Op-Ed: In China, Xi Jinping is getting an unprecedented third term. What should the world expect?
In November, President Xi Jinping ascended to the Chinese throne at the age of 39. He became, at least in the eyes of his countrymen, the youngest leader in the world. The Chinese press has named him its “Iron Fist” while, for the second time in the history of the country, millions of people lined the streets of Beijing to cheer him to the top of a tower.
Xi’s ascension came as a surprise to many of his countrymen. Having served as vice-premier during the previous four years, he was not considered a serious successor to Hu, the outgoing president and Communist Party leader. But Xi has surprised many by his speed of decision-making and ability to get things done.
In just three and a half years, Xi has reshuffled his cabinet, appointed vice-premiers and ministers based on his intuition and experience, and has promoted the party secretary for propaganda to prime minister for the fourth time.
Xi is a master of modern leadership. The son of a poor family, he was the first generation to grow up in China in a world with a strong communist party and strong state. Growing up, Xi was encouraged and trained and given space to be himself. He is an innovator of the old school.
I met Chinese President Xi Jinping in a small interview during which he sat in a plastic chair and didn’t eat and drink anything except water. He is a vegetarian and his favorite food is tofu. He is a vegan (at least in public).
But one thing is certain: Xi will not let the Communist Party down in his third term as president.
Xi does have one major shortcoming. He is known in China for his stern but fair attitude. But Xi is also known for his authoritarianism and the heavy hand he has used in the past few months in dealing with the internet in China — a power that is often abused.
As such, in a country where the internet is an important source of information, information, and communication, and where every citizen is supposed to have access to information, it is surprising that the internet has been shut down and the people of China are being asked to stay home and socialize with their families. On August 15, at least 17 people died after a truck drove into a