Professor Heurlin comments on Xi’s landmark resolution, US-China climate accord – Community News
Us China

Professor Heurlin comments on Xi’s landmark resolution, US-China climate accord

heurlin file

Christopher Heurlin

Xi’s landmark resolution is the culmination of a longer process that tells us several things about Chinese politics:
First, ideology still matters in the Chinese Communist Party. More specifically, Xi’s ability to control and dictate the content of party ideology strengthens his own personal authority within the party. Ideology is a weapon he can use against real and potential adversaries.
Second, the era of “institutionalization” in Chinese politics is over and may never really have begun. The idea of ​​’institutionalization’ was that the party was developing a code of conduct for elites governing their relations. Secretaries General would serve two terms. Politburo members would retire at the age of sixty-eight. Ten years ago, scientists would have pointed to these as signs of an increasingly rules-bound system. I used to give a lecture that looked at the ages and political positions of emerging party officials and culminated in a dramatic prediction that Sun Zhengcai and Hu Chunhua would likely take the positions of president and prime minister in 2022. Sun was sentenced to life in prison for corruption in 2018. Hu’s career stalled in the Politburo and he was never promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee. It now seems more accurate to portray Chinese politics as a period of elite struggle – in which different factions compete for control of the state – and consolidation, in which a single politician manages to centralize and dominate the political system. China is now reaching a peak of consolidation under Xi.
Third, Despite the parade of triumphs announced in the resolution, Xi – and by extension China – faces some very difficult challenges. While China’s military might have grown, its more assertive foreign policy seems to have finally alienated countries in the region and even the world. Countries that ten to fifteen years ago did not want to be forced to choose between China and the US (e.g. Australia) now feel more threatened by China and are pushing for closer alliances with the US. European states are more willing to take steps that infuriate China. Traditional American allies like Japan are more committed than ever to the defense of Taiwan. China may be entering a period where its military advantage in the region will begin to wane as a result of more aggressive efforts by its neighbors to bolster their own defenses. China is lagging behind the US military, and pursuing a strict foreign policy against China is a rare area of ​​bipartisan agreements in the US. Domestically, China is reaching the limits of its economic growth model based on state-funded investment. The financial difficulties of real estate companies like Evergrande are indicative of the debt burden caused by the real estate boom and the potential systemic risks their collapse would bring.
In front of Xi, these challenges justify centralizing power to avoid what he no doubt sees as the stagnation of the Hu Jintao years. At the same time, however, by making himself the master of everything, he also takes responsibility for all these challenges.