- XI DID NOT GET ALL HE WANTED: Contrary to state propaganda, Xi Jinping did not get all he wanted at the just-finished 19th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress.
"It is true that the President and party General Secretary has been elevated in the pantheon of CCP leaders to almost the same level as Mao Zedong. "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" was enshrined in the Party Constitution even though his two predecessors, former presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, failed to have their names inserted into the charter. However, Xi's first preference was that his guiding principles for the party be summarised simply as "Xi Jinping Thought", which would carry the same weight and stature as "Mao Zedong Thought.””
- A FACADE OF DIVERSITY AND FACTIONAL BALANCE: MOREOVER, a factional analysis of the seven members of the new Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) shows that Xi, who last year gained the title of "core leader", was forced to at least present a facade of diversity and factional balance.
- Two of the seven PBSC members, Premier Li Keqiang and Vice-Premier Wang Yang (who will become chairman of the advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference) are senior members of the Communist Youth League (CYL) Faction led by ex-president Hu. Shanghai Party Secretary Han Zheng, whose new job is Executive Vice-Premier, used to have close association with the Shanghai Faction led by ex-president Jiang.
- FIRST AMONG EQUALS, XI CANNOT ALWAYS RULE BY DIKTAT AS THE GREAT HELMSMAN MAO USED TO DO. :It is true that soon after his ascendancy at the 18th Party Congress, Xi had thoroughly overturned the collective-leadership model put together by master reformer Deng Xiaoping. While the General Secretary under Deng's system was but first among equals within the PBSC, Xi has towered over all his colleagues in this top ruling organ. The mere presence of representatives of other factions in the PBSC, however, means that Xi cannot always rule by diktat as the Great Helmsman Mao used to do."
- THE RETURN OF MAO'S UNCHECKED ONE-MAN RULE ANATHEMA TO MANY PARTY MEMBERS AND MOST CHINESE CITIZENS. THIS is particularly so given that Xi is embarking on a goal that is anathema to many party members and most Chinese citizens – the return of Mao's unchecked one-man rule. One jarring feature of the PBSC membership is that Xi has again departed from convention by not promoting any younger-generation cadres to the supreme ruling body. There would be no passing of the baton at the 20th Party Congress in 2022, meaning that Xi will at least remain paramount leader until the 21st Party Congress in 2027.
- XI AIMS TO STAY AS UNCHALLENGED LEADER FOR SOME 20 YEARS: "INDEED:, Beijing's political circles are rife with speculation that Xi aims to stay as unchallenged leader for some 20 years, that is, until the 22nd Party Congress in 2032, when he will be 79.
- BUILDING UP HIS OWN CLIQUE: Xi’s greatest achievement to date is not reform or policy innovation but building up his own clique, the Xi Jinping Faction. The faction has dominated the Party Central Committee of 204 members and the 25-member Politburo. The influence of the Shanghai faction and the CYL faction has been significantly curtailed. Given that most of these Xi faction neophytes owe their promotion to Xi, they would have no objection to the core leader's aspiration to being "emperor for life".
- CCP NOT MONOLITHIC; XI HAS MADE A TREMENDOUS NUMBER OF ENEMIES THROUGH HIS MACHIAVELLIAN USE OF THE ANTI-CORRUPTION CAMPAIGN: "Yet the CCP, which has 90 million members from disparate backgrounds, is not a monolithic party. Apart from alienating members of rival factions, Xi has made a tremendous number of enemies through his Machiavellian use of the anti-corruption campaign to eliminate or intimidate cadres who refuse to show full fealty to him. Right now, these anti-Xi elements are lying low; but they could suddenly regroup and pounce on Xi should the latter make a terrible foreign or domestic mistake.
- XI'S GOAL IS TO RENDER CHINA INTO A "GREAT MODERN SOCIALIST COUNTRY" BY OR BEFORE THE YEAR 2050, WHEREBY THE MIDDLE KINGDOM WILL HAVE EMERGED AS A FULL-FLEDGED SUPERPOWER CAPABLE OF CHALLENGING THE US AT EVERY TURN: NEW-era socialism. Take "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era", for example. Not unlike Xi's better-known mantra the Chinese Dream, "new-era socialism" carries heavy nationalistic if not xenophobic overtones. Xi's goal is to render China into a "great modern socialist country" by or before the year 2050, whereby the Middle Kingdom will have emerged as a full-fledged superpower capable of challenging the US at every turn. As Xi noted last week, his administration would "comprehensively push forward major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, so as to usher in a multi-directional, multi-faceted, and three-dimensional diplomatic arrangement”.
- THE FACT THAT XI CITED AS ONE OF THE PAST FIVE YEARS' KEY ACHIEVEMENTS CHINA'S CONSTRUCTION OF NAVAL BASES ON DISPUTED ISLETS IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA SHOWS THAT HIS TEAM WILL ADOPT MORE AGGRESSIVE MEASURES TO MARGINALISE AMERICAN INFLUENCE IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC.
- SHOULD XI GET INTO AN UGLY CONFRONTATION WITH THE US IN SAY, THE SOUTH CHINA SEA – AND SHOULD THE MAOIST DICTATOR BE SEEN AS FAILING TO STAND UP TO THE AMERICANS – HE MIGHT LOSE NOT ONLY FACE BUT ALSO POWER: "The probability of Xi making an error in domestic as well as foreign affairs is in direct proportion to the unrestrained powers that he may exercise. As respected party historian Zhang Lifan pointed out: "Xi wants to dictate all policies. And if he were to make a major mistake, nobody and no institutions would be able to rectify the blunder." Nationalism is a double-edged sword. Should Xi get into an ugly confrontation with the US in say, the South China Sea – and should the Maoist dictator be seen as failing to stand up to the Americans – he might lose not only face but also power. His legions of enemies could seize the opportunity to oust him – or at least to deny him the feudalistic dream of being monarch for life."
Willy Lam is an adjunct professor in the history department and the Centre for China Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Read more: http://www.afr.com/opinion/columnists/xi-jinping-emperor-with-feet-of-clay-20171026-gz9aa7#ixzz4wo9bstmD
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