Xi Achieves Absolute Power, For What Greater Purpose?

The recently concluded 20th Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was a defining moment that may well shape global politics, economics, and security for a decade or more.

Having gained what appears to be firm control of not only the party organisation itself, but also the military, security system and the propaganda system during his past decade in power, Xi Jinping has secured an unprecedented third (five year) term as China’s supreme leaders, being its head of state, the head of the party and the head of the military. For over a generation, party rules have limited consecutive Chinese leaders to a decade in power, to avoid the prolonged concentration of power under one man following the disastrous rule of the People’s Republic’s founder, Mao Zedong.

Having now overcome these norms to assume what appears to be total and unquestioned power, what will Xi do with this power? What will be his priorities, how will he rule, and to what purpose? The congress itself provides a number of clues in this regard, particularly Xi’s own two-hour speech, which implicitly and explicitly laid out radical policy shifts in how Xi sees China’s position in the world, as well as a number of areas in which the current course will continue to be heeded.

This Month’s Sign of the Time looks at the key take ways of the congress through its speeches, reports, communiques and announcements, attempting to lay out a framework for potential future priorities and the execution paths open to Xi as he begins his record second decade as China’s ruler.


Ascent to Absolute Power

The 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party has confirmed President Xi Jinping’s precedent-breaking third five-year term and cemented his status as the most powerful leader in China since Mao Zedong. Given that Xi’s third term has been a foregone conclusion for some time, the congress risked being seen as a non-event, or a bit of self-congratulatory pageantry by the world’s longest ruling political party and absolute leader.

However, some important subtle nuances (as well as blatant acts) made Xi’s power consolidation not only significant theatre but looks set to have significant long-term implications for the world. Barring a nuclear escalation in Ukraine, Xi’s ascension to supreme power status is likely more profound in determining the shape of the world to come than the tragic ongoing war in Ukraine or Britain’s political antics which have captured the attention of the world’s media as the congress unfolded.

China’s rise has been unprecedented in human history. Since Deng Xiaoping assumed power in 1978 and instituted economic reforms, China’s real GDP has grown 80-fold, increasing at an average annual rate of 11%. In the intervening period, the country has lifted 1.4 billion people out of poverty, become the world’s factory and therefore its largest exporter, and become a geopolitical superpower, trailing only the United States in terms of economic, capital markets, and military power.

News of China’s death may be very exaggerated, as the adapted saying goes, and the recency factor of the "By 2035, our overall development goal is to significantly increase economic strength, scientific and technological capabilities, and comprehensive national power."
Xi Jinping, Report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China
pandemic is being overweighted in economic assessments and its low profile in the current Russia-Ukraine war is being over-weighted when considering the country’s geopolitical prospects. Indeed, China has the size, momentum, resources, global reach to be the pre-eminent global power in the 21st Century, and the only country that can derail this trajectory is China itself. However, analysis of the recently concluded Congress suggests that this process of self-derailing may well be underway, if not advanced. Of course, this process is not set in stone and the choices that will be made by Xi Jinping during the next few years will fundamentally shape China and the world for a generation or more.

The speeches, reports, and events of the 20th National Congress provide a series of insights on the party’s economic, political and security priorities to be executed over the next five years under Xi’s leadership, as China stands on the brink of unilaterally determining the direction of the world’s environmental, economic, and geopolitical position.

The very surprising, most would say shocking, conclusion from the messaging at the congress appears to be that Xi is essentially withdrawing China from the race to match or displace the US as the ‘Great Power’ of our times. If true, this changes the world scenario dramatically. And although China is still the factory of the world and an enormous market, geopolitics will be very different if China is not seeking to usurp the West. However, it would not be prudent to assume that, even if this were his current intention, it is the final word on the matter, given that China is a country of 1.4 billion people and the most disciplined executor in the world of its plans. America did not seek global superpower status during the two world wars but assumed the mantle anyway, inheriting it from a tired Britain that was sorely overstretched.


