- To top US officials, most notably Pompeo, Xi is now no longer the “Chinese president”, but the “general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)”, a sign, say analysts, of efforts by the administration to delegitimise Xi’s rule, drive a wedge between party and populace and evoke loaded connotations with the Cold War-era.
- “There comes a point when the simple truth is he’s not president in the liberal democracy sense of [a] president who is elected and enjoys the political support of civil society and the population,” said Robin Cleveland, chair of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC).
- “He is an authoritarian dictator that sits atop a self-serving party,” she added. “So words matter.”
POINT TO NOTE
- Set up by Congress to advise lawmakers on the national security implications of the two countries’ economic ties, the USCC declared in its last annual report that it would no longer call Xi “president” but “general secretary”, which it called “the title by which he derives his authority.”
- Among the developments that have fuelled US perceptions of an increasingly hardlinerule under Xi were his removal of term limits; the treatment of ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang; the imposition of a sweeping national security law over Hong Kong; and Xi’s campaign to strengthen party supervision over all elements of civil society
POINT TO NOTE
- Xi holds three official titles: head of state (guojiazhuxi, literally “state chairman”), chairman of the central military commission, and general secretary of the CCP. Though none of those translate directly to “president”, and despite the fact that official Chinese missives and state media reports almost always lead with Xi’s party title, the English-speaking world has by and large favoured “president”.