The Trumpification Of Xi Jinping

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The Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) has achieved great outcomes over the last several decades, especially after the late Deng Xiaoping took effective control of the nation from Maoist holdovers. He set a model of indirect and collective leadership in contrast with Mao Zedong who ruled nearly absolutely for nearly three decades while building and enforcing a cult of personality dedicated to himself. Of the top three positions in the nation, he held only one: Chair of the Military Commission, making him Commander-in-Chief. But he was never General Secretary of the Party (with his exact position there unclear), and his highest position in the actual government never above Vice Prime Minister, which he did not remain in all that long.

The system went through various changes in the 1980s, with Deng clearly running things, although after 1983 the Head of State position, President, got a 5-year term.  Starting in 1993 the system established with the accession of Jiang Zamen in 1993, a new pattern appeared that the Supreme Leader (a title Deng was granted by the CCP in 1979) would hold the top three position for 10 years, two presidential terms: President, Party General Secretary, and Chair of the Military Commission. This did not work perfectly as when the transition in 2003 to Hu Jintao came, Jiang delayed handing over the Chair of the Military for about half a year, while Hu got the other two on time.  Their rivalry would come to dominate the hidden power struggle in Zhongnanghai with its remnant “Sitting Committee” of retired Long March and later leaders carrying on their ancient power struggles.

In any case, the period from Deng’s becoming Supreme Leader, although bearing few specifically official positions of power, led to a profoundly seriously successful period of Chinese economic growth and social and cultural achievement and advancement.  It would lead by around 2014 China becoming the world’s largest economy in real PPP terms, with it now more than 30% ahead of the US on that measure, even as the US continues for a few more years to be tops in nominal GDP. In the last year, China has announced achieving ending deep poverty. So, much has been achieved, and way more than I have mentioned here. It is now in many ways the world’s leading economy and society.

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