Xi Jinping visited the Hunan Province on September 16. What are his true intentions? Beyond the apparent meaning and the official speech, what messages does the Chinese president send?
Half of the blanket
He visited the Yao minority village in Shazhou, its infrastructure, and the exhibition hall, “the warmth of half the blanket.” What is this legendary episode? On November 6, 1934, the weather was already cold. The Red Army was passing through the village. Xu Jiexiu’s family offered three women from the Army to sleep in the warmth of their house. The wife, Xu Jiexiu slept with the three communists and the husband outside on a table. The Xu were very poor and did not even have a blanket. The three soldiers decided to leave their only blanket to the family, but the Xu refused. They insisted and finally cut the blanket in half and offered one half. The story was repeated to show the goodness of the Party towards the people. The trip highlights this benevolent relationship between the government and the Xi, who met the Xu children.
Hunan, DNA – Xi, legitimacy
Of course, any move has other meanings. Analyst Wang Jian deciphers it. First of all, it is carried out in Hunan. Symbolically, it takes place in a province that evokes the Communist Party. Hunan is Mao Zedong’s native province. The other symbolic place, visited by the top leaders when they want to convey a message, is Jiangxi, home to the first revolutionary bases and the Chinese Soviet republic in the 1930s. Jiangxi evokes the development of the CCP and Hunan, the DNA.
Internal struggles often animate the CCP. Xi wants to remind that it has the legitimacy, even the DNA of the CCP. Former senior leaders like Chen Yun – one of the Party’s eight immortals – did not want to leave the Party’s leadership to just anyone. It must remain in the circle of the first generations. Xi is the son of a senior leader. He is one of the leaders of the second generation -红二代 (second generation red).
The People and the Party
Xi is close to the people and their origins. The village visited has just been lifted out of poverty; at the time of his last visit in 2016, there was 57% poverty. The official storytelling does not fail to underline this. Moreover, at the international level, under the pressure of the architects of the White House’s Chinese policy, American officials are increasingly making the distinction between the Chinese Communist Party and China for political purposes. This trip is a reminder that the government and the people are one. The reported words show a rather humble attitude (姿态), “I came here to learn,” recalling the speeches of a time when people were encouraged to learn from each other’s experiences.
In these challenging times, with international tensions and the economic consequences of the trade war and the epidemic, the president needs the support of the Party; he wants to unite the troops behind him. Travel in recent decades has sometimes been used to convey messages. Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping have used them. Xi Jinping is no exception. Alongside the usual propaganda discourse, it is worth remembering that while little is known about decision-making at the highest levels, the information that does come out indicates that unanimity is far from reigning and that every leader always needs to defend and strengthen his position.
Wang Jian deciphers this shift as follows: Xi Jinping wants to recall its legitimacy, the government’s proximity to the people, and rally the Party around it. In other words, how a legendary cover story is exploited!
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19 September 2020