For He Yiting, vice president of the Central Party School, Xi is the father of “the Marxism of the 21st century". Yesterday was the supreme leader’s birthday. However, his "Chinese dream" now faces COVID-19, unemployment, poverty, tensions in Hong Kong and the trade war with the United States. Within the party, Xi's rhetoric and Premier Li Keqiang's pragmatism might reflect an internal conflict.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - He Yiting, vice president of the Central Party School, yesterday celebrated Xi Jinping's 67th birthday with a bombastic tribute.
China under Xi Jinping’s leadership is experiencing "the most wonderful chapter in world socialism in 500 years,” He writes. With Xi – who is party secretary, military commission chief, chief reformer, security commission chief, president for life – “socialism is indeed better than capitalism".
Writing yesterday in the School’s newspaper, Xuéxí Shíbào (Study Times), He notes that Xi is developing "the Marxism of the 21st century” as Marx and Engels did for the 19th century, and Lenin, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping did for the 20th.
Observers are not surprised by such flattery. Over the years Xi has developed something akin to the cult of personality of Mao's time, turning himself into China’s supreme leader to whom obedience and affection are due.
In one sense, He's article follows this tradition, briefly interrupted by the coronavirus crisis. In another, this new sycophantic chapter seems to reflect an attempt to make Xi's star shine again, after it was dimmed by COVID-19 and the problems caused by China to the world, as well as tensions in Hong Kong and the trade war with the United States.
Over the years, Xi has promoted the "Chinese dream”. This meant eliminating poverty by 2021, the centenary year of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, when China was supposed to reach the status of a "moderately prosperous society". Likewise, it includes China reaching the status of developed country by 2049, to mark 100 years of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
However, the coronavirus crisis is making it harder to fulfil the "dream" since poverty and unemployment are now on the rise. Indeed, at the annual session of the National People's Congress last month, Premier Li Keqiang was forced to own up to the country’s difficulties.
According to several observers, Xi's rhetoric and Li's pragmatism are signs of an underground struggle within the Party between two positions, one that is Maoist and dictatorial, and the other that is more Confucian and supple.
Either way, there is no room for a third position between the two: that of those who would like to see China undergo constitutional reforms that would turn it into a liberal country.