Since the COVID pandemic broke out in early 2020, Xi Jinping has not been abroad for more than two years, but recently he suddenly attended the Shanghai Cooperation Summit (SCO). The trip coincides with the upcoming 20th National Congress of Deputies. For Xi, the 20th National Congress and re-election is the most prominent political task. So why does he visit Kazakhstan at this crucial moment? What is the purpose of this trip?

Kazakhstan trip: Signals Xi controls the ‘three powers’ and the military

In the program “Political commentaries of the world,” published on September 7, Professor Zhang Tianliang said that Xi’s visit was a very important and remarkable event.

Usually, at a sensitive time, such as the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the leaders of the CCP will not go abroad because they are very worried about unexpected events that will happen domestically during the visit, even the risk of a coup.

That is, at this stage, Xi needs to arrange everything, from arranging personnel positions in the Party Congress to ensuring that hostile forces cannot cause problems for the congress. This will ensure that he can be re-elected smoothly. After this point, Xi can think about other things.

Historically, before the 18th National Congress, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao did not go abroad. According to Professor Zhang, the last time Hu and Wen went abroad was in May or June of the year the congress took place, after which there was no trip until the party congress had gone smoothly. 

There was only one case before the 16th National Congress of Deputies. Despite the change of term, Jiang Zemin still went abroad. Because at that time, Jiang was holding three powers in his hands (General Secretary, President, Chairman of the Military Commission), the military was also under his control, so going abroad did not pose any risk for the power of the Jiang force at that time.

Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao don’t have any ranks of their own in the party, government, and military system, nor do they have their own members in the military, so of course, they have to be more cautious. On the other hand, Jiang Zemin seemed so sure that no one was vying for his power, knowing that many people in the military were supporting him, that he dared to come to the United States a month before the 16th Party Congress took place.

Therefore, according to Professor Zhang, if Xi Jinping dared to visit Kazakhstan and return safely, the probability of Xi being re-elected at the CCP’s 20th National Congress could increase to 99%. 

Why does Xi want to meet Putin?

As a connoisseur of Chinese politics, Professor Zhang said that when Xi Jinping visited Kazakhstan, there seemed to be no problem to be solved there. But, of course, the CCP is looking to expand its influence in Central Asia and wants to talk to the Kazakh leaders about the supply of energy, natural gas, and crude oil.

A crucial reason for Xi Jinping’s visit could have been to meet Putin. It seems that Putin is indeed Xi Jinping’s spiritual mentor, at least in some respects. Professor Zhang commented that Xi Jinping must have admired and even considered Putin an example for his political career. Because before his 20-year term expired, Putin passed another constitutional amendment allowing him to hold the presidency until 2036 legally.

Under current Russian law, he can serve as president until 2036, equivalent to 36 years in power from 2000 to 2036. Therefore, Putin can be seen as Xi’s spiritual teacher in prolonging his term. On the other hand, professor Zhang believes that Xi Jinping has ambitions to stay in power for the rest of his life.

Putin’s sending of troops to Ukraine to realize the dream of Great Russianism inspired Xi’s plans to annex Taiwan, which the CCP has long cherished.

In the program “Political commentaries of the world,” published on September 8, Professor Zhang said that Xi had signaled that the CCP admired Russia by sending Li Zhanshu to the front line during the 2022 Eastern Economic Forum in the city of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East on September 7.

Zhang said that Li Zhanshu is the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and a close associate of Xi Jinping.

Speaking at the 2022 Oriental Economic Forum, Li said China was pleased to see that under Putin’s leadership, the Russian economy was not crushed by severe sanctions from the U.S. and other Western countries. Instead, it has achieved stability and demonstrated resilience in a relatively short time.

This comment hits the U.S. and the West squarely in the face. In other words, China is very pleased that Russia has survived the sanctions imposed by Europe and the United States and demonstrated its ability to recover economically.

The current situation in Russia is undoubtedly an inspiration for Xi. So this time, Xi Jinping went to see Putin, first to meet his spiritual mentor and give him some consolation. Xi may think the CCP can survive under similar sanctions if Russia can survive.

Russia-China cooperation separated from the world

In the program “Political commentaries of the world,” published on September 12, Professor Zhang predicted that during this visit, Xi Jinping might sign a series of agreements with Putin to prepare for the establishment of an economic self-sufficiency cycle between China and Russia.

This is a big deal. China and Russia could join hands to establish a new world order and support each other economically to fight Europe and America. In other words, Xi Jinping is also preparing to separate from Europe and the United States.

Zhang pointed out that the CCP’s greatest weakness right now is energy and food. For a country without energy, all industries will stop working, and without food, everyone will starve. The CCP’s dependence on foreign oil has reached 80%. The CCP’s food self-sufficiency rate is about 85%, and 15% needs to be imported. Under such circumstances, how to ensure food and energy security is an essential issue for the CCP.

Therefore, Russia will probably make up for the CCP’s shortcomings in this regard. Furthermore, since the CCP wants to import energy, Russia is a major energy exporter and grain and wheat exporter worldwide. Therefore, if the energy and food problems can be solved from the Russian side, the CCP may be more determined to cut ties with the West or close the country.

The Aljazeera newspaper on September 6 reported that Gazprom and the Chinese side had agreed that the payment method would change from USD to yuan and rubles in arranging the supply of natural gas.

Thus, if the CCP uses yuan to buy energy and food from Russia, and Russia uses CCP-issued yuan to buy Chinese light industrial products, or if both sides use rubles, then the two sides have stopped depending on the USD when doing trade.

Building a separate playing field between China and Russia will help Russia survive longer in the Russo-Ukrainian war. It will also help China to stabilize after the turmoil caused by the more than two years “Zero-COVID” campaign. However, commentator Zhang Tianliang wonders where the dictatorship and seclusion will take China. Or will it only recreate the “Great Leap Forward” of the Mao Zedong period?

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