The highest Chinese political authorities decided on Monday to create a school to study Xi Jinping’s economic thought. Far from being anecdotal, it is the illustration of the place taken by the “Xiconomics” in present-day China.
Found a school to study Xi Jinping’s economic thought. This is the decision taken, Monday, July 5, by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, the highest political body of the regime.
This study center, which is due to open in Beijing next year, will be responsible for proposing economic reforms “based on the economic precepts of Xi Jinping”, says the Hong Kong daily South China Morning Post.
The Chinese president will thus become the first leader in the history of the CCP whose economic theories will be analyzed in an institute provided for this purpose.
The establishment of this “Xi Jinping Economic Thought Research Center” will expand the emerging network of places devoted to the study of the Chinese leader’s thought.
This phenomenon began in 2020 with the creation of a Xi Jinping Diplomacy Studies Center. Then, another institute, devoted to the legal aspect of the reign of the Chinese president, opened its doors a month ago.
Xi Jinping thus becomes an academic discipline in its own right. It is “a way for the president to consolidate his grip on all aspects of public life,” said Alfred Wu, political scientist at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, interviewed by the South China Morning Post.
All these centers are “propaganda tools to explain to people what to think”, summarizes Mary-Françoise Renard, specialist in Chinese economy at Clermont Auvergne University, contacted by France 24. For her, they are the expression of Xi Jinping’s desire to minimize the risk of dissent within the party, by uniting it behind his person and his thinking.
In this regard, the study center devoted to the economy holds a special place. Diplomacy and law belong to the traditional reserved domain of Chinese presidents. On the other hand, “the economy was left in the hands of technocrats and Prime Ministers,” recalls Jean-François Dufour, director of the consulting firm DCA Chine Analyze, contacted by France 24.
Xi Jinping is the first to proclaim loud and clear that he is the economy. Li Keqiang, its Prime Minister, “has failed to impose himself in this field, even though he is a doctor of economics,” recalls Willy Wo-Lap Lam, China specialist for the Jamestown foundation, an American think tank , in a blog post published in 2018.
The creation of the institute devoted to the study of the economic theories of the president thus demonstrates that the latter goes even further than his illustrious predecessors in the concentration of powers. But it is also a way for him to “recognize that in a country which has placed so much emphasis on economic growth, the leader must embody the economy”, underlines Jean-François Dufour.
The “Xiconomics” take on the world
So much so that he became the first Chinese leader to be entitled to his “nomics”. In China, there are indeed “Xiconomics”, just as there were “Reaganomics” in the United States or “Abenomics” in Japan (in reference to the economic policy of the former Prime Minister Shinzō Abe).
The term dates back to 2016, when the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, published a series of articles praising Xi Jinping’s economic vision. A year later, the regime recognized a quasi-constitutional value in “Xi Jinping’s reflections on the socialist economy with Chinese specificities for a new era”. The Central Committee of the party then affirmed that the main axes of these Xicononomics “would be codified by 2022”, recalls Willy Wo-Lap Lam, in his article for the Jamestown foundation.
Either in time for the opening of the “Xi Jinping Economic Reflection Research Center”. The content of these “Xiconomics” has, however, been known for a long time. They “revolve around two main objectives: the search for economic independence and the shift towards qualitative growth”, explains Jean-François Dufour.
It is, on the one hand, to develop its own production channels to reduce the need to import components from abroad, while developing domestic consumption so as to no longer be a country that thrives only on exports.
On the other hand, “qualitative” growth requires becoming champions in more “high tech” sectors and being at the forefront of the “green” economy. It is a way of departing from the image of a world clothing workshop that China dragged along in the early 2000s. An objective illustrated by the technological war between China and the United States.
These priorities “are nothing new since they are the same axes of economic development adopted by China under Deng Xiaoping [dans les années 1980]. But Xi Jinping integrated them into a global economic theory, “notes Jean-François Dufour.
The “Xiconomics” also cover a method. “To achieve these objectives, Xi Jinping wants to strengthen the weight of the Communist Party with economic players,” explains Mary-Françoise Renard. In other words, Xi Jinping did not push much further the effort to liberalize the economy led by Deng Xiaoping, then by Jiang Zemin.
Xi Jinping was the man for the takeover of the economy by the state apparatus. “We have seen it with the control that the party wants to exercise over personal data through the standoff with Alibaba, or even its desire to entrust the creation of an e-yuan to the Central Bank so that it There is no place in China for a new private digital currency, ”explains Mary-Françoise Renard.
For her, this desire of Xi Jinping to put the party back at the heart of the economy comes from the analysis that the Chinese president made… of the fall of the Soviet Union. “He believes that the Soviet regime collapsed because the party was no longer sufficiently present in the economy,” she says. An extensive program for the new “Xiconomics” study center …