I applaud Time’s decision to name its Person of the Year “the silence breakers” — the people, mostly American women, who this year went public against powerful men who had raped or harassed them, launching the #MeToo movement.
Xi Jinping was only number three on Time’s list, after Donald Trump. But for us at SupChina, there can be only one person of the year, and that is Chinese Communist Party general secretary, president, chairman of the Central Military Commission, and Chairman of Everything Xi Jinping.
Like him or not, Xi has had a remarkable year:
- In January, Xi Jinping gave a speech at Davos, at the annual meeting of the global financial and political elite. Xi offered the power brokers assembled in the Swiss mountain village a vision of a connected world, open to trade. No matter how far from the Chinese reality that vision may be, it was much more compelling to many people than the descriptions of “American carnage” in Trump’s inauguration speech, which took place at around the same time.
- Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative to build infrastructure and grow commerce across held a forum in Beijing May, attended by 28 heads of state. 65 countries have signed on as supporters (see SupChina Belt and Road explainer for more).
- Xi’s extraordinary foreign travel schedule and endless rounds of meetings with foreign visitors in Beijing makes Donald Trump seem like a very low energy guy. You can scroll through an endless stream of photos of Xi visiting foreign lands at a dedicated Facebook page maintained by CCTV.
- Xi’s the core: the General Secretary began the year with state media enshrining him as the “core” (核心 héxīn) of the Party, a formula that his loyal underlings and state media repeated throughout the year.
- At the 19th Party Congress — see SupChina roundup — Xi reigned supreme. And he used the event to have “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism With Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” written into the Party constitution, making his position virtually unassailable. Listen to our Sinica Podcast with Jude Blanchette and Bill Bishop for more analysis.
- The chief executives of Google and Apple attended this year’s Wuzhen “World Internet Conference,” a sign of how seriously the world needs to take the concept of “internet sovereignty” that Xi has been promoting.
- Xi’s military reform program is strengthening the People’s Liberation Army and projecting the message that they are prepared to fight and win wars.
- Xi’s anti-corruption campaign continues, crushing both grafters and Xi’s political enemies (Wikipedia’s entry on the campaign give a good idea of its length and breadth.)
- Last but not least, how could I not mention the toilet revolution?
Come feast with us
Some things we published on SupChina this week you shouldn’t miss:
- The first of two pilot episodes of our new cooking show: Jiayang Fan of The New Yorker spices up your potato.
- Our guide to Chinese social media — it’s not just WeChat and Weibo.
- SupChina Sources 2017: our definitive directory of the websites and information services you need to stay informed about China.
Endangered birds for sale on Alibaba platform
Birding Beijing reports that Taobao, an ecommerce platform operated by Alibaba, has listings of critically endangered Yellow-breasted Buntings for sale, and has not responded to requests to remove the listings, despite the company’s PR efforts to portray itself as a friend of nature.
Today in excruciating propaganda
If you enjoy cringing, watch this new Xinhua News Agency video featuring foreigners who rap about the joys of living in China.