s global profile.

Xi divides China’s history since 1949 in two parts: Mao made China independent. Then came Deng Xiaoping, who made China prosperous. Now Xi wants to make China strong.

Adulation has always been heaped on China’s leaders. The country’s Confucius-inspired respect for authority led to its emperors being known as the “sons of heaven”.

Should we welcome China’s new era?

The great leap backwards?

Optimists say that only centralised authority can push through the reforms that are vital to China’s prospects. Xi has proven himself to be a considered statesman who understands the world’s problems. And it is reasonable for a country as big as China to have international ambitions.

Others fear that the prospects for democracy in China have never seemed so remote. Xi’s China purges political dissidents and now meddles abroad, all the while masking its abuses in the language of internationalism. Nobody should have as much power as Xi Jinping.

You Decide

  1. Do you welcome or fear a more powerful China?

Activities

  1. Class debate: “This house believes that Chinese should be compulsory in schools.”

Some People Say...

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

Confucius

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Earlier this week China’s Communist Party exalted President Xi Jinping to a similar status to that of Mao Zedong. His name and ideas have been written into the party’s constitution. Xi has not yet named a successor, suggesting he will be China’s leader for decades.
What do we not know?
Whether China will generally become a more free country under Xi, as many initially predicted.

Word Watch

Successor
For 25 years it has been the custom that no Chinese leader stays in power for more than a decade.
1949
On October 1st 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China after four years of civil war.
Deng Xiaoping
Deng’s economic views differed radically from those of Mao, and he is most remembered for opening China up to foreign investment.
Confucius
A philosopher of ancient China. His philosophy, known as Confucianism, emphasises personal morality, loyalty to family and respect for elders and traditions.

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