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Kevin Rudd
Says More…

This week in Say More, PS talks with former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, President of the Asia Society and Chair of the International Peace Institute.

Project Syndicate: The title of your forthcoming book, The Avoidable War: The Dangers of a Catastrophic Conflict between the US and Xi Jinping’s China, refers specifically to “Xi Jinping’s China.” In a February 2020 commentary, you indicate why, observing that Xi wields “near-absolute political power.” Two years later, how have factors like the pandemic and real-estate scares affected Xi’s position? What is his biggest vulnerability?

Kevin Rudd: Xi Jinping is central to my book because it is simply impossible to understand fully what has happened to US-China relations over the last decade – and what might happen in what I call “the dangerous decade” ahead – without understanding both Xi himself and how he has transformed China since coming to power in 2012. The book dives into what drives him, and how he has secured such dominance in the Chinese system.

In the last two years, Xi has tightened his grip. In fact, at the Communist Party’s Sixth Plenum in November 2021, he secured one of his biggest political victories yet: the passage of a “historical resolution” officially placing him on the same ideological level as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. As of now, it looks fairly certain that he will be appointed to a third term in office at the 20th Party Congress this fall, effectively positioning him to be ruler for life.