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Thread: Xi Jinping's historic power grab in China

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    Xi Jinping's historic power grab in China

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/xis-powe...led-1482778917

    Xi’s Power Play Foreshadows Historic Transformation of How China Is Ruled
    Party insiders say president wants to remain in office after his second term, breaking succession conventions

    ED JONES/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
    By JEREMY PAGE and LINGLING WEI
    Dec. 26, 2016 2:01 p.m. ET

    BEIJING—China’s Communist Party elite was craving a firm hand on the tiller when it chose Xi Jinping for the nation’s top job in 2012. Over the previous decade, President Hu Jintao’s power-sharing approach had led to policy drift, factional strife and corruption.

    The party’s power brokers got what they wanted—and then some.

    Four years on, Mr. Xi has taken personal charge of the economy, the armed forces and most other levers of power, overturning a collective-leadership system introduced to protect against one-man rule after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976.

    Shattering old taboos, Mr. Xi has targeted party elders and their kin in an antigraft crusade, demanded fealty from all 89 million party members, and honed a paternalistic public image as Xi Dada, or Big Papa Xi.

    Now, as he nears the end of his first five-year term, many party insiders say Mr. Xi is trying to block promotion of a potential successor next year, suggesting he wants to remain in office after his second term expires in 2022, when he would be 69 years old.

    Mr. Xi, who is president, party chief and military commander, “wants to keep going” after 2022 and to explore a leadership structure “just like the Putin model,” says one party official who meets regularly with top leaders. Several others with access to party leaders and their relatives say similar things. The government’s main press office declined to comment for this article, and Mr. Xi couldn’t be reached for comment.

    Mr. Xi’s efforts to secure greater authority may help ensure political stability in the short run, as an era-defining economic boom starts to falter. But they risk upending conventions developed since Mao’s death to allow flexibility in government and ensure a regular and orderly transition of power.

    Concern is rising among China’s elite that the nation is shifting toward a rigid form of autocracy ill-suited to managing a complex economy. China’s array of challenges includes weaning the economy off debt-fueled stimulus spending, breaking up state monopolies and cleaning up the environment.

    “His dilemma is that he can’t get things done without power,” says Huang Jing, an expert on Chinese politics at the National University of Singapore. “He feels the need to centralize, but then he risks undermining these institutions designed to prevent a very powerful leader becoming a dictator.”

    Mr. Xi’s supporters say he still faces resistance within the party, and needs to modernize leadership structures to confront the slowing economy and a hostile West.

    At a meeting of 348 party leaders in October that granted Mr. Xi another title—“core” leader—he railed against indiscipline and warned of senior officials who “lusted for power, feigned compliance and formed factions and gangs.”

    Since then, many party members have signed written pledges of “absolute loyalty.” In a speech in October, the party chief of Henan province, Xie Fuzhan, hailed Mr. Xi as a “great leader”—words usually reserved for Mao.


    Hours before Donald Trump’s election victory, China officially launched its own convoluted process for selecting a new national leadership team, to be unveiled at a twice-a-decade party congress next fall. Up to five of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s top leadership body, are due to retire.

    Only Mr. Xi and Premier Li Keqiang would remain if the party observes the precedent, established in 2002, that leaders over age 67 step down.

    Replacements usually are chosen by outgoing and retired Standing Committee members. The custom since 2007 has been that two of those selected are young enough to succeed the party chief when he completes his second term.

    Shortly before China began formal preparations for the congress, senior party official Deng Maosheng cast those conventions into doubt by saying at a news conference that the idea of an age limit for top leaders was a “popular saying” that “isn’t trustworthy.”

    Some party insiders say they believe Mr. Xi is trying to pack the new Standing Committee with allies and to hinder others from elevating favorites. They say he wants his anticorruption chief, Wang Qishan, to keep his seat despite already being 68, and possibly to take over as premier. Messrs. Wang and Li couldn’t be reached for comment.

    There is even talk within the party of shrinking, downgrading or scrapping the Standing Committee and adopting a more presidential system like Russia’s, in which Vladimir Putin, now in his third term, has broad executive authority and could serve until 2024.

