Almost every summer, the period before the Beidaihe meeting of the Communist Party of China is a sensitive time for China’s political situation ( / politically sensitive to China), especially when the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be held this fall. Whether Xi Jinping can be re-elected is becoming a hot topic in the media. Rumors about Mr. Xi Jinping suffering from a “brain aneurysm” and the risk of a coup caused by the high-pressure anti-epidemic policy have recently been reported by and spread on the foreign media. But is the news true or false? Is Xi Jinping’s power stable?
Since the beginning of May, the press outside China has reported that Xi Jinping has been overthrown and forced to “cede” power to Li Keqiang.
After being rushed to the hospital, Mr. Xi, 68, is said to be hoping to receive treatment with traditional Chinese medicine rather than undergo major surgery.
The source of these two media outlets was a report (on May 10) by India-based ANI, which mentioned that Xi Jinping suffered a brain aneurysm in late 2021.
The health of CCP leaders has always been a top secret of the regime. It is not clear who initially spread the news.
However, the Chinese-language media channel Aboluowang reported that by the end of 2020, Twitter had spread information that Xi Jinping had undergone surgery for a brain aneurysm and was in a critical condition. Owing to the importance of the matter, Xi Jinping established a special office on national crises before he was hospitalized. The source is believed to be from the account of an Argentinian who is close to the Hong Kong brain tumor specialist working for Xi Jinping.
Xi Jinping has publicly shown unusual or abnormal physical symptoms at least four times before.
The first time was when Mr. Xi visited France on March 25, 2019. From the video of him and the French President Emmanual Macron reviewing the honor guard, Mr. Xi’s body can be seen swaying from side to side, with his footsteps unstable. One observer said Mr. Xi “can’t seem to straighten his legs.”
The second time was when Mr. Xi Jinping went on an inspection tour to the south of Shenzhen and gave a speech in early October 2020. He suddenly developed a cough, which led to the CCTV live broadcast immediately switching the camera to a different scene.
The third time was on October 23, 2020, at the meeting that celebrated the 70th anniversary of the so-called “Anti-American Resistance and Korean Aid.” After delivering the speech for nearly 40 minutes, Mr. Xi walked with an unsteady gait, very different from when he entered the venue.
The fourth time was on December 15, 2021, Mr. Xi held a video meeting with Russian President Putin in Beijing. According to the video released by the Russian media, the scene of Mr. Xi coughing three times appeared suddenly. However, it is absent in China’s central broadcaster CCTV footage.
In this regard, observers believe that the health of CCP leaders is often a top secret. The fact that this information is transmitted with high frequency may indicate the intentions of those within the organization. The CCP will gather in Beidaihe in late July and early August to hold a tacit discussion, which will likely complete the allocation and reorganization of the top / highest power structure before the 20th CCP Congress. Around this time every year, the news about Zhongnanhai’s power battle is always buzzing. There are many signs of fierce internal fighting within the CCP, so we still have to wait and see whether it is easy for Mr. Xi to continue to hold the chair or not.
Rumors regarding the coup also appeared in parallel with the rumors of Mr. Xi’s “illness.”
The Sun also reported an increasing fear of a coup d’etat caused by Mr. Xi’s extreme blockade measures.
Unlike the high-profile anti-corruption campaign of Xi Jinping during his first term, who was expected to lead China towards democratization, the complete reversal after the 19th National Congress of the CCP quickly brought him into an unprecedented crisis. In particular, the resistance against Mr. Xi in China and abroad is increasing significantly due to his extreme epidemic prevention methods.
Local epidemics continue to break out in China. Authorities resolutely fight the epidemic with a “zero covid” model and rigorous control methods, with the notable shutdown of Shanghai, all of which have raised public grievances.
While the city’s brutal shutdown has caused humanitarian disasters, it has also led to an economic downturn and severe employment problems.
Li Keqiang, who oversees the economy, often has conflicting opinions with Xi Jinping. Li Keqiang was seen as a rival before Mr. Xi came to power. A rumor that Li Keqiang will replace Xi Jinping is circulating online.
