Lots of sports going on right now. Major League Baseball is proving once again that there are too many teams in its playoff system. College and professional football are both in mid-season form. The NBA and NHL seasons are kicking off. And over in China, the Communist Party Congress is meeting to decide on how to run the country for the next five years. (Do you suppose that once-every-half-a-decade system would work for the U.S. of A.? It would certainly cut down on the continual bloviating we’re now all subject to from Washington, D.C.)
I consider the happenings in Beijing to be a type of sport because they’re definitely spectator-oriented, and apparently there are a lot of games being played behind the scenes before the players even take the stage. We don’t get to see those preliminary battles, of course, but I think it’s fun to try to imagine what’s going on before the red curtain parts.
As expected, Xi Jinping is the superstar of the spectacle. According to reports, Xi paid his dues for many years, rising steadily through the ranks of the Communist Party from a young age. His dad, Xi Zhongxun, apparently was once a deputy prime minister and an early backer of Mao Zedong (or Mao Tse-tung, if you’re over 55). Alas, Xi Z fell out of favor during the Cultural Revolution (i.e., purge) after he said some things he shouldn’t have about the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident. (It cost dad six years as a manual laborer on an agricultural commune.) But it seems none of those tar and feathers stuck to son Xi, who now finds himself not only head honcho for the last ten years, but on track to continue in the top spot for at least another five.
Xi paved the way for his continued tenure in office by rearranging the Chinese Constitution a few years ago. (I’m pretty sure a guy named Putin did something similar in another country of dubious democracy.) At any rate, it’s assumed at this juncture by a whole host of China-watchers that Xi will emerge as the head of the all-powerful Standing Committee when it marches out center stage immediately after the Congress concludes. The seven members of that committee just might be folks totally loyal to Xi and eager to do his bidding.
That’s the foregone conclusion of what’s taking place in secret as I write this. With minimal opposition . . . well, minimal living opposition . . . the conversations in those smoke-filled enclaves might be just a tad one-sided. But perhaps fun to creatively eavesdrop on.
Xi: I want another term.
CHORUS OF SYCOPHANTS: Yes, sir! You got it, Boss! Can’t think of anything better! Count on our support!
Xi: No obvious successor will be named as part of the Standing Seven.
CHORUS: No way! Absolutely not! Perish the thought! You da man! Nobody else is worthy!
Xi: I want no dissent.
CHORUS: Not a peep! Consider it stifled!
Xi: And a crackdown on corruption.
CHORUS: Bam! Done! Prison’s too good for ’em! Early retirement for all potential rivals!
Xi: Taiwan is non-negotiable.
CHORUS: You got that right! They’re losers! Sore losers! We own ’em!
Xi: No mention of poor economic news.
CHORUS: None! It’s all good! What’s a couple percentage points off the Gross Domestic Product target among friends, anyhow?
Xi: And everybody still wears a mask.
CHORUS: Got ours with us! Your picture’s on all of them! Who cares if the restrictions caused production to plummet and total societal disruption! Our people are used to suffering! Builds character!
Xi: I want my writings to be a best-seller.
CHORUS: Got our copies of “Xi Jinping Thought” right here! A real page-turner! Belongs in every home! Every room of every home! Should be memorized by schoolchildren!
Xi: No mention of Tibet, Hong Kong, or Xinjiang.
CHORUS: What human rights abuses and repression? Never heard of ’em! All those also-rans are lucky we’re here to help!
Xi: And not a peep out of any Uighurs.
CHORUS: Re-education camps for all! It’s a silly name anyhow! And they’re all getting vocational skills training, so what’s the fuss?
Hey, when one guy seemingly has all the power, he can pretty much tell the Congress what the Congress is going to do. A couple of our own presidents tried that trick. Didn’t work really well. Here’s hoping Xi Jinping is smart enough to know he doesn’t have all the answers. And, as with any sport, sometimes the game doesn’t go just as you planned.
©MMXXII. William J. Lewis, III – Freelance Writer