The following is an excerpt from Matt Sheehan | September 20, 2015 | Huffingtonpost.com |
BEIJING -- This week President Barack Obama will host one of the other serious contenders for most powerful person on Earth: President Xi Jinping of China (pronounced “she jean-ping”). Just three years after taking the reins of power, Xi has already placed his stamp firmly on his country, his region and China’s relationship with the rest of the world.
The United States and China have been butting heads for years over everything from cyberattacks to territorial disputes in the South China Sea. With Xi almost guaranteed another seven more years in power, Obama and his successor will both need to wrestle with China-U.S. relations in the age of Xi. Here’s what you need to know about him.
Xi has quickly emerged as maybe the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. China’s previous leaders largely shunned the spotlight, portraying themselves as part of a group ruling by consensus. Xi has instead built a huge personal brand by employing strongman tactics at home and abroad.
In China, Xi has consolidated enormous personal power through a blistering crackdown on both corrupt officials and civil society activists. The prosecution of powerful officials (many who happen to be Xi’s political rivals) and the detention of civil rights lawyers have shocked China-watchers in their audacity and depth. Some scholars argue that the twin crackdowns reveal Xi’s vision for China’s future: not a liberal, electoral democracy, but an efficient authoritarian state with a strong leader at the helm.
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