DCB #121: Xi Jinping’s Health Issues

To support us with a donation? Click here!Dialogue China BriefingTalking About China NowIssue 121 – December 1, 2022In This IssueThe articles shared here do not necessarily reflect the views of the briefing or Dialogue China. All articles sourced from WeChat public accounts unless otherwise noted.I. Dialogue China Viewpoints1. Talking About Xi Jinping’s Physical and Mental Health IssuesII. Policy2. How Crisis Accountability Works: A Political Analysis of China’s Response to Public Health EmergenciesIII. Politics3. Why is it Important to Pay Attention to the New Issues Raised by the Emerging Middle Class in China?4. The Role of the Chinese Communist Party’s Liaison Department in China’s Diplomacy5. United States – China Strategic Stalemate and Battle BufferIV. Finance and Business6. Why Has China’s Economy Always Been Resilient?Dialogue China Viewpoints1. Talking About Xi Jinping’s Physical and Mental Health IssuesWang Dan – UP Media Commentary – October 31, 2022The issue of Xi Jinping’s health is not a matter of gossip, but rather a reference variable for observing political developments in China. This perspective is all the more important now that Xi Jinping has become a great dictator. Under a dictatorship, the physical condition of the dictator – including mental health issues – has a crucial impact on the political situation. If Mao Zedong had not died, I fear China would not have been able to move toward the so-called “reform and opening up” era. And whether Putin’s current rash military confrontation with the Western world is related to his physical and even mental state is also a serious issue under discussion. The same analytical perspective applies, of course, to Xi Jinping. For the next five to ten years, China will be shrouded in the shadow of Xi Jinping’s monopoly of power. Now that Xi has concentrated all power in his hands, his every move will attract maximum attention.

Last week, the Communist Party of China held its 20th National Congress. At the opening ceremony on the morning of October 16, 2022, Xi Jinping delivered a political report to all delegates on behalf of the 19th Central Committee. During the nearly two-hour report, one detail worth noting is that Xi Jinping coughed frequently during his speech and repeatedly drank water to clear his throat. Some people have compared Xi’s speech at the 19th National Congress, which was even longer than the 20th National Congress, lasting more than three hours, and Xi read from the beginning to the end without frequently drinking water to soothe his throat. This raises the question: How is Xi Jinping’s health?
In recent years, Xi Jinping’s health has repeatedly attracted attention. For example, during his visit to Italy in March 2019, Xi Jinping was observed to be walking abnormally, seemingly with leg problems. In October 2021, Xi Jinping attended the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and coughed several times during his speech, clearly in poor condition. In May of 2022, British media broke the news that Xi Jinping had a cerebral artery aneurysm, and had previously been sent for emergency hospital care for a brain hemorrhage. But he insisted that he would not have surgery, and would only accept traditional Chinese medicine treatment. Since Communist rule is a black box, information is extremely opaque, and the health of top leaders is often the most closely held secret of authoritarian states, it is impossible to judge the truth of these reports. However, since Xi Jinping will turn 70 years old this year, it is normal for him to have some health problems. Judging from his violent coughing fits at several public events over the past two years, it is clear that he has health problems and shows no signs of improvement.
From another perspective, even if Xi Jinping’s health is not a serious problem now, it is likely to be one in the future. The new Politburo Standing Committee, which was unveiled at the close of the 20th National Congress, is completely composed of Xi Jinping’s loyal followers, and the previous situation of shared rule by various political factions is no longer in force. In the top leadership of the Communist Party, Xi has truly reached the status of absolute authority. We know that being a national leader is a difficult and demanding task, and that in democratic countries there is a tradition of negotiation and consensus building, where the top leader can rely on experts, aides and staff, and the general public to share the pressure on himself by listening to a wide range of opinions and making decisions that are in the best interest of society. But now that Xi Jinping has become such a dominant figure, no one in the Communist Party dares to oppose him. On the surface, it seems that Xi Jinping has consolidated all power and can now rest easy. But the negative effects of one-man dictatorship are only now beginning to emerge: because his subordinates are afraid of going against Xi’s wishes, they dare not make up their own minds about anything and must consult him on major and minor issues. What is more, Xi Jinping already likes to participate in and control all decision-making processes. This will increase the intensity of Xi’s work, and in the long run will of course affect his health.
Finally, as a dictator, Xi Jinping’s mental health demands more analysis. As mentioned above, Xi Jinping no longer has any opponents in the Communist Party. He seems to have consolidated political control and can relax. But throughout history, dictators often fall into a vicious psychological circle at this stage. The more no one dares to oppose him, the more he suspects whether others are really obedient, so he will try to test the loyalty of his subordinates by various means. In order to protect themselves, subordinates have to be more and more obedient and say only what Xi Jinping wants to hear. The more they do so, the more suspicious the leader becomes, and this leads to a vicious cycle. All dictators in history were suspicious, believing that everyone was lying to them and everyone wanted to harm them. This is the “delusion of persecution” that Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong had back in the day, and Xi Jinping – who is now following in Mao’s footsteps – will surely have the same psychological problem. Such a paranoid state of mind will be worsened by the challenges China faces in the future. And the outside world must not ignore the threat that the mental health of a dictator poses to his country, society and the rest of the world.【Back to TopPolicy2. How Crisis Accountability Works: A Political Analysis of China’s Response to Public Health EmergenciesLiang Yuzhu – Political Scientist – October 6, 2022Why Read This?
What makes accountability effective in crisis management? In response to this important question, the authors introduce a structured process analysis to comprehensively analyze the process of accountability of officials in the prevention and control of the new pneumonia epidemic in China and to explore the political basis behind accountability. From the perspective of political philosophy, the process of accountability in China is also a modification of utilitarianism, which simply pursues the maximization of overall benefits, and pursues substantive justice in a balance of accountability dynamism and responsiveness.(Read the full text

