Beijing: To Xi Jinping The first step after winning China’s top post as the Communist Party’s general secretary in 2012 was to re-establish regular “sessions of democratic life” with the other leaders of the 25-member Politburo. Mao Zedong period.
The restoration of the practice, which requires self-criticism before the Secretary General, is a small but symbolic example of how Xi China has moved away from the collective leadership of recent decades and amassed a power not seen since Mao’s time.
Xi, 69, is expected to break the precedent at the ruling Communist Party Congress, which begins on October 16, and strengthen the party’s rebirth in all aspects of China. . “essence”.
While the exact composition of the next Politburo Standing Committee will provide clues to the extent to which Xi has neutralized what remains of the opposing factions, some party viewers expect a significant change of direction or attitude.
Instead, Xi is willing to maintain or tighten his controls, analysts say, a concentration of power that has seen increasingly dogmatic policy implementations that discourage or discourage conflicting ideas and comments as risks of unintended consequences. is canceled.
Critics point to the persistence of Chinese policies, whether it be Covid, an increasingly aggressive diplomacy or a once buoyant “platform” economy, as proof of the risks of an increasingly authoritarian regime.
Wu Guoguang, a former party member, said ironically that a leader who wielded power to crack down on the opposition inevitably felt insecure and therefore reluctant to share power or change course.
“Xi would be concerned that any personal enhancements could be used by potential enemies to eliminate them,” said Wu, who is now a researcher at Stanford University in California.
While some party observers have said China may change some policies after Congress – “adapting over time,” in party jargon – they expect Beijing to take its broader leadership under the wing. Xi’s leadership for years to come. will keep
“Xi had a hard time turning around. She is a weakness, “said Ashley Asre, a political scientist at the University of Alberta.
The anticipated absence of a clear successor would also allow Xi to rule unchallenged, but potentially more likely to remain in power.
“It is questionable that Xi’s reluctance to empower a young successor and moves to violate collective leadership standards have also made China less resilient as the country moves into an increasingly uncertain future,” he said. I’m.
Rejuvenation and headwinds
Xi’s consolidation of power does not appear to be affected by the challenges that have developed in a chaotic year, from a faltering economy to an increasingly zero Covid policy and support for Russia. Vladimir Poutine,
During his decade at the helm, Xi prioritized security, expanding the state’s economic role, a stronger military, more assertive foreign policy, and intense pressure to take over Taiwan.
When the elders chose Xi as their leader, the son of a Communist Party revolutionary was seen as a safe choice to prioritize the party and refresh an institution that had become riddled with corruption and less relevant in a liberal economy. .
Xi’s promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee in 2007 fueled hope among liberals and Western governments that he might be a reformer. Eventually, his father helped then-ruler Deng Xiaoping implement China’s fundamental reform and become party secretary of Guangdong Province.
rise of authoritarianism
Ma Xi took his party bailout mandate seriously, putting the party at the center of life in China and himself at the center of the party.
In the name of fighting corruption and restoring public confidence in the party, 4.7 million officials under Xi were investigated in April 2022. Many have been ousted, including rivals in power such as former leader of the popular Chongqing party Bo Xilai. Such moves have had the advantage of eradicating political enemies and promoting their own people into new vacancies while gaining public support.
Xi also oversaw a crackdown on dissent and banned “derogatory” discussions about the party among members. All comments criticizing Xi have been removed from the Internet.
In 2016 he became the “heart” of the party and in 2018 he removed the limit of two terms for the presidency, opening the way for him to govern for life.
Great chief of the great country …
Leading scholars argue that a large and diverse country like China needs strong central authority and a strong leader to function and prevent chaos.
They point to China’s success in eradicating poverty, building infrastructure and staging events like this year’s Beijing Winter Olympics, and its effectiveness in quelling the Covid epidemic.
“Part of the story is that when he came to power, many CCP members expected a strong response to increasingly serious challenges,” said Joseph Torigian, assistant professor at the university. American and expert in authoritarian politics. Said.
He said that although the party has not been able to reform, many leaders are products of Xi’s system and likely share similar views.
Dali Yang, a professor of Chinese politics at the University of Chicago, said Xi’s penchant for autocratic rule may feel compelled to compromise more in his third term, especially in light of the growing backlash from zero Covid policies. .
“Before the latest COVID epidemic, even when his policy was bad, people broadly supported him. Now, with the economy in crisis and the country stuck in a zero-Covid situation, perhaps it needs to be more open to other ideas, “he told Recounted.