Rise of China’s paramount leader Xi
October 16, 2022 - Xi Jinping is expected to extend his presidency for another five years -- or more -- at the Communist Party Congress, becoming China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.
The twice-a-decade congress, which starts on Sunday (October 16), comes as Xi prepares to claim a ground-breaking third term as leader of a nation of 1.4 billion people. Xi’s dominance over the party since he came to power in 2012 -- he was named “core” leader of the Chinese Communist Party in 2016 -- has made it much harder for China to control the whims of its leader.
In their new biography of the Chinese leader, “Xi Jinping: The Most Powerful Man in the World.” Stefan Aust and Adrian Geiges discuss the personality cult surrounding Xi. “For example, zealous provincial officials have been demanding that Christian churches replace images of Jesus with portraits of Xi Jinping.”
Critics cite Xi’s policy blunders. The government’s food security policy has forced farmers to abandon profitable agribusinesses to grow basic staples. The move follows the 2018 trade war with the U.S., during which Xi’s administration slapped retaliatory tariffs on American wheat, soybeans and other agricultural commodities.
Xi’s zero-Covid policy has been enforced brutally by officials. Attempts to control the debt-driven property bubble and restrain private sector technology companies have disrupted two of China’s most important growth engines.
“The tech companies, and Alibaba in particular, were on the government’s radar because they got so big,” says one Shanghai-based technology investor.
Xi’s crackdown on Hong Kong and increased pressure to seize Taiwan have intensified tensions with the West. Chinese access to U.S. semiconductors and other components is now restricted.
Rejecting criticism, Victor Gao, a former Chinese diplomat, argues that China needs a paramount leader. “The party is more united than ever… China needs a strong leader who does not cave in to pressure from foreign countries and can stand up and assert China’s national interests on the global stage ” Gao said.