Back to topPolitics3. Why is it Important to Pay Attention to the New Issues Raised by the Emerging Middle Class in China?Beijing Cultural Review Editorial Board – Beijing Cultural Review – September 26, 2022Why Read This?
There is an important difference between China’s socialist path, whether it is precise poverty alleviation or common prosperity, and the pursuit of collective rights and freedom, and the logic of a market economy that seeks to maximize individual interests and the individualistic demands of the global middle class for rights. The latter is inevitably a beggar-thy-neighbor conservative political movement. China’s socialist practice of common prosperity will require overcoming the shocks of global conservatism and achieving a better way of governance for human society.(Read the full text

Back to topPolitics4. The Role of the Chinese Communist Party’s Liaison Department in China’s DiplomacyChristine Hackenesch – National Politics Scholar – October 16, 2022Why Read This?
The authors systematically analyze the critical role of the Liaison Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CCP) as an important component of Chinese diplomacy in enhancing China’s international influence and expanding party relations, an institution that is often overlooked in the study of China’s foreign relations. The authors systematically analyze the role of the Liaison Ministry since the beginning of the 21st century. The Ministry has maintained extensive contacts with the global political elite, made important contributions to Chinese diplomacy, and is of high strategic importance to China’s diplomatic efforts.(Read the full text

Back to topPolitics5. United States – China Strategic Stalemate and Battle BufferHuang Renwei – Political Science and International Relations Forum – October 13, 2022Why Read This?
The “United States – China strategic standoff phase” is an alternation of the battle intensification phase and the battle buffer phase. The overall judgment of this paper is that China and the United States will be in a strategic stalemate for about 30 years. Under this general judgment, the change of United States president may lead to a fine-tuning of China policy, resulting in the alternation of the battle intensification phase and the battle buffer phase. We should seize the “battle buffer” period to postpone the strategic showdown between China and the United States, and strive for greater strategic initiative.(Read the full text

Back to topFinance and Business6. Why Has China’s Economy Always Been Resilient?Xie Jiu – Sanlian Life Weekly – October 16, 2022Why Read This?
In 2022, China’s GDP growth rate was only 2.5% in the first half of the year, which is still a long way from the full-year target of 5.5%. However, since August and September, the key indicators of the Chinese economy have started to show signs of improvement, still preserving the spark of recovery for the Chinese economy. Because of the size of China’s economy, when some areas are under pressure, there are always other areas that can shine and contribute to China’s economy. Practice has proven that as long as we stick to the right direction of reform and opening up, we can activate the potential and vitality of the market entities and bring hope for China’s economic recovery.(Read the full text

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