The Shape of China and its Role in the World: Priorities Revealed in the Sub-Text

I. Listing Order of National Objectives – Shifting Priorities

“Make breakthroughs in promoting high-quality economic development; achieve greater self-reliance and strength in science and technology; make major progress in creating a new pattern of development and building a modernized economy” Resolution of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on the Report of the 19th Central Committee

The congress’ main resolution lists eight objectives and tasks for the party in the coming five years, with the order of their listing providing a potential indication of their relative priority levels. ‘High quality economic development’ is first on the list, echoing Xi’s statement that development is the party’s ‘top priority’. This priority is stated with a requirement to be achieved through self-reliance, particularly in science and technology, pointing to the likely prioritisation of initiatives that promote China’s economic self-sufficiency. ‘Increasing China’s international standing and influence’ on the other hand was listed last, following priorities including ‘Enriching the intellectual and cultural lives of our people’ and ‘improving urban and rural living environments’, potentially pointing to a more inward-looking China over near to medium term.

Insight: China’s priorities are shifting inward, and away from international positioning.


II. Abandoned GDP Targets – Growth Slowdown

“China's overall development objectives for the year 2035 are as follows: Significantly increase economic strength, scientific and technological capabilities, and composite national strength; substantially grow the per capita GDP to be on par with that of a mid-level developed country” Xi Jinping, Report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China

In 2020, the government announced a goal of doubling the national economy, its GDP, by 2035, alongside increases in GDP/capita to reach that of a ‘mid-level developed country’. Xi’s speech this year reiterated the overall development goal and referenced growing GDP/capita but did not reference a target for the national economy. Given that the original goal implied an average annual growth rate of 5% for the next decade, this omission is either an implicit recognition by China that growth will likely fall short of these rates in the coming years, either because in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world, such numbers are hostages to fortune, or because China’s leaders believe that enough has been accomplished that they do not need to prioritise the economy in the same way. Either way there is a shift away from the previous era’s systems driven thinking and nitty-gritty public accountability.

Insight: China plans to raise the nation to a developed country level, but has lost the ability, or the will, to be held accountable to hard annual targets, the declaration and meeting of which have been a cornerstone of the CPC’s success since opening up.


III. Further De-emphasis of Markets – Increasing State Capitalism

“We must uphold and improve China’s basic socialist economic systems. We must unswervingly consolidate and develop the public sector and unswervingly encourage, support, and guide the development of the non-public sector. We will work to see that the market plays the decisive role in resource allocation and that the government better plays its role.” Xi Jinping, Report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China

China’s leaders since Deng have acknowledged the importance of markets in the country’s economy and its economic development, labelling their role as ‘decisive’ in determining capital allocation. While Xi reiterated the phrase this year, the word ‘market’ (市场) was used only three times in his nearly two-hour main speech to the congress, compared to 24 times a decade ago when he was formally introduced as the country’s next leader. On the other hand, the word ‘security’ (安全) rose from 36 to 50 mentions, pointing to the likelihood of further increases in state control of the economy and a continued lack of economic reforms.

Insight: China’s economy is regressing into a closed system focused on centralised security and control rather than an open system focused on adaptivity and growth.


IV. Focus on ‘Common Prosperity’ – Increasing Economic Centralisation and Expropriation

“We will promote equality of opportunity, increase the income of low-income earners, and expand the size of the middle-income group. We will keep income distribution and the means of accumulating wealth well regulated.” Xi Jinping, Report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China

“We will take stronger action against monopolies and unfair competition, break local protectionism and administrative monopolies, and conduct law-based regulation and guidance to promote the healthy development of capital.”Xi Jinping, Report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China

The theme of ‘common prosperity’ was key in Xi’s speech as well as in the communique of the outgoing congress, ostensibly focusing on addressing China’s rising income inequality. However, the term first rose to prominence in 2021 during a wave of government crackdown on the country’s leading tech companies, the entertainment “These measures concern the reconstruction of the state, the purely political reconstruction of society; but, of course, they acquire their full meaning and significance only in connection with the "expropriation of the expropriators" either being accomplished or in preparation, i.e., with the transformation of capitalist private ownership of the means of production into social ownership.” VI Lenin, State and Revolution industry and the private education sector, and therefore appears to be more focused on regulatory reform and crackdowns on the private sector than on socioeconomic policies to lift the incomes of China’s mass population (of which nearly 200 million live on less than US$5.50 a day).

