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GRAPHICS – Ten Ways China Has Changed Under Xi Jinping

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By Eduardo Baptista and Anand Katakami

BEIJING, Oct. 27 (Reuters) – Xi Jinping emerged from the 20th Communist Party Congress with a groundbreaking third term of leadership and an all-loyalist standing committee of the Politburo, cementing his place as China’s most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong.

During Xi’s decade in power, China has undergone profound changes, both domestically and in the global context.

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Here are some of the ways China has changed under Xi.

1. Perceptions of China in the West and US-affiliated countries have deteriorated

Relations between the US and China have deteriorated sharply in recent years, a decline that accelerated under former US President Donald Trump’s aggressive turn against Beijing. But Western perceptions have also deteriorated due to concerns over human rights and China’s increasing aggression towards Taiwan.

2. Xi’s Anti-Corruption Campaign

Upon taking office, Xi launched a signature campaign to root out corruption within the Communist Party, which has proved popular with the public and which numerous analysts say has also been a useful tool in eliminating political opponents.

3. Taming Once Unruly Borderlands

The regions of Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong, all far from Beijing, have long been a source of concern for the ruling Communist Party in China.

Xi launched unprecedented, sweeping security measures that brought the border areas under control.

In Xinjiang, that included the internment of an estimated one million minority Muslim Uyghurs in camps; in Hong Kong, Beijing responded to major anti-government protests in 2019 with a sweeping national security law. 4. Raising the fire on Taiwan

All Chinese leaders since Mao have stressed the importance of “reuniting” China with the self-governed island of Taiwan.

But tensions in the Taiwan Strait have risen sharply under Xi, with the People’s Liberation Army expanding its activities around the island in recent years, from military exercises to a spike in raids on the island’s air defense identification zone.

The August visit to Taipei by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sparked Chinese military exercises on an unprecedented scale.

5. The state is increasingly taking the economic lead

Xi has stepped up state control and guidance of the economy, including wide-ranging crackdown on the most free-running private sector sectors, especially online platforms and for-profit education.

The curtailment of those sectors, as well as the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, has pushed up urban unemployment and weighed down consumer confidence.

6. Slowing growth, rising incomes

The era of double-digit annual growth ended before Xi took office and the rate of growth has slowed, which has been inevitable as the economy grew.

Incomes have steadily increased under Xi.

A growing number of analysts warn that China’s investment-heavy, infrastructure-driven model is becoming increasingly untenable, with further slowdowns ahead.

7. Destroying dissent, expanding censorship

Xi has cracked down on domestic critics and protests, eliminating room for dissent, while censorship within China’s “Great Firewall” steadily increases.

8. The World’s Largest Army Grows, Modernizes

The People’s Liberation Army, led by Xi, has closed the gap with the United States, including on the high seas, wreaking havoc on tensions around Taiwan as China ramps up its ability to capture the island on what some US officials warn a shortening of the timeline.

9. China Leads in Green Technology – and Pollution

As China struggles to shake off its dependence on coal, it has become the world leader in electric vehicle production and has been credited for its promise to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Most visibly, air quality in China has steadily improved over the past decade.

10. Extreme poverty eliminated, inequality persists

Xi describes the eradication of extreme poverty in China as one of the Communist Party’s most significant achievements of the past decade.

However, inequality has proven to be a bigger challenge – particularly the gap between urban and rural incomes – something Xi is trying to address with his “common prosperity” policy.

China’s official figures on the Gini coefficient show that, despite a slight decline in recent years, the country still has one of the largest income inequalities of the major economies, along with the United States.

(Graphics by Anand Katakam; Reporting by Eduardo Baptista, David Stanway, Martin Pollard, Kevin Yao, Samuel Shen, Marius Zaharia, Peking and Shanghai editorials; Writing by Eduardo Baptista; Editing by Tony Munroe and Lincoln Feast)