You can clap now: Xi Jinping can rule China for a long time after the country’s rubber-stamp
When Xi Jinping came to the helm of China in 2012, some saw the promise of political liberalization of the regime, but hope evaporated as he consolidated his power and tightened the grip of power. Communist Party on the country.
With the abolition of the term of two presidential terms, voted Sunday by the Chinese parliament, Xi can remain at the top of the state as much as he wants, becoming the most powerful leader of China since its founder Mao Tse-tung.
Few had expected five years ago for such a scenario.
„Xi is going to be the spearhead of a burst of economic reforms and probably a political easing,“ predicted in January 2013 the journalist Nicholas Kristof in the columns of the newspaper New York Times. „Under his mandate, Mao’s body will be removed (from the mausoleum) from Tiananmen Square (Beijing) and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo will be released,“ he predicted.
But Mao’s embalmed body is still venerated in Tiananmen, Democratic activist Liu Xiaobo died of cancer in detention, and arrests of lawyers and human rights defenders are multiplying …
Like Kristof, many observers lent liberal sympathies to Xi Jinping, who had seen his family crushed by the Maoist purges and sent his daughter to study at Harvard American University.
„But + Xi the reformer + was a chimera (…) An imaginary construction that was never going to materialize“, explains to AFP Kerry Brown, sinologist at King’s College in London, recalling that such an illusion had also surrounded his predecessor Hu Jintao.
– ‚Self-satisfaction‘ –
In 2012, when Xi Jinping became General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the environment seemed propitious: social networks encouraged public debate, the economy opened up, lawyers opposed the excesses of the authorities, the village from Wukan (south) was granted a democratic local election.
Today, things have changed dramatically: the internet, private companies, dissident intellectuals and the village of Wukan have all been regained by the regime.
„It was taking our dreams for realities, there was a lot of self-satisfaction to consider that the West was a model“ economic and political, sighs David Kelly, China Policy researcher, based in the Chinese capital.
Misperception: From Beijing’s point of view, „after the global financial crisis (of 2008), China could boast of being the last rock (in the storm) when the West had seen its institutions sink.“
Xi has overseen a sweeping crackdown on civil society
At the time, „I had little reason to imagine that Xi would try to adjust + the regular schedule of his succession,“ said Daniel Piccuta, former top US diplomat in Beijing.
In fact, when he was nominated as the party’s boss in Shanghai in 2007, „he was a compromise candidate“ for the CCP’s governing body, who thought it would not „threaten their interests,“ according to a memo from the American embassy written at the time, citing Chinese sources internal to the Party.
„Xi was chosen because he was perceived as a very dull and mediocre person who played collectively,“ said Hong Kong political analyst Willy Lam.
Wrong prediction: at the helm, Xi Jinping engages in a vast anti-corruption campaign that has already sanctioned 1.5 million executives and also allowed him to dismiss political opponents.
– An Xi dynasty? –
The removal of the limitation of presidential terms „is a kind of coup“, but it remains difficult to explain the exact motivations, said David Kelly, pointing to the „opacity“ of the regime.
Chinese parliamentarians argued that Xi Jinping needed time to complete his reforms and anti-corruption campaign.
„For some, this provides a guarantee of + continuity + in Beijing, but there will also be aftershocks and disillusionment, in China and abroad, among the liberals as well as optimists in favor of the regime,“ warns Fei ling Wang, expert at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States.
As for Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, he is risking new predictions.
„The imperial system did not work so well under the Qing,“ the last Chinese dynasty, criticized for its authoritarianism, mismanagement and collapsed in 1911, he wrote on Twitter. „I sense that a Xi dynasty will make the same mistakes“.