How come Xi Jinping became an upside-down Gorbachev? Their only point in common precisely lies in agriculture. Xi Jinping's PhD - which is hardly ever quoted today, even by thurifers - focused on socialist agriculture. Xi's first trip to the United States was to rural Iowa, where there was still hope for Chinese investments: Gorbachev had also visited the Noé cooperative in France, which at the time was close to the French Communist Party... But just as Gorbachev’s later unfolding took observers by surprise, commentators did not anticipate Xi's authoritarian restoration. At most, they believed in the advent of a dull leader, without any ability to rally.
We must therefore go over his biography, and interpret it freely. The fall from paradise and his disgrace were followed by multiple attempts at rehabilitation and entering the CCP: this is rare for a young man educated in the countryside, and strange given that his father and family were being persecuted at the time. Let us move forward to the 2009-2013 period, before and just after his rise to power: Xi's speeches, his taste for occasional poetic quotes, seem to betray a fascination for Mao. It is probably not love, but it is quite possible that young Xi drew from the Cultural Revolution the lesson that he had to be the strongest, and that he thus tried to match the dictator who had ruined his adolescence. In any case, the praise of China’s strength will be characteristic of the Xi Jinping era.
Then, after his probably circumstantial PhD, Xi became a Party cadre occupying a very special position: he was the personal secretary (the mishu, the equivalent of head of cabinet) of General Geng Biao, who was at the time secretary general of the Party's Central Military Commission. This position led him to visit France for the first time. Geng Biao is a Chinese "leatherneck", and Xi’s military background thus becomes clearer. In fact, Xi’s second wife, whom he married in 1985, was the Army’s most famous singer.
Geng Biao only incurred Deng Xiaoping’s public wrath once: when he saw fit, during negotiations with Britain on Hong Kong’s return, to affirm that the People's Liberation Army would not be stationed in the former colony.