October 1 was set to be a second coronation for Chinese President Xi Jinping. Instead, buffeted by multiple crises, National Day celebrations may serve to highlight just who is to blame for the country's current difficulties.
As the People's Republic marks its 70th anniversary, Xi's hold on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the wider political structure is tighter than ever. But with absolute control comes absolute responsibility; Xi may be the country's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, but like the Great Helmsman he is prone to overstepping, and he's vulnerable in ways Mao never was. As the challenges facing China continue to grow, so have the cracks in Xi's facade. Anti-government unrest in Hong Kong, the ongoing US-China trade war, and even rising pork prices are all major tests for Xi, and not ones on which he is achieving a passing grade.