What’s the message in President Xi Jinping’s fortune cookie?

By Frank Bennett Rowder      

Xi Jinping shakes hands with Li Keqiang.

If China’s President Xi Jinping plans to make an unprecedented move and decides to extend his leadership after his second five-year term expires at the end of 2022, his successors may have a long wait.

     The official website of the People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece, is openly discussing the possibilities of Xi’s life term issues. Xi never hid his intention of concentrating his power and laying the foundation for his long term dictatorship. Recently, the signs have become clearer, such as his tightening control of propaganda and emphasizing his core status in major events, according to journalist Jason Chen.

       Xi’s ruling like a dictator has broken the long term custom within the party and has made many uneasy and even offended, Chen continues. They are trying to resist. However, the recent chaotic CCP’s policies in politics, economy and ideology, as well as the development of conflicts and confrontation can prove that Xi’s Emperor Dream may not be so easily realized as he thought.

      Probably the most qualified to succeed Xi, is 62-year-old Li Keqiang, currently Premier of the People’s Republic of China. An economist, he is one of the leading figures behind the country’s   economic policy. He is also the second-ranked member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the   Communist Party of China. Li was named the World’s 12th Most Powerful Person by Forbes in 2015-’16. 

        Li is critical of unnecessary government bureaucracy, particularly at the grassroots level. He believes that many lower-level officials fail to provide services to the public in an effective manner.

      He  is married to Cheng Hong, a professor at Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing. His father-in-law was once the deputy secretary of the Communist Youth League Central Committee.

      Chen considers two CCP candidates – Hu Chunhua and Sun Zhengcai – as rising stars in the race to succeed Li as premier, but doesn’t rule out the possibility of a dark horse such as Chen Miner, Xi’s close aide and best interpreter of his governing philosophies. However, there is a chance other less known candidates may surface before the CCP’s National Congress meets to elect Xi’s successor.

       Expect Washington to continue to keep a close watch on China’s policies throughout the years.

Rowder is an expert on foreign affairs and is a member of the Chicago Journalists Association board of directors and an associate board member of the Central Asian Productivity Research Center. He also writes for World Nordic News.