“Xi Jinping, the red prince”, in nine episodes on France Inter

He has not been to Europe since 2019

“Xi Jinping, the red prince”, in nine episodes on France Inter

He has not been to Europe since 2019. Xi Jinping is expected in Paris on May 6 and 7, as France and the People’s Republic of China celebrate 60 years of their diplomatic relations this year. On this occasion, France Inter is offering a nine-episode podcast on the “red prince”, Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Dominique André, who was correspondent for Radio France in Beijing from 2007 to 2010 then from 2015 to 2021, immediately confided to us the difficulty of the filming conditions when she returned there in the fall of 2023: “No one accepts to talking about Xi Jinping on open microphone, people are afraid. And surveillance cameras that film everything with their facial recognition system further complicate our work as journalists. » However, the result is quite remarkable. In nine episodes of around thirty minutes, the listener, immersed in the history of the Chinese president, sees a little more clearly in the game of the “tyrant” – title of episode 6.

But let's start again, especially since, for a welcome concern for pedagogy, the episodes are largely chronological. Episode 1 therefore: Dominique André recalls how this red prince, born in 1953, experienced exile in “yellow earth” after his father, Xi Zhongxun (1913-2002), was removed from power by Mao Zedong in 1962. And , in the next episode, how this exile will allow him to present himself as a man of the people.

“Seven Perils”

In episode 4, we are in 2008: Beijing is hosting the Olympic Games, China is taking its revenge during the subprime crisis and Xi Jinping is still largely unknown abroad. In 2012, however, he became general secretary of the party and chairman of the central military commission. It’s time for revenge for the former fallen prince.

“Document No. 9,” a list of central committee instructions to Chinese Communist Party cadres (disclosed by dissident journalist Gao Yu, who was then sentenced to six years in prison), uncovers the “seven perils” that would endanger the authority of the party. Namely: Western constitutional democracy; universal values; Civil society ; neoliberalism; the Western practice of journalism; historical nihilism; criticism of reform, opening-up and the socialist nature of the Chinese regime. In short, as episode 5 sums up very well, Xi Jinping’s ideological line appears clearly for the first time.

In 2017, a gigantic exhibition was organized in Beijing to the glory of the Chinese number one. It's all there: high-speed trains, the conquest of space, nuclear power plants. However, asks researcher Jean-Philippe Béja, of the CNRS, the question remains of how we realize this dream of a prosperous country: “By putting a million Uighurs in prison? By developing surveillance of all citizens? By banning all forms of expression of civil society? By fighting against new private companies? By imposing extremely reduced thinking? The risk is that this dream will be a Chinese nightmare and it is for more and more people inside China,” underlines the sinologist.

Support from Beijing to Moscow

Dominique André tells us that he has noticed a “very great weariness of the population”, and mentions unemployment and the brain drain. Therefore, “where is Xi Jinping going? », questions the last episode, especially since the Chinese president, having emerged weakened from the Covid-19 pandemic (episode 8), is also expected on a major diplomatic aspect, as recalled by the recent declaration of Stéphane Séjourné in front of his counterpart, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi: “We expect China to send very clear messages to Russia. »

Indeed, after more than two years of war in Ukraine, Beijing's diplomatic and economic support for Moscow has not weakened and here, as in the Israel-Hamas war, Xi Jinping has made Vladimir Putin a strategic ally and a friend of circumstance.

Didactic, nourished by archives and interviews with numerous specialists, this podcast signed Dominique André and Romain Weber (well known to listeners of “Affaires Sensitives”) is particularly successful. Thanks, also, to an impeccable production which leaves room for numerous sound ambiances and the choice of actor Yannick Choirat for the narration.