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Post-Peak China

China’s existential problems – including excessive indebtedness, unfavorable demographics, and widening inequality – are becoming increasingly apparent. In some ways, that makes President Xi Jinping's regime potentially even more troublesome and threatening for the rest of the world.

LONDON – Dictators do not like others grading their performance. Any sort of assessment of such leaders’ successes or failures, even by their close colleagues and advisers, is a big step toward undermining them. Permitting criticism, let alone encouraging it, is out of the question.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party of China’s most powerful boss since Mao Zedong, must feel particularly strongly about this. In 2022, Xi will seek the endorsement of the CPC’s 20th Congress for his plan to remain in power for a third term, thereby abolishing the two-term limit established by Deng Xiaoping and adhered to ever since.

That arrangement was in part an attempt to prevent any return to Mao-like dictatorship, and it succeeded in collectivizing the CPC’s leadership. But one only has to look at the personality cult established by Xi and penetrate the meaning of “Xi Jinping thought,” which has now been incorporated into the Party’s constitution, to understand the current Chinese president’s intentions.

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