The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
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By Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj
September 15, 2021 7:16 AM EDT

I have met with President Xi Jinping around 30 times, and we have chatted one-on-one on some occasions, but for the sake of time and space, I would like to highlight three points when I talk about President Xi.

First, President Xi loves his country and his people dearly. When he invited me to China for a state visit, I asked him where I should go while there. He replied, “Come visit my ancestral home in Shaanxi province. Wonderful place.” I added that I wanted to visit Inner Mongolia and meet a local family. He again replied very kindly.

Second, President Xi has no arrogance. He treats people or counterparts from other countries as equals, although there is no doubt that he is the most influential politician in the world today.

Third, I have no illusions about President Xi’s policy as a whole. I totally disagree with what the Chinese Communist Party is doing to ethnic minorities in China. When it comes to Mongols in China, they have a distinct way of life, culture and language. They have constitutional and human rights to enjoy, to inherit. These rights must be protected. Chinese assimilation policy—which has also targeted the Uighur minority, detaining more than an estimated 1 million in government camps—has no future. China cannot claim humanity while committing crimes against humanity.

He demonstrates—as many in history have before him—that it is possible to be charismatic in person and dangerous and autocratic on the world stage. He can be benign and evil. So, let’s face President Xi.

Elbegdorj is a former President of Mongolia

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