Chinese Politics Today: Xi Jinping’s Rise and Rule – Lucy Wong

Xi Jinping’s dad was the Vice-Premier so Xi was a ‘princeling’- a term referring to those who are expected to rapidly rise to senior political positions through the influential connection of their relatives. As part of the social movement of the time, Xi was sent to a rural village (Liangjiahe) as a teen to carry out hard labour with the locals. This was a common practice intended to increase sympathy and cooperation between the classes. As a ‘pinceling’, Xi was sent a large box of desserts by his family every month and the supposedly ‘hard labour life’ wasn’t too bad for him. But in 1962, his dad was imprisoned – the desserts stopped coming too. Xi decided he’d had enough and went back home (he also missed the desserts).

Instead of the warm welcoming he’d expected, Xi was scolded by his mother for his audacity. It was risky and unwise to come back against the rules, especially when the elder Xi was imprisoned already. So, Xi’s mother took him to the police station just to more officially emphasise to him the gravity of his actions, then get sent back to the middle of nowhere again.

In this way, Xi understands the genuine hardships of the people – having spent his youth labouring amongst them. He worked his way up honestly and eventually became Chairman (basically President).

Chinese Chairmans are not supposed to be in power for more than two consecutive terms. The limits were put in place by Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s as a precaution to ensure China never falls under tyranny again – as it had done under Chairman Mao during the Cultural Revolution. In order words, it is a formal check and balance to prevent another one-man rule. But Xi’s success has caused him to be voted by China’s legislature to remain in office indefinitely, with absolutely no limit on the number of terms.

Reflecting on what he had observed from the life of the common people in his teens, he launched his ‘Tigers and Flies’ anti-corruption campaign. The meaning of this campaign’s name is symbolic of how Xi intends to remove all corrupt politicians in the government – no matter how important or insignificant they are, no matter how influential or weak they are, no matter how much of a ‘Tiger’ or how much of a ‘Fly’ they are.

Consequentially, Xi has won the hearts of the people with his moral righteousness. Citizens used to be very wary and suspicious of the government, but now the country is going through a resurgence of patriotism. Xi has restored a lot of faith back to the common people and is considered to be one of the most powerful leaders since Chairman Mao (Mao Zedong).

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