Xi, Hidden Star of a TV Series About Deng
In a report for the New York Times, Chris Buckley explains how the controversial CCTV series Deng Xiaoping at History’s Crossroads fits into the political agenda of President Xi Jinping:
President Xi appears nowhere throughout the 48 episodes of this laboriously reverent account of Deng’s return to power after the Cultural Revolution and his feats in transforming China. Mr. Xi was a 23-year-old student when Mao Zedong’s death in 1976 detonated the upheavals that brought Deng back from the political wilderness.
But in its emphases and evasions, the series reflects Mr. Xi’s efforts to embrace Deng as a justification and template for his rule. This is Deng reimagined as patron saint for Mr. Xi’s own era and ambitions.
“An era of greatness creates figures of greatness,” Mr. Xi said in an Aug. 20 speech to mark the 110th anniversary of Deng’s birth two days later. He used the word “great” 23 times in the speech.
[...] “The historical period after reform and opening up cannot be used to negate the period before, and nor can the historical period before reform and opening up be used to negate the period after,” Mr. Xi said. In other words, Mao and Deng are to be equally venerated, and not set as rival political deities, and Mr. Xi can wear the ideological halo of both. [...] [Source]
Despite the disappointments that Xi’s presidency has brought to those hoping for political reform, he seems to be enjoying widespread popular support.