Rather than creating a modern welfare state, social, economic, health, and other family welfare objectives are sought to be addressed by exercising control over related industry sectors, leading to yet greater centralisation of the party’s power. These practises have led to crackdowns on both individual companies (cancelling Ant Financial’s IPO, projected to be the world’s largest) and shutdowns of entire industries (like China’s US$120bn private education sector) in what are de-facto expropriations, accompanied by significant wealth destruction as investors reassess China allocations in the face of increasing risk, with over US$2 trillion in value having been wiped off Chinese overseas listed companies this year.

Insight: China will seek to address the economic and social challenges created by capitalism by strengthening control over the private sector and de-facto expropriations rather than through socioeconomic policies.


V. Population Development Strategy Included – Demographic Timebomb Recognised

“We will improve the population development strategy, establish a policy system to boost birth rates, and bring down the costs of pregnancy and childbirth, child rearing, and schooling. We will pursue a proactive national strategy in response to population aging” Xi Jinping, Report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China

In 2017, Xi Jinping broke a 30-year streak of referencing the need for ‘birth control’ in leaders’ working reports at party congresses, with China’s One-Child policy having been abandoned two years previously. This year’s report explicitly mentioned a population development strategy of increasing birth rates (and by extension, population growth), pointing to the official recognition of China’s demographic timebomb, with both the overall and the working population facing imminent decline, creating the risk of a middle-income trap in which China grows old before it grows rich.

Insight: The leadership know that they have created a growing and likely unstoppable issue in declining population that will diminish their economic strength and burden the next generation.


VI. Leadership Reshuffle Breaks Precedent – Sets Up the Need for Opposition to Go Underground

The reshuffling of China’s top leadership (the politburo standing committee) announced at the congress has broken further precedent. For decades the rule of “Seven-up, Eight-down” (七上八下) ensured that top leaders 67 years old or younger at each congress were reappointed for another term, and leaders 68 or older retiring. This congress saw two top leaders, Premier Li Keqiang and Vice-Premier Wang Yang, stepping down despite being below retirement age. Both are believed to be members of a rival faction to Xi’s, and proteges of former President Hu Jintao (who in a dramatic moment was unceremoniously lifted and escorted off the stage at the Congress, ostensibly due to ‘poor health’). Both were replaced by Xi loyalists, pointing to a top leadership both without factional opposition and without a natural successor to Xi. Rather than needing to keep his enemies close as his predecessors have, Xi appears to have amassed sufficient power to eliminate them entirely.

Insight: Xi has consolidated his power and signalled the end of a party of plurality and the removal of checks and balances on his power, leading to faster execution and potentially more radical actions.


VII. Personality Cult Enshrined – Shift to Absolute Power, No Substantive Checks and Balances

“We must resolutely uphold Comrade Xi Jinping's core position on the Central Committee and in the Party as a whole and fully implement Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” Resolution of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on the Report of the 19th Central Committee

The congress’ roughly 4,400 word closing resolution referred to Xi Jinping as the ‘core’ of the party and his political thought as its bedrock no less than ten times. This was accompanied by an amendment to the communist party’s charter that formally recognised this position and thinking and requires party members to safeguard Xi’s status as ‘core’ as well as the party’s centralised authority over China. These developments point to the increasing integration of one party, one ideology and one leader, with Xi Jinping exercising absolute control over the party and through it all the apparatus of the state.

Insight: Xi Jinping is increasingly subsuming the CPC, just as the CPC has subsumed China’s government, enhancing the risks that come with absolute power and a power vacuum when he has left.


VIII. Grip on Hong Kong to Remain Tight, Taiwan Remains a Priority – Unification Prioritised

“One country two systems has proven to be the best institutional arrangement for ensuring sustained prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macao after their return to the motherland. This policy must be adhered to over the long term … We should take resolute steps to oppose "Taiwan independence" and promote reunification, maintain the initiative and the ability to steer in cross-Strait relations, and unswervingly advance the cause of national reunification.” Resolution of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on the Report of the 19th Central Committee

Both Xi’s speech and the congress resolution highlighted China’s increasing control over Hong Kong, pointing to order being restored and the city being ‘governed by patriots’ as a mark of success of its rule. The resolution stated that existing policies would continue to be adhered to, in order to “ensure sustained prosperity and stability in Hong Kong”, pointing to a further tightening of Beijing’s control over the city in the coming years. With regards to Taiwan, both speech and resolution emphasised reunification, with the former in particular ‘reserving the option of all measures necessary’ and explicitly stating that China will ‘never promise to renounce the use of force’ in cross-strait relations. Given China’s increasing military exercises around Taiwan these announcements come as little surprise but are further confirmation that the question of Taiwan continues to be seen as a critical one to China’s leaders.

