Forbes Magazine published its updated list of most powerful personalities a few days ago, making headlines with the choice of Russian President Vladimir Putin as the most powerful individual in 2013.
While many pundits criticize this choice by arguing that U.S. President Barack Obama is still no. 1, I would rather go with no. 3 in the pecking order: Xi Jinping might actually be the most powerful person on Earth.
With a more personalistic leadership than his predecessors (is anyone hearing about Li Keqiang anymore?) and presiding over the rising power of the 21st century (shadow banking, labor shortages and demographic threats permitting), a not-so-strong Putin is no rival for Xi.
Let’s be honest: Putin could only dream about enjoying the political clout Xi is demonstrating by promising deep institutional reforms and successfully purging the Party and even the People’s Liberation Army from corrupt (i.e. politically undesirable) elements.