Xi Jinping faces the dilemma of the Chinese imperial ruler
As early as 2014, the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama described the ideal of “going to Denmark”. He said that Denmark is not a place, but a symbol that all countries can aspire to. Freedom, democracy, peace, prosperity and integrity.
Since then, the world has moved in the opposite direction.
Americans have become Deeply skeptical About their democracy. Europe, hit by Brexit, faces a confident Russia. The “democratic decline” measured by the American advocacy organization “Freedom House” was evident in countries where nearly 75% of the world’s population lived last year.
China, which combines authoritarianism and effectiveness, embodies another reality. When the West loses its way on the road to Denmark, China is heading to Dongguan in the Pearl River Delta, a city that is a symbol of the world’s leading high-tech manufacturing industry.
In Beijing last month, the Communist Party of China passed a resolution paving the way for leader Xi Jinping’s term of office until at least 2028, or even longer. Xi Jinping’s leadership has been described as “the key to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”, and his promised mission will be realized in 2049.
This move is completely contrary to the victory doctrine in the West after the Cold War.From 2021, George W Bush has been misled In 2002, he announced, “The great struggle between freedom and totalitarianism in the 20th century ended with the decisive victory of the forces of freedom and a single model of national success.”
An opposite scene is being staged.China under Xi’s leadership is centralizing power, restricting the freedom of the mainland and Hong Kong, and operating Concentration camp In Xinjiang, strengthening the country’s nuclear arsenal threatens Taiwan and reduces free market ties with the United States.
However, according to the International Monetary Fund, by the end of 2026, China will contribute more than one-fifth of the world’s gross domestic product growth each year, thus leading the global economy. In addition, about 770 million people in China have been lifted out of poverty in the past four years.
For such success, some people in the West predict that China will collapse. Others believe that its anti-democratic design has fatal flaws. Many people question the sustainability of its debt-driven and resource-intensive economic model. Criticisms of Beijing’s human rights record have been ruthless.
But Beijing’s lasting effectiveness requires understanding the country in its own way. Examining China’s past models helps explain the regime’s resilience and why there are questions about Xi Jinping’s direction in leading the CCP.
Wang Yuhua, an associate professor of government at Harvard University, analyzed the characteristics of the 49 dynasties that ruled China for more than 2,000 years. He stated that the greatest threat faced by successive emperors was not civil strife or foreign war, but the elite families in the court.
Approximately 76 emperors — more than a quarter of a total of 282 emperors since 211 BC — were overthrown, murdered, or forced to commit suicide by these elites.
Therefore, for the rulers of the past dynasties of China, it is very important to find a way to control and appease the elite. But Wang said that there is a “sovereign dilemma” among them. The dynasty’s ability to handle affairs depends on enlisting their support. But when these families become powerful, they can—and often do—against the emperor.
“In order to maintain control of power, the Chinese emperor broke the social ties between the elites, which made them an incoherent group,” he said. This approach can prolong the rule of an emperor and prolong a dynasty-but it also gradually weakens the country’s ability to do things. Wang believes that there are similarities with Xi Jinping’s China today.
Since its launch in 2012, Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign has targeted hundreds of senior officials, helping to limit the influence of the powerful “red family” surrounding the Chinese Communist Party’s courts.
As Xi Jinping waits for next year’s 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China to be anointed as modern emperor, he must strike an ancient balance. Sino-US relations, climate change, and even domestic economic growth are not the most important things in his mind.
His first task is to keep the Chinese political elites sweet enough to maintain their support, but dispersed enough to weaken their resistance. It is far from Denmark.