CHINA’S President Xi Jinping has been named the most powerful person on the planet by Forbes magazine for the first time, after he removed presidential term limits in the constitution of the world’s most populous country.
The World’s Most Powerful People ranking for 2018 was announced by Forbes on Tuesday, naming the 75 men and women from politics, business and other international institutions who “make the world turn”. The ranking considers the number of people over which a leader yields power; the financial resources they control; whether they’re powerful in multiple spheres; and if they actively used their power.
“Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, seizes the top spot for the first time ever,” wrote Forbes. “He enjoys a cult of personality not seen since Chairman Mao.”
Back in March, Xi removed presidential term limits from the Chinese constitution, theoretically allowing him to rule indefinitely. His personal political theory was also inserted into the constitution – an act not undertaken by a leader in China since Mao.
Russian President Vladimir Putin – who has ruled the country since 2000 and was named the world’s most powerful person for four years running – slid into second spot.
His US counterpart Donald Trump made it into third place. While Trump has had limited success in passing legislation and continues to be dogged by multiple scandals, “he’s still Commander in Chief of the world’s greatest economic and military power”, wrote Forbes.
India’s “hugely popular” Prime Minister Narendra Modi came in at ninth place under German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Pope Francis and tech billionaires Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, while “China’s second-most powerful man” Premier Li Keqiang was ranked 15.
One of China’s richest men Jack Ma came in at 21 – well above North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un (36) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (38). Forbes wrote of Kim that: “In practice, it’s unclear how much power he shares with military leaders. What’s clear is he’s fond of saber-rattling.”
Nevertheless, “he has near absolute control over the lives of the 25 million people who live in his country, and is known to punish dissent with death.”
Having taken a more dovish approach towards Pyongyang than his predecessor, South Korean President Moon Jae-in was ranked 53, while several Southeast Asian leaders also made the cut.
Presiding over Singapore’s “outsized financial presence on the world stage”, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was named at 61. Controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was put at 69, above his Indonesian counterpart Joko “Jokowi” Widodo at 74.
Ahead of the country’s elections in 2019, Forbes noted that it was Jokowi’s first time on the list and that his approval rating sits at 60 percent.