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Salesman Xi

by Matthew Stinson

Why do Western liberals love China so?

In advance of the 19th Party Congress in Beijing this fall, which will appoint Chinese president Xi Jinping to another five-year term, the media are busy polishing Xi’s image as the foremost leader of the age. Chinese state media are just following Beijing’s directives. But what should we make of Westerners who give the People’s Daily and the state-run Xinhua news agency a run for their money?

For instance, most major Western news outlets ran lengthy excerpts of Xi’s speech to the World Economic Forum at Davos in January. The coverage was overwhelmingly positive. Eurasia Group’s Ian Bremmer gushed that if listeners closed their eyes during Xi’s speech, they “could almost forget he leads an authoritarian regime.” The speech inspired a Forbes writer to breathlessly call Xi the “leader of the ‘free trade’ world.”

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