    Recent internal discussions suggest that “no successor will be appointed” to the Standing Committee next year, says the party official who meets regularly with top leaders. Mr. Xi is “very forceful about preventing the elders from interfering too much,” he says.

    Some of those ideas may be bargaining positions to bolster Mr. Xi’s hand in the negotiations that precede the congress.

    Some believe that his rivals may yet thwart his ambitions, or that he could change direction in his second term. With no overt signs of resistance, however, there is a sense among many who meet or monitor China’s leaders that it could be the start of a new era of hard authoritarianism.

    “China’s strongest leaders needed at least 20 years to achieve results. Xi Jinping will be the same,” says one retired senior official who has regular access to party leaders. “Mao built the nation. Deng Xiaoping made it rich. We’re now in the Xi era, which will make it strong.”

    Mr. Xi’s goal appears to be to remodel the party as a disciplined organization, loyal to him personally, and to reassert its role as the dominant force in society and the economy. He believes in top-down decision-making by a small circle of advisers, who now govern through a dozen or so committees Mr. Xi heads, party insiders say.


    His reputation within the party is as a micromanager who frequently makes notes on the many documents crossing his desk. One of his committees, the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms, has issued 96 edicts this year, up from 65 last year and 37 the year before.

    Mr. Xi has won popular support by fighting corruption and mobilizing the military to enforce territorial claims and protect Chinese interests world-wide, while boosting his global stature with a “One Belt One Road” plan for infrastructure links between East and West.

    He is using big data to establish new means of control, including a “social credit” system to monitor and rate citizens’ financial and other activities by 2020.

    In other areas, recentralizing power hasn’t helped. After pledging to allow the market a “decisive role” in 2013, his government mishandled a stock-market crash and currency devaluation last year, and this year he began advocating a stronger role for the state in the economy, directly contradicting signals from Premier Li.

    Efforts to curb state spending and high debt levels appear to many economists to have been trumped by Mr. Xi’s goal of doubling gross domestic product between 2010 and 2020.

    With property prices and capital outflows ballooning, the prospect of bolder overhauls dimmed in November with the dismissal of reformist finance minister Lou Jiwei .

    Mr. Xi’s emphasis on obedience and austerity has prompted many officials to leave government while others simply pass along orders or avoid taking initiative, according to many who work in or deal with the government.

    Bureaucrats are inundated with official documents and study sessions related to Mr. Xi’s many campaigns, including a recent one directing them to read, deliver presentations and do written tests on a book of his speeches.

    A judge in a large Chinese city says he resigned this year because of rules that required him to hand in his passport, report on his family life and attend political meetings at which superiors would read out official documents, already published in state media, often for two hours at a time.

    A campaign against dissent and Western influence in media, arts, education and law is stifling creative thought and open debate, according to some people working in those areas.

    Liberal economist Mao Yushi, 88, who advocates scrapping the state sector, says he recently was warned by a party official to resign from the independent Unirule Institute of Economics that he co-founded in 1993. He says the institute’s Chinese donors fear official retribution and its foreign sponsors face a new law restricting foreign funding.


    He says he is still optimistic for China, but only “after Xi Jinping.”

    China has vacillated between one-man and collective rule for a century. Even Mao Zedong initially shared control with other revolutionaries after the 1949 Communist takeover, before enforcing his dominance and plunging China into two decades of chaos that killed tens of millions. Deng Xiaoping, his successor who launched China’s economic liberalization, developed rules for sharing and ceding power.

    “There is a limit to anyone’s knowledge, experience and energy,” Mr. Deng said in a 1980 speech often cited by critics of Mr. Xi, who now has at least 12 titles. Mr. Deng tried to remove the party from day-to-day government, delegating power to ministries and local authorities.

    Hu Jintao, who ruled beginning in 2002, was China’s first leader to give up all of his posts—party head, president and military chief—after 10 years in office.

    By 2012, the party was in crisis. Corruption and party infighting had been exposed by a scandal involving Bo Xilai, a Politburo member ultimately jailed for abusing power after his wife was convicted of murdering a British businessman.

    An economic growth model driven by exports and infrastructure investment was flagging. Labor costs, social unrest, local-government debt and environmental problems were rising, undermining the party’s main claim to legitimacy—that it delivered political stability and ever increasing prosperity.

