Xi consolidates total authority
If there were any doubts whatsoever about President Xi Jinping’s intentions to play a key role in shaping China’s future for many more years, they will have dissipated following the passage of a “historical resolution” by the Chinese Communist Party on Thursday to consolidate his authority. The resolution, only the third of its kind in the party’s 100-year history, has set the stage for Mr Xi to secure an unprecedented third term as China’s leader next year. A significant part of the “Resolution on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century” was devoted to lauding Mr Xi’s leadership and upholding his “core position”. The resolution was similar to those adopted in 1945 under Mao Zedong, the architect of modern China, and in 1981 under Deng Xiaoping, the leader responsible for China’s economic transformation. There should now be no doubts that Mr Xi perceives himself as a leader in the same league as Mao and Deng.
Mr Xi became general secretary of the Communist Party and chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission in 2012, and was elected president the following year. Since then, he has worked assiduously to strengthen his grip on power. A ruthless anti-corruption campaign, during which more than a million officials have reportedly been disciplined, was seen by detractors as nothing more than a purge of opponents, and in 2018, the Communist Party set aside a two-term limit on the presidency. It was also under Mr Xi’s watch that China witnessed some of the worst excesses in Tibet and Xinjiang and a heavy-handed crackdown in Hong Kong. Such actions have driven concerns about the rolling back of decades of decentralisation of powers, and a return to the cult of personality that marked Mao’s era.
It was during Mr Xi’s first visit to India as president in 2014 that Chinese troops intruded into Indian territory at Chumar in the Ladakh sector. This was followed by the face-off at Doklam in 2017 and the continuing standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that has taken bilateral relations to an all-time low. China has shown little inclination towards resolving the dragging border dispute with India as it continues to modernise and bolster its military capabilities all along the border areas. There is little reason to believe that a leader as firmly entrenched as Mr Xi will make any significant changes in the handling of the border standoff or the wider relationship with India.