Chinese soldiers in Beijing, March 2021
Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

In late October, Chinese leader Xi Jinping kicked off the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th Party Congress—a twice-a-decade, agenda-setting conclave of the party’s key leaders—with a report that touted China’s achievements and laid out a vision for the years ahead. In a move that was widely expected, Xi extended his own rule. But he surprised even the closest China watchers by unveiling a roster of leaders in which his confidants now occupy all the top positions within the party and state apparatus. Using direct and forceful language, Xi consolidated his hold on power and projected a

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