Stan Grant presents Monday’s Four Corners story, “Chairman for Life” on China’s President Xi Jinping.
“I call him Chairman of everything, Chairman of everywhere, Chairman of everyone.” China scholar
China’s President Xi Jinping is a force to be reckoned with. As leader of the Communist colossus, he commands the world’s attention but who is China’s strongman? How did he rise to power and what is his agenda?
“No force can shake the status of our great motherland, and no force can stop the progress of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation.” President Xi Jinping
On Monday Four Corners delivers an insightful portrait of the Chinese president. Born into the privileged life of a princeling, banished to poverty in the countryside during a political purge, his early life formed and framed his views on power and control.
“When he initially went out into the countryside he was scared, frightened…it both hardened him, it gave him a taste of the ups and downs of power. I think it’s one of the reasons he’s so ruthless himself.” Academic
His rise up the political ladder was propelled by party connections and an advantageous celebrity marriage. As he rose through the party ranks he carefully crafted his image. Today it’s a full-blown cult of personality featuring compulsory lessons in “Xi Jinping Thought” and a TV gameshow based on his personal history.
“The moment he came into power it was pedal to the metal. He accelerated on all fronts to eliminate dissent, to eliminate rivals, to eliminate corruption.” Academic
The program shows how Xi consolidated his grip on the leadership of the Communist Party through a combination of economic strength, populism, iron fist control, jailing of opponents and crushing dissent.
“We are seeing a turning more towards authoritarianism under Xi Jinping…there’s increased concerns about human rights in China, as well in Hong Kong with regards to pro-democracy activists and legislators, and in Xinjiang with regards to what the Chinese Government has been doing to Uyghurs and other ethnic minority groups.” China academic
Central to President Xi’s leadership is his doctrine of “The China Dream”, an existential challenge to the existing world order.
“The reality is that Xi Jinping and his colleagues believe themselves as the agents of history and the history that is about making China one of the great powers.” China scholar
“It’s a vision of a Chinese state that’s very strong, that’s internationally respected, that can throw its weight around internationally if it needs to.” Former China correspondent
China specialists warn that countries like Australia were too slow to understand the challenge posed by the rise of President Xi.
“It’s only now as some of the more insightful and longstanding China analysts have started to expose what Xi Jinping was saying way back at the end of 2012 and in 2013. They were starting to say, “Oh. We were just so wrong about this man.” Author
Prominent China scholars say that China has already fundamentally re-written the international rule book. The question is, how will the rest of the world respond?
“Now we are dealing with this radically different view of the world…this world we are moving into, there is no roadmap…there is no easy roadmap.” UK academic
Monday 1st March at 8.30pm on ABC.