Is Xi the New Mao? – In Praise of China
Have You Seen Headlines Like "Is Xi the New Mao?"
Here's a quote from the South China Morning Post: "Mao’s successor Deng Xiaoping had to share power with the “Eight Immortals” or party elders. But in the past three years, the pendulum has swung back the other way, with Xi consolidating power through the creation of steering committees that oversee reform, the internet, legal affairs, national security and military reform."
We could also describe the situation thus: Xi Jinping, whom Chinese acknowledge as their country's political and moral leader, is a beneficiary of the Cultural Revolution. Sent by Mao to the poorest village in China, Xi grew to manhood experiencing the humiliating, spirit-breaking consequences of petty official corruption and oppression of the peasantry.
Famous son of one of China's Eight Immortals, husband to the country's most famous woman, Xi came to power after 40 years at China's bureaucratic coalface. He always intended to run the country as he'd seen the adults in his life do. He brought honesty (Lee Kwan Yew called him 'a Chinese Nelson Mandela'), competence and experience to the presidency. All Chinese know this about Xi and 90% of them admire him and support his policies.
He's shooting to transform China's already-competent bureaucracy into a rival for Singapore's. Like the tight-fisted Chinese he is, he's trying to do it without spending a Singapore-sized fortune on bureaucratic salaries (though I predict hefty raises once polls indicate 80% public approval for lower officials). China's government is obsessively poll-driven, surprisingly, and foreign polling firms are extremely active there.
Xi knew Lee Kwan Yew and Singapore since his twenties and saw that good governance begins with honest governance. Now that Xi has settled into the presidency – the job he's been rehearsing for all his life – he has the time to drill a little deeper into the bureaucracy. Chairing more subcommittees. Asking more questions. Kicking more asses. He's a man in a hurry. He's transforming China and our view of it.
In ten years China's economy will be bigger than the US and EU combined. Xi intends that it will have a Singapore-style bureaucracy by then. Making China the richest, most honest country on earth. Picture that.