Xi and some others

FA:

Xi’s accomplishments to date are undeniable. His efforts to consolidate institutional power paid off in March 2018, when he successfully maneuvered to eliminate the two-term limit on the presidency, ensuring that he could continue to hold three of the country’s most powerful positions — CCP general secretary, chairman of the Central Military Commission, and president — through at least 2027, if not beyond. His anticorruption campaign also continued to gain steam: in 2018, 621,000 officials were punished, a marked increase over the 527,000 detained in 2017.

And dozens of universities have raced to establish new institutes and departments devoted to the study of Xi Jinping thought, a 14-point manifesto that includes the inviolability of CCP leadership, the rule of law, enhanced national security, and socialism with Chinese characteristics, among other broad commitments.

Under Xi’s leadership, the party now has eyes everywhere — literally. As many as 200 million surveillance cameras have already been installed in an effort to reduce crime and control social unrest. The surveillance technology will also play an essential role in the 2020 national rollout of the country’s social credit system, which will evaluate people’s political and economic trustworthiness and reward and punish them accordingly. The CCP has now established party committees within nearly 70% of all private enterprises and joint ventures, in order to ensure that the businesses advance the interests of the state.

Beijing has also succeeded in constraining outside influences: thanks to a law passed two years ago, for example, the number of foreign nongovernmental organizations operating in China has fallen from more than 7,000 to just over 400. And “Made in China 2025” — China’s plan to protect its domestic firms from foreign competition in ten areas of critical cutting-edge technology — is well under way. The Sichuan provincial government, for example, has stipulated that for 15 types of medical devices, hospitals will be reimbursed only for procedures that use Chinese-manufactured devices.

Xi’s efforts to establish greater control at home have been matched by equally dramatic moves to assert control over areas China considers its sovereign territory. Xi has militarized seven artificial features in the South China Sea, and in January 2019, a Chinese naval official suggested that China might “further fortify” the islets if it feels threatened. As Beijing negotiates a South China Sea code of conduct with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, it seeks to exclude non-ASEAN or Chinese multinationals from oil exploration and to bar foreign powers from conducting military drills, unless agreed to by all signatories.

Meanwhile, Xi has increased the mainland’s political and economic control over Hong Kong, banning a pro-independence political party, calling on the Hong Kong media to resist pressure from “external forces” to criticize or challenge Beijing, and constructing a rail terminal on Hong Kong territory, which includes a customs check by China for travel to the mainland.

Xi has also adopted a range of coercive economic and political policies toward Taiwan, including reducing the number of mainland tourists to the island, successfully persuading multinationals not to recognize Taiwan as a separate entity, and convincing five countries to switch their diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the mainland, to try to advance his sovereignty claims. The Belt and Road Initiative — Xi’s grand-scale connectivity plan — now extends beyond Asia, Europe, and Africa to include Latin America. A little more than a year ago, the People’s Liberation Army set up a logistics base in Djibouti, and in private conversations, Chinese military officials acknowledge that scores more could follow.

Even as China expands its hard infrastructure — ports, railroads, highways, and pipelines — it has become an increasingly essential player in the technology sphere. Brands such as Alibaba, Lenovo, and Huawei have gone global, and more are on the horizon. A book by the Chinese tech guru Kai-Fu Lee proclaims that China will inevitably dominate in artificial intelligence — unsurprisingly, the book has become an international bestseller. Although Lee’s prediction may yet fall short, China is laying the foundation for AI leadership: two-thirds of the world’s investment in AI is in China, and China already boasts a commanding presence in areas such as drone and facial recognition technologies.

Also:

Zhang gave conflicting accounts of why she came to Mar-a-Lago on March 30, at one point saying she had been invited to attend a social event, according to an affidavit filed by a U.S. Secret Service agent. But she was found to be carrying several electronic devices, including a thumb-drive containing “malicious malware,” the Secret Service said. a search of her hotel room uncovered more than $8,000 in cash, as well as a “signal-detector” device used to reveal hidden cameras.

Xi is a seriously nasty tough cookie. Who is best to deal with him? (1) a mayor? (2) a fellow not holding any office who doesn’t like Israel? (3) a rep in Congress very concerned about parping cows? (4) a silly fellow? (5) The mayor is a Rhodes Scholar, so how about another Rhodes Scholar, or another Rhodes Scholar? Or maybe someone else? Choose carefully!

One Response to “Xi and some others”

  1. feeblemind Says:

    FA kinda gives a one sided account of Xi and China. OK. I get it. They should not be underestimated.

    Who is best to deal with Xi? I reckon the voters will decide, unless there is unprecedented voter fraud, which seems likely.

    The Chinese threat doesn’t seem to be taken seriously here by many people yet.

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