Xi Jinping once wielded total control over China and its institutions, the leader seemingly faced no direct challenges from within the CPC (Communist Party of China). However, of late, Beijing’s problems have multiplied tenfold; this rattled the sleeping dragon so much that it was forced to trouble neighbours such as India, Myanmar and Vietnam with whom it has no ostensible beef in order to distract its people from the failures of Xi sticking out belligerently like a sore thumb.
Although everything did seem to be going according to plan until 2019, the COVID pandemic not only presented a plethora of challenges to all countries — with each one fighting a slightly different version of the same problem, it also generated a lot of bad blood and internal conflicts in China.
China is no different and just like all roads lead to Rome, all of Red Dragon’s current problems directly lead to Xi Jinping. And this is starting to present a multitude of concerns for the “President for life”. The Wuhan virus outbreak appears only to be a pitstop in the increasingly troubled reign of Jinping, here’s why:
The Three Pledges
Xi Jinping became China’s president in 2013 and although a Communist country, his politburo (parliament) which elected him to power did so based on the three promises he made to his party and his people and they are:
- To end poverty by 2020
- To position China as a tech superpower
- To complete the Belt and Road Initiative
Poverty eradication – a distant dream
The Chinese president’s legacy projects were upended primarily due to the COVID pandemic and it has led to him facing the biggest threats in his career so far. Not only is China falling behind in the race to end poverty, as Xi Jinping promised, but it is also nowhere close to fulfilling the founding principles of China’s communist manifesto. According to local Chinese tabloid estimates, 80 million people were pushed to unemployment by the end of March this year. And its problems have only increased since.
China’s poverty eradication foresight has been put on hold as more people are now unemployed and below the poverty line than anytime before in China’s recent political history.
Tech powerhouse ambitions shattered
After setting out to challenge America on the back of decades of IP floutation, Beijing is now quickly on the back-foot with its tail tucked behind, with Chinese firms pleading with foreign countries for an opportunity to prove that its functions and operations are independent of the Chinese administration. As more countries start banning Chinese apps and gadgets, China’s tech dream has been blunted and faces an insurmountable trust deficit.
Apps, phones, 5G monopoly have all been banned one after the other by multiple countries; either following the US or India’s lead to sustain privacy, and ensure national security remains untethered. Why is this relevant? Simply because it will no longer dictate the terms of the internet, nor will it try to influence national policies in other countries.
Belt and Road Initiative or Belt and Roadblocks?
As the pandemic continues to threaten Xi Jinping’s legacy, his most ambitious project, the crown jewel of his career has hit severe roadblocks. With countries one after the other pulling out of the pact or calling for reviews of loan structures, the weight of the pandemic is truly setting on Xi’s shoulders. Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Nigeria are just some of them threatening to pull out of the treaty or stall the BRI dream. China has so far granted over $145 billion dollars in loans to African countries, the African Union now wants Beijing to forgive this debt and is even in serious consideration of reviewing the agreement owing to China’s reputation of debt trap hanging like a loose cannon. Djibouti, Tajikistan, Maldives, Madagascar, Pakistan, Montenegro, Sri Lanka and Iran are just some that have fallen prey to China’s debt-trap diplomacy.
Notably, Xi Jinping took office when China was the fastest growing economy, he has not only effectively run it down to the ground but has also made foes of friends, neighbours, and allies alike, all due to vanity and misguided notion of self-worth. China now stands at the dock overlooking the bay, accused of exporting deadly viruses, swallowing foreign lands, claiming international waters illegally, and for lack of a better word, turning into a rogue nation that betrays and bullies allies, violates human rights and targets minorities. And in hindsight, all of this can be traced back to the president himself.
CPC’s Big Red Purge
Xi Jinping has ordered a fresh round of purges in a major shake-up after the humiliating LAC defeat to India. Over two dozen police and judicial officials are being interrogated with dozens more reportedly fired from office, according to news agency ANI.
A Wall Street Journal report stated that a top aide to Xi Jinping was called in for a purge in July and was told that it was ‘time to turn the blade of a knife inwards to cure the “poison”.’ Millions of party cadres are potentially being targeted and spied on, while several hundreds could be at risk for speaking against Xi Jinping.
In an opinion piece for Newsweek written by Gordon G Chang, a Chinese lawyer and political commentator, it was stated that the Chinese president has risked his future prospects and that of his country’s with respect to the recent high-profile LAC incursion failure by the PLA. He noted that China’s failure to push around the Indian troops in the LAC in political terms translates to the inability of Chinese President Xi Jinping to intimidate anyone. He further added that the ‘architect of these aggressive moves has unexpectedly flopped.’
The repeated failure on the part of Xi Jinping and his leadership has been speculated to mean that the “Chairman” will renew his bid to launch another offensive against Indian posts along Pangong Tso and LAC sooner or later. Incriminating evidence attesting to this theory is already mounting with reports being circulated about underground cables being laid on the Chinese side to enhance internal Army communication. It was also reported that the Chinese authorities are closely monitoring over 10,000 groups and POIs (persons of interests) in India to understand the political, cultural and geographical landscape of the country better.
With all of this culminating as a cause for worry, Xi Jinping continues to stay sleepless in Beijing as tensions flare within the party with rumours of an internal purge or “cleanse” growing steadily.