By Jesus Centeno
Beijing, Oct 15 (EFE).- Secretary General Army Chief and Chinese President Xi Jinping, at 69, seeks to go down in history at the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party that begins Sunday with an unprecedented third five-year term among his predecessors.
Born in Beijing in June 1953, Xi has known from a young age how the regime’s cadres get along according to the guidelines of the moment. His father, deputy prime minister in the early 1960s, was purged during the Cultural Revolution – he was not released until 1975 – while he was “transferred” to a remote region of Shanxi province.
Those were the times when Mao Zedong sent young people to rural areas to “de-gentrify” and Xi, after the initial shock, decided to “survive by becoming the reddest of all reds,” his biographers describe.
Despite the fact that his family was blacklisted at the time, at the age of 22 he managed to enroll in the ranks of the Party, where he stood out for his pragmatism, realism and, above all, for his ambition.
After the rehabilitation of the family clan, Xi began to build his own network and climb positions in the coastal provinces of the country – the most developed – until he was appointed governor of Fujian and, later, secretary of the party in Fujian and Shanghai.
By the end of the 2000s, the party was looking for a candidate with pedigree and Xi – now boosted by the figure of his father, exalted during the reforms of the 1980s – was considered to replace then President Hu Jintao.
“The (party) ruled that the Chinese reform was going through a phase of ‘deep waters’ and that a strong leadership was necessary. There could be no hesitation, nor about the vertical conception of power that, according to the mantra of ancient China, should not be shared more than necessary,” Spanish academic Xulio Rios told EFE.
In 2012, Xi won the party general secretariat and, the following year, the country’s presidency under the promise of fighting corruption – critics say to erode his rivals – and seat China at the table of the great powers of the planet.
The party bet everything on Xi’s letter and built a cult around a personality they defined as “man of the people” but didn’t hesitate when making decisions.
Although that cult has existed toward other Chinese leaders such as the charismatic Jiang Zemin in the 1990s, Xi was not squeamish and began promoting theoretical guides announcing the arrival of a “new era” in which China would modernize by 2049, the year in which the country will commemorate its centenary.
Xi, whose biographers highlight his ability to enlarge his political base, managed in 2018 to reform the constitution to eliminate the limit of two presidential terms.
“Figures like Jiang’s still have significant influence, but other minor factions are not comparable. So a third term for Xi means breaking a more collegiate command within the Party,” said Rios, adding that there have been certain “reservations” to this change. EFE