Insight: China has moved to “one country, one system” following a heavy-handed approach to end Hong Kong’s independence; the writing is on the wall for Taiwan.


Of course, the congress covered many other important topics during its six-day session, many of which will have policy implications of equal or greater import to the ones laid out above. However, most of these represent reaffirmations of existing policies and trends, rather than the new developments laid out above. For example, during the congress, China’s leaders reaffirmed their support for multi-lateral cooperation mechanisms like the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and continued to call for the promotion of domestic science and technology breakthroughs, both of which point to the continuation or strengthening of existing policies in these areas. However, there were subtleties that are easily missed, for example, while as in previous years, China’s leadership has pointed to the need to further support and strengthen state-owned enterprises (SOEs), which account for c.25% of the economy, the emphasis on them in the light of increasing regulation of the private sector points to a larger large role for SOEs in China’s future, as part of a far more “statist” economy.

Stepping back however, the more striking outcomes of the Congress are the cementing of Xi’s extreme autocratic model and the change in the priorities of China’s leadership to security and economic self-sufficiency,The more striking outcomes of the Congress are the cementing of an extreme autocratic model and the change in the priorities of China’s leadership to security and economic self-sufficiency, abandoning the former obsession with economic growth targets, and not emphasising its superpower ambitions and the initiatives designed to achieve that … this, if true, is a radical shift abandoning the former obsession with economic growth targets, and laying out the broad parameters of a far more closed system where private enterprise – foreign and domestic – will play strictly to a rule book and be required to stay within their determined mandate.

Also, the edification of Xi Jinping as the sole decision maker in China’s leadership has been declared at the congress, providing him with near absolute control over the world’s largest political party and through its massive government machinery the determination of the fate of the second largest population in the world. This in turn begs questions of what the transition of power will look like in the future and whether it will be a peaceful one.


Unprecedented Power… But Narrowing Policy Choices

So, what are the party’s priorities under the leadership of Xi? As the world’s longest ruling party and one steeped in Marxist-Leninist ideology, the prime answer must be power, specifically, ensuring the party’s continued rule of China. Every policy and strategy considered, be it social, economic, military, or other, can be expected to be examined and evaluated through the lens of the party’s control, which given Xi’s position, means Xi’s control.

Fundamentally, the party’s control is closely tied to its continued legitimacy, given that throughout the country’s history the CPC’s rule has relied as much on the popular support of China’s people as it has on its power over them. However, in the absence of free and fair national elections, the party has needed to pursue, and deliver on popular goals as alternative sources of legitimacy. Under Mao, the party’s legitimacy derived from its imminent realisation of communism, under Deng Xiaoping it derived from economic growth and increasing prosperity. And amid China’s gradual economic slowdown, Xi in his first term, shifted the focus to the ‘rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation’, based on nationalism and China’s great power projection in the world at large. All these policies and priorities have been means to an end rather than ends in themselves.

However, the past decade under XI has seen a reversal of the opening up of freedoms and the rise in the governments’ control over China’s population, with the party tightening its control over civil society, the private sector, the media, and academia. Civil liberties, free speech and dissent have been further curtailed and the use of digital technologies like AI, facial recognition, and social credit systems, among others, afford China’s security apparatus with a level of control over the country’s population that the Stasi of (former) East Germany, history’s hitherto most sophisticated surveillance state, could only have dreamed of. Relying largely on human intelligence, the Stasi assembled dossiers on 5.6 million people in 1989, or one third of the country’s population. Using digital technologies, China can today likely gather similar or greater levels of information on a billion (and potentially more) people.

