China has a new president. Xi Jinping was sworn in this morning at the National People’s Conference, assuming the presidential mantle, and adding to his existing titles of Communist Party general secretary and chairman of the Central Military Commission. Xi’s rule is expected to last for a decade.
Such is the insistence of discipline, rigidity and toeing the politburo line in China, it could be argued that it is hard to distinguish between the country’s three previous premiers. Xi, however, is seen as someone who “shuns the usual trappings of power,” and has been praised for imposing an austerity drive and anti-corruption crusade on state officials. The voting was almost unanimous, with President Xi gaining 99.86% of today’s vote, with the remaining 0.14% comprising of one vote against, and three abstentions. Did Xi’s natural modesty prevent him from casting a vote in his own favor?
With the thorny subject of North Korea one of the larger bundles of papers in the new president’s in-tray, as well as the ongoing cyber war between the U.S. and China, Xi will be busy. His country has already weighed in with the diplomatic equivalent of a proposed excommunication: this morning it told the new Pope, Francis I, that improved Chinese-Vatican relations could only be achieved the Roman Catholic church ended its relationship with Taiwan.
What are you hoping that President Xi will focus on during his tenure? Are China’s domestic issues more important that the country’s foreign policy? How do you see Sino-American relations changing? And what does his appointment mean for democracy in China?