Xi Jinping is awakening China

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    Xi Jinping is awakening China

    Editor: Zhang Jianfeng

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    The well-known New York-based Chinese-language news website dwnews.com recently carried an article titled "Xi Jinping is awakening China". The following is an excerpt:

    Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a movie based on the 1995 autobiography of the revered late South African president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, was screened in the Chinese mainland in July. Nelson Mandela was one of the few political leaders who gained universal recognition and the respect of people from different factions in Africa and around the world.

    At present, China, to which Mandela had special connections, is on the road to national rejuvenation, following its more than 30 years of skyrocketing economic growth. But it is also facing the challenge of the US’ rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific, which is widely seen as being aimed at containing China. At this critical moment of great changes and transitions, China is in dire need of a political leader who has the courage, sense of mission and wisdom to lead the country to its reawakening.

    After showing his resolve with a sweeping and unprecedented anti-graft campaign, which netted Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the Political Bureau Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee, the spotlight of global attention is now on President Xi Jinping.

    A year ago, many in China didn’t believe that the CPC would investigate such a high-ranking former top official as Zhou, nor did observers in other countries imagine that Xi, who just come to power, had the capability and courage to cage such big “tigers” as Zhou and Xu Caihou, the former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission.

    The outside world has mostly been impressed by the ruthlessness of the CPC’s anti-corruption campaign. Yet, many people close to the CPC ruling circle said that the fight against corruption is just part of the political objectives of the central leadership led by Xi. Behind the anti-graft campaign is a grand blueprint, which analysts have labeled “The Second Reforms”. The new concept contains a lot more than the word “reforms” can convey and has gone farther and wider than the outside world would imagine. Xi aims to break the entrenched bureaucracy and vested interests of officialdom formed during the fast economic expansion and initiate a brand-new model of governance for a modernized country. What is even more noteworthy is that Xi is quietly leading a revolution that is transforming the CPC’s theory of governance and the legal framework for governance. It has yet to be seen how Xi is going to implement it, but one thing is for sure, he highly cherishes the breadth and depth of traditional Chinese culture. As for economic development, the “new economic normal” idea, which runs counter to the reckless development of the past 30-plus years, has appeared and is starting to take root. What is more, reform of the People’s Liberation Army has been initiated and rebuilding the soul of military has become a top priority.

    Therefore one can conclude that all of Xi’s ideas and actions on cultural, military, political and economical reforms are meant to push China further along the road to rejuvenation.

    Mission to reform

    In its recent history, China was humiliated by Western powers. The Opium Wars made it realize that it had been abandoned by modernization. Western powers used their more advanced weapons to force the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to drop its policy of seclusion. China’s agricultural civilization, which had enjoyed thousands of years of glory, was beaten by capitalist civilization. Then the terrible defeat of the Qing Dynasty’s Northern Navy to Japan in 1894 made “political reform” and “restoration” a consensus. From then on, China has been looking for a road to return to and lead global modernization.

    With the flooding of Western civilization into China along with gunfire, Chinese culture was denied and discarded. In his speeches at the Yan'an Forum on Literature and Art in 1942, Mao Zedong opened up a new political era. Traditional Chinese culture suffered unprecedented attack during the ten-year "cultural revolution" (1966-76). After which, China’s economy enjoyed 30 years of rapid growth thanks to Deng Xiaoping’s reform and opening-up policy.

    "Everyone has only one fate." What Michael Corleone said in the God Father is concise and thought provoking. "What should we do with our only fate?" What Pavel Korchagin wondered is an eternal question — the fates of the weak are controlled by others while strong people hold their own destinies. And the fate of a nation is held in the hands of its leaders.

    Xi Jinping insists that he is a loyal descendant of revolutionary elders and it is his mission to revive China and achieve the ruling party’s modernization. “Xi could have enjoyed a relaxed term of office, but as a descendant of revolutionary forerunners, he feels obligated to choose a harder road.” said another offspring of revolutionary elders. Hu Jintao turned over both the power of Party and military to Xi at the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012. Despite being in office for less than two years, Xi’s confidence has made him a mature leader who is not afraid of hardship. The image Xi presents to the public is unimaginable for others, even for friends and colleagues who used to be familiar with him. His every word is no longer an empty slogan, but from his deep thinking.

    Xi stressed that the road the country takes can determine its fate, and he proposed the dream of the great rejuvenation of China as the road to take while visiting the exhibition Road to Revival on November 29, 2012. This was also an announcement of his historical mission. And so we Chinese will no longer be those who were controlled by others. During Xi’ visit to Europe in 2014, he mentioned Chinese civilization and China’s road many times, declaring that "China the lion has already woken up". Xi has his own plan on how to revive the country, what kind of country China will be when revived, and how it will interact with other countries after reviving. Even though he is a leader who has not been in office for long, he has declared to the whole world that China will step into a new era under his leadership.

    The best strategy needs tactics

    Since ancient times, a weak nation’s diplomacy has been reactive rather than proactive. Culture and the military are normally regarded as the soft power and hard power with which a nation engages with the world.

    During more than 30 years of peace and rapid development, corruption has accrued within the People's Liberation Army. The investigations into Gu Junshan, the former deputy head of the logistics department of the PLA, and Xu Caihou, the former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, which made public earlier this year, are considered part of a determined strategy conducted by President Xi Jinping to improve the quality and spirit of the military.

    Remolding the spirit of the PLA should come before the rebuilding of its soul, and anti-corruption is seen as the only way to achieve this goal.

