With his portly body, chubby cheeks, and pasted-on smile, the president of China bears more than a passing resemblance to Winnie the Pooh.
That’s why the Chinese started using the Pooh meme as a shorthand — and safer — way of referencing Xi in their texts and posts. Especially if they had something less than flattering to say about him.
But any resemblance to the lovable children's character is only skin-deep.
Here is what Americans in general, and President Donald Trump in particular, need to know about China's ruler.
First, President Trump was right in calling Xi Jinping the "King of China." Xi has amassed at least as much power as the late Chairman Mao at his height. He is not only, as president, the head of state, but he is also the chairman of the Central Military Commission and the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.
But Trump would have been even closer to the mark if he had called Xi China's new Red Emperor, for he is cut from the same cloth as the first Red Emperor, Mao Zedong.
So firm is Xi's grasp on power that it now appears likely that — like the Chinese emperors of old and Mao himself — only death itself will relax his grip on power.
The comparison with Mao is not a compliment. The so-called Great Helmsman was, after all, one of the great mass murderers of history. An estimated 65 million Chinese died at his hands.
Second, the president needs to know that Xi is tightening the ideological screws on the Chinese people in a way that has not been done since Mao's time.
The official state ideology is "Socialism with Chinese characteristics," and it is being relentlessly drummed into the heads of the Chinese people.
The Chinese believe that it is their manifest destiny to usher in a new world order, centered on China.
A more accurate translation of this ideology, however, is "Nationalism Socialism." What it is in practice is the worship of the all-powerful state and its god-like leader, Xi Jinping.
If that doesn't send chills down your spine, you need to reread "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich."
Right now in China nothing, least of all Christianity, is being allowed to interfere with Xi's plan to turn the Chinese into good national socialists.
Crosses are being ripped off the top of churches, and home church leaders are being arrested and tortured. Catholics have been warned not to bring their own children to Mass, and Christians are forbidden to teach their children about the faith. Home schooling has been banned. Dissidents of all stripes, from human-rights attorneys to Tibetan demonstrators, are being arrested.
China watcher Orville Schell calls this "a new reign of terror." It is all that and more.
Third, it is critically important that not only the president, but all Americans, understand that Xi Jinping, like Chairman Mao, imagines a future world under China's hegemony.
Xi and his fellow Communist leaders dismiss the current world order as unjust, and deeply resent the U.S. for standing in the way of achieving their "China Dream" of world domination.
They believe that it is their manifest destiny to usher in a new world order, centered on China. They call this world — without any sense of irony — the World of Great Harmony. And they are willing to do virtually anything to achieve it. Witness their cheating on trade, their ripping up of treaties, and their arrogant violations of international law.
Any political party that is willing to kill 400 million of its own unborn citizens — as China's leaders have in the one-child policy — will obviously stop at nothing to achieve its goals.
It goes without saying that China's "dream" is the world's nightmare. A world dominated by Chinese would be less free, less democratic, and less safe, not only for Americans and other peoples, but also for the Chinese people themselves.
A president who has pledged to Make America Great Again is obviously not going to be interested in ceding global hegemony to the national socialists who run China.
I believe that Trump understands that he is dealing with a man who makes aggressive territorial claims, who oversees the theft of our intellectual property, and who is closely allied with a country — North Korea — that has threatened to nuke our major cities.
He knows that China is our chief global adversary and that its values and institutions are antithetical to ours.
There is no better illustration of the vast divide that separates our two countries than the reaction of the two leaders to criticism.
Alec Baldwin can do his "Saturday Night Live" imitation of the Donald on American TV all he wants. The president is not amused by it (he thinks it's poorly done, as do I) but the show goes on, protected by the First Amendment.
But let a Chinese Alec Baldwin try to ridicule Xi Jinping in the same way. He would be dragged off the set by the police before he completed his first skit. He would be imprisoned in a secret jail, tortured until he confessed his wrongdoing, and perhaps even killed. Dissidents like Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo die every day in China.
China's new Red Emperor will not be mocked.
Xi was not even pleased that his subjects were comparing him to a lovable, cuddly, if somewhat portly, bear. The Winnie the Pooh meme has been banned in China, along with everything and anyone else that is critical of the Chinese Empire and its new Red Emperor.
Steven W. Mosher is the author of "Bully of Asia: Why China's Dream is the New Threat to World Order," which will be published by Regnery Press on November 27.
Last Modified: November 10, 2017, 8:25 am