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A bad year for Xi Jinping clouds Communist China's 70th birthday celebrations

From a biting US trade war to relentless protests in Hong Kong challenging his rule and international condemnation over Beijing's treatment of Uighur minorities in Xinjiang, Xi is having a very bad year, analysts say.

People's Republic of China approaches 70th anniversary

It was meant to be an unabashed celebration of the triumph of Communism in China, and President Xi Jinping's authority as the country's undisputed leader for years to come.

But as the People's Republic of China approaches its 70th anniversary on October 1st, Xi finds himself battling threats on multiple fronts.

(Photograph:AFP)

Bad year for Xi Jinping

From a biting US trade war to relentless protests in Hong Kong challenging his rule and international condemnation over Beijing's treatment of Uighur minorities in Xinjiang, Xi is having a very bad year, analysts say.

Furthermore, the crises have left him with limited room to act and simultaneously shore up support at home.

(Photograph:Reuters)

'Champion of globalisation'

In Davos in 2017, just weeks after the inauguration of protectionist Donald Trump as US president, Xi was at pains to portray himself as a champion of globalisation, outlining a role for China as a world leader.

Some even hoped he would open the door to further reform. But those expectations have now sunk.

(Photograph:Reuters)

'Xi Jinping Thought'

By the time he secured his second term as the Communist Party's general secretary in October 2017, Xi was at the centre of a cult of personality built by the state.

Last year, he enshrined "Xi Jinping Thought" in China's constitution and, in a shock move, removed term limits on individuals overturning an orderly system of succession put in place to prevent the return of another all-powerful strongman like Mao Zedong.

Xi has used crackdowns on corruption and calls for a revitalised party to become the most powerful Chinese leader in decades, and the constitutional changes mean he can rule for as long as he wishes.

(Photograph:AFP)

Festering trade war with US

An unexpected and festering trade war with the United States has eroded confidence and hit the economy hard.

Furthermore, his signature Belt and Road (BRI) global infrastructure initiative has faced setbacks, with critics saying the plan is designed to boost Beijing's influence, lacks transparency and will saddle partner governments with debt.

The crackdown on Uighurs in Xinjiang a region deemed crucial to the BRI's success has come under heavy international condemnation for reportedly placing an estimated one million mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in internment camps in the name of counterterrorism.

(Photograph:AFP)

Hong Kong protests

Dramatic images of mostly young pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong facing riot police amid clouds of tear gas have dominated global newspapers and websites for weeks, as a movement calling for universal suffrage gathers pace.

Hong Kong, which was handed back by Britain to China in 1997, is ruled under a 'one country, two systems' policy that gives citizens liberties unseen on the mainland.

Protesters say those rights have been steadily eroded and have openly criticised an increasingly assertive Beijing provoking fears China will resort to a heavy-handed intervention to quash the unrest, unleashing disastrous consequences.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Beijing's ideological needs

Despite the hurdles facing him, however, the embattled leader's hold on China remains firm for now.

And while international criticism mounts, analysts say Xi and the Communist Party can potentially exploit the attacks on him to serve Beijing's broader ideological needs.

(Photograph:AFP)