    "It will generate a fatal influence on national security if the development of the military lags behind. Words depicting how China’s ill-developed military were attacked always sent me into deep grief when I read history books", said President Xi Jinping, during a meeting on December 27, 2013. That day was also the first day after commemorating the 120th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birthday.

    The name of the meeting, though known to insiders as an important one, has not been disclosed to public.

    This quote is also listed in the newly published book titled Excerpts of Xi Jinping’s Remarks on Comprehensive and Deep Reforms.

    Military reform is going hand-in-hand with a campaign against military corruption. Military reform was also written into the reform package of the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, or the Third Plenum, which laid out plans to improve the defense industry, weaponry development, personnel training and military officers’ benefits.

    China’s official media have repeatedly stressed that President Xi Jinping has personally drawn up and is directing this round of national defense and army reform.

    Xi’s remarks at the unnamed meeting mentioned above fully express his strategy of building a modern military, said an analysis posted by an overseas edition of People’s Daily on its official WeChat, a popular instant messaging and phone mobile app in China.

    A military drill was staged in late July amid various anniversaries - the 20th anniversary of the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), the 100th anniversary of the First World War, and the founding of the PLA. The drill stood out from its predecessors as the PLA showed what it had got, making explicit its determination to win.

    China plans to establish a collaborative command center in the East China Sea that will integrate its army, navy and air forces in the area, according to media reports. The move is believed to aimed at improving tactical capability.

    The highest form of generalship is to balk (counter) the enemy's plans, said Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese military strategist. What the PLA is doing now is also using psychology to “balk the enemy’s plans”. Xi promoted the idea of national rejuvenation soon after taking office. He also declared to the world it was the awakening of a sleeping lion, a term used by Napoleon Bonaparte to describe China as a weak nation with potential power. These remarks have sent the message that China is an active player in the global arena, a rising power which increasingly adopts its own stance in its exchanges with the US and which is no longer shy of showing its military capabilities.

    Hard time for reform

    Xi is aware of what obstacles he faces in pushing through his military reform plans. “Difficulties can be solved when there is action, or else easy things can’t be done,” Xi once said at a meeting, quoting Peng Duanshu (1699-1779), a late official in Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). Military reform is part of the reform package, a 60-item resolution, released after the Third Plenary Session of 18th CPC Central Committee, which convened in Beijing last November. The reforms will transform society, economy, politics and culture. Born into a politically influential family, Xi has climbed the career ladder from bottom to top, preparing himself well by knowing all walks of life. Speaking of the new reforms, he said, “finished are the easier tasks that draw proponents, while left are the hot potatoes that draw opponents.”

    Xi is governing a country which has already risen to be the world’s second-largest economy, but whose further development is impaired by its lagging social welfare and old-fashioned governance philosophies. Faced with this lopsided development, on taking office Xi started to promote the Chinese Dream, a term that encapsulates a set of ideals, including a moderately prosperous society and national rejuvenation. For Xi, building a modern China does not mean replicating Western social norms, rather it means introducing the core socialist values of justice, fairness, democracy and freedom into society.

    As Xi has pointed out, China’s social problems are intertwined with one another and therefore reforms in different areas need to be carried out at the same time. China has been following the roadmap that was produced at the Third Plenum, with policy changes in family planning, urbanization, labor camps and administrative streamlining. Judicial, cultural and fiscal reforms are on the way. Military reform, which is seldom conducted in public, is also under way. Xi is also trying to establish new governance philosophies. But with various areas demanding reform measures, Xi has tough decisions to make in order to mediate between different interest groups.

    Xi has headed the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms and National Security Commission since the 18th CPC National Congress, to name just a few of 10 commissions Xi heads. Historian Xiao Gongqin has said that the strong leadership Xi represents will establish a golden era.

    The contrary view argues Xi developed a deep understanding of the harm of an out-of-order society and idolization through his experiences during the "cultural revolution "(1966-1976) and in rural areas.

    For Xi himself, regulations and laws are not only words written on papers, they must also be put into action.

    Xi, a holder of PhD in law, is seeking a route to modernization through law. The upcoming Fourth Plenary of the 18th CPC National Congress is also sending such a signal, as the conference’s theme is expected to be the rule of law.

    Prior to Xi becoming president, analysts said China needed a nimble and strong leader, able to deal with the problems and challenges that had arisen in the process of social transformation.

    While it seems that Xi has such talent.

    At the beginning of Xi’s presidency, he said that a new round of reform and open-up was the key to China’s future destiny. This was not just empty words. The Western media while agreeing with his words had little faith in his ability to push them through.

    Heroes make history, and history makes heroes. Xi launched a massive anti-corruption campaign to clean up the Party, sending the message he is a courageous and powerful leader. An online article saying “Xi has earned reverence of thousands of millions of Chinese people” has been creating a buzz online; this reverence toward their leader is distinct from idolization. Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore, has praised Xi as a man of “great breadth” and put him in “the Nelson Mandela class of persons”. Such compliments may seem premature, but China watchers have acknowledged that Xi’s ambitious inaugural declaration sounds more like a statesman’s plan than a political stunt.

    “China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move the world,” said Napoleon Bonaparte. Nearly 200 years, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced “the sleeping lion has woken up” on French soil.

    Xi made the remark when addressing a meeting in Paris in March to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations with France. Now Xi is gearing up for the awakened lion’s next move. It’s Xi’s moment to make history now.



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