    Some in the party felt the diffusion of power had gone too far.

    Mr. Xi, the son of a revolutionary hero purged by Mao but later rehabilitated, had no cohesive power base. His appointment was largely engineered by former President Jiang Zemin. Premier Li was known to have been Mr. Hu’s first choice as his successor.

    Still, Mr. Xi had a powerful ally in Mr. Wang, a friend for several decades who was now anticorruption chief. Together, they used the Bo scandal as justification to launch an anticorruption campaign that targeted potential threats to Mr. Xi’s authority as well as a real problem for the party.

    President Hu’s chief of staff, one of his most senior generals and his domestic security chief, Zhou Yongkang, as well as many lower-level officials associated with them were convicted of corruption. That curbed the influence of networks centered around Mr. Xi’s two predecessors.

    He antagonized many people along the way. “So many groups have been targeted now, it could be dangerous for him to retire” in 2022, says Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based political commentator. “That’s also why he wants Wang Qishan to stay.”

    Fear of corruption investigators prevents overt challenges, but passive resistance within the party is widespread, and as Mr. Xi accumulates power he assumes more responsibility for failure, party insiders say. He has limited numbers of people he can truly trust, these people say. His power is undisputed, yet fragile, they say.

    The anticorruption campaign has morphed into a drive to enforce discipline, increasingly defined as implementing Mr. Xi’s decisions.


    At a meeting in October, the Central Committee approved Mr. Xi’s status as “core” leader—a title never conferred on Mr. Hu. The takeaway for party members who discussed the development at subsequent meetings was that Mr. Xi had the final say on all issues, including next year’s reshuffle.

    Li Zhanshu, head of the party’s powerful General Office, urged officials in a November newspaper editorial to rally around Mr. Xi as “the most prestigious, the most influential and the most experienced” party leader.

    Some party members expect Mr. Li, one of Mr. Xi’s closest allies, to take the anticorruption job on the Standing Committee next year, with Mr. Wang becoming premier instead of retiring. That would tighten Mr. Xi’s hold on power until 2022 and set a precedent for him staying on after that.

    There is a constitutional two-term limit on the presidency. There also are party rules saying no leading official can stay in the same post longer than 10 years, or at the same level of the party for more than 15.

    Some party insiders say the latter rules don't apply to the Standing Committee. Others believe Mr. Xi could change the rules, or switch roles, as Mr. Putin did in 2008.

    Write to Jeremy Page at jeremy.page@wsj.com and Lingling Wei at lingling.wei@wsj.com

  2. #2
    Defense ProfessionalSenior Contributor tbm3fan's Avatar
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    True to form and it never fails to deliver in the end

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    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    The only ones I've seen even hinting at this kind of thing -- staying in formal positions of power for more than 10 years -- are Western journalists.

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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    China’s strongest leaders needed at least 20 years to achieve results.
    Deng didn't have that.

    Mao built the nation. Deng Xiaoping made it rich. We’re now in the Xi era, which will make it strong.”
    Reads like make the CCP strong at the expense of China.

    There used to be a collective rule system in place but its making way for individuals now. Same going on in Russia. Course if it does go egg shaped then we know who is responsible.

    In other areas, recentralizing power hasn’t helped. After pledging to allow the market a “decisive role” in 2013, his government mishandled a stock-market crash and currency devaluation last year, and this year he began advocating a stronger role for the state in the economy, directly contradicting signals from Premier Li.
    Planned economies ?

    A campaign against dissent and Western influence in media, arts, education and law is stifling creative thought and open debate, according to some people working in those areas.
    its funny this push back from globalisation from a country that got rich over it.
    Last edited by Double Edge; 03 Jan 17, at 19:05.

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    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Xi Jinping may be weaker than he looks

    The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee’s decision to amend the state constitution to permit Xi Jinping – and whoever he eventually chooses as his successor – to serve more than two terms is widely seen as proof that Xi is the strongest leader since Mao Zedong. That may not necessarily be the case.

    After the war with Japan, the Chinese Civil War and the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Mao Zedong was content to hold just two formal titles: Chairman of the party and head of its Military Affairs Commission (MAC). When Deng Xiaoping began dismantling Maoism, he also held few formal titles (army Chief-of-Staff, party vice chair and state Vice Premier).

