China Under Xi Jinping - A New World Order | Key Events, Policies

Under Xi’s regime, China has witnessed profound changes, both domestically and globally.
China Under Xi Jinping - A New World Order | Key Events, Policies
China Under Xi Jinping - A New World Order | Key Events, Policies

With his right fist up and his left hand on a red leather copy of China’s constitution, Xi Jinping on Friday took oath as the Chinese President for a precedent-breaking third leadership term, cementing his place as the country’s most powerful ruler since founding father Mao Zedong.

Under Xi’s regime, China has witnessed profound changes, both domestically and globally. Here are some of the key events and decisions that has defined his presidency –

  • The heat on Taiwan

It was and is evident how all Chinese leaders since Mao have stressed the importance of “reunifying” China with the self-governed island of Taiwan.

However, under Xi, there have been some serious escalations with the Chinese army increasing its presence around Taiwan. From military drills to unprecedented incursions into the island’s air zone, Xi seems have to amped up the ante towards the neighbouring state.

  • International relations with US and allied countries

The perception of China in the West has significantly deteriorated in recent years. The decline was further accelerated under former US President Donald Trump who always had a hawkish eye on Beijing.

There are also concerns over human rights in the communist-ruled country, not to mention China’s aggression towards Taiwan that has further worsened the diplomatic relations.

  • The tug-of-war with India

In May 2020, Chinese and Indian troops engaged in aggressive face-offs and skirmishes at Sino-Indian border near Galwan in Ladakh where several soldiers from both sides were killed or injured. Few months later in September, shots were fired along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) for the first time since 45 years with both sides blaming each other for the firing.

Partial disengagements did take place from different locations until February 2021, however, the damage was already done. There were action on the economic front including cancellation and additional scrutiny of certain contracts with Chinese firms, and calls were also made to stop the entry of Chinese companies into strategic markets in India.

The government had also banned over 200 Chinese apps in the country like Tencent and Alibaba.

Multiple reasons have been cited for the trigger of these escalations, one of them being China’s territory grabbing technique which involves encroaching upon small parts of enemy territory over a large period of time.

  • The Tibetan ‘dis-connection’

China doesn’t like its neighbours and Tibet being one of them, is bound to witness Xi’s expansionist approach. The China-Tibet conflict is often viewed as an ethnic and/or religious conflict. This is understandable, given the prominence of ethnicity and religion in the conflict. 

However, the primary cause of the conflict has been Chinese governance, and the precipitating "Sinicization" of the region. While the Chinese government claims that it has successfully raised the standard of living in Tibet, many Tibetans believe that the modern policies have hurt the region.

Moreover, Tibetans are also angered by the Chinese government's intrusions on the political and cultural freedoms of their supposedly autonomous region. Despite Tibet officially having a "governor", real power resides with the Communist Party Secretary. 

  • PLA continues to grow, modernize

Xi’s desire to modernize and strengthen the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been paramount in his administration, closing the gaps with the United States, including the high seas and winds. Since 2012, China’s defence spending has more than doubled to USD 230 billion, compared with about USD 800 billion in the U.S.

During a speech in Beijing, he said, “We will enhance the military’s strategic capabilities for defending China’s sovereignty, security and development interests and see that the people’s armed forces effectively fulfill their missions and tasks in the new era.

  • COVID-19

It was the time when life practically halted. The coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic that gripped the world was first originated in Wuhan in 2020. China has since faced criticism by several countries for the handling of the virus that spread around the world with death toll exceeding in unimaginable numbers.

Lockdown triggered by the virus have also ravaged economies of many countries with some of them entering recession. It was also alleged that the COVID-19 virus was nothing but a bio-weapon to destabilize thriving economies.

Xi has also been criticised within China over the outbreak, with one outspoken professor accusing him of ruling “tyrannically”. The professor, who was later arrested, also alleged deception and censorship fostered by Xi for the spread of the virus.

  • ‘Till death do….keep me president’

In March 2018, Chinese lawmakers had passed changes to the constitution abolishing presidential term limits, paving way for Xi Jinping to rule the country potentially for life. The constitutional change essentially officially allows Xi to remain in office after the end of his second term, which was today (10 March 2023).

After Xi assumed leadership of the Communist Party in 2012, he ratcheted to power in levels not seen since Mao Zedong.

The two-consecutive-term limit to China's presidency was introduced in 1982 by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping with an aim to “avoid the kind of chaos and tumult that can sometimes happen when you have a single authoritarian leader, as China had with Mao Zedong."

  • Poverty eliminated but inequilty remains

The elimination of extreme poverty in China is described by Xi as one of the key Communist Party achievements of the past decade. However, inequality remains a tougher challenge, especially the gap between the urban and rural incomes.

Xi is seeking the tackle the same with his “common prosperity” policy but is somehow considered unreliable by the opposition.

Despite a slight decline in recent years, China still has one of the highest income inequalities among large economies including the United States.

  • What’s next?

Xi’s beginning of his third term could be challenging for him as the world’s second-largest economy faces major headwinds, from slowing growth and a troubled real estate sector to a declining birthrate.

He is slated to faces multiple challenges including an economy hobbled by three years of Covid curbs and also worsening relations with the West.

Chinese media reports a sweeping set of reforms, including setting up a new financial sector watchdog and national data agency, was approved in a move that may herald tighter restrictions on key sectors of the world's Number 2 economy.

According to several reports, China is slowly becoming a suffocating police state like the former Soviet Union as President Xi Jinping wanted the security apparatus under his direct grip.

There is also a possibility that a new police unit and state security organization will be created, which would be placed under the direct command of Xi, the "core" of the party's Central Committee.

Xi is also expected to beef up organizations related to state security and public security under a completely non-traditional framework.

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