Xi’s Political Practices Drive the Collapse of the Regime, Says Expert

Since Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012, his anti-corruption campaigns have systematically removed his political rivals. While there is no significant challenger to Xi’s position, experts believe the economy is the greatest challenge to Xi’s authority; however, Xi’s incompetence in handling the crisis, combined with his authoritarianism, is pushing forward the demise of his dictatorship.In recent months, Xi removed two top officials, Foreign Minister Qin Gang and Defense Minister Li Shangfu, both close and trusted aides of his, along with a significant number of high-ranking military officials and leaders of defense industry enterprises. Concurrently, there were speculations indicating that second-generation communists are mounting a challenge against Xi.“A new political storm may be brewing, and manifesting itself to stir the regime,” said Sun Kuo-hsiang, a professor of international relations at Nanhua University in Taiwan.At the 20th national meeting of its rubber-stamp legislature in 2022, Xi arranged for loyalists to assume widespread positions, intensifying his personal autocracy. Nevertheless, Beijing continues to stress the importance of upholding “centralized and unified leadership” of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with Xi as the core of the Central Committee, and penalize officials who adopt a passive attitude and lack performance.According to the party’s mouthpiece, People’s Daily, the “inertia or low efficiency” of officials has been a widespread phenomenon as early as 2016, as the majority of officials lack work ethic, evidenced by being constantly late or leaving early from work.“The trend of officials adopting a laid-back attitude has actually begun since Xi’s second term in 2015,” said Mr. Sun.Related StoriesXi’s belief in his own “capabilities and desire” to oversee everything contributes to a widespread culture of a laid-back approach adopted by officials who’d rather “let Xi perform on his own,” Mr. Sun said, “This could eventually lead to a depletion of governance effectiveness, presenting an additional challenge to the legitimacy of Xi Jinping’s leadership.”He said that when Xi secured his third term, not only did he break the party’s leadership succession system, but also set a potential for political struggle within the party for the next leadership, “The international community should be prepared for the collapse of the CCP and great changes in China.”Mr. Sun stated that especially because of the inability to implement systemic reforms, Xi has caused problems in the Chinese economy that are too huge to be resolved.Economic CrisisRecently, Beijing claimed that China’s GDP in 2023 beat government growth targets of 5.2 percent year-on-year, according to estimates from China’s National Bureau of Statistics.Mr. Sun said the CCP is currently struggling with its most significant crisis in the economic realm, “the accuracy of the data is highly questioned,” he said.He said that a further decline in China’s GDP in 2024 and 2025 is highly anticipated.Mr. Sun explained that the CCP has misled the Chinese populace to believe that it is CCP’s successful governance that led to economic growth, encouraging people to engage in economic activities and ignore political shortcomings, such as lack of voting rights and freedom of speech.However, with the current economic downturn, Xi’s protection of the dictatorship as the top priority by implementing practices such as the anti-espionage law, which allows China significant leeway to investigate and prosecute foreign corporations, has only further damaged the Chinese market and the overall economy in China. “This has resulted in a fracture in the legitimacy asserted by the CCP in its governance over China,” said Mr. Sun.Su Ziyun, director of National Defense Resources and Industry Research at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, a Taipei-based think tank, added that Chinese societal issues such as an aging population and the real estate market crisis have contributed to the downturn of the Chinese economy, as demonstrated by the decline of the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong.A damaged logo of Chinese real estate developer Vanke at a residential housing complex in Zhengzhou, in China's central Henan Province on Aug. 30, 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)“Hong Kong stocks have plummeted for consecutive days and capital continued to flow out, these serve as indicators of market politics, affirming that for the regime, this year might signify the onset of the economy nearing the brink of collapse,” said Mr. Su.He took the stock market performance on the 19th as an example: “As the Hong Kong stock market faced ongoing decline, the Taipei stock market surged by over 453 points. This suggests that foreign capital is shifting from China to Taiwan.”He added: “Currently, post the Taiwan election, it implies that foreign capital has great confidence in Taiwan and harbors a severe distrust towards the CCP. Beyond the trade war,

Xi’s Political Practices Drive the Collapse of the Regime, Says Expert

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Since Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012, his anti-corruption campaigns have systematically removed his political rivals. While there is no significant challenger to Xi’s position, experts believe the economy is the greatest challenge to Xi’s authority; however, Xi’s incompetence in handling the crisis, combined with his authoritarianism, is pushing forward the demise of his dictatorship.

