The expression may make Westerners smile, but Xi Jinping is campaigning. A campaign with Chinese characteristics of course. With speckled foils. Without challengers but not without challenges. Without polls but not without questions. Without short sentences but not without ulterior motives. Without candidates but not without ambitions. With very beautiful images nonetheless. Like those aroused, Monday, September 13, by the inspection of Xi Jinping in Shaanxi, this province in northern China where Mao had taken refuge a dozen years after the Long March and where the parents of Xi met in 1943. Xi visiting a chemical factory, Xi chatting with peasants, Xi leaning over a relic of Maoism, Xi leaving a village in a simple minibus with tinted windows… The message is clear: the great leader remained close to the common people and faithful to his origins.
In power for ten years, Xi Jinping, 68, should have given way during the XXe Congress of the Communist Party, to be held in the fall of 2022. This was the rule imposed by Deng Xiaoping in 1982. But Xi Jinping having obtained in 2018 a modification of the Constitution allowing him to be president for life, he is more than likely that he will seek to be reappointed. Which ones? And for how long ? These are the two main questions.
Xi Jinping is General Secretary of the Communist Party, President of the Republic and Chairman of the Central Military Commission. Will he keep these three positions? Will he be ready to give up one? On the contrary, does he wish to re-establish – and occupy – the presidency of the Party, like Mao? The Sphinx leaves the mystery hovering. Perhaps we will know more in November. It is in two months that the last plenum of the Central Committee of the Party is held, the last major statutory meeting before the congress. We will talk about the history of the Party, thought of Xi Jinping but also, in principle, the composition of the next political office, since in 2022, nearly half of its 25 members will have reached 68 years, which is the age limit. All over China, thousands of quinquas and quinquas are waiting for this renewal which, by cascade effect, has repercussions on many Party cadres. But, obviously, Xi Jinping will not make his choices known until the last moment.
“Dual circulation” and “common prosperity”
However, one thing is certain: far from keeping a low profile in the home stretch, Xi Jinping has decided to step up the pace of reforms. These stem from two principles that appeared in 2020 and more closely linked than they seem: “Dual circulation”, which aims in fact to make China economically less dependent on foreign countries, and in particular on the United States, and “Common prosperity”, whose objective is to reduce social inequalities by requiring the richest – whether companies or individuals – to redistribute part of their fortune.
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