fredag 7. september 2018

Geremie R. Barmé: Peak Xi Jinping?

At the start of the Cultural Revolution in May 1966, Lin Biao, the man who had created the Little Red Book of Mao quotations and who was the head of China’s People’s Liberation Army, declared: “Every statement by Chairman Mao is the Truth; one sentence of his is worth more than 10,000 sentences of ours.” 

The adulation of Xi Jinping, China’s State President, Party General Secretary, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, has yet to reach similar lofty heights. However, on September 3, the official Beijing media took a brave step in the direction of Mao-era excess. In reporting on the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and Xi Jinping’s meetings and talks with various heads of African nations, the front page of the People’s Daily featured Xi’s name no fewer than 45 times. Looking for all the world like an artist’s spoof, a work of Sino-surrealism, the front page may eventually become a collector’s item. Or does it represent China’s new normal? Rong Jian, a well known critic of Party-state absurdities, immediately commented via Twitter: “This is astounding; surely not the work of rational minds. Or is it really their mindset? Maybe there’s a medical explanation for it?”