China's supreme leader Xi Jinping demands his place in the world

China's supreme leader Xi Jinping demands his place in the world
President Xi Jinping. Source: IANS

New Delhi/Beijing, Nov 14 (IANS) The billion-odd Chinese people have a permanent "core" leader of their country in President Xi Jinping, along with the extant cores, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

It is with the ultimate ideological crown on his head that Xi Jinping will make attempts to meet US President Joe Biden. Both have previously met in different avatars, but this is will be the first time, from Xi's point of view, they will meet as equals without equal.

The virtual meeting will be the platform Xi seeks to raise his country's bar, naturally under his leadership as the other two cores look on, to the level of the US, equal to it in spirit, influence and power even if economic or military superiority still eludes Xi.

China's envoy to the US, Qin Gang could not suppress his triumph at his leader's most honoured position in his country.

"Some people say that the China-US relationship cannot go back to the past. We reject this view. We look forward to working with the American government and visionary people, in the spirit of the phone call between our presidents, to strengthen dialogue, manage differences, focus on co-operation, and make unremitting efforts to take China-US relations back to the right track."

What he did not say was his President was waiting for this moment to have a formal chat with his American counterpart when unlike the latter he need not be worried about getting elected for another season.

By next October, when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) completes the formality of giving him the power for a third term, he would speak for all China. President Biden will get a special rehearsal at his summit with Xi.

China's propaganda machine knows its job and excelled at it even as the four-day plenary of the 19th central committee of the CCP went about lauding the "socialist modernisation" under Xi's leadership.

Under his leadership, China is becoming a powerful country, and is now entering an era of strength, state media organ Xinhua gushed.

It came up with a 12,000-word homage to the supreme leader that says: "Since being elected general secretary of the CPC Central Committee in November 2012, Xi has been seen as a man of determination and action, a man of profound thoughts and feelings, a man who inherited a legacy but dares to innovate, and a man who has forward-looking vision and is committed to working tirelessly."

The anointment brings to an end the period of reflection in Chinese society. The period of following what the leader says has arrived.

Xi went about implementing some of his thoughts even before the plenum. The rest he left to his gigantic party machinery to enforce. Children, for example, cannot watch video games for more than three hours a week.

Xi thinks that is a bad habit. "Sissy men" cannot be seen on television because Xi likes men to look vigorous and with vigorous hobbies. Like swimming. Mao liked to swim too and Xi loves to paddle in water.

The propaganda machine exhorts that active sports and physical labour develop a man's stamina. That is what Xi did and the stamina helped him run the party, the government and the military.

Xi does not like private tuitions because they are scaring away poor parents who fear their children may not be able to compete with rich kids. It is a different matter altogether that private tuitions have gone online or continue in secret and at more exorbitant rates.

The leader does not like top industrialists insulting the country and its industrious officialdom.

Jack Ma lambasted the official industry regulators last year and ended up paying a fine in billions apart from seeing one of his unicorns crumble to dust.

Real estate big daddies have had their profits sliced for artificial hikes in market rates, overnight forced to follow the regulator's plan to hive them into insignificant nothings.

This is what it means for China to be a powerful country and entering an era of strength under the "core" leadership of Xi.

The euphoria understandably neglects the visible chinks in the economic armour, the price rise, the oscillating markets, the growing urban-rural and rich-poor divide and the growing frustration among the millions of ordinary Chinese that is bottled for now.

If Xi was missing from the international fora -- he has not been seen outside his country for over 650 days -- this is what he was up to, ensuring that the plenum passes off uneventfully. It is time for a revitalised Xi to bare himself before the world, ensuring China marches along with him.

The contours of his "core" philosophy may soon be visible to all, whether in the projection of China's influence through the BRI, Xi's intentional aggression against Taiwan and the South China Sea, or the unprovoked stand-off with India in Ladakh in the Himalayas.

Likewise, the soft and hard projections of China's power and influence through the UN and its bodies and global financial institutions will also become clearer.

However, what takes the cake is how Xi and Biden hit it off when they meet, either virtually or perhaps at the inauguration of the Beijing Winter Olympics next year.