ming the merciless

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Several of you have mentioned that, in commenting only upon Vlad the Impaler, I’m being a tad biased and should fill in some blanks wrt the other political chess-players on the world stage. Your wish is my command! In a tale of pantomime quality, the world’s most ambitious leader, Xi Jinping’s backstory is truly one of riches to rags and back to riches and goes some way to explaining why this man is on a mission like no other.

In exactly the same manner as President Putin was undeniably shaped by the siege of Leningrad, so too Xi by his struggle to survive the madness of China’s supreme leader, Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Born into a life of privilege as the son of a trusted comrade and Vice Premier, Xi soon had a rude awakening shortly after his ninth birthday, when his father was imprisoned and Xi found himself exiled to a cave in remote rural China. I kid you not. Having to survive by street-fighting and stealing proved all too much for his elder sister who subsequently hanged herself from a shower rail. Needless to say this had a dramatic effect on the young Xi and he made a Faustian pact to do what he had to do to return to the top, and this, in Communist China, meant being redder-than-red.

An entry-level position in the central commission proved to be the perfect opportunity to build relations with military leaders but the young Jinping was playing the long game and he had identified that commercial, God forbid, capitalist relations were going to prove equally valuable in enhancing one’s worth in the rapidly expanding China. This proved to be his trump card as he became adept at identifying and supporting promising local entrepreneurs, including a then-unknown Jack Ma of fledgling ebay-wannabe, Alibaba! Mind, Xi was operating so far under the radar that when the ballots for the 150 central committee positions were counted, he was 151st and the rules had to be changed to accommodate him. Furthermore, when it was asked “Who is Xi Jinping?” the answer was invariably “The husband of Peng Liyuan” – the famous folk singer he had married!

Long before Tiny Hands Trump entered the political arena, Xi had coined the phrase ‘make China great again’ and this has proved to be his guiding principle. For him, this means returning China firstly, to its position in Asia prior to the West’s interventions (witness its stance wrt Hong Kong, Tibet, Taiwan and the Koreas), and secondly, in the context of the emerging world order. His ‘Made in China 2025 ’ initiative relies on a hugely ambitious agenda of revitalising the internal Communist Party, reviving a high degree of nationalism, rebuilding its military prowess to revival that of the US and engineering an economic revolution within computing, robotics, weapons and AI. It will come as no surprise that success is measured not on profit, but on power.

Last year’s party congress saw, not only Xi Jinping’s second term of office, but his “thoughts” enshrined in China’s constitution, together with the very visible abandonment of looking for his potential successor. In short, if you challenge the man, you are challenging the party. Not the smartest of moves me-thinks, and the man that Trump refers to as “the King, a special man and a strong man” is obviously here to stay. As he has said himself “History looks kindly on those with resolve, with drive and ambition, and with plenty of guts. It will not wait for the hesitant, the apathetic or those shy of a challenge.” Xi Jinping: from princeling to outcast the national hero.