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China: Looking at Xi Jinping, possible future ruler

No shortage of congratulatory mob comments [zh] are to be found following the news last week of Xi Jinping‘s appointment as vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, but not much else.

Even Sima Nan, voice of the establishment sensibility, had his blog post on Xi's upgrade harmonized. As an indication of some of the hopes and aspirations already being projected onto Xi, it reads:

习近平担任中央军委副主席标明了中国政治的健康稳定,说明中国的发展在可以预见的将来依然会按照既定的中国模式或者中国经验在向前延伸,说明我们现在政治体制承袭党指挥枪的原则没有改变,说明他某些人贩卖了很多年的那一套所谓普世价值的货色,在中国最高决策层及其继任者那里没有市场。这件事情对那些做梦都在遏制中国、妖魔化中国的势力来讲,是一个令他们恐惧的消息。

我强调,中国人要建立自己的文化自信和政治体制自信,十七届五中全会传来了令我们坚定文化自信和政治体制自信的正面信息。我们的政治体制在发展,我们的社会文明在进步,中国最高权力的交接掀开了一个新的篇章。

The appointment of Xi Jinping to vice chairman of the Central Military Commission is an indication of the healthy stability of politics in China, as well as an indication that, for the foreseeable future, China's development will continue according to a fixed Chinese model or be rolled out based on China's experiences; further, it is an indication that our current political system which follows the principle of keeping the military under the control of The Party will also not change. And, it indicates that certain persons, having been trying to peddle off that ‘universal values’ racket all these years, have gained zero traction among China's highest decision-makers and their successors. For those dreaming about containing China, those forces demonizing China, [Xi's appointment] is terrifying news.

I want to emphasize, the Chinese people want to build confidence in their own cultural information and political system, and the positive information coming out of the 17th Central Committee's fifth plenary session leaves us resolute with confidence in our culture and political system. Our political system is developing, and our civilization and society are advancing; this transition in China's highest powers is the start of a new chapter.

Going further down that road, Maoists look at Xi and see his red-bred roots, and Xi's drunken stunt in Mexico last year has won over the nationalists, no doubt useful allies for the future battle against universal values, noted in this piece from well-known Party economist Zhang Hongliang, ‘China finally has a leader who's tough on foreigners‘:

去年,习近平在访问拉美期间对那些“吃饱了了没事干的外国人”的痛斥,的确让多年来一直窝囊憋屈的中国人出了一口气。只是这口气还没有完全发出来,习近平副主席的讲话和视频就被删除了。习近平是中共中央政治局常委和国家副主席,连他的讲话和视频都会遭到删除,再次证明了此前我们一直坚持强调的一个基本判断,就是中国的媒体和金融,早已不在党中央控制之中,完全受控于美国和中国的普世价值派。

Last year, Xi Jinping’ scathing attack against those “foreigners who have eaten their fill and have nothing better to do” while on a visit to Latin America surely came as a reassurance to all those Chinese people who for many years have been keeping their frustration pent up inside. Yet before people had a chance to finish exhaling in relief, the speech and video of it all got deleted, yet again proving true that one fundamental judgment which we've been firmly emphasizing all along, that China's media and financial sector long ago grew beyond the Party Central Committee's control, and are under complete control by America and China's universal values camp.

有些人对此很不理解,总是形而上学地从职务高低上来看待问题,认识不到代表外国资本集团、国内贪腐集团和买办集团的普世价值派的强大力量。可以说,目前中国普世价值派的强大力量,要远远超过文革前夕官僚集团的强大力量,那时官僚集团控制的《人民日报》就敢拒绝发表毛主席的文章,而当时毛主席在全国人民心目中的崇高地位无与伦比。在举国欢呼“毛主席万岁”那样一种情况下,在毛主席担任中共中央主席、中央军委主席的情况下,他们都敢封杀毛主席的文章,今天删除一个国家副主席的讲话,还有什么职务大小的障碍吗?习近平副主席痛斥那些“吃饱了没事干的外国人“的讲话,之所以会遭到删除,就是因为触犯了美国资本集团的利益,触犯了仰仗美国势力的国内买办集团的利益。习近平副主席这个讲话受到老百姓的欢迎,同样也是因为这个原因。

