This front-page leader in the New York Times of 4 Janury 2015 shows how the West is trying to read the tea-leaves of President Xi's political stance and what they mean for China. Grasping the tail of the elephant, the animal's shape is perceived as tubular, latter-day, Maoism.
The whole truth is more multidimensional.
The fallacy of the New York Times article lies in its fundamental contradictions. On the one hand it fears a lurch away from the market, the rule of law and a rebound towards cultural revolutionary rhetoric.
On the other, it fails to note that it was President Xi who for the first time elevated the Market to a "decisive role" in the economy with policies to built a more equitable and just society (Third Plenum). It was he who mandated that to enhance Party legitimacy, the Rule of Law (or Rule by Law) needs to be upheld regardless of ranks (Fourth Plenum). It was also he who brought about the downfall of the Bo Xilai gang who trumpeted red-revolutionary fervency.
The reality is that China is now entering into a socioeconomic and political watershed in deep and turbulent waters. When one of the writers of the NY Times article says Xi was the guy the Communist Party wanted from the start, he is telling only part of the truth.
The whole truth is that the Party has realized that without transformational reforms, not least to fight entrenched corruption and power abuse, the whole Party boat may sink, bringing everybody down. And Xi was the leader chosen to do the job.
However, that doesn't mean China wants or has to copy the West's short-sighted and confrontational nultiparty politics. Indeed, China wants to find her own development model. However, meanwhile, she is unlikely to give up the one-party rule any time soon. Click here
But while the quest continues, China wants above all to maintain political stability, which is essential for the country with 1.3 billion people to try out various reform agendas. If this means cracking down on certain forces that seem to rock the boat too much, so be it.
Perhaps President Xi could be more relaxed about liberalism. But once the big genie is allowed out of the bottle, with nearly 500 million peasants, it would be difficult to put it back again.
Xi has the weight of China''s history on his shoulders. To him, it is better to be safe than sorry. But this doesn't mean that he is turning China back towards Maoism.