November 18, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9645

Russian Commentator Akopov Praises Xi's Monopolizing Power In China, Distinguishes Him From Mao, Broadly Hints At Parallel With Putin

November 18, 2021
Russia, China | Special Dispatch No. 9645

Ria Novosti commentator Peter Akopov, who regularly defends Kremlin policies, comments on Xi Jinping’s consolidation of power in China and takes pains to prove to his readers that Xi is no Mao. Mao Zedong is hardly a popular figure in Russian eyes. Mao was perceived in Russia as the person that shattered the unity of the Communist world and Russia and China even engaged in armed clashes. Mao was seen as a fanatic who launched the Great Cultural Revolution with its notable excesses at home and abroad. Therefore, Akopov seeks to distinguish Xi from Mao and deny that Xi is building a similar personality cult. Xi, like Vladimir Putin Russian leader, sees centralized rule as the only way to curb factionalism and ward off internal collapse.  Akopov broadly hints at the parallel between the Chinese leader and Putin and concludes: This is a Chinese lesson for Russia, as the two countries in fact have a lot in common, both plans and threats. And internal threats, for great power civilizations, are always more dangerous than external ones.

Akopov's commentary follows below:[1]

Xi Jinping and Mao (Source:

"China now has a new leader. The Communist Party [of China] has proclaimed Xi Jinping to be "helmsman." Wherein, only Mao Zedong bore this title." This sums up the world press (including part of the Russian media) reaction to the plenum of the CPC Central Committee that concluded in Beijing.

"The Central Committee resolutions on the main achievements and historical experience of the of the Party’s centennial struggle " adopted at the plenum made no mention of "a helmsman." However, at the news conference following the plenum, the CC official did use an adjective in reference to Xi, which can be translated as "helmsman, captain" and [the media] was off and running. And no one cared that the word used by the official was "zhangdoche" and not "doshou," as Mao was called. Well, who cares about these trivialities if one seeks confirmation that China has conclusively returned to autocracy, which has been labeled as the main threat to democracy?

"Divination in the viscous Chinese  situation is a favorite pastime of Western analysts. The other day there were even leaks that it's getting harder and harder for the US intelligence to get information about Xi's inner circle. This makes the White House nervous. Because, according to the "South China Morning Post" newspaper, citing US sources, Washington is trying to anticipate Beijing's next moves… and can’t do so. America has already been "caught off guard by a number of developments, including Beijing's increasing control of Hong Kong, China's increased military presence in the South China Sea, limitations on the investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as intensified cyber-attacks on China's adversaries," [reads the paper].

"My goodness!" It has become quite difficult to spy on Chinese leaders and their circle (it's hard spying on Russian leaders, too), and this China is so "unpredictable!" [Akopov mocks the US]. I would like to provide the US administration with very simple advice: don't try to analyze a struggle for power in the Celestial Empire (and in Russia), but get to the roots, understand the interests and goals of these countries' leadership. In this case it will also be easier to forecast, especially since China is not hiding its interests and plans. Then the issue of the country's leadership composition will also be much more understandable.

"Of course, a lot depends on the chief executive, especially in such a large and complex country as China. However, Xi's intention to rule for a long time became clear soon after his election to the highest office in 2012. This fact became an open secret in 2017, that is by the last CPC Congress.

"The two-term limit for the first person [meaning the office of General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party] that existed for a quarter of a century was effectively lifted (no potentially old enough successor candidate was elected to the Politburo Standing Committee at the congress). Thus, so any sane expert on China could have said that Xi Jinping wouldn’t leave the General Secretary post in 2022.

"A year later, in 2018, the limits on the number of terms for holding the office of the Chinese president were removed too. Still, all these years the world has been discussing when Xi will leave the office, what factions in the Chinese leadership are fighting with each other [for power], and other very "meaningful" topics.

"These talks are partly reminiscent of the endless discussions on the "transfer of power" in Russia that were pointless and far-fetched even before last year's amendment to the Constitution, which allowed Putin to run for president's office in 2024.

"Xi Jinping is now 68 years old, and he will rule China as long as his health allows him. This is a conscious choice by the Chinese leadership, which has almost always been collective in nature. The short period, when there was no collective leadership, was during the "Cultural Revolution" (although even back then Mao ruled through a collective. The thing is, it was just a collective of upstart leftists). But this period is perceived as a dark page of Chinese history.