Many people fail to grasp this point, instead always taking a metaphysical view, looking at the situation in terms of job hierarchy, failing to recognize the formidable strength of the universal values camp, which represents foreign capital syndicates, domestic corruption syndicates and comprador syndicates. It could even be said that the current strength of China's universal values camp even far surpasses that of the bureaucracy syndicate on the eve of the Cultural Revolution, which, with People's Daily then under its control, even dared refuse to publish articles by Chairman Mao, at a time when Chairman's Mao's supreme position in the hearts and minds of the entire country was second to none. With the entire nation still cheering “long live Chairman Mao”, with Chairman Mao then the chairman of the Party Central Committee and Central Military Commission, they still dared to censor Chairman Mao's writings. Today, if a national vice chairman's speech can be deleted, what difference can job hierarchy possibly make? The reason vice chairman Xi Jinping's attack on “foreigners who have eaten their fill and have nothing better to do” got deleted is because it violated the interests of the American capitalist syndicate and the interests of domestic comprador syndicates who rely American forces. This is also part of the reason that vice chairman Xi Jinping's speech received was welcomed by the people.

Xi is also well on his way toward building his own Marxist theory legacy, with Four Haves [zh], Six Hopes and Two Inconsistencies. He even picks up where Wen will leave off, discussed here by agricultural law blogger The Cultivater:

从实际效果看,即将登台的中共第五代领导人习近平,于9月1日出席中央党校秋季学期开学典礼并讲话时,强调“权为民所赋,权为民所用”的权力观,可以看成温家宝力推新思想解放运动的回声。应该看到,自1978年5月开始的全国范围内的真理标准大讨论,所带来的思想解放运动,成功推动了中国改革开放走了近30年的旅程。此次温家宝所领导的新思想解放运动如果真能开花结果,那将推动中国未来100年,甚至500年的发展。唯有如此,中国才有可能与当今一流世界强国美国并驾齐驱。

Judging from results, the address given at the Central Party School on September 1 to mark the opening of the winter semester by the soon-to-be anointed fifth-gen leader of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping, and his emphasis on his view on power, that power is bestowed by the people and to be used for them, could be seen as an echo in Wen Jiabao's movement pushing for thought liberation. It should be clear that the movement for thought liberation brought about by the nationwide discussion over criterion for testing truth which began in May 1978 has successfully pushed China along its path of reform and opening up over the past thirty years. If the movement for new thought liberation currently headed by Wen Jiabao can truly be allowed to come to fruition, this will drive China's development for the next 100, or possibly 500, years. And only if so will China face the possibility of taking its place alongside America as one of the world's greatest nations.

Caijing blogger Simon Zhou (西蒙周) has also taken a look at Xi's much-discussed Central Party School address, finding one particular nuance in the language used subtle, but highly significant:

2002年底,新任中共总书记的胡锦涛,提出了被称为“新三民主义”的“情为民所系,利为民所谋,权为民所用”。相对而言,习近平的新论,实质上是为“新三民主义”的“权为民所用”增加了一个“权为民所赋”的前提。这是一个非常关键的前提!人民是国家的主人,执政必须经过人民的授权,政府必须民选,领袖必须民选,这是宪政民主的根本要义。早在2003年,已逝的前中共中央宣传部部长朱厚泽在肯定“新三民主义”的同时,就强调“一定要补充一条‘权为民所授’,这一条还是前提。”可惜的是,朱厚泽的建议一直未被采纳。

