A sitting U.S. senator had some harsh words for Chinese President Xi Jinping following the announcement of a new title that hearkens back to the murderous, dictatorial Mao Zedong.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that — following a two-day meeting — the 25-member Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party labeled Xi as "renmin lingxiu, or 'people's leader,' a designation that directly echoes an accolade most closely associated with Communist China's founder Mao Zedong."
And while the new descriptor doesn't grant the Chinese leader any more power than he already has as the party's general secretary, the report explains, "the reverential tones in the Politburo's pronouncement — issued late Friday by state media — projects an aura of party unity behind Mr. Xi as he confronts wide-ranging economic and political challenges at home and abroad."
In response to the news, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) — who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee — fired back at Xi and his new title, criticizing the country's regime's atrocious track records on the subject of basic human rights.
"If Chairman Xi is the 'people's leader,' who are the people?" Sasse asked in a scathing statement sent out Saturday afternoon:
"When Chairman Xi talks about 'the people,' he doesn't mean the Uyghurs in torture camps. When Chairman Xi talks about 'the people,' he doesn't mean the Falun Gong prisoners whose organs are harvested. When Chairman Xi talks about 'the people,' he doesn't mean the baby girls who were left to die under China's one-child policy. When Chairman Xi talks about 'the people,' he means what every communist hack before him has meant: not the people but the communist party."
In addition to the human rights abuses Sasse listed in his statement, China was also recently re-designated as a "country of particular concern" for religious freedom and conscience rights by the United States government, per the terms of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act.
The new title isn't the first parallel that has been drawn between communist dictator Mao Zedong — who was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people during the 20th century — and Xi. Back in 2017, the country's constitution was changed to enshrine Xi's brand of thought alongside that of the former dictator's, thereby symbolically elevating the current figure to the same level as Mao.
Another constitutional change that was put in place in 2018 means that Xi is no longer constrained by term limits.