    Deng took power by convincing his peers that Chairman Mao had hurt the party and the country by creating a cult of personality and remaining in power too long. Among the deals struck were an agreement that successors would be carefully groomed and elders would gradually retire. Between the final purge of latent leftists in the early 1980s and the dismissal of Hu Yaobang in 1986, Deng and his senior colleagues wrestled with exactly how – and when – to release the reins of power.

    Like Mao, Deng outlasted his first two chosen successors and in his final days was forced to acquiesce to a weak, third string choice. Twenty years after Mao launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, at least partly to get rid of second ranked Liu Shaoqi, Deng dumped his chosen successor and life-long ally, Hu Yaobang. Within a few years, both men were replaced, by Lin Biao and Zhao Ziyang, respectively, amid chaos and confusion.

    The mid-1989 Tiananmen Massacre and removal of Zhao Ziyang forced Deng to turn to the untested Jiang Zemin. Like Hua Guofeng, Jiang was relatively new to national politics, having been named CCP Secretary of Shanghai (and a member of the politburo) only in 1987. In a stroke, he was elevated to the PBSC, named General Secretary of the Party and chair of its MAC and, in 1993, President of the PRC.

    Which brings us to Xi Jinping.

    The party and state constitutions stipulate that the top leaders may serve a maximum of two five-year terms. Jiang Zemin dutifully gave up his key titles on schedule, but retained his position as head of the armed forces. This ensured that Hu Jintao – who was not Jiang’s chosen successor but one foisted upon him by the elders – would not be able to significantly threaten either Jiang or his allies. As a result, Hu was a weak leader throughout his decade in office.

    Xi Jinping, on the other hand, took all the titles as soon as possible. He now seeks to keep those titles, which suggests he does not think he can protect his legacy and his allies without them. What Mr Xi now needs to watch for is a coalescence of forces opposed to his prolonged rule. While it may not come soon, history suggests that it will arise, one day.
    Last edited by DOR; 26 Feb 18, at 10:06.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    The only ones I've seen even hinting at this kind of thing -- staying in formal positions of power for more than 10 years -- are Western journalists.
    DOR,
    Let me take a guess. Free press.

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    Some prediction.
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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee’s decision to amend the state constitution to permit Xi Jinping – and whoever he eventually chooses as his successor – to serve more than two terms is widely seen as proof that Xi is the strongest leader since Mao Zedong. That may not necessarily be the case.

    After the war with Japan, the Chinese Civil War and the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Mao Zedong was content to hold just two formal titles: Chairman of the party and head of its Military Affairs Commission (MAC). When Deng Xiaoping began dismantling Maoism, he also held few formal titles (army Chief-of-Staff, party vice chair and state Vice Premier).

    Deng took power by convincing his peers that Chairman Mao had hurt the party and the country by creating a cult of personality and remaining in power too long. Among the deals struck were an agreement that successors would be carefully groomed and elders would gradually retire. Between the final purge of latent leftists in the early 1980s and the dismissal of Hu Yaobang in 1986, Deng and his senior colleagues wrestled with exactly how – and when – to release the reins of power.

    Like Mao, Deng outlasted his first two chosen successors and in his final days was forced to acquiesce to a weak, third string choice. Twenty years after Mao launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, at least partly to get rid of second ranked Liu Shaoqi, Deng dumped his chosen successor and life-long ally, Hu Yaobang. Within a few years, both men were replaced, by Lin Biao and Zhao Ziyang, respectively, amid chaos and confusion.

    The mid-1989 Tiananmen Massacre and removal of Zhao Ziyang forced Deng to turn to the untested Jiang Zemin. Like Hua Guofeng, Jiang was relatively new to national politics, having been named CCP Secretary of Shanghai (and a member of the politburo) only in 1987. In a stroke, he was elevated to the PBSC, named General Secretary of the Party and chair of its MAC and, in 1993, President of the PRC.

    Which brings us to Xi Jinping.

