Monday, April 9, 2018

The King of Masks

Martha Bayles,

Image from article

How the “Xi change” in China is causing an invisible earthquake.

It’s hard to gauge public opinion in China, but lately I’ve come across some pretty compelling evidence that no previous transformation has proved as upsetting as the one that occurred on February 25, when it was announced that the Chinese constitution would be amended to remove all term limits on the office of the presidency. This is not as big a change as some might think, because Xi’s weightier titles, such as General Secretary of the Communist Party and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, have never had term limits. But for many Chinese, the title of President is highly significant because it sounds modern, civilized, and most important, not totalitarian. This may well explain why Xi’s latest mask—let’s call it Emperor of Everything for Life—seems to have caused an invisible earthquake among ordinary Chinese. ...

Martha Bayles teaches humanities at Boston College, is author of Through a Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy [JB emphasis], and America's Image Abroad (Yale 2014), is a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute, and a regular columnist for TAI.

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