Xi Jinping channels Mao, calls on country to prepare for ‘struggle’

Domestic News

Taking a page out of an early predecessor’s playbook, General Secretary Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 has been using the word struggle (斗争 dòuzhēng) with increasing frequency in recent weeks. All central state media yesterday led with a report (EnglishChinese) on a speech Xi gave to Party officials, characterized by Reuters as a warning that the country is “facing a period of ‘concentrated risks’”:

Xi emphasizes “struggles” to achieve national rejuvenation

President Xi Jinping on Tuesday called on officials, particularly young officials, to maintain a fighting spirit and strengthen their ability to struggle, to strive for achieving the two centenary goals and the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.

Xi reminded the officials of both a hard-won historic opportunity and a series of major risks and tests the country faces, adding that maintaining a fighting spirit and strengthening the ability to struggle is a must in meeting the targets set by the Party.

He warned of growing complexity of risks and tests which can be “unthinkably challenging,” stressed the long-term nature of various struggles, and called for the courage to fight and the mettle to win.

He has reason to be worried. As Bloomberg reports:

Oxford Economics, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Bloomberg Economics on Tuesday all cut their forecasts for [China’s] gross domestic product growth in 2020 to below 6 percent as a result of increasing risks from the tariff war with the U.S. In addition, Bank of America’s Helen Qiao and others are warning that the government’s current approach to stimulus is proving insufficient…

That’s endangering President Xi Jinping’s ability to claim China has reached a “moderately prosperous society” that has doubled 2010 GDP by next year, as a rate above 6 percent in 2019 and 2020 would be needed.

But Xi is not just preparing the nation and his cadres for economic hard times. He is also continuing his campaign of directly linking himself to China’s revolutionary leaders, including and especially the former chairman, Mao Zedong. See this note from the Twitter account of a perceptive Beijing-based observer of Chinese politics:

Xi is really a faithful student of Mao…Throughout the speech, the key word is 斗争 “struggle” — which on my count appears 58 times in the state media readout…

You’ll recall Mao’s famous words on “struggle”:… struggle with the Heaven, the joy is boundless; struggle with the Earth, the joy is boundless; struggle with the People, the joy is boundless.


That same text from Mao in Chinese:

yǔ tiān dòu, qí lè wúqióng; yǔ dì dòu, qí lè wúqióng; yǔ rén dòu, qí lè wúqióng