Rarely is authoritarianism a signal of strength; instead, it stems from fear, paranoia, and panic
For a country that has accumulated great power and stupendous wealth in recent years, and whose “meritocratic” political system is supposedly leaving democracies in the dust, China’s behavior has been rather odd of late, its regime acting more like a fearful government than an in-group that has the situation well under control. Highly paranoiac and increasingly retributive, President Xi Jinping’s Beijing doesn’t inspire confidence—not among the Chinese people, and not among those who live on China’s “peripheries,” who have taken note of the erosion of liberties that has accompanied this slow descent.
Given its accomplishments over the years, from a booming economy that has lifted millions of people out of poverty to Beijing’s emergence as an indispensable player in global affairs, we’d have assumed that China would have become more self-confident and therefore more willing to accommodate different voices within its society. After all, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has performed rather well on most of the issues that presumably contribute to the legitimization of the party in the eyes of the Chinese people: economy, prestige, and respect.
My article, published today in The National Interest, continues here.