onsdag 2. januar 2019

China’s Crisis of Overconfidence

Since 2014, the state media have referred to Xi Jinping as “the core,” and at the Party’s 19th National Congress last year his leadership ideas were aggrandized as “Xi Jinping Thought,” the inclusion of his name being an honor no one since Mao Zedong has enjoyed. Combining the fever of the mass rally with the convenience of modern communication technology, the Chinese tech giant Tencent released a mobile phone app called “Clap for Xi” during the Party congress, allowing users to applaud along with the president’s more than three-hour speech by furiously tapping their smartphone screens.

Such a culture of inflated praise rapidly becomes corrosive, as China knows only too well from its own history. During the Great Leap Forward from 1958 to 1962, local officials blindly urged on by Mao rushed to report bumper harvests to fill the vacuum of enthusiasm, resulting ultimately in tens of millions of deaths by starvation in a misguided push to industrialize.