- When Xi Jinping was elected the leader of China and the Communist Party five years ago, many had predicted that he would become the most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping, the architect of the country’s economic rise. They may be wrong. With the 19th party congress, which concluded on Tuesday and has written his name and ideas into the party constitution, Mr. Xi now appears to be the strongest leader since Mao Zedong.
- This amassing of Mao-like powers could also allow Mr. Xi to stay in power beyond the usual two terms. Two of Mr. Xi’s predecessors had stepped down after two terms to ensure an orderly transition in the party and the government, where there is no dearth of talented and ambitious leaders. The practice has been for the mid-term party congress to choose the likely successor of the incumbent and groom him over five years to eventually take over the reins. However, the party doesn’t seem to have chosen anyone this time. All five new faces in the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, the highest decision-making body in China, are in their 60s, which lends credence to speculation that Mr. Xi is not planning to step down when his second term ends in 2022. Even if he does step down from the government, given the stature he has already achieved within the party, he could retain a Deng-like sway over policy matters.
- In Mr. Xi’s world view, China has passed two eras — the revolutionary era launched by Mao and the economic reforms spearheaded by Deng. The “Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a New Era” that has been written into the party charter marks “a new era”. This one is about making China economically stronger and geopolitically more influential. In his three-and-a-half-hour speech at the congress, Mr. Xi placed great emphasis on strengthening the military and resisting “the whole range of erroneous viewpoints”. The message is that the era of “peaceful rise” is over. The more combative foreign policy Mr. Xi’s administration is pursuing will continue, perhaps more aggressively, while at home he will consolidate more power. But this doesn’t mean it will be a cakewalk. If China takes a more aggressive, militaristic view of its neighbourhood, it could trigger an aggressive response from neighbours such as India and Japan. North Korea remains as much a foreign policy problem for Mr. Xi as for President Donald Trump. China’s export-oriented economy is still not free from the global economic whirlwinds. Mr. Xi will have to factor in global market concerns while taking key economic decisions at home. Besides, though the transition in the Communist Party has been orderly at least in the last 30 years, it was not free from troubles. Mr. Xi would be mindful of how he projects his own power, lest it triggers a backlash. The challenge before him is to find a balance between his ambitions and the realities that China confronts today.
Predicted: say or estimate that a specified thing will happen in the future or will be a consequence of something.
Example: It is too early to predict a result
Synonyms: forecast, foretell, foresee, prophesy, anticipate, tell in advance
Amassing: gather together or accumulate a large amount or number of valuable material or things over a period of time.
Example: Starting from nothing he had amassed a huge fortune
Synonyms: gather, collect, assemble, accumulate, aggregate
Transition: the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
Example: Students in transition from one program to another
Synonyms: change, passage, move, transformation, conversion
Dearth: a scarcity or lack of something.
Example: There is a dearth of evidence
Synonyms: lack, scarcity, shortage, shortfall, want, deficiency, insufficiency
Ambitious: having or showing a strong desire and determination to succeed.
Example: His mother was hard-working and ambitious for her four children
Synonyms: aspiring, determined, forceful, pushy, enterprising, motivated
Credence: belief in or acceptance of something as true.
Example: Psychoanalysis finds little credence among laymen
Synonyms: belief, faith, trust, confidence, reliance
Stature: a person’s natural height.
Example: A man of short stature
Synonyms: height, tallness, size, build
Influential: having great influence on someone or something.
Example: Her work is influential in feminist psychology
Synonyms: powerful, dominant, controlling, strong, authoritative, persuasive
Combative: ready or eager to fight; pugnacious.
Example: He made some enemies with his combative style
Synonyms: pugnacious, aggressive, antagonistic, quarrelsome, argumentative
Cakewalk: an absurdly or surprisingly easy task.
Example: Winning the game won’t be a cakewalk
Whirlwind: a column of air moving rapidly around and around in a cylindrical or funnel shape.
Example: They can cause dust devils and whirlwinds
Synonyms: tornado, hurricane, typhoon, cyclone, vortex, twister, dust devil
Backlash: a strong and adverse reaction by a large number of people, especially to a social or political development.
Example: A public backlash against racism
Synonyms: adverse reaction, adverse response, counterblast, comeback
Confront: meet someone face to face with hostile or argumentative intent.
Example: 300 policemen confronted an equal number of union supporters
Synonyms: challenge, face up to, come face to face with, meet