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Chinese President Takes Third Term, Seeks International Influence

National

Chinese President Xi Jinping | Image by REUTERS

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Xi Jinping is poised to assume a third five-year term as president of China after 2,300 delegates met in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People to elect the top leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on October 16.

The decision to endorse Xi’s “core” leadership position came just after former Chairman Hu Jintao was unexpectedly and reluctantly removed from the CCP Congress, which state media has claimed was due to him not feeling well.

Xi took over for Hu a decade ago to become just the fourth “core” leader of the CCP. Since then, he has allegedly overseen the “re-education camps” of the Uyghur Muslims and instilled a social credit system that encourages neighbors to report others’ behaviors to the state and inflict social penalties upon its citizens.

Also, in recent years, China has instituted a zero-COVID policy, which gives the Chinese government stricter control over the movement of its citizens.

The Chinese economy has allegedly been weakened during Xi’s tenure, partly due to the zero-COVID policy. As a result, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the Chinese economy to only grow 3.3% in 2022.

Last week, citizens of China took to the streets to demonstrate opposition to President Xi, a stagnating economy, and the zero-COVID policy.

Unlike in the U.S., China’s citizens have no right to peaceful demonstrations and face harsh penalties for protests, similar to the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989.

Despite the threat of repercussions, citizens hung two banners over a bridge in northwest Beijing before authorities stopped them.

One sign read, “No Covid test; we want to eat. No restrictions; we want freedom. No lies; we want dignity. No Cultural Revolution; we want reform. No leaders; we want votes. By not being slaves, we can be citizens.”

China has a history of totalitarian leaders, dating back to president Mao Zedong — the last Chinese leader to serve a third consecutive “term.” Mao led the Chinese Communist Party from 1935 until his death in 1976.

“China under Mao was a totalitarian system. We’re not there yet, but we’re moving in that direction,” explained Professor Steve Tsang, the director of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

Moreover, Xi, age 69, has promoted a philosophy labeled “Xi Jinping Thought,” which has become the CCP’s philosophy.

As a form of socialism, “Xi Jinping Thought” is generally skeptical of individual autonomy and private business.

With power stemming from the second-largest economy in the world, China’s influence and “Xi Jinping Thought” extends far beyond its borders.

For example, Latin America and Africa now host Chinese military deployments, and China owns nearly $1 trillion of American debt and is now reportedly acquiring substantial amounts of U.S. real estate.

As a result, some fear that the U.S. is indirectly subject to China’s economic and social policies.

“America is more and more resembling an economic subsidiary of China,” suggested cybersecurity expert Thomas P. Vartanian.

Close to home, Chinese nationals appear to be attempting to acquire Texas land. In 2016, the well-connected Chinese billionaire Sun Guangxin bought 140,000 acres of Texas real estate in Val Verde County along the southern border, reportedly to build a wind farm.

Because Sun has an extensive history of maintaining direct ties to the CCP, lawmakers have claimed Sun’s acquisition of Texas properties makes the state more vulnerable.

By allowing Chinese companies with alleged government ties to gain West Texas land, the CCP “will gain access to security industry alerts, private industry insights, and national security threat assessments,” explained former Texas House Representative Will Hurd.

In response to the perceived threat, Governor Greg Abbott signed the Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act on June 7, 2021. It prevents businesses associated with hostile nations from accessing and influencing the Texas power grid.

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