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The Rise of the Xi Jinping Era

China’s Twentieth Party Congress opened this week in Beijing. President Xi Jinping is widely expected to cement his position as Chinese Communist Party leader for an unprecedented third term, elevating himself as China’s most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping.

But Xi has led China in a very different direction than his modern predecessors. During his reign, Xi has remade China ideologically, socially, and economically, bringing the country under his increasingly iron-fisted, centralized, and personalistic rule and flexing its muscles abroad as never before.

The following are 7 essential Journal of Democracy essays on China under Xi Jinping’s rule:

How Resilient Is the CCP? (2022)
Xi Jinping undercut China’s political norms to cement his own power and brand of rule, but in so doing has introduced new vulnerabilities for the regime.
By Yuen Yuen Ang

Hong Kong: How Beijing Perfected Repression (2022)
With the new National Security Law, the CCP has honed a sophisticated tool for hollowing out the city, whose rights and freedoms Beijing had once promised to respect.
By Michael C. Davis

Totalitarianism’s Long Shadow (2021)
Xi’s neo-Stalinist strategy has unleashed new challenges and tensions for the Communist Party’s long-term prospects for survival.
By Minxin Pei

From Tiananmen to Neo-Stalinism (2020)
The policies of top Chinese leaders help explain why post-Mao China’s remarkable economic development has not aided democracy.
By Minxin Pei 

30 Years After Tiananmen: Dissent Is Not Dead (2019)
The CCP wields highly effective means to quash dissent, but Chinese intellectuals and interest groups continue to push for change.
By Elizabeth Economy

The Road to Digital Unfreedom: President Xi’s Surveillance State (2019)
Chinese authorities are using facial-recognition software, big data, and other technologies to monitor and control China’s citizens.
By Xiao Qiang 

China in Xi’s “New Era”: The Return to Personalistic Rule (2018)
Earlier efforts to institutionalize collective leadership have not stopped Xi Jinping from grabbing all the levers of power.
By Susan L. Shirk


Image credit: Maria Passer/