“In the face of turbulent developments in Hong Kong, the central government exercised its overall jurisdiction over the special administrative region … It ensured that Hong Kong is governed by patriots. Order has been restored in Hong Kong, marking a major turn for the better in the region”. Xi Jinping, Report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China

As control over people and information flows increases, the need to deliver on promises made decreases in importance as a source of legitimacy, (with propaganda and repression able to pick up some of the slack) giving the party more degrees of freedom in terms of policy priorities.

These policies will likely be set by one man alone, Xi Jinping. Having executed three waves of purges and control since assuming office in 2012 (of the party, the military and more recently the private sector) Xi stands unopposed at the apex of the party power structure.

Power and Purpose. Having established his power, the question remains what is it ultimately for? What is the mission that is bigger than the man who wields the power? Mao wanted to make China communist; Deng wanted to make it rich. What does Xi want?

Power and Risk. Regardless of Xi’s ultimate choice, China’s Mao and Deng also stand as lessons in the challenges of prolonged absolute power, as both ran into significant political challenges in their second decade of rule, which Xi himself is entering now. Mao oversaw the disastrous Great Leap Forward, whose estimated death toll ranges from 15 to 55 million, while Deng’s economic reforms unleashed forces that ultimately ended in the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Power and Flexibility. Beyond these two examples, history has repeatedly shown that the prolonged concentration of power in individuals has been a bad idea. While the personalisation of state power leads to leaders claiming “The big question that arises is, what is all this power ultimately for? What is the mission that is bigger than the man who wields the power? Mao wanted to make China communist; Deng wanted to make it rich. What does Xi want to do with power?” every national success, it also risks making them accountable for every failure. This makes error correction and necessary policy shifts difficult, as China’s zero-COVID policy demonstrates, wherein, Xi having personally accepted praise for its success in 2020, any course change risked being seen as an admission of its failure, despite the increasing economic and social costs of a policy that may well have outlived its usefulness in the face of half of dozen (international) vaccines that have proven to be highly effective and could be utilised.

Power and Delusion. Further, the elimination of political oppositions leads to leaders being surrounded by supporters unlikely to challenge leaders, increasing biases, reducing objectivity and making them increasingly detached from reality, as many people believe Vladimir Putin to be, who clearly thought that the invasion of Ukraine would be a walk in the park rather than the trial by fire it has turned out to be for the Russian army.

Power Ultimately Ends. Finally, while some of the most powerful autocrats (such as Mao and Stalin) died peacefully in their beds, many others are overthrown in coups. Xi may be the most powerful leader since Mao, but this does not mean that he will meet the same end. His fate may well end up being that of Nikita Khrushchev, the supreme leader of the Soviet Union who was toppled by his politburo (incidentally, in his second decade of power) and exiled to his dacha for his remaining years.

But Xi as a keen student of history and international affairs likely knows all this already and remains undeterred at the height of his power. So, with the party’s power over China at its strongest possibly since Tiananmen, and Xi’s power over the party absolute, what now? With power assured, what will be the priorities?

Economic growth and international power stand out as two natural, and thus far parallel if not interdependent, strategic options. While any feasible national strategy will of course include both economic growth and international power projection, the two are likely somewhat conflicting priorities for China.

China’s rapid economic expansion during the 1990s and 2000s occurred in a benign geopolitical and macro-economic environment, and with the support of the West. China was nurtured by the great powers with a view to accepting it as a senior member of the liberal world order, and instead, China’s recent power projection turned it into a rival. This has led to a growing opposition which is now tending to economic sanctioning of China’s industries. So, further power projection abroad will likely come at the expense of slowing economic growth at home. So, China faces a trade-off: maximise growth by being non-threatening to the old powers to enjoy their trade and open markets, or maximise international power and face the prospect of increasing isolation and the risk of encirclement.

Conclusion: A New China for the 21st Century?

