Long live Emperor Xi

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Long live Emperor Xi

The author is director of the China Research Institute of the JoongAng Ilbo and CEO of China Lab.

How long will Xi Jinping stay in power? After securing his third consecutive term as general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), it is said that he has filled all the top leadership positions with his own people, opening the era for one-man rule, beyond one-party rule. Now, the focus is on how long the Xi Jinping era will last. In Xi’s term of 15 years plus alpha, how long will this alpha be? There are three examples for Xi’s extra-long rule.

The first is Mao Zedong. Born in 1893, Mao was the No. 1 man in China until his death in 1976. A ruler who does not retire and only comes down from power upon death is an emperor. Mao was called an “emperor,” but he was also called a “monster,” as his reign was at the expense of many lives. The monstrous emperor Mao stayed in power until the age of 83.

The second is Deng Xiaoping. Deng stepped down from the post of the chairman of the Military Committee in 1989, but he remained top leader until his death in 1997 at age 93. A serious problem of the first plenary session of the 13th CPC in 1987 was to gather at Deng’s house for a meeting and let Deng make the final decisions.

The third is Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin was born in 1952, a year before Xi. Putin has been the most powerful man in Russia since in 2000 at the age of 48. Following the revision of the Constitution, Putin can run for president again in 2024. If he serves two more six-year terms, he will be in power until 2036, until age 84.

Upon becoming the general secretary, Xi visited Putin and said, “You and I have so many similarities.” What do they have in common? It must be their obsession with power.

On Oct. 19, an article was published on Ming Pao in Hong Kong. It was an interview Gao Zhikai, a chair professor at Soochow University and an English translator for Deng. Gao recalled that Deng was the center of the world in 1986, as everyone wanted to meet Deng. He was 82 years old at the time.

Gao said that in 2035, when China would basically achieve modernization of socialism, Xi would be 82 years old.

If Xi resolves the Taiwan issue within his term, he would become a great figure in Chinese history. So it won’t be an issue if he stayed in power for another five years, said Gao. The mood-setting for Xi’s lifetime power has already begun.
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