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After the 19th: What Happened, What Didn’t, and What Now?

Dr. Evan A. Feigenbaum

By Evan Feigenbaum and Damien Ma (original source Macro Polo)

“Since the curtain fell on the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in October 2017, Chinese politics have been dominated by the supposed devotion of all 86 million Party members to the thoughts of General Secretary Xi Jinping. In large part, that is because the Party’s propaganda apparatus has swung into high gear, saturating state media with paeans to a seemingly omnipotent Xi and looped visuals of CCP members earnestly studying Xi’s concepts, as distilled from the Party Congress. Xi also staged a piece of smart political theater shortly after the Congress when he visited Shanghai, with the entire new Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) in tow, to pay homage to the place where the CCP was founded.

Unsurprisingly, the 24/7 “Xi cycle” in the immediate aftermath of the Congress merely reinforced a mainstream consensus that already stood ready to crown Xi as China’s “most powerful leader since Mao.” But now that the tidal wave of commentary has subsided, a little distance allows for a little more complexity.”

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