Minxin Pei, the author of China’s Crony Capitalism and a recent Foreign Affairs article entitled “China’s Coming Upheaval: Competition, Coronavirus, and the Weakness of Xi Jinping” tells the American Interest’s Gary J. Schmitt why the Chinese regime is both brittle and aggressive at the same time:
Gary J. Schmitt for TAI: The late Kremlinologist Myron Rush once said: the collapse of the Soviet Union was not inevitable exactly when it happened. The regime, as decayed as it was, could have gone on for another 20 or 25 years. But when you open a system there’s a rush of civic life into that opening. So it’s no surprise, as you say, that you saw this bubble up in China, and then of course they tried to shut it down as quickly as possible.
MP: Yes. I want to add that at the end of the process, when it happens, it could happen very fast. It’s true of all dictatorships that you see a long period of decline. The first eight innings seem to be going on forever, they can last a decade or two. But the last inning happens within a year or two. …..And in the case of China, there’s another risk factor that used not to exist: succession. The weakest moment for this kind of system is succession, and by abolishing term limits, Xi Jinping has dramatically increased the risks that the system could not handle another succession crisis.
The weakest moment for this kind of system is succession, said Pei, a contributor to the NED’s Journal of Democracy. By abolishing term limits, Xi Jinping has dramatically increased the risks that the system could not handle another succession crisis. RTWT