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The Problem With Xi’s China Model

Why Its Successes Are Becoming Liabilities

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, December 2018. Fred Dufour / Pool via REUTERS

As China’s National People’s Congress and its advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, gather this March in Beijing for their annual two-week sessions to discuss the country’s challenges and path forward, President Xi Jinping may well be tempted to take a victory lap. Within his first five years in office, he has pioneered his own style of Chinese politics, at last upending the model Deng Xiaoping established 30 years ago. As I wrote in Foreign Affairs last year (“China’s New Revolution,” May/June 2018), Xi has moved away from Deng’s consensus-based decision-making and consolidated institutional power in his own hands. He has driven the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) more deeply into Chinese political, social, and economic life, while constraining the influence of foreign ideas and economic competition. And he has abandoned Deng’s low-profile foreign policy in favor of one that is ambitious and

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