现在,作为第五代领导人之一的习近平明确提出了“权为民所赋”,这是一个静悄悄的巨大进步,实际上也是接受了朱厚泽的主张。“赋”是“赋予”,“授”是“授予”,意思相当接近。在讲话的全文中,习近平只强调“权为民所赋”是指明了权力的根本来源和基础,没有再做深入的分析。虽然就是这样两句话,但已经证明习在思考执政党权力合法性的问题,预示着中共启动政改的日期不会太久远了。

At the end of 2002, the newly-appointed general secretary of the Communist Party of China Hu Jintao, raised what has been called the new three people's principles: ‘exercising power for the people, showing concern for them and working for their interests’. In comparison, Xi Jinping's new theory has effectively added to the part of the new three people's principles regarding ‘exercising power for the people’ the premise that ‘power is bestowed by the people’. This is a highly crucial premise! The people are the masters of the country, the rulers must seek authorization from the people, and the government and leaders must be selected by the people, which is none other than the root of constitutional democracy, As early as 2003, at the same time that the late former CCP central propaganda department chief Zhu Houze was reaffirming “the new three people's principles”, he was also emphasizing the need for an additional line, “power is conferred by the people”. Unfortunately, Zhu Houze's suggestion for such a premise was not adopted.

Now, fifth-gen leader Xi Jinping has unambiguously brought forth the premise that “power is bestowed by the people”, a subtle but huge step, but one which in fact was advocated for by Zhu Houze, with the meanings of “confer” and “bestow” being relatively similar. In the text of his address, Xi Jinping merely emphasizes that “power is bestowed by the people” demonstrates that which is the root source and foundation of power, and he provides no deeper analysis. While it was just a couple lines to this effect, it does nonetheless prove that Xi is considering the problem of the ruling party's legitimacy and indicates that the day when the Communist Party of China launches its political reforms cannot be too far off.

Xi Jinping and company on a visit to a Buddhist temple in Zhejiang province in 2003, leaving the blogging monk who took this photo impressed with Xi's knowledge of Buddhism and willingness to offer up some incense.

A perfect leader for a free market authoritarian system? Yazhou Zhoukan reporter Wu Muluan looks back at Xi's years as head both of coastal Fujian and Zhejiang provinces:

如果说福建职业生涯影响了习近平的为人风格,而浙江的从政经历最能体现习近平的施政风格。一九九零年代初,浙江的经济远远落后于福建省。但是,现在浙江的经济综合竞争力在中国仅靠上海、北京、广东和江苏之后。最知名的是浙江的民营企业。二零零七年五百强民营企业排名中,浙江有二百零三个企业进入,足足比江苏省多了一百家,数量排内地第一。而浙江最出名的经济形态就是温州模式。在中国的三十年的改革过程中,温州的知名度一直不低,但早期是以造假闻名的。按以往中国共产党官员的统治逻辑,这种地区最简单的转型模式就是下猛药,「整顿治理」,让大批企业关闭。但是,浙江的处理方式却不是这样,而是让市场自发调整,下温和的药方。学者们将此归因于习近平的「放活」私营经济政策及「无为而治」的施政方式。而习本人在浙江时更是明示认同亚当斯密《国富论》。

If one takes the view that the part of Xi Jinping's career spent in Fujian province influenced his style of conduct, then the best embodiment of his political experience in Zhejiang province can be seen in his administrative conduct. In the early 1990s, Zhejiang's economy lagged far behind Fujian's. However, the overall competitiveness of Zhejiang's economy today ranks only behind Shanghai, Beijing and the provinces of Guangdong and Jiangsu. Zhejiang's most well-known characteristic is its private enterprise. In the 2007 list of the top 500 companies in China, 203 of those were from Zhejiang, nearly a hundred more than were from Jiangsu province, making it the top province on the mainland. And Zhejiang's most well-known economic approach is the Wenzhou model. In the process of China's thirty years of reforms, Wenzhou's prominence has never declined, even if it was known initially for its counterfeit goods. Following the ruling logic of Communist Party of China officials of the past, areas in transition like this needed strong medicine, and the simplest approach was rectification and widespread shutting down of enterprise. But the Zhejiang approach to handling things was different, and the market was allowed to adjust spontaneously and moderate medicine was prescribed. Academics attribute this to Xi Jinping's ‘laissez’ private sector policies and ‘hands-off’ administrative approach. During his time in Zhejiang, Xi himself expressed approval of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations.

