The rise of Xi Jinping, explained
How Xi Jinping became China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong
Help keep Vox free for everybody: http://www.vox.com/give-now
Subscribe to our channel and turn on notifications (🔔) so you don’t miss any videos: http://goo.gl/0bsAjO
Xi Jinping, president of China and general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party since 2012, is one of the most powerful political figures in the world. By initiating an unprecedented third term as China’s leader in October, 2022, Xi has signaled that he may plan to remain in power for life – making him the first Chinese leader since Mao Zedong to hold unchecked power over the People’s Republic of China.
But Xi’s connection to Mao goes deeper than a shared outlook that emphasizes unifying the party around a single leader. When Xi was just a young boy, his family – who had held elite party status thanks to his father’s pivotal role in Mao’s “Long March” in 1935 – was denounced during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, a chaotic decade of purges and persecution that saw even Mao’s closest allies removed from power. During this time, a teenaged Xi was forced to work hard labor in the countryside outside of Beijing, and his father was imprisoned.
Xi’s subsequent rise after Mao died in 1976 was a methodical process in using his restored elite status as leverage to gain prominent party positions in rural provinces around China, culminating in his promotion to the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in 2007.
From there, Xi pulled from Mao’s playbook: purging his political rivals and promoting those with whom he shared close personal ties. This process undid the work of Mao’s successor, Deng Xiaoping, to prevent the consolidation of power around a single leader in China.
By the time his third term began in October 2022, Xi had reshaped the party and Chinese military leadership to be fully packed with Xi loyalists. And even in the face of social upheaval surrounding his failed Zero Covid policy, Xi has shown no sign of giving up any of the power he has consolidated since taking over as leader of the country.
These books and podcasts below helped us understand Xi Jinping’s rise, Xi’s similarities to Mao, how politics changed in the PRC since its founding, and the structure and culture of the CCP:
Coalitions of the Weak by Victor Shih (Associate Professor in China and Pacific Relations at the University of California, San Diego)
Chinese Politics in the Xi Jinping Era by Cheng Li (scholar and expert in Chinese elite politics)
Party of One by Chun Han Wong (Reporter at the Wall Street Journal)
Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-first Century by Orville Schell and John Delury
The Prince by Sue-Lin Wong (Correspondent at The Economist)
These databases and papers were also helpful in gaining a better understanding of Xi Jinping’s alliances and the CCP structure under his terms:
Decoding Chinese Politics interactive by Asia Society Policy Institute
CCP Elite Database by UCSD/Victor Shih
China’s Political System in Charts: A Snapshot Before the 20th Party Congress by Susan V. Lawrence and Mari Y. Lee
Xi Jinping’s Inner Circle by Cheng Li
Vox is on a mission is to help everyone, regardless of income or status, understand our complicated world so that we can all help shape it. Part of that mission is keeping our work free.
You can help us do that by making a gift: http://www.vox.com/give-now
Watch our full video catalog: http://goo.gl/IZONyE
Follow Vox on TikTok: http://tiktok.com/@voxdotcom
Check out our articles: https://www.vox.com/
Listen to our podcasts: https://www.vox.com/podcasts