He has ambitious plans for fulfilling his Chinese Dream and Chinese miracle. Xi’s China is a Marxist dictatorship.
Earlier in the week I read an engrossing and vitally significant book, Inside the Mind of Xi Jinping by François Bougon. He lived in China as correspondent both of Le Monde and Agence France-Presse. He speaks Chinese with considerable fluency.
Communist China is now ruled by its fifth generation leadership. Mao Zedong belonged to the first generation. Deng Xiaoping belonged to the second generation, Jiang Zemin the third, Hu Jintao the fourth. Xi the fifth.
Like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, Xi Jinping, for all purposes will remain at the helm for the rest of his life. Xi Jinping’s power and authority match that of Mao and Deng. Like Mao Zedong, Xi Jinping is a voracious reader. Mao read Marx and Lenin and ancient Chinese classics. He wrote a great deal, mainly on political subjects. His selected works are not an easy read, but for a Chinese Communist these are required reading. His Little Red Book, which came out during the Cultural Revolution sold 500 million copies.
Xi Jinping, apart from the required Marxist literature, reads Russian, English, French, German and American literature. I give a few names: Pushkin, Tolstoy, Voltaire, Rousseau, Sartre, Victor Hugo, Flaubert, Goethe, Kant, Hegel. He is much taken by Ernest Hemingway of whom he wrote, “I was must captivated by The Old Man and the Sea (Hemingway received the Nobel Prize for literature for the book in 1954) and its descriptions of the howling wind, the pouring rain, the roaring waves, the little boat, the old man and the sharks. So when I visited Cuba fort the first time, I went especially to the Cajamar dam where Hemingway wrote the book.”
One of Xi Jinping’s great admirers was Lee Kuan Yew, the maker of modern Singapore. Lee observed, “He has his own mind, he has experienced much and gone through many a difficult period. He spent seven years in the countryside, then eighteen years in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, before going to Shanghai. I would put him in Nelson Mandela’s class of people. A person with enormous emotional stability, who does not allow his personal misfortunes or sufferings to affect his ‘judgment’.”
Xi has ambitious plans for fulfilling his Chinese Dream and Chinese miracle. He believes that by 2021, the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, the country will “have overtaken its rivals thanks to the emergence of a well-to-do society.
“By 2049, the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the nation will be a modern, prosperous, powerful, democratic, civilized and harmonious socialist country.”
The breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 came as a shock to China. There would be no Chinese Gorbachev, who was a man in a hurry. There would be a Marxist China with Chinese characteristics.
Xi uses the teachings of Mao wisely, e.g: the “three rules of discipline” for the soldiers of the PLA—People’s Liberation Army. One, obey orders in your actions. Two, don’t take anything from workers and peasants. Three, turn in all things captured. Xi also invokes Mao’s eight points which are practical and well known.
Mao Zedong ruled from 1949 to 1976. He had been supreme leader since 1935. After 1949, his movements, tours and travel were kept secret. Not so with Xi; his movements are well publicised. He has observed: “Inspection tours which are a mere formality should be strictly prohibited. During such visits, there must be no welcome banner, no red carpet, no floral arrangements or grand receptions for officials.” Efficiency and simplicity are emphasised.
In Xi’s China, there is no de-Maoisation nor Mao deification. Xi “wishes to combine three traditions; (i) that of Mao, father of the nation, (ii) that of his own father, (iii) the traditional culture Xi praises.”
Mao despised Confucius. Xi has brought him to centre stage. Xi has “placed him in the pantheon of great men and praises his intellectual qualities”.
The final chapter, “Xi-Ism” tells the reader what makes Xi Jinping tick and that he will face no serious challenge for some time to come. That may be so. Xi’s China is a Marxist dictatorship. No free speech. State controlled media. No free movement. No independent judiciary.
This is a book worth buying and well worth reading.