In 2007, former Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew made headlines when he compared Xi to Nelson Mandela; several media dug up that story this week and comments on this Phoenix article include some of the few of any substance to be found:

dylw5493:积重难返啊!习接手的将是一个历史上极端腐败的官吏队伍。

dylw5493: Old habits die hard! Xi is taking over one of the most extremely corrupt bureaucracies in history.

晓壬武:李光耀局外人根本不懂,当时知青下乡的重要性。更不可拿习近平跟曼德拉相比习的下乡是对本人的磨练,曼德拉是政治迫害是完全不同的两种性质。这种貌似长者的人物 坦率讲居心叵测。

Xiao Renwu: Lee Kuan Yew is an outsider and is clueless about the importance the down to the countryside movement had. You definitely can't compare Xi Jinping to Mandela; Xi was sent to the countryside, it was about his own temperance, and what Mandela faced was political persecution, these are two completely different natures. To be honest, these people who come off like elders, they have ulterior motives.

法官2012:希望下一届领导人能够推进政治制度改革,在改善民生,惩治腐败方面在这一届政府的基础上做出更多的工作。老百姓需要公平和正义。

Judge 2012: I hope the next round of leaders will be able to make further gains than the current leadership toward implementing political system reforms, improving the standard of living and punishing corruption. The common folk need fairness and justice.

LL5096:习仲勋是中国共产党的优秀党员,伟大的共产主义战士,杰出的无产阶级革命家,我党、我军卓越的政治工作领导人,陕甘边区革命根据地的主要创建者和领导者之一。他一生实事求是,坚持原则,立场坚定,顾全大局,曾五次受到毛泽东的盛赞。
希望您向父辈学习!

LL5096: Xi Zhongxun was an outstanding member of the Communist Party of China, a great Communist soldier, a preeminent proletarian revolutionary, and an excellent leader in political work for our Party and Army, one of the top leaders and creators of the Shanxi-Gansu region revolutionary camp. His sole goal in life was to uphold principles, defend his position, strive for the greater good, and for that he was praised by Mao Zedong five times.
I hope you learn from your father!

手机用户:期待习主席不要再让国人失望!反腐最重要!

Cellphone user: I hope Chairman Xi won't disappoint us too much! Fighting corruption is the most important!

江苏句容:习还行!李光耀先生虽然是新加坡国父!但是为人却不怎么的!

Jiangsu Jurong: Xi's just okay! Even though Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is the founding father of Singapore, his conduct could use some work!

不吐不快我:李光耀是一个不甘寂寞的政坛老油条

BTBKW: Lee Kuan Yew's just a slick old politician who doesn't want to get left out

wmy702:中国的希望就在习近平身上了

wmy702: China's hope lies with Xi Jinping

Does Xi offer hope for long-awaited reforms to the political system, a signal on which many expected would come out of the the Central Committee plenary earlier this month? Writing on that is military affairs blogger and veteran Liu Jun:

这次,中国的政治体制改革也提上台面,也在为下届领导人铺路造势,在军事领域来说,中国的军事力量属于中国共产党,不管怎么改变不会离开党指挥枪这个概念,党的主要领导人就是军队的统帅者,从这次党的代表会明显看出,习近平也即将成为下一届的军事委员会主席。

Now, reforms to China's political system is on the table for discussion, and the road is full-out being paved for the next round of leaders; speaking with regard to military affairs, China's military strength belongs to the Communist Party of China which, no matter how many changes are made, will never give up the notion of ‘commanding the gun'; the Party's key leaders are also commanders-in-chief of the military, and judging from this meeting of Party representatives, Xi Jinping stands to become the next Chairman of the Central Military Commission.

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