Op-Ed: In China, Xi Jinping is getting an unprecedented third term. What should the world expect?
China’s current president, Xi Jinping, is now in his third term, a span of nearly two decades. In this, he may be the most consequential leader in modern China. Unlike in his first two terms, when he was in his teens and young 20s and led China with a mix of populist nationalism and a desire to modernize, Xi is now in his 40s and in the first decade of his second term, the most powerful man in one of the world’s largest and oldest and most conservative societies. The stakes are very high, and the outcome of the next few weeks will be crucial to determining whether China’s economy becomes the dominant economic power in the 21st century or whether the country’s power and influence will continue to fall behind America’s.
Xi Jinping is no longer just a senior leader but one of the dominant figures in China. Not since Deng Xiaoping had China’s leader been in power for so long, as the leader of a communist party, the second most powerful in the world. When he took over in 2002 from his father, who died in 1999, Xi inherited one of the world’s most ambitious and influential communist economies. China is the largest exporter of manufactured goods, has one of the world’s most developed financial systems, possesses the second-largest number of global assets in the world (after the U.S. Treasury), and ranks high for both per capita and total economic output (with India to its north).
But now in his third and final term, he’s also one of the most consequential leaders on the world stage.
As we approach the last month of his tenure as president, the world is watching closely to see whether he’ll be able to navigate the coming years with the degree of success that might come from his father’s era. But also in early July, China’s leadership will have watched Donald Trump’s presidency closely, learning how to deal with a leader in whom they have enormous amounts of faith.
Whether or not China’s leaders are able to hold on to