Xi Jinping Confucian Gentleman – In Praise of China
Is Xi Jinping a Confucian gentleman?
Patron-client relations, power accumulation, bribery and backstabbing are common to all bureaucracies. (Remember the BBC show, "Yes, Minister"?)
Add to those malign qualities the ability to oppress and bully ordinary Chinese and that's what motivated Mao to launch the Cultural Revolution: he called on the Chinese to stop pulling their forelocks and submitting to the officials (to his horror, all Communist Party members) and slap them silly – until they came to their senses.
Xi was caught up in that: he was an elite of the highest order who spent his formative years alone in the poorest village in northern China. So he saw it from both angles. He has revived one of the central virtues of the CR: publicly calling out corrupt officials, which is making the Chinese ecstatically happy (as it would in any country). You could say that Xi is Mao's last gift to China, because it was Mao who foresaw the young princelings' future and realized that they desperately needed a dose of rural reality before they could be trusted to take the reins.
Confucian gentelmen, the ones the Tao Te Ching calls 'superior men' are as rare in China as they are anywhere. I've met thousands of famous and distinguished men in my life, but only one superior man. China's edge is that it LOOKS for those people. It knows that, because they're morally and emotionally straight, they'll be smart enough and modest enough to figure out almost any problem. So the old Imperial examiners always looked for them and promoted them when they found them. The CCP uses the existing (Confucian) Chinese societal framework and ideas of hierarchy. All they have to do is place a cherry on top: the most virtuous man they can lay hands on; preferably a fully fledged 'superior man' and the people will follow him to hell. Simple decisions like that allow China to spend less than 30% of what we spend on internal security – money that can be put to more creative use elsewhere.
Xi might be the only man in China right now who could be plausibly thought to be a superior man. That was certainly the opinion of Lee Kwan Yew, who'd known him since boyhood: I would put him in the Nelson Mandela class of persons. A person with enormous emotional stability who does not allow his personal misfortunes or sufferings affect his judgment. In other words, he is impressive. – Lee Kwan Yew.
It turns out that, in the right place, one is enough.
Xi Jinping Confucian Gentleman?