    The party and state constitutions stipulate that the top leaders may serve a maximum of two five-year terms. Jiang Zemin dutifully gave up his key titles on schedule, but retained his position as head of the armed forces. This ensured that Hu Jintao – who was not Jiang’s chosen successor but one foisted upon him by the elders – would not be able to significantly threaten either Jiang or his allies. As a result, Hu was a weak leader throughout his decade in office.

    Xi Jinping, on the other hand, took all the titles as soon as possible. He now seeks to keep those titles, which suggests he does not think he can protect his legacy and his allies without them. What Mr Xi now needs to watch for is a coalescence of forces opposed to his prolonged rule. While it may not come soon, history suggests that it will arise, one day.
    Yes, he is weaker than he looks

    https://youtu.be/VypsYrMRGHo?t=1015

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    More here: http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/02/26/...-myth-is-dead/

    China’s Stability Myth Is Dead

    The announcement on Sunday that China would abolish the two-term limit for the presidency, effectively foreshadowing current leader Xi Jinping’s likely status as president for life, had been predicted ever since Xi failed to nominate a clear successor at last October’s Communist Party Congress. But it still came as a shock in a country where the collective leadership established under Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s was once considered inviolable. Xi, like every leader since Deng, combines a trinity of roles that embody the three pillars of power in China: party chairman, president, and head of the Central Military Commission. But like every leader since Deng, he was once expected to hand these over after his appointed decade, letting one generation of leadership pass smoothly on to the next.

    It’s virtually impossible to gauge public opinion in China, especially as censorship has gripped ever tighter online. But among Chinese I know, including those used to defending China’s system, the move caused dismay and a fair amount of gallows humor involving references to “Emperor Pooh” and “West Korea.”

    U.S. President Donald Trump’s electoral victory in 2016 similarly prompted rounds of reflection about and criticism of American democracy. But the Chinese case merits significantly more alarm. For all the erosion of norms under Trump, he seems unlikely, despite the fears of some, to fundamentally change the way the United States is governed. Xi, meanwhile, appears to have entirely transformed Chinese politics from collective autocracy to what’s looking increasingly like one-man rule. This switch should leave everyone very worried, both inside and outside China. A country that once seemed to be clumsily lurching toward new freedoms has regressed sharply into full-blown dictatorship — of a kind that’s likely to lead to dangerous and unfixable mistakes.

    The Chinese Constitution itself is a largely meaningless document, promising as it does freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and personal privacy. Amendments are frequent, proposed by a committee of “experts” and rubber-stamped by the National People’s Congress, China’s annual — and equally meaningless — parliament. Brave efforts to give the constitution genuine significance were crushed, as with any other attempt to curtail party power, in the early years of Xi’s rule.

    But the most recent change signals something far deeper than the party’s primacy over the law; it spotlights the essential instability of the entire political system. For the last two decades, defenders of China have pointed to collective leadership and the smooth succession from one leader to another as signs that the country had solved the problem that bedeviled other autocracies such as the Soviet Union. The new leadership was established five years in advance of taking power, allowing strong continuity without the upsets of elections. The handover of power from Hu Jintao to Xi was considered a model of good rule, without the hangovers and struggles that continued for several years after Jiang Zemin reluctantly passed power to Hu in 2002.

    Perhaps the system was always doomed, as soon as a cunning enough leader emerged — though Xi was not only skilled but lucky, utilizing the fall of his likely rival Bo Xilai to consolidate his own supremacy. There will be a certain grim amusement in watching intellectual apparatchiks scuttle to explain how their previous arguments in favor of collective rule have been superseded by the needs of the times and that strongman rule is now the only answer. As the New York Times’s Chris Buckley pointed out, Hu Angang, a regular and vocal apologist for the government, made collective rule the centerpiece of his book on the superiority of the Chinese political system — published in 2013, just after Xi’s initial ascension.

  11. #11
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/02/26/...inese-monster/

    Globalization Has Created a Chinese Monster
    Xi Jinping's dictatorship isn't what the end of history was supposed to look like.

    On Sunday, the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee recommended ending the two-term limit on the presidency, paving the way for President Xi Jinping to stay in office indefinitely. This surely marks the end of an era — and not just for China, but also for the West.

    For the West, the era in question started with the end of the Cold War, as old enemies became “emerging markets.” China had already started opening its markets to foreign investment since 1978 under Deng Xiaoping’s reforms. But only in the 1990s did the private sector take off there, and Western firms promptly rushed in to profit from the breakneck speed of Chinese economic growth.

    The beauty of the post-Cold War emerging market story was that it was apolitical. Recall the famous identification of the leading emerging markets by Jim O’Neill in 2001 as the “BRICs” (Brazil, Russia, India, China) — four states from different groupings during the Cold War now viewed together as the leading protagonists in a new era of peaceful globalization under the Pax Americana. Some called it the end of history.

    But this apolitical approach was premised on the assumption, inherited from the Cold War, that democracy and capitalism go hand in hand, and that the extension of free markets would bring global convergence to the Western economic model, as the Washington Consensus predicted.

    Confidence in globalization saw massive amounts of Western capital and intellectual property flow to emerging markets, above all to China. But few in the West registered the geopolitical significance of this at the time. Instead, they praised the economic growth story. And not without good reason: the integration of China into global markets lifted a billion people out of poverty. It remains a testament to the material benefits of removing geopolitical obstructions from the development of global business.

    But this story of global cosmopolitan peace has been on the rocks for some time. Russian privatization in the 1990s ultimately produced a mafia state controlled by an oligarchy. More broadly — with a few exceptions, mainly in Eastern Europe, where democracy did take hold (current problems notwithstanding) — capitalism has expanded since the end of the Cold War in spite of democracy, not alongside it.

    And nowhere is this more evident than in China. It’s now abundantly clear that despite the West’s pious belief in the transformative power of free markets to encourage “reform,” China is headed toward more, not less autocracy. Indeed, it might not be an exaggeration to say that China has broken a path toward a new form of totalitarianism in which one man will sit atop a police state with access to ubiquitous data gathered about citizens by social media and online shopping platforms and a vast human and electronic surveillance apparatus to track their every move. Look no further than the ghastly “social credit score” system that Beijing wants to roll out by 2020 to get a sense of how wrong the idea has proven to be that free markets will bring about democratic change, or even minor liberalizing reform in China. A billion people may have been lifted out of poverty, but only to find themselves living under cyber-totalitarianism.

    The geopolitical consequences of this realization could be very profound indeed. In the Cold War, the West faced totalitarian communist regimes whose economic model and political system were both alien to what the “free world” claimed to stand for. Of course, the link between capitalism and democracy was always tenuous, not least given the reality that many of the West’s allies were not democratic. But now, if it was ever in doubt, we know for sure that capitalism and democracy don’t have to go together: Capitalism is up for grabs, and you don’t even need to support the Pax Americana to plug into it.

    How does this end? We don’t yet know, but the question may well come to be the defining feature of a new geopolitical phase the world seems to have entered. Note how far removed from the happy story of liberal globalization is the language of the Trump administration’s December 2017 National Security Strategy: “China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.”

    Admittedly, this comes in the context of a presidency that bizarrely refuses to carry out U.S. congressional sanctions on Russia for interference in the U.S. 2016 elections. But the more important point is that Western states and their citizens are becoming increasingly alert to the need fundamentally to reappraise the value of the integrated global capitalism they have more or less promoted since the early 1990s. I am not talking about a reappraisal in light of the inequality that economic growth has produced, or the massive outsourcing of manufacturing jobs that created rust belts on both sides of the Atlantic, which is a separate discussion. Rather, this reappraisal concerns the inconvenient truth, which surely now is undeniable, that the West’s own economic policy has encouraged, if unwittingly, the rise of deeply illiberal regimes in much of the former communist world.

    What practical effect this produces in the foreign and economic policies of the West depends, on the one hand, on the extent to which the West is prepared to sacrifice material wealth in support of its public values; and, on the other hand, on the extent to which authoritarian states, above all Russia and China, attempt to export their values abroad. One could list any number of areas where this dilemma will play out, but the most important near-term litmus test will be whether the West responds to China’s Belt and Road Initiative as a benign economic project, or as a geopolitical threat.

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    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle View Post
    DOR,
    Let me take a guess. Free press.
    Oracle,
    Let me take a guess.
    That "Free press" thing had some kind of meaning behind it ?
    Trust me?
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    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    The story isn’t even remotely about “globalization.” Liberalization helped China recover from Maoism, but ending the idiotic notion of “to each according to his needs, from each according to his ability” did most of the heavy lifting.

    The notion that democracy and capitalism go hand in hand died when the GOPers applied voter suppression techniques so as to ensure they could pass massive tax cuts for the rich. Having said that, capitalism has survived monarchy, imperialism, theocratism, socialism, communism, fascism and democracy.

    I wouldn't bet against it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    Oracle,
    Let me take a guess.
    That "Free press" thing had some kind of meaning behind it ?
    Yes. Free speech is what the Western Journalists peddled when the false notion of a peaceful rise of China was spread by the communist propaganda machine. Ironic, that you would attack Western Journalists and don't value free speech.
    Last edited by Oracle; 27 Feb 18, at 18:20.

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    Xi term limit proposal sparks rare public dissent in China

    In a rare public expression of dissent in China, a well-known political commentator and a prominent businesswoman have penned open letters urging lawmakers to reject a plan that would allow President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely.

    Their impassioned statements on a popular messaging app were circulated widely after the ruling Communist Party announced a proposal on Sunday to amend the constitution to scrap term limits on the president and vice president.

    In a statement on Monday on WeChat to Beijing's members of China's rubber-stamp parliament, Li Datong, a former editor for the state-run China Youth Daily, wrote that lifting term limits would “sow the seeds of chaos".

    “If there are no term limits on a country's highest leader, then we are returning to an imperial regime,” Li told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

    “My generation has lived through Mao. That era is over. How can we possibly go back to it?”

    Wang Ying, a businesswoman who has advocated government reforms, wrote on WeChat that the Communist Party's proposal was “an outright betrayal” and “against the tides".

    “I know that you (the government) will dare to do anything,” she wrote. “And one ordinary person's voice is certainly useless. But I am a Chinese citizen, and I don't plan on leaving. This is my motherland too!”

    In a message that was swiftly deleted by censors, sociologist Li Yinhe called the removal of term limits “unfeasible” and would “return China to the era of Mao".

    Li added, however, that delegates to the National People's Congress, China's parliament, are likely to pass the amendment unanimously since “they aren't really elected by the people, therefore they don't represent the people in voting, but will vote according to the leadership's design".

    An official at the information department of the Congress' Standing Committee said on Tuesday that he was not aware of the open letters.

    While Xi, 64, is broadly popular in China for his economic stewardship, muscular foreign policy and emphasis on stability, it's difficult to determine how the move to end term limits has been received overall. Few Chinese dare to speak out on political topics, even online, while the media are entirely state-controlled and public polling on sensitive issues is nonexistent.

    The Congress is all but certain to pass the constitutional amendment when it meets for its annual session early next month, at which it will grant Xi a second five-year term and appoint new ministers and other government officials.

    Under the 1982 constitution, the president is limited to two five-year terms in office, but Xi — already China's most powerful leader since Mao — is seemingly convinced that he's the only one who can realise his vision for China and wants additional terms to see through his agenda of fighting corruption, eliminating poverty and transforming China into a modern leading nation by midcentury.

    A simple thirst for power is another possible motivation.

    Government and party spokesmen have yet to offer any detailed explanations of the reasoning behind the dropping of term limits. Nor is it clear whether Xi will seek to remain president for life or will only stay on for a set number of additional terms.

    “The fact that this proposal was possible means that Xi Jinping's influence is growing,” said Chen Jieren, a Beijing-based independent political scholar. “The party is recognising his achievements in fighting corruption. People have confidence in and respect for his resoluteness.”

    But Chen added: “China is not Cuba. Through the past few decades, Chinese people have come to understand that no one should be in power for life.”

    Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Monday that the proposal “was made in accordance with the new situation and the practice of upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era".

    In a commentary on Tuesday, the official China Daily newspaper mentioned the proposal to strip out language in the constitution limiting the president and vice president to two five-year terms, saying it was “necessitated by the need to perfect the party and the state's leadership system".

    While Chinese censors have moved swiftly to delete satirical online commentary on the move, a range of opposition views continue to be shared. The Global Times, a newspaper published by the Communist Party, said “outside forces” were trying to challenge the party's leadership.

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