February 28, 2018

Did We Just Acknowledge Birth of Chairman Xi?

A book about Chinese President Xi Jinping entitled "The Governance of China" is seen on display at a bookstore in Beijing on February 28, 2018.
A book about Chinese President Xi Jinping entitled "The Governance of China" is seen on display at a bookstore in Beijing on February 28, 2018.

Last Sunday, it was announced that China will drop term limits on presidency at this year’s lianghui meeting held annually in Beijing.

It has become now abundantly clear that the way for President Xi to rule China indefinitely is open and it will be nailed into constitution of People’s Republic of China (PRC). But that is where the problems begin.

Xi Jinping is not immortal. The amended constitution doesn’t only apply for Xi’s term, but also for the future leaders. The Question now rises, after unlimited presidential service timeframe, different cliques inside the party are probably more eager to use whatever tactics to fight their way out into the top, where they can enjoy 20-30 years of strongman power. In short, this means that in the future China may be plagued by intense power struggles to find the next new strongman.

“Has Xi Jinping thought what will come after him?”

Probably yes. But his vision remains focused on achieving a lasting political legacy – the ‘New Era’ . The Chinese Central Television CCTV has already begun broadcasting the lianghui meeting, which runs into next week. Media reporting has indicated that the central theme of this year’s meeting will be ‘the New Era.’ The term itself was likely coined by Wang Huning, the current First Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, but it seems likely that brain behind the plan is Xi Jinping. In short, ‘New Era’ hopes to bring China back to his righteous position on the world arena before PRC 100th anniversary in 2049.

Other hallmarks of the New Era will include modern army, prosperous economy, consolidation of the role of the communist party the soul political entity in China, assertive foreign policy, control over disputed geographical areas and successful implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative. The aim of this plan is to bring Asia as much as possible under Chinese standards (called guobiao or just GB) and to foster dependency on factories in China. As well as means exporting Chinese standards (called GB, guobiao) to most over Asia and China seeks to link these countries more closely to established maritime trade routes and industry.

As 2049 is still many years away, the mass of China’s strategic plan for itself is monolithic. If term limits had been maintained, Xi Jinping would have had to over power in 2023 at the lianghui meeting. For the successful implementation of New Era plan, one needs much longer time than mere 5 years. Xi Jinping seems to sincerely believe he is the chosen emperor, chairman, and president who will put China back on map and for this patriotic plan he needs indefinite power. Quite sure, many won’t agree with him and that was the reason behind the step to promulgate his will to stay in power before beginning of his second term. Often the second term the period is characterized by intense behind-the-scene power struggles as competitors attempt to secure their political futures. For now there is nothing to fight for, at least not for a while.

In English language media, Xi Jinping is called President, but in Chinese he is always the Chairman, same term that was used for Mao Zedong. In terms of leader of China, it seems it is time to switch back to Chairman again. Xi’s China is about to come. It likely means many great business opportunities, but at the same time brings very unconvenient player to next door.