China’s latest boss appears headed for the Communist Pantheon, reports Asia Sentinel
He is not yet one of the “saints” of the Chinese Communist Party along with Mao and Deng. But already, after less than two years in office, Xi Jinping is, to borrow a phrase from the Catholic Church, being “beatified” – given pre-sainthood status.
On successive days last week, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post published full-page features drawing attention to Xi’s exalted power and status, in effect condemning his two predecessors, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, to insignificance.
The SCMP is edited by a mainland Chinese long assumed to be a party member expected to promote party views while trying to present the SCMP, Hong Kong’s leading English-language paper, as a forum for diverse news and views.
In its Aug. 22 issue, the SCMP used the 110th anniversary of Deng’s birth not just to recall Deng’s contributions to China’s development and the return of Hong Kong, but went out of its way to link Xi to Deng. The overlines to the main article read: “President Xi Jinping’s efforts to exert China’s influence on the world stage mirror those of the former paramount leader who would be 110 today.”
It went on to compare Deng with Xi’s “flexing the country’s military muscle and asserting China’s involvement in regional affairs.” While acknowledging that Deng’s policy had actually been one of lying low internationally while building the economy and modernizing society, it implied that China is now in a position to make demands and get at least some of what it wants internationally. Nor did it stop to consider the impact of Xi’s adventurism on China’s standing among its neighbors, particularly the supposedly weak but populous – and increasingly unnerved — countries of Southeast Asia.
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