‘The Chinese Dream’ and Xi Jinping’s power politics

‘The Chinese Dream’ and Xi Jinping’s power politics

  • China’s leader Xi Jinping ends 2017 in an unassailable position of power, having consolidated his grip over the Communist Party and state. Xi’s ultimate goal is to transform China into a global superpower.

China’s President and Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping has managed to tighten his hold over the party and state this year. This was in full display during the 19th congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held in October, when the 64-year-old president won a second five-year term as leader.    

Some believe Xi might seek a third term as general secretary (or as party chairman) in 2022, which would allow him to remain at the helm until 2027. So far, no CPC general secretary has held that post for more than two terms, even if the party charter does not impose term limits. 

Adding fuel to the speculation is the fact that no potential successor to Xi was named in the new Politburo Standing Committee

While Xi had already positioned himself as the “core” leader of the CPC, the party congress also enshrined the president’s political philosophy – dubbed “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” – in the country’s constitution.

The move was, in fact, not unusual, experts say. “As always, the party congress has adopted changes to the constitution to incorporate the ideological inclinations of the incumbent leader and praise them as a great development of Marxism,” China analyst Felix Wemheuer told DW.

The inclusion of Xi’s name into the constitution accorded him a higher status than his two immediate predecessors, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin.

“But Xi’s ideas have not been put on the same level as Mao Zedong’s ideas,” said Wemheuer.

Mao’s thoughts are viewed as something that are valid for all times, while Xi’s are regarded as relevant only to the current era of the CPC, observers say.

Continued anti-graft campaign

For Xi, having a strong CPC is indispensable for a “reinvigorated China,” which features constantly in the president’s speeches. The massive anti-corruption campaign undertaken under Xi’s leadership is also aimed at achieving this objective.

According to official numbers published in the South China Morning Post, since 2012, China’s anti-graft body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), has ousted over 250 senior officials from the CPC and the military. Up to two million lower-level officials have also been investigated.

But critics say that corruption is so ingrained in Chinese political culture that Xi’s claims of a widespread reduction in corruption have been superficial. And whether or not the crackdown has led to an actual reduction in graft is difficult to observe, even though Xi’s detractors say the campaign helped him purge his political opponents. 

2017 marks the fifth year since the anti-graft drive began.