"Xi himself suffered in the course of the Cultural Revolution, though not very much. However, he was the son of one of Mao's comrades-in-arms, the deputy prime minister, and survived exile in the countryside. So now, there is no reason to speculate about a new "great helmsman." Xi's merits are acknowledged in the founding Party documents, which refer to his thoughts as "the correct development on the road to the Sinification of Marxism." (However, the party's founding documents also mention his predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, who are still alive).

"Xi Jinping's thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, which constitute the Marxism of modern China and the Marxism of the twenty-first century, as well as the quintessence of Chinese culture and the Chinese spirit in the modern era, mark a new leap in the Sinification of Marxism. The Communist Party of China has defined the role of Comrade Xi Jinping as the guiding nucleus of the CPC Central Committee and of the entire Party, and has affirmed the leading role of Xi Jinping's thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for the new era."

"The term "guiding nucleus of the Central Committee" has long been employed with reference to Xi Jinping, so there is nothing new in the plenum's resolution. China has consciously withdrawn from the temporary practice of regularly rotating the chief executive, because it realized that it does not help, but instead hinders progress.

"Cronyism and corruption are indeed huge problems for China, but even greater is the struggle for power that they engender. Regional, service (work associates), the military and other factions should not be the prevailing powers, otherwise this can lead to a state crisis, turmoil and the country’s collapse. The CCP has mastered this lesson of Chinese history.

"Xi seeks the stability of supreme power (amidst a constant rotation of officialdom and the function of social mobility) to ensure the achievement of strategic objectives and the main goal, i.e. the transformation of China into a "great socialist power in all respects" by 2049. Meanwhile, Xi correctly understands the main problem on this path. And this problem is not external, but internal in nature, "In order to respond adequately to the main contradiction in Chinese society (between the population's growing material needs and an unequal and unbalanced level of development), the party must focus on enriching the entire population. This is the guarantee for [the Party's] long-term stay in power."

"This is a quote from Xi's August speech made during the meeting of the CPC Central Financial and Economic Commission, which was made public recently.

"It is clearly a definitive programmatic speech, which, by the way, starts with a reference to the times of Deng Xiaoping, to the beginning of market reforms, when the Party "comprehensively scrutinized the positive and negative aspects of its historical experience," "We deeply understood that poverty is incompatible with socialism [isn't compatible with socialism]. Thus, the CCP abandoned the planned economy and allowed parts of Chinese society and some regions to get rich. The liberalization conducted facilitated the discovery and unleashing the potential of society's productive forces.

"But rapid development gave rise to serious inequality. Thus, the Chinese leader warns, "Today Humanity faces a dire problem of economic inequality. In a number of countries, an increasing gap between rich and poor, as well as the crisis of the middle class have led to social division, political polarization and populism. This is an important lesson for us. In order to maintain social harmony and stability in China, we must prevent the polarization of our society and achieve a decent standard of living for every person. We shouldn't forget that the problem of unbalanced and insufficient development remains acute in our country."

"Meanwhile, Xi proposes specific measures and ways to combat inequality and sets up the goal, "We aim for an 'oval' structure of society, i.e. the one with a predominance of the middle class and a small share of the very rich and the very poor. It will be a society based on fairness, in which opportunities for universal development and enrichment are created for everyone."

"Naturally the Chinese are materialists, but their communist leaders understand the importance of ideals and spirit. That is why Xi deciphered "universal enrichment" as the material and spiritual enrichment of every resident.

"Previously, mainly in foreign countries there were talks of a "Chinese miracle," but now Beijing, too, uses the term in official documents referencing the nation's great revival. What's interesting the term is not used in the singular, "China has, in just a few decades, finalized the industrialization that lasted in the developed countries for several centuries, and has created two miracles: sustaining dynamic economic growth and maintaining long-lasting social stability."

"The second miracle is even more important for China than the first one, because without it there will be neither a great country nor a great future. Xi Jinping is well aware of this fact and will do everything in his power to build a just society in China in order to prevent the contradictions created by rapid growth (which external forces are also trying to use [against China]) from blowing up the country.

"That is why his country needs him as a helmsman, and not at all for the goal imitating Mao. This is a Chinese lesson for Russia, as the two countries in fact have a lot in common, both plans and threats. And internal threats for the great powers-civilizations are always more dangerous than external ones."

Peter Akopov (Source:


[1], November 14 2020.

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