POWER TO XI: HOW XI JINPING CONSOLIDATED POLITICAL POWER IN THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
Ramirez, Phillip M.
Glosny, Michael A.
Twomey, Christopher P.
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In March 2018, the Chinese National People’s Congress voted to abolish presidential term limits, paving the way for Chinese President Xi Jinping to rule the country indefinitely. This decision was but one part of a broader trend of power centralization taking place within the People’s Republic of China. Driven by Xi’s desire to centralize power in himself and in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), this trend has reversed the institutionalization of several rules and norms in Chinese politics, begging the question: How exactly was Xi able to overcome decades of momentum to bring about significant changes within the Chinese political system? In this thesis, I test two possible explanations for Xi’s success. First, I examine the possibility that Xi leveraged a strong desire among many members of the CCP to restart political and economic reforms within the country in order to persuade the party to back his political changes. Second, I test the idea that Xi has paved the way for his changes in the political sphere by using his anti-corruption campaign to purge political opponents from the CCP and to silence others. Using the best available evidence, I conclude that the preponderance of evidence indicates that Xi utilized both these methods to strengthen his personal power and reverse the trend of institutionalization in the Chinese political system, but the changes Xi has brought to the Chinese political system could not have been possible without the support of the CCP as a whole.
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