As Xi Jinping embarks on his second five-year term as China’s top leader, Minzner delivers a withering assessment of his first one, in a well-informed contribution to the flourishing declinist school of China analysis. Over the last five years, Xi has intensified his retreat from reform. A reversal of economic liberalization has led to widening income inequality, calcifying class lines, and an economic slowdown. Instead of advancing fairness in the legal system and transparency in media, Xi has tightened social control so that grievances intensify without finding outlets other than Internet rants, mob violence, and illegal protests. State control of religion drives many believers into underground sects. By concentrating an unprecedented amount of power in himself, Xi is destroying hard-won rules of the political game that contributed to regime stability. All this repression breeds resistance, and resistance breeds further repression, in a cycle that Minzner predicts will end badly.
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