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Beijing’s Rough Rider: Is Xi Jinping China’s Teddy Roosevelt?

Nov 04 , 2014

Is Xi Jinping China’s Teddy Roosevelt? The very question elicits giggles. A Chinese Communist Party apparatchik could scarcely constitute the second coming of a progressive New York Republican from a century ago. Or could he?

Not in terms of personal background. Differences are legion—even apart from the sociopolitical gulf separating twenty-first-century China from fin de siècle America. For instance, Xi’s career in officialdom got off to a shaky start after his father was purged from his post during the Cultural Revolution. The future president shuttled from post to post within the CCP, amassing credibility on policy and military affairs while scaling the political heights.

Roosevelt enjoyed a relatively cosseted upbringing as the scion of a patrician New York family. Nor, unlike Xi, was he a career party man. He did hold a variety of posts, including New York City police commissioner and assistant secretary of the navy. Like Xi, he served as a governor, overseeing New York state before moving on to the vice presidency and presidency. Interspersed among his public-service posts, however, were stints ranching in the Dakotas and raising a volunteer regiment for the Spanish-American War. And TR established himself as an author of some repute, penning works of history that remain in print to this day.

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