"President Xi’s workaholic personality is really characteristic of the Chinese people, a nation that has seen many ups and down over a 5,000-year history."
Indefatigable diplomat, superb administrator, tenacious political warrior, most valuable of all—a visionary. But President Donald Trump saw another facet of President Xi Jinping that most fail to note: “I think China’s President Xi is a world-class poker player.”
After six months of spewing trade war harangue against China, President Trump answered reporters’ question about promised additional tariffs on China exports. “We may not have to do that.”
President Xi’s smiling mien throughout the six months of vitriol against China from the White House has never even once changed, while Donald Trump has used every trick in his Twitter diatribes to ruffle the Chinese leader’s affable projection while leaving the jousting to his deputies.
Here is a review of President Xi’s life, history and performance, from his youth to his present-day status as the leader of one of the World’s leading nations. As a teenager, following the purging of his revolutionary veteran father Xi Zhongxun, Xi Jinping during the Cultural Revolution was sent to a distant village where lived in a cave while organizing communal laborers.
He went on to study at the Tsinghua University, one of China’s two top universities (the other being Peking University), as a “worker-peasant-soldier student”, and rose through the ranks of the Communist Party of China and the government. To this day, as governor of Fujian province he is remembered fondly while landmarks he left behind continue to be cited as among the achievements of the nation.
Today, President Xi Jinping also serves as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China and chairman of the Central Military Commission. He is described as the “core leader” of the nation. Xi is the first general secretary born after the Second World War and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, hence truly representing the new generation of leaders of China.
A surprising development arose in last March’s National People’s Congress which passed a historic constitutional amendment with 2,958 votes in favor and only two against, and three abstentions, to remove the two-term limit for the presidency of China. It was a resounding affirmation of trust in President Xi and a recognition of the need for a strong leader as China enters a most crucial period in history.
It is very clear that President Xi Jinping’s term has been extended indefinitely, not for him to simply enjoy the perks of power as long as he can. He imposes on himself a punishing work schedule in pursuit of the vision he has been tasked to accomplish: the China Dream of achieving middle-income status for all of China and the global development mission of the Belt and Road Initiative.
In one media report dated August 2017, President Xi’s diplomatic schedules to meet other world leaders in their home countries was described: “Five years, 28 tours, 193 days, 570,000 kilometers. These figures are a sketch of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s foreign tours.” And this does not include the latest three-nation blitz to Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Brunei, and then Argentina at the end of this month.
But President Xi’s workaholic personality is really characteristic of the Chinese people, a nation that has seen many ups and down over a 5,000-year history. Many times, the population has been challenged with famine and civil strife, making them persevering and inventive. I often marvel at this inventiveness when savoring “chicken feet”—a culinary delight that came about because the Chinese people often had to make do with what other cultures just throw away.
President Rodrigo Duterte has bet the country’s future on the “independent foreign policy” that really is investing in its diversification of relations outside of the Philippines’ traditional ally the United States of American. Who wouldn’t? America is turning isolationist and leaving itself behind as is evident in the rising trade bloc RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) backed by China and Asean, and which India is finally joining. The bloc represents 40 percent of the world’s GDP.
President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the Philippines brings not only the fruition of the many agreed-upon project such as the P170-billion, 600-kilometer Manila-to-Matnog revival of the legendary Bicol Express and more infrastructure projects that was seen only during Marcos’ Pan Philippine Highway construction, but more importantly the giant industrial parks that will be set up with China here in the country that harbingers the industrialization of this country.
Over and above all these projects between China and the Philippines is President Xi Jinping’s expression of the global vision, the “Community of Common Destiny” of which the Philippines is a partner. The Davao port is projected to become the “easternmost hub” of the global Belt and Road Initiative, reviving the Galleon Trade route all the way eventually back to South America.