In recent months, Xi removed two top officials, Foreign Minister Qin Gang and Defense Minister Li Shangfu, both close and trusted aides of his, along with a significant number of high-ranking military officials and leaders of defense industry enterprises. Concurrently, there were speculations indicating that second-generation communists are mounting a challenge against Xi.

“A new political storm may be brewing, and manifesting itself to stir the regime,” said Sun Kuo-hsiang, a professor of international relations at Nanhua University in Taiwan.

At the 20th national meeting of its rubber-stamp legislature in 2022, Xi arranged for loyalists to assume widespread positions, intensifying his personal autocracy. Nevertheless, Beijing continues to stress the importance of upholding “centralized and unified leadership” of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with Xi as the core of the Central Committee, and penalize officials who adopt a passive attitude and lack performance.

According to the party’s mouthpiece, People’s Daily, the “inertia or low efficiency” of officials has been a widespread phenomenon as early as 2016, as the majority of officials lack work ethic, evidenced by being constantly late or leaving early from work.

“The trend of officials adopting a laid-back attitude has actually begun since Xi’s second term in 2015,” said Mr. Sun.

Xi’s belief in his own “capabilities and desire” to oversee everything contributes to a widespread culture of a laid-back approach adopted by officials who’d rather “let Xi perform on his own,” Mr. Sun said, “This could eventually lead to a depletion of governance effectiveness, presenting an additional challenge to the legitimacy of Xi Jinping’s leadership.”

He said that when Xi secured his third term, not only did he break the party’s leadership succession system, but also set a potential for political struggle within the party for the next leadership, “The international community should be prepared for the collapse of the CCP and great changes in China.”

Mr. Sun stated that especially because of the inability to implement systemic reforms, Xi has caused problems in the Chinese economy that are too huge to be resolved.

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Economic Crisis

Recently, Beijing claimed that China’s GDP in 2023 beat government growth targets of 5.2 percent year-on-year, according to estimates from China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

Mr. Sun said the CCP is currently struggling with its most significant crisis in the economic realm, “the accuracy of the data is highly questioned,” he said.

He said that a further decline in China’s GDP in 2024 and 2025 is highly anticipated.

Mr. Sun explained that the CCP has misled the Chinese populace to believe that it is CCP’s successful governance that led to economic growth, encouraging people to engage in economic activities and ignore political shortcomings, such as lack of voting rights and freedom of speech.

However, with the current economic downturn, Xi’s protection of the dictatorship as the top priority by implementing practices such as the anti-espionage law, which allows China significant leeway to investigate and prosecute foreign corporations, has only further damaged the Chinese market and the overall economy in China. “This has resulted in a fracture in the legitimacy asserted by the CCP in its governance over China,” said Mr. Sun.

Su Ziyun, director of National Defense Resources and Industry Research at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, a Taipei-based think tank, added that Chinese societal issues such as an aging population and the real estate market crisis have contributed to the downturn of the Chinese economy, as demonstrated by the decline of the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong.

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A damaged logo of Chinese real estate developer Vanke at a residential housing complex in Zhengzhou, in China's central Henan Province on Aug. 30, 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)
A damaged logo of Chinese real estate developer Vanke at a residential housing complex in Zhengzhou, in China's central Henan Province on Aug. 30, 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)

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“Hong Kong stocks have plummeted for consecutive days and capital continued to flow out, these serve as indicators of market politics, affirming that for the regime, this year might signify the onset of the economy nearing the brink of collapse,” said Mr. Su.

He took the stock market performance on the 19th as an example: “As the Hong Kong stock market faced ongoing decline, the Taipei stock market surged by over 453 points. This suggests that foreign capital is shifting from China to Taiwan.”

He added: “Currently, post the Taiwan election, it implies that foreign capital has great confidence in Taiwan and harbors a severe distrust towards the CCP. Beyond the trade war, the primary reason is the CCP’s deterring the safeguarding of the free market, consequently driving away these foreign funds.”

Mr. Su said China’s economic crisis is intricately connected to the international landscape. Presently, even though the international community hasn’t explicitly opted for decoupling, they are engaging in a process of de-risking.

“As the United States and Europe—along with other nations, including Taiwan—aim to de-risk their supply chains, it indicates a diminishing reliance on the Chinese market and supply chain,” said Mr. Su.

He mentioned Xi’s foreign policy such as the Belt and Road Initiative relies heavily on a reliable international trading environment, however, Xi’s poor performance in politics and economy, domestically and internationally, has only posed more challenges for himself.

Haizhong Ning and Luo Ya contributed to this report.

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