Will Xi Jinping Eclipse Mao Zedong?

Just two days ahead of the congress, three banners appeared on a flyover in Beijing. One of the banners read: "No Covid test, we want to eat. No restrictions, we want freedom. No lies, we want dignity. No Cultural Revolution, we want reform. No leaders, we want votes. By not being slaves, we can be citizens. The other called on residents to 'go on strike at school and work, remove the dictator and national traitor Xi Jinping'"

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Pamode Mallik
Pamode Mallik
is former BBC Producer and a commentator on international affairs.

All eyes are set on the Communist Party of China which will begin its 20th Congress Sunday morning in the Great Hall of People in Beijing.

It will begin with an address by General Secretary Xi Jinping. All the meetings will be held closed doors with no indication of media coverage, but certain points are obvious.

About 2,300 delegates will attend the 20th CPC Congress, representing more than 96 million CPC members and over 4.9 million primary-level Party organizations.

Xi Jinping is most likely to get the third term as the CPC General Secretary. If it happens, he will go down in history as the only person after the legendary Mao Zedong to be at the helm for such a long period.

All his predecessors including the stalwarts like Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin accepted the unwritten rule of holding the powerful office for a maximum of two terms.

Xi Jinping also holds the office of the Chairman of the Military Commission, an extremely powerful position.

He may be re-elected President of the country when the National People’s Congress, the Chinese Parliament, meets in March of next year.

Deg Xiaoping held the offices of the Chairman of the Military Commission and the CCP Secretary General, but he never became the president of the country.

Political observers believe Xi Jinping may get another term to fulfil his famous Chinese Dream.

Soon after getting elected as the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012, Xi announced a political slogan and called it the China Dream.

cpc congress china xi jinping mao zedong

He called it the ‘great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.’ Xi envisaged that China should become a fully developed nation at the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Revolution in 2049.

The Chinese Dream has four parts: strong China, civilized China, harmonious China, and beautiful China.

But the most significant part of the China Dream is to make it a military superpower that is second to none.

Xi Jinping carried out significant reforms in the People’s Liberation Army, reduced the number of troops, and gave marching orders to many senior and hawkish generals.
Secondly, he launched the process of modernizing the PLA, giving it state-of-the-art weapons and a modern warfare system, matched only by the US.

Xi Jinping also dreamt to make the country the economic superpower and it has already eclipsed the biggest economy, the US.

He launched the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. Consequently, Chinese firms are working on infrastructure projects in Latin America, the African continent, part of Europe and Asia.

Projects worth about USD  500 billion are under different levels of construction around the world.

Xi Jinping aims to make a significant change in the industrial and economic scenario of the country.

From the manufacturing hub of the world, he wants to make China a centre of innovation, a knowledge-based economy. Chinese firms have been asked to focus on artificial intelligence, virtual reality, the Internet, chips, semiconductors, electric vehicles, solar batteries and power generated from nuclear fusion.

The Chinese people are learning the English language and sooner than later they may overtake India in the BPO business.

China needs its leader to continue so that he could achieve the dream of the country. Xi Jinping wiped out all sorts of opposition or challenge to his leadership in the garb of uprooting corruption. Generals, party stalwarts, high ranking officials have been either put behind the bars or sidelined.

cpc congress china xi jinping dissent protest
One of the banners against Xi Jinping’s third term as General Secretary | Courtesy: Chinese netizens

A few days before the CPC Congress, former Deputy Public Security Minister, Sun Lijun, was jailed for life.

Sun Lijun was sentenced for giving and taking bribes, manipulating the stock market and illegally owning firearms.

He was handed a suspended death sentence that will be commuted to life imprisonment after two years.

By putting behind bars a high official ahead of the party Congress, the General Secretary has sent a message down the rank and file of the party.

But just two days ahead of the congress, three banners appeared on a flyover at the Haidian area of the capital city of Beijing.

One of the banners read: “No Covid test, we want to eat. No restrictions, we want freedom. No lies, we want dignity. No Cultural Revolution, we want reform. No leaders, we want votes. By not being slaves, we can be citizens.”

The other called on residents to “go on strike at school and work, remove the dictator and national traitor Xi Jinping”.

More significantly, many people have come forward on social media platforms to praise the lone protester’s actions.

He has been hailed as a “hero” and referred to as the “new Tank Man” – a reference to the unknown Chinese man who stood in front of tanks during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

The protest and the sentencing of the high official ahead of the CPC Congress have underlined the simmering discontent against the powerful leader.

Such protests are insignificant in a country with a population of 150 crores. But the symbolism can not be ruled out.

Will Xi Jinping get another five-year term, will his doctrine be adopted as the Xi Jinping Thought in the Chinese Communist Party constitution? Will he eclipse Mao Zedong who had put his father behind the bars?

The Great Hall of People will echo the answers to these questions soon.

Pamode Mallik
Pamode Mallik
is former BBC Producer and a commentator on international affairs.

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