Two years ago I wrote that Xi Jinping would be China’s most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping. Now it seems he is likely to be China’s most powerful leader since Mao. Xi has a clear vision: rebuild the Communist Party’s legitimacy and ensure its longevity through his anticorruption campaign, while using that power to drive a Chinese “renaissance” through a second wave of market reforms. Xi has vast experience in the practical business of administration, having already run two major provinces and the city of Shanghai. As the proud son of a revolutionary leader, Politburo member and survivor of the Cultural Revolution, Xi has acquired through his own experience the political skills needed to negotiate internal party politics. Will he succeed? The obstacles are formidable, but so is Xi’s self-confidence and his driving sense of national mission. His success matters for his nation and the world. China will be the dominant economic power in Asia, and it will seek to translate that power, through an activist foreign policy, into geopolitical influence and a new global order.
Rudd is a former Prime Minister of Australia