From his first days as a president, Xi was often compared to Mao. Only months ago, he was elected ‘president for life’. Now he is going to push his own version of the Little Red Book, ‘Xi thought’. Why does this matter?
“Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” as it is officially known, is an all-encompassing theory guiding China to become a global military and economic power under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.”, noted Reuters in an interesting report today on this development.
This is not like a US president writing a book. This is the most powerful leader in decades, of the most numerous country on earth, making a conscious effort to shape the nations ideology, values and dreams for the future of China according to his own thinking.
And where better to start then in universities? Universities throughout China have made ‘Xi-thought’ part of their core curriculum. Textbooks for ideology classes are being up-dated to promote the ideas of Xi. Dedicated study centres have been set up, and people are writing books to further explain the thinking of Xi, much like we have Bible commentaries.
This is more than winning the political support of a new generation of Chinese. It seems Xi wants to deal with the lack of enthusiasm among the population for communist ideology. This ideology was very much alive in the days of Mao, but after decades of economic growth people have become much more interested in making money than in ideology.
Is this one way Xi wants to limit the growth of religion? It is widely believed that prescribed atheism combined with relentless materialism has left many people empty, in search of a moral compass and of meaning. Millions turn to Christ to find what they miss. Is Xi trying to fill this hole? Does he realise people don’t only need financial security, but also a purpose and something to believe in?
So what is it that Xi thought promotes? A lot of traditional socialist (and Biblical!) values such as justice, freedom, equality and friendliness. But before and above all, there is patriotism. And the whole aim of Xi thought is to make China great again. Really great, as in ‘greatest’.
Xi wants to give the Chinese something to believe in, besides money. And that something is China. Chinese nationalism, combined with Chinese values, to create a truly great China. It is a state religion, with Xi as its prophet.
It is also idolatry. Because in Xi thought, the country takes the place of God. It is a god that the Chinese have to make together, by working hard, being loyal to the party and by being the best citizens they can be. But idols don’t deliver, they destroy. And it will be up to China’s Christians to show you can only really love your country of you love God first.
Contributing Author: Kajsa