The World Today for November 25, 2021


Red Halo


If communists practiced canonization, Chinese President Xi Jinping would be a candidate for sainthood.

The honchos of the Chinese Communist Party recently “exalted” 68-year-old Xi as a “historical leader” of the country, Axios reported. Only the founder of the people’s republic, Mao Zedong, and the leader who inaugurated China’s successful version of capitalism in the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping, share the same honor.

The anointing occurred during the party’s 100th anniversary. The event had a triumphalist atmosphere. “The Chinese people have shown the world that the Chinese nation has achieved the tremendous transformation from standing up and becoming prosperous to growing strong,” a communique issued after the meeting said.

Since Chinese leaders scrapped a previous two-term limit for presidents in 2018, Xi is now set to claim a third term in office in late 2022, the Washington Post reported. The newspaper cited a heroic profile of Xi in the People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece. “Every scientific judgment, every assessment of the situation, every decision to reverse the situation — all needed great political courage and wisdom,” wrote the People’s Daily. “At the helm of this weighty ship was one man.”

But Xi’s China is arguably terrifying, say longtime observers of China.

As the Associated Press explained, the US Holocaust Museum recently issued a report that claimed China was perpetrating crimes against humanity against the Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic group in Xinjiang. One Radio Free Europe correspondent wondered why the international community was not condemning Xi and China more forcefully for the horrors of Xinjiang’s concentration camps.

China has also deployed mass surveillance technology that uses artificial intelligence, blockchain technology and cloud computing to oppress the Uyghurs, too, Radio Free Asia added.

But totalitarianism can be banal, too. The Atlantic described a recent controversy involving video games to illustrate how Xi exerts social control. Chinese officials have placed limits on youngsters playing too many video games. When a tech company suspected that an online player who self-identified as 60 years old but played at 3 a.m. was really a teenager who was flouting the law, they were able to use facial-recognition software to confirm that the player was indeed a senior.

Meanwhile, Xi dreams of China becoming a great power that dictates global geopolitical and economic conditions rather than one that must follow the US-led international order, argued Harvard University International Affairs Professor Tony Saich in the Guardian. He views the US and the West in decline as China and the East rise. Saich expected more crackdowns in Hong Kong and more interest in merging independent Taiwan with the mainland.

That’s not saintly behavior.

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