From the beginning of May, overseas media outlets spread the news, claiming that Xi Jinping was under a coup and forced to “give over” his power to Li Keqiang.
According to the summary of the Aboluowang channel, the coup against Mr. Xi was led by Jiang Zemin, who controls the military force; Hu Jintao and Zeng Qinghong, who run the internal party force; and Wang Qishan and Wang Hu Ning, who carried out the coup. They have promised Xi Jinping not to deny his political achievements and not to hold him accountable. But everything about the cult of personality for Xi Jinping will be erased, and Mr. Xi’s power will slowly be eroded, and so on.
The revelations of that “coup” on the Internet were hard to believe.
Taipei City Councilor Wang Shih-Cheng told SET News on May 13: “From the current situation, Xi Jinping’s regime remains relatively stable.”
Wang Shih-Cheng said that Xi is fighting back with two tactics: The first one is to continue to be tough on Taiwan. With his arrogant attitude and his actions in constantly harassing Taiwan with military planes, all of which incited nationalist sentiments, he used the so-called unification of Taiwan as a guise to maintain internal political rights; the second is to firmly adopt the policy of ‘Zero COVID,’ not only to resolve the epidemic but also to consolidate power through an atmosphere of high political pressure, ensuring the prestige to be able to be reappointed soon.
In the Epoch Times, current affairs expert Hao Ping commented: “In fact, ‘ceding the throne’ is completely inconsistent with the CCP system. There is no precedent in the history of the CCP to cede the throne but to decentralize power and appoint people according to their merits. Each devolution of power of the CCP is a bloody storm. Mao Zedong purged Liu Shaoqi and Lam Biao; Deng Xiaoping gained absolute power in the military through the Vietnam War, causing Hua Guofeng to resign to save face. Jiang Zemin was also not a succession option that satisfied Deng Xiaoping. In 1992, Deng Xiaoping, with the support of Army Commander-in-Chief Yang Shangkun, made a tour of the South, forcing Jiang to abandon the planned economic system and follow the path of a market economy.
Hao Ping commented: “Political power emerges from the barrel of a gun, and it will always be the ‘truth’ that CCP believes in. After 10 years of fighting corruption, Xi Jinping transformed military zones into war zones, started raising his own troops in the army; his anti-corruption work has wiped out Jiang Zemin’s troops. Although the military does not fully follow Xi Jinping, it is basically in Xi Jinping’s hands.” Hao Ping adds: “Liu Yazhou, former political commissar of National Defense University, a man with a good reputation in the Chinese military; In December 2021, there was a rumor that he was under house arrest for protesting Mr. Xi’s re-election.”
Hao said: “If Xi Jinping agrees to hand over power, there is only one precondition, which is if the military suddenly rebel, or the Central Guard Bureau or other military positions in Beijing fall and turn their backs on Xi Jinping….”
Tang Hao, a well-known person in the Chinese-language media, also agrees, telling NTDTV: “Looking back at CCP’s 70-year history, there are power struggles between the top leaders. I have never seen any leader forced to hand over half of his kingdom to someone else, whether Hua Guofeng, Hu Yaobang or Zhao Ziyang, all of them were forced to resign and hand over their positions after being forced to abdicate before the end of their terms.”
Not with the same opinion, emeritus professor Ming Juzheng of the Department of Political Science at National Taiwan University believes that the danger to Mr. Xi’s political destiny is entirely present, he analyzed on RFA (May 12) that anti-Xi forces can take advantage of this, bringing all kinds of catastrophic disasters in the fight against the epidemic into the high-level political struggle, so it is hard to guarantee that Mr.Xi would still hold his power after the 20th National Congress.
Professor Ming Juzheng cited a phrase commonly used by the CCP to describe factions “stretching the class struggle.” Professor Ming said that when Shanghai’s Secretary of State Li Qiang promoted the ‘Zero COVID’ policy, local officials had a very tense conflict. Now that the conflict seems to be increasing, it could make it difficult for him to stay in power at the 20th National Congress. This triggers the need for Mr. Xi to strengthen his control, and as a result, the conflict continues to escalate.