Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平), who is set to take over the helm of the Chinese government this autumn, might look like a low-profile leader with little to make him stand out, but a China watcher in Taiwan said on Wednesday that Xi has “transcended” his predecessors, such as former Chinese presidents Jiang Zemin (江澤民) and Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in seven respects.
First, Xi knows Taiwan better than former Chinese leaders Mao Zedong (毛澤東), Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平), Jiang or Hu because he served as the No. 1 man in China’s Fujian Province, which lies across the Taiwan Strait directly opposite Taiwan, and he has made friends with numerous Taiwanese businesspeople, Tamkang University international affairs professor Lin Chong-pin (林中斌) said.
Xi’s knowledge of Taiwan and his proposed policy toward Taiwan, such as “winning Taiwanese hearts and using economics to push for unification,” has become official in Beijing, said Lin, who has served as a deputy chairman at the Mainland Affairs Council and deputy minister at the Ministry of National Defense.
Moreover, Lin added, Xi does not rule out the possibility of dialogue with the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, indicating that once in control, he will be more flexible and forward--looking than China’s previous leaders, which means that breakthroughs in cross-strait relations are more likely.
Xi’s second “transcendence” of previous Chinese leaders is his understanding of the US, where he stayed in 1985, said Lin, who writes for the Chinese-language United Daily News and shared his views during an interview with UFO Radio on Wednesday.
Xi loves Hollywood movies that distinguish between good and evil and is generally not anti-US, Lin said.
He said that under Xi’s leadership, China would manage its ties with the US well, while steadily pushing its grand strategy of “dominating East Asia without having to go to war.”
Third, Xi will take less time to assume full control over the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) than either Jiang or Hu because he has a 28-year relationship with the PLA from the time he served as a secretary of former Chinese minister of national defense Geng Biao .
Fourth, Lin said, Xi’s father, Xi Zhongxun (習仲勛), was a patriarch well respected within the Chinese Communist Party who left a legacy as a reformist and a fighter for justice.
Xi himself shed his reputation of being a “princeling” while working at a rural re-education camp when his father lost favor with Mao, accumulating a unique experience that is even more valuable than any gleaned by Communist Youth Corps members, Lin said.
Based on his family background and personal experience, Lin said, Xi was likely to launch political reforms, as well as campaigns to -uproot corruption once he has gained a firm grip on power.
The fifth advantage Xi enjoys over his predecessors is his educational background, Lin said, adding that Xi has two doctorates — in chemical engineering and in political science.
As the first Chinese top leader to hold a doctorate since the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949 and the first with a non-technology degree since China’s reforms of 1979, Xi will be in a better position to make decisions, not just on science and technology, but also in the field of the humanities, Lin said.
Xi’s sixth advantage over Mao, Deng, Jiang and Hu is that he has a “bright and beautiful” wife — Peng Liyuan (彭麗媛), a PLA major general and a singer whose appearance in the international arena will outshine all her previous-generation counterparts and who is likely to add luster to Xi, Lin said.