Xi Jinping took a disaster and, through calculated lies and dictatorial cruelty, accomplished what seemed nearly impossible just last year.
Time Magazine’s Person of the Year is an embarrassment. Designed to acknowledge and document men, women and groups who’ve changed the world, historically it never promised to fill readers with warm and fuzzy feelings: Impact didn’t require good intentions, and didn’t necessitate good results.
Over much of its 93-year history, world-changers like Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, Soong Mei-ling, and Adolf Hitler held the title. Aside from being very different people with different codes and different legacies, these people didn’t win simply by virtue of not being the other guy; and for the lion’s share of their lives, for good or evil they interacted with the world outside the comforts of their own homes.
In modern years, however, winners have moved away from the sometimes uncomfortable toward feel-gooders, like Greta Thunberg, a child whose accomplishments peak at getting adults to applaud her tantrums.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, hardly world-shaping visionaries, fit comfortably into this trend. “Defeating the Minotaur was one thing; finding the way out of the labyrinth is another,” read the cringeworthy prose accompanying Time’s puff piece. “A dark winter has descended, and there will be no rest for the victors.”
So, who should have earned the title this year? Who changed the world in ways that just a short while ago we would have struggled to imagine? There’s only one person, and he isn’t included in runner-ups Donald Trump, Anthony Fauci, or “the movement for racial justice.” He is China’s brutal dictator, Xi Jinping.
Consider the evidence. At the dawn of 2020, Xi had a massive problem on his hands. For the third time in 23 years, China had lost control of a deadly disease, and this time evidence placed its origin in suspiciously close proximity to a secretive Chinese government bio laboratory.
Xi could have closed his borders, sounded the international alarm, and enlisted the world’s aid in saving the lives of his subjects. Instead, he opted to restrict domestic movement while allowing the Chinese to travel to foreign countries; he violently suppressed news of the outbreak; and he imprisoned, executed and “disappeared” the sick, the vulnerable, and whistle-blowing doctors and scientists alike.
He spent his “jump start” on the rest of us hoarding the world’s medical supplies. He activated puppet “leaders” at international nonprofit organizations like the World Health Organization to sideline Taiwanese warnings (thereby gaining more time for himself) and provide cover for Xi’s sins once word finally got out.
As panic spread through the ranks of world leaders, Xi sat back and watched his greatest competitors retreat into their homes, preferring to drown both their economies and their civil liberties in their basement baths rather than risk illness and death.
While retribution against Xi for his calculated part in the pandemic would have been assured in most any year, 2020 was an election year in the United States and the political and media elites of the world felt compelled to stand for anything Donald Trump stood against. This year, that list of things included China.
Xi was happy to assist. While his lieutenants fed propaganda and disinformation to willing Western media, his captains sniped at the president, “owning” him with claims of racism over his completely true accusations of responsibility. Press, Democrats, and celebrities alike were happy to parrot it all.
While the West busied itself with heaping up its own funeral pyres, Xi got to work himself, finishing off the pro-Western, pro-democracy rebellion in Hong Kong, cracking down on minority populations within his borders, and expanding the slave operations he uses to manufacture cheap products that undercut American industry– all while eliciting barely a peep of protest from American elites.
Now, as 2020 draws to a close, the economies of the United States and Europe lay battered and bruised, their cherished civil liberties in tatters. China’s greatest opponent, an American president who confronted them head-on and was practically assured of re-election as of just February, is defeated. In his place stands a senile politician whose own son is likely compromised by the Chinese Communist Party.
Xi Jinping took a disaster and, through calculated lies and dictatorial cruelty, accomplished what seemed nearly impossible just last year. Content to abide their enemies and concentrate instead on the warms fuzzies of their navels, the Western elite won’t name him the person of the year. Hell, he might even get away with it.
Written by Christopher Bedford, he is a senior editor at The Federalist, the vice chairman of Young Americans for Freedom, a board member at the National Journalism Center, and the author of The Art of the Donald.