Not since Mao Zedong dominated the nation with his masterly blend of populism, fervor and fear has a Chinese leader commanded as much public awe as President Xi Jinping. The New York Times:
“The sons and daughters of China follow you forward hand in hand,” goes one soft-rock paean to Mr. Xi that has been downloaded thousands of times. “Great general secretary, beloved President Xi, the Chinese nation is sure to rejuvenate because we have you.”
Not since Mao dominated the nation with his masterly blend of populism, fervor and fear has a Chinese leader commanded so much public awe. Deng Xiaoping was a formidable power, but he disavowed the mania of the Mao era. Since then, fawning public displays over political leaders have been taboo. Mr. Xi’s immediate predecessor, Hu Jintao, made a virtue of dull self-effacement.
Not Papa Xi.
Some of his appeal stems from his war on corruption and from feel-good sloganeering like the “Chinese Dream,” his pitch for a rejuvenated, powerful nation. But the adoration has also been primed by relentless propaganda portraying Mr. Xi as an indomitable alloy of Superman and Everyman who holds up his own umbrella, kicks soccer balls and knows how to fire a rifle.
The piece is worth reading in full for the colorful details, but readers of TAI have long known what readers of the Times are finding out now: Papa Xi’s rise has been unprecedented in the recent Chinese context: he is centralizing power in a way China hasn’t seen since Mao.