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Xi just acquired more bureaucratic power within the Chinese Communist Party

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welcome toForeign polices China Brief. This week’s highlights: a change Chinese Communist Party meeting procedure gives President Xi Jinping a new weapon, Beijing censors museum exhibit in Inner Mongolia, and how the Korean pop group BTS upset the Chinese nationalists.

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Two-fisted Tales of Communist Party Procedure

A new set of regulations because the way the top organs of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hold meetings gives President Xi Jinping another tool in his quest for full control over politics in his country. The big change is that Xi, as secretary general of the CCP, now has the power not only to call meetings of the seven members. Standing committee and the 25 members Politburobut also to explicitly set the agenda for them.

It is a powerful weapon within the CCP, where procedural authority really matters. The change allows Xi to exclude matters that could challenge or undermine his decisions.

Xi has long displayed paranoia over the emergence of a significant rival or successor. And meetings can be surprising battlegrounds. While Deng Xiaoping controlled, for example, there was periods when he refused to hold Standing Committee meetings, forcing other leaders to come directly to him for approval of any decision. Deng himself used these meetings to undermine and belittle his predecessor, the somewhat unfortunate Hua Guofeng.

Power within the CCP, like the Communist Party of Soviet Trade Unions before it, is a mixture of personal relationships and bureaucratic weight that is difficult to decipher. Rules matter, especially when it comes to small group meetings that set policy. But the real skill lies in pulling the strings to make sure that decisions made at high level meetings fall in our favor.

While in charge, Mao Zedong upset existing party rules, using crowd appeal and improvising new formats to solidify his own rule. Xi, despite frequent comparisons with Mao, built his power along very different lines.

Under the Xis Rule, the CCP codified disciplinary rules, with the aim of minimizing any signs of dissent. This had a chilling effect within the party, especially compared to the relatively free days of the 1990s and 2000s, when internal discussions could be controversial and open. Now, as a junior central government official told me this year, they are all just waiting to hear what they are supposed to say before they say it.


Genghis who? In another sign of growing ethnonationalism, a French museum was forced to withdraw from an exhibition on Mongols co-organized with a museum in Inner Mongolia after the Chinese government insisted on removing the terms empire, Genghis Khan and Mongolian. China has often attempted to appropriate Mongol history, ruled by Mongol conquerors between 1279 and 1368, and has even claimed the leader Genghis Khan as Chinese.

This level of censorship is new, however. With the fierce crackdown on protests in Inner Mongolia in recent weeks, this may indicate future cultural wars and clashes with the Mongolian government in Ulaanbaatar, which fiercely defends its own heritage.

Mini-epidemic in check. In many countries, nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 are believed to be a small, unnoