Xi Jinping touts alternative to counter Western capitalism in speech on Mao

Xi Jinping touts alternative to counter Western capitalism in speech on Mao

Xi Jinping touts alternative to counter Western capitalism in speech on Mao

Chinese President Xi Jinping utilised a commemorative speech honoring the 130th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birth to advocate for a recently introduced framework aimed at countering the Western capitalist model.

According to a Bloomberg report, while addressing an event in Beijing to mark Mao’s 130th birth anniversary, Xi said, “The central task of the nation and its ruling Communist Party is to build China into a stronger country and rejuvenate the Chinese nation on all fronts by pursuing Chinese modernisation.”

He described Chinese modernisation – a vague concept he has been promoting since 2021 – as “a cause passed down from veteran revolutionaries including Mao Zedong” that is now “the solemn historical responsibility of today’s Chinese Communists”, added the report.

President Xi has consistently championed this idea at various events, presenting it as an alternative to the systems employed by the United States and its allies.

According to the flagship People’s Daily, Chinese modernisation is characterised by unique features such as benefiting a large population, achieving “common prosperity,” and developing peacefully.

According to the Bloomberg report, by tying his own project to Mao’s legacy, President Xi creates an opportunity for state media to portray him as an extension of the revered figure who is remembered as the founder of a new China. This narrative tends to downplay Mao’s role in the famine-inducing Great Leap Forward of the 1950s and the tumultuous Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and ’70s.

President Xi, whose government removed term limits in 2018, has spent over a decade consolidating power to levels not seen since Mao’s era. This consolidation has raised concerns among some investors about the absence of checks and balances on his ambitions. Additionally, the push to narrow the wealth gap has sparked fears of sweeping income redistribution.

In recent years, some officials have bestowed the title of “Xi lingxiu,” or “leader,” a term of praise previously reserved for Mao. President Xi has also taken steps to fill key positions with supporters, potentially reducing the likelihood of dissenting policy voices being heard.

China’s propaganda apparatus has intensified efforts to draw parallels between Mao and President Xi.

According to the report, a Communist Party research institute, in an article this month, argued that Mao should be remembered for his “high achievements and strong morals.”

The article concluded by stating, “It is a blessing for the party and the state, the people and the Chinese nation to have General Secretary Xi Jinping, another core of the party, leader of the people, and commander-in-chief of the army who enjoys popular support.”

During Tuesday’s speech, President Xi also reiterated the party’s stance on Taiwan, ahead of the upcoming presidential election on the island claimed by Beijing. He emphasised, “The motherland must and is bound to be reunified,” and called for “deepening cross-strait integration and development in all areas” to promote the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.

With inputs from agencies