Based on the announcements made at the 20th Party Congress, of the two options laid out above Xi appears to have chosen … neither, having seemingly de-prioritised both Great Power projection and absolute economic growth. Internationally, China’s strategy currently looks limited to safeguarding its domestic position rather than to projecting power for its own sake. Economically on the other hand, China appears to have abandoned the ambition to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy in the coming decade. Instead, Xi’s economic and foreign policy priorities both appear to be focused on tighter domestic control, creating a self-sufficient, protected and tightly supervised national economy, and providing a free hand for China to deal with matters that it considers to be wholly domestic, such as Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Xi appears to be essentially withdrawing from the race to match or displace the US as the ‘Great Power’ of our times. Xi’s messaging is that of a man who would rather hang on to what he has than risk losing it in the pursuit of further gains. After a fashion this makes sense: even at significantly reduced growth rates China can overtakeStepping back, Xi appears to be essentially withdrawing from the race to match or displace the US as the ‘Great Power’ of our times. Xi’s messaging is that of a man who would rather hang on to what he has than risk losing it in the pursuit of further gains … but let us not assume this is the last word on the matter since even a low growth rate of c2.5% makes China the biggest economic power by 2050. So, why fight for what will come to you anyway the US by the middle of the century, and Xi seems to believe that at these rates he can keep a lid on the market forces that could otherwise threaten the party’s rule. This will leave China poorer than it could have been but still in his control. The ultimate long-term bet of course is that China’s population will continue to accept the lack of freedom resulting from his rule, which he has promised will deliver the “rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation”. However, whether China’s population will consider 2-3% annual growth as adequately delivering on this promise remains to be seen. Against this risk, Xi’s focus on Taiwan looks like a hedge: having failed to make China rich, he will at least have made it whole. It is uncertain what has led to this rethinking – previous messages from Xi spoke to firmly China’s many grand initiatives and growing leadership role in the world – and whether it has been influenced by Russia’s Ukraine episode or scenario analysis on the risks of Great Power strategies.

Stepping back further though, it is important not to rely solely on the messages from a week’s worth of tightly orchestrated pageantry, however carefully crafted it may be. Ultimately, only time will tell whether this represents Xi’s true long-term objective or whether this is the short-term goal or even a diversion aimed at opponents, be they internal or external. Therefore it remains prudent to assume that Xi, or whoever succeeds him, will ultimately not give up on the ‘Great Power’ role that is within China’s grasp, and two diverging models of power are emerging that could cement his lasting legacy in the party, China and the world. Although it is often intellectually tempting to play variations between any two extremes, choosing one of the stark alternatives (at least as the mission) appears to be far more strategic in this case.

The 20thcentury power model is a clear “natural” choice following the footsteps of the US and the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the Second World War. This model itself is an evolution of the Great Power system of the 19th Century, focused on maximising industrial and military power, but replacing direct territorial expansion with large spheres of influence and the creation of client states. Under this model, China would likely invade Taiwan, continue to support Russia and seek to undermine existing international institutions to counter Western influence and power, continuing to fund regimes in developing countries in exchange for their political support. Such a model will see the world carved up with China and the West playing a zero-sum game over global leadership and the control of capital, people and resources. This model has the disadvantage of setting the current power players and aspirants against China.

The alternative 21stcentury power model is a valid and arguably far superior alternative. With the transition to the information age and the global energy transition underway, industrial, and military power alone are insufficient in a future that is digital, sustainable, and more inclusive. This model would see China seeking to position itself as the leader in making the greatest positive impact on the world, and thereby would effectively dissolve rivalry, making China the ally of all seeking to further global development. No country has moreIn an alternative universe, China appears as a leader seeking to leverage its considerable size, experience, resources and finances to make a positive impact on the world, driving development and leading the way on Net Zero. This China wins over the world through its capacity to make a positive impact on the developing and developed world experience in lifting people out of poverty than China does, and under this model it would share its knowledge and resources where they are needed most across the Global South (and beyond), rather than just where loyalty can be bought. The achievement of global net zero by 2050 is also in Xi Jinping’s gift. China produces 30% of the world’s CO2; without its support, reaching net zero is practically impossible, with its support, the world can transition to zero-carbon global economy, with China’s scale allowing it to potentially take leadership in rule setting and in key future technologies related to climate change. Such a model would see China winning over the world, growing the global pie in a manner that allows all to benefit. Moreover, it would allow China to reap all the benefits of the 20th century model, with allies flocking to it willingly and likely ultimately lead to Taiwan engaging proactively on reunification.

The choice of which model China pursues is Xi Jinping’s alone, but the implications of his choice will impact the lives of nearly every person living on this planet for a generation or more.


The Leader: Endnotes

  1. The Leader: Endnotes