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Tolerate Xi, No Other Option

Western powers may shudder at third term for Chinese President, India may be uneasy with the pit-bull, but then does world have a say?


“Over throw the dictator” posters and banners that donned Sitong Bridge overpass in Beijing. Similarly thousands of Chinese people gathered at one of the suburban town 45-kilometres away on eastern edge of Beijing protesting the repressive President Xi Jingping’s zero-covid 19 norms in three years.


These two instances are symptomatic of unease and restlessness within Chinese population against Oligarchs and multi-billionaires controlled Communist Party of China’s government even as the prima donna leader President Xi gets ready for third term coronation.

Rarest of the rare protests that ordinary working class people staged on Thursday demanding their right to travel to work places in Beijing is tip of the iceberg. Whatever may be the line pursued by official communist party organ, People’s Daily, information trickling across social media point to a section of Chinese people seeking change in the leadership.

South China Morning Post’s story talks of the protests that have sent larger message to President Xi Jingping and the Communist Party of China’s five years once national congress that begins its week-long session on Sunday.

“Say no to Covid test, yes to food. No to lockdown, yes to freedom. No to lies, yes to dignity. No to cultural revolution, yes to reform. No to the great leader, yes to vote. Don’t be a slave, be a citizen,” read banners during Thursday protests as per a dispatch of CNN. These liners sum up the ordinary folks’ aspirations in China.

“Go on strike, remove the dictator and national traitor Xi Jinping” pointed to the intent behind protest very succinctly.


Not that these protests, public outrage or demand for democratic governance structures would mean anything to the autocratic rule led by President Xi Jingping. Anointing Xi to the ‘core’ by central committee of CPC only reflects the sycophants that have filled in the high chair.

After having secured the ‘iconic status’, there’s nothing that may come in his way from continuing his lacklustre regime for another five years. Upper age limit of 68-years may not be applicable to President Xi. Party’s rule book that limits the Presidency to two terms also may not be a limiting factor. If reports from outlets like BBC were to be believed, President Xi will continue as ‘supreme leader’ for his life time.

Apart from revamping the seven member polit-bureau standing committee with his acolytes, President Xi may even be elevated to become chairman with executive powers, a post that was abolished at the twelfth national congress in 1982. Mao Zedong who shaped Communist Party of China in the formative years was the most popular and the only chairman of the leftist formation China had in aftermath of the long march. If President Xi were to get designated as the Chairman now or after five years, he’s bound to ensure that one of his stooges would be appointed as General Secretary with limited or no executive powers. The 25-member strong polit-bureau of the party to be announced next week end would have faces that are ‘very loyal’ to President Xi Jingping.

Along with third term for President Xi and reorganizing party and government’s top deck, there’s every possibility that Chinese military, political and party doctrine would get rewritten.


Western block led by US, Japan, Australia and some of their European allies are bound to mount fresh challenge to Chinese Indo-Pacific strategy apart from isolating China further on economic, trade and investments matrix. His signature projects like Belt and Roads Initiative that pushed lot many countries into the Chinese debt trap may get a leg up. China’s development and security initiatives would get redefined and fortified notwithstanding its own block making and criticism on dragon’s debt stranglehold.

China under President Xi’s third term would try and re-assert on security front, reimagine and re-energise its economy that took a huge hit last three years owing to Covid 19 pandemic. In a bid to bring the disenchanted communist cadres together and give a fillip to the world’s largest military, President Xi may lean heavily on the ‘nationalist sentiment and emotional China centric appeal’ that’s very anti-thesis of Communist party’s ideological stand.

Russia – Ukraine conflict that has had led to a huge energy crisis in entire Europe and China siding with President Putin serves as the perfect backdrop to CPC rewriting its doctrine on ‘development and security’.

For India, the fallout of possibly a more stringent CPC line, will be huge given that Beijing – New Delhi ties got redefined especially after East Ladakh adventurism attempted by President Xi and his cronies in last two years.  On economic front, there could be significant challenges as India readies to replace China across supply chains network including Defence equipment and services.

As India warms up to assume chairmanship of G-20 and China continues to hold reins of BRICS till June next year,  a huge change in bilateral and multi-lateral engagements in the region and beyond would shape the post-Covid 19 world. Also, with India being chair of UNSC as an elected member for two years, there’s likelihood of some churn in global organizations.

As a write up in South China Morning Post put it, western powers led by US may not like a third term for President Xi Jingping, but do they have an option. They have to live with it and the world will have to tolerate him for perhaps his lifetime. India will have to move its pawns with care and caution keeping the independent and balanced security and foreign policy stand intact.

(Author is director and chief executive, Centre for Integrated and Holistic Studies, New Delhi)

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