Xi personally behind island-building in the South China Sea

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Communist Party mouthpiece praises president’s tough stance on maritime disputes with Asian neighbours

An editorial on Friday in Study Times – put out by the Central Party School, the Communist Party’s top academy – was the latest to lavish praise on Xi for his tough stance on territorial issues with the country’s Asian neighbours.

“[President Xi] personally steered a series of measures to expand [China’s] strategic advantage and safeguard the national interests,” the article said.

“On the South China Sea issue, [Xi] personally made decisions on building islands and consolidating the reefs, and setting up the city of Sansha. [These decisions] fundamentally changed the strategic situation of the South China Sea,” it said.

Analysts said the editorial showed Xi had assumed a degree of centralisation and control over China’s foreign policy as he moves to consolidate his power and establish himself as the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

It followed a series of state media reports extolling Xi’s virtues ahead of a key leadership reshuffle at the national congress in autumn.

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The article included a rundown of Xi’s life since childhood, and praise for his leadership on economic reform, the military overhaul and anti-corruption drive.

Beijing’s approach to maritime disputes appeared to be more centralised, analysts said, amid efforts to expand its presence in disputed waters, such as building man-made islands, which had unnerved many of its neighbours.

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