Another King of the East
In his first year in office, Chinese President Xi Jinping has amassed a level of individual power not seen among Chinese leaders in decades. He emerged from a recent key meeting of China’s Communist Party with impressive new powers that enable him to sidestep traditional bureaucracy and force through his policies. The announced establishment of a Central Reform Leading Group, for example, signified a major shift in control over the economy to Mr. Xi.
Perhaps the most striking evidence of this power grab was the establishment of a new state security committee, almost certain to be headed by Xi. This will likely cement the president’s control over China’s military, domestic security and foreign policy. The Wall Street Journal says it would help make him “the country’s most individually powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping.”
Xi’s success in consolidating power stems in part from his own ambition and shrewd maneuvering. But he has also been aided by a sense of crisis among China’s senior leaders. “Xi’s leadership style reflects … what appears to be agreement among many senior officials that they need a more agile and forceful leader to cope with difficult economic restructuring, foreign-policy pressures, and domestic challenges to one-party rule” (New York Times, Nov. 15, 2013).
Mr. Xi is maneuvering to meet these challenges with an authority that some analysts liken to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. “In his first year in office, Mr. Xi has revealed himself as a stern authoritarian,” wrote the Wall Street Journal. Like Putin, “[h]e is haunted by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ‘color revolutions’ that toppled the regimes in former Soviet republics …” (Nov. 22, 2013). Xi’s power grab reflects his determination to keep the Chinese party-state from suffering the same fate—and his mission to return China to the golden era it enjoyed before its “century of humiliation” by imperialist powers.
China’s military power continues to grow, underpinned by an economic might on course to surpass America’s by 2020. It has taken an increasingly provocative stance in regional conflicts. And now, at its helm, sits a strongman wielding nearly total political control—an ambitious leader, already showing his authoritarian stripes and fueled by a mission to restore China to glory. Now wielding the power to brush aside the bureaucracy that has traditionally constrained China’s leaders, Xi has a free hand to pursue his vision. And because he is positioned to remain China’s leader for nearly another decade, in all likelihood he will preside over the most destructive period in China’s history.
Bible prophecy shows that America’s weight in global affairs will diminish rapidly in the time ahead. In its place will rise two competing power blocs: one European, operating in the tradition of the Holy Roman Empire; the other Asian, referred to in Bible prophecy as the “kings of the east” and dominated by Russia and China. Conflict between these two blocs will culminate in the deadliest military conflagration in Earth’s history.
Xi’s success in cementing power provides an important clue about how China could be steered onto its prophesied collision course with Europe—and how close this conflict could be.
For any nation destined to play a decisive role in shaping history, an ambitious leader with power is key. China’s dominant role in these end-time prophecies indicates that such a man could rise to lead it to rally behind Russia. Thus it is significant that we see power consolidating in the hands of Xi Jinping, an autocrat cast in the ideological mold of Vladimir Putin. In the coming months, watch for Mr. Xi to lead China toward a more confrontational foreign policy that heightens friction with Europe.