The effects of globalisation, the pinyinization of global commerce and Xi-nization of China are producing some surprising results in the media around the world. The most surprising result took place in India during President Xi Jinping’s visit last year. Outside of China, Chinese names rendered in pinyin look like Roman numerals, at least President Xi’s does. And this was how one Indian TV newscaster, solemn face, convent-educated, strong in mathematics and numbers, announced President Xi Jinping’s important visit to India: President Eleven Jinping of China.
The way the President of China and one who was supposedly bearing lavish gifts was introduced to the Indian public should have been the headline news across the country. It wasn’t. The Indian news outlets were focused on the gifts and not how the gift-bearer was introduced. And nobody knows what other dangerous odd numbers struck that particular newscaster.
But for India as a whole the numbers dipped far below expectations. Earlier, before President Xi’s much anticipated visit, the head of the Chinese consulate in Mumbai hinted that China would invest about $100 billions in India. When the business deals were actually inked, the number dropped to $20 billion. That’s retaliation for reducing the head of the Chinese state to a mere number. Luckily, China restrained itself from reducing its investment in India to $11 billions.
But in China Xi Jinping is all the news, so much so that the Wall Street Journal has started to separate Xi news from non-Xi news. And the non-Xi news, going by the current trend in Xi worship, does not stand a Chinaman’s chance.
The Wall Street Journal reports that on 4 December, the People’s Daily, the Party’s flag carrier, ran XI (read that as 11 or eleven) Xi Jinping headlines on its front page alone.
Well, if the front page of the 4 December edition of the People’s Daily was all Xi news, what about the second page, Chinese readers might have asked. The Wall Street Journal says, “Readers seeking non-Xi news on the paper’s second page were out of luck. Nearly all of page 2 was devoted to a nine-photo spread of Xi meeting with African leaders, while half of page 3 was taken up by the text of an op-ed piece on China-African relations written by Mr. Xi and published in the Johannesburg-based Star newspaper.”
In the rest of the world, such media coverage would be the dream of every political campaigner. Why is it that in China President Xi Jinping, who holds office till 2022, seems to be on a perpetual campaign trail? Once we talked about Maoist China. Has the time come for us to talk about Xi-ist China because the Xi-nization of China is evident everywhere.
*Thubten Samphel is the director of the Tibet Policy Institute (TPI), a research centre of the Central Tibetan Administration. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the TPI.