Xi Jin­ping’s Throw­back Moves

Break­ing with a tra­di­tion of po­lit­i­cal mod­esty and tap­ping a ris­ing na­tion­al­ism, China’s leader is re­viv­ing a cult of per­son­al­ity to po­si­tion his coun­try as the world’s lead­ing su­per­power

Newsweek - - Contents - BY FRANÇOIS BOUGON @Fran­cois_bougon

in early oc­to­ber, vice pres­i­dent mike pence gave a speech in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., that, to many for­eign pol­icy an­a­lysts, sig­naled noth­ing less than the for­mal on­set of a 21st-cen­tury cold war. This time, China, a sin­gle-party dic­ta­tor­ship and the world’s sec­ond-largest econ­omy, is cast as the United States’ over­ar­ch­ing ad­ver­sary. Now, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is set to sit down with the man who leads China, Xi Jin­ping, at the G-20 sum­mit in De­cem­ber, in what may be a last ef­fort to avoid a po­ten­tially ru­inous trade war.

But who is Xi, what does he be­lieve and how does he gov­ern? French jour­nal­ist François Bougon set out to an­swer these ques­tions in a new book, In­side the Mind of Xi Jin­ping. As a for­mer Bei­jing cor­re­spon­dent for Agence France-presse, he watched Xi, the son of a rev­o­lu­tion­ary pi­o­neer, rise through the ranks of the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party to be­come such a tow­er­ing fig­ure that his name is al­ready in­scribed in its con­sti­tu­tion—“a priv­i­lege,” Bougon writes, “that only Mao Ze­dong, founder of the Party, has pre­vi­ously en­joyed in his life­time.”

As U.S. re­la­tions with Bei­jing sink to their low­est level since just af­ter the mas­sacre at Tianan­men Square in 1989, un­der­stand­ing Xi, the man who runs the most pop­u­lous na­tion on Earth, is ar­guably more im­por­tant than ever. —Bill Pow­ell

in 2009, there was a rare mo­ment of truth. Xi Jin­ping was in Mex­ico, the “back­yard” of China’s great Amer­i­can ri­val, shoring up his in­ter­na­tional stand­ing with mul­ti­ple trips abroad. It was Fe­bru­ary, and Xi was still only vice pres­i­dent, but al­ready one of the fa­vorites for the lead­er­ship. Stand­ing con­fi­dently be­hind the mi­cro­phone in front of the Chi­nese Em­bassy in Mex­ico, he faced a spe­cially se­lected au­di­ence of com­pa­tri­ots—ex­pats, diplo­mats, busi­ness­men

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