Take our user survey and make your voice heard.


book review

Xi clearly determined to revamp his nation and make China great again

By Henry Hilton

Coining  the right slogan  can pay mighty dividends in any political system. Ex-President Donald Trump swears by his MAGA message and China's supremo Xi Jinping loves his "China Dream."

Of course, Xi isn't ever likely to wear a red baseball hat emblazoned with his rejuvenation message. Yet he has made it his business to get the doctrine across both to key party cadres who are expected to toe the Xi line and less involved Chinese citizens.

No one can easily escape. "Xi Jinping Thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era" sounds more than a bit clunky in English but what matters is the intention. Xi is clearly determined to revamp his nation and make China great again.   

From the immediate start of  Xi's  chairmanship in  2012 the man in charge wanted to mold a new China with ambitious, long-term goals. His dream is of a far stronger China with an improved economy plus a new and greater status in international affairs. These ambitions are to be measured not over a short four year cycle but instead should be judged over the coming decades. 

Unhampered by Western parliamentary or presidential elections, Xi's aim is to bring about  "the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation" through "the common ideal of socialism with Chinese characteristics." Xi hopes that this might be achieved by 2050. Assuming all goes well and  Xi, his fingers firmly crossed, remains in charge for the next generation,  he should be there to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. 

By then Xi expects to have created a new international system. If his speeches are anything to go by, this will amount to "a more just and equitable world order.".Meaning, in effect, a China-dominated set of arrangements where Beijing rather than Washington sits on top of the pile. Lesser powers would then be required to see the error of their ways and form tributory structures under the Chinese mandate of heaven.

Of course, in line with the conventional rhetoric beloved of all earlier great powers, Xi does not put it quite so bluntly. He and his juniors in the Chinese Communist Party talk instead of sincerely believing "in harmony between humankind and the world."

When it comes to specifics, this means that Beijing is committed to helping the developing world. Xi is convinced that China’s huge economic growth provides lessons and inspiration for the Global South. It is pretty safe to assume that all this concentration on foreign aid or what is now rephrased as overseas development assistance will continue to provide substantial political dividends. China’s subsidies to poorer nations are surely paying off to judge by the weakening of the developing world’s ties to the United States and its allies.

Many of these countries have certainly benefited from Chinese largesse. The scale of Xi’s ten year old international Belt and Road Initiative is already huge with high speed rail networks and major infrastructure projects well underway. 

Such projects and the required repayment of loans share more than a slight resemblance to how Japan once upon a time fashioned its own aid  programs across the Asian continent.

In China’s backyard the ASEAN countries are seen by Xi’s senior diplomats as neighbors with aspirations that can be linked to the China Dream. By emphasizing their shared community concept China reckons it can boost mutual ties across the board and avoid “a new Cold War or zero-sum mentality.” Yet China’s future designs on Taiwan and its behavior over territorial issues in the South China Sea might well torpedo this ray of optimism.

London-based Professors Tsang and Cheung have given all China-watchers a mass of valuable evidence. They insist that Xi Jinping Thought will endure as long as he does through a carefully calculated process that firmly links together Xi, a tightly revamped and cleaner Communist Party, an obedient military and a more patriotic  Chinese nation.

Skeptics though will surely ask if even Xi can do it. More than a generation and a half ago Deng Xiaping deftly replied to then governor of Hong Kong that “if you think governing Hong Kong is hard, you ought to try governing China.” The highly ambitious “Xi way” could yet turn out to be less of a massive dream and more of a botched job. Party dissent, economic setbacks and foreign policy mishaps could upset the apple cart. It is still very much a work in progress.

The Political Thought of Xi Jinping

By Steve Tsang & Olivia Cheung ( Oxford Univ Press, 2024 )

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Make China great again ? Wtf ?

Uh no Thankyou !


0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yeah, he might have tried to do that by continuing Bide Your Time. Too late now.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

笑 The author's ignorance and bias is showing.

Meaning, in effect, a China-dominated set of arrangements where Beijing rather than Washington sits on top of the pile. Lesser powers would then be required to see the error of their ways and form tributory structures under the Chinese mandate of heaven.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

deanzaZZRToday 10:59 am JST

笑 The author's ignorance and bias is showing.

Really? What kind of relationship of equals is China trying to setup with the Philippines?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The Global South may not pay back those loans once the infrastructure is built and regimes change. The Chinese property market is going to make Lehman Brothers look like a minor blip. Suppressing the new found consumer culture will not be as easy as Xi thinks. Washington will eventually cotton on and offer GS nations more loot, whilst the Russians are more useful allies than China to GS dictatorships to keep terrorist groups, the political opposition and their citizens in order, as they provide Wagner-style military muscle.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites