China Used To Disguise Its Dictatorship; Xi Jinping Put an End to That

Facing the world, a dictator in total control of the world’s second largest economy encourages current and emerging authoritarian regimes to maintain official repression to retain power.

Chinese Communist Party Congress votes for Xi’s re-election (Video by Reuters via

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Crowned as China’s top leader for a third term, Xi Jinping now wields more than absolute power after securing full authority over the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the State, and the armed forces until the next decade, or if he succeeds, indefinitely.

Xi amended the Constitution in 2018 and abolished the two-term limit for holding the country’s presidency, further tightening his grip on the world’s most populous nation. While there are no term limits within the CCP, no leader besides the founder of the People’s Republic, Mao Zedong, has served a third term in power.

The Communist Party Congress re-elected Xi in a stellar ceremony on October 23 that ratified, by force or conviction, a transition model that began in 2012 around a single-star figure, him.

Facing the world, a dictator in total control of the world’s second largest economy encourages current and emerging authoritarian regimes to maintain official repression to retain power.

At a time when U.S. political leaders, especially in the ranks of the Republican Party, are discussing a retreat of their country as the police of global democracy, Xi’s authoritarian rise may become a threat to the very essence of American values of progress at the expense of freedom.

“The sheer number of elites whom Xi has crossed during his first decade in office would have forced his departure under any ordinary logic, yet Xi’s grip on power appears to be as secure as ever,” recalled Deng Yuwen, a Chinese writer and scholar, in an analysis.

“Rather than continuing to gamble with the CCP’s political power,” Deng wrote, “Xi had no choice but to fight corruption, smash the elite alliance, and transform the party’s corrupt inheritance, culture, and structure—even though doing so would pit him against the entire elite class. To preserve his political power, Xi set off on a road of no return.”

“Throughout these years, Xi abandoned the passivity and defensiveness of his predecessors and began to use the dictator’s toolkit,” Deng said. So how Xi built power? Taking risks demonstrated how far the State, i.e., Xi, can go to entrench its vision.

Li Yuan is a veteran New York Times reporter with nearly three decades of experience. She was born and raised in China, and for her, “Today, Xi rules more like a stern authoritarian monarch.”

“Since taking office, Xi has taken control of China’s boisterous social media scene, silenced investigative journalists, and sent his critics to jail,” Li explained in the Times.

“He used an anti-corruption campaign to purge hundreds of senior party officials. He cracked down on the private sector, sending many of China’s top entrepreneurs into early retirement or self-imposed exiles. He sent about a million members of Muslim and other minority groups to re-education camps because of their religious beliefs and waged a brutal crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters,” Li added.

China used to disguise the way it exercised its dictatorship and the way it chose its leaders to give a certain sense of transparency. Xi Jinping put an end to that.

The first leader born after the founding of the People’s Republic by Mao Zedong in 1949, Xi is the son of a revolutionary hero and therefore considered a “red prince,” an elite that sealed the sixth generational changeover of that nation.

Although China strengthened its economy by opening to foreign capital, liberal political reforms were shelved. Although Xi promised in the past to revise the model, a system of absolute control that used all resources to maintain centralized power prevailed and became entrenched.

The taboo in China on issues such as civil rights had, over the years, become the enemy of those who wants ideological and political control to be maintained for fear that democracy will be consolidated.

Democracy, in the complete sense, would represent the extinction of the Chinese Communist Party as it has been seen so far. Its elite would also disappear.

In this new entrenchment of censorship, the crackdown completely shattered hopes that Xi and his team would distance themselves from the Maoist views that are so much holding back political reforms.

One of the problems detected by analysts is that in China, there is no talk of bringing Western democracy, but instead of reforming the political system to promote greater citizen oversight of the government, the priority of the party (i.e., the State) is to remain in power at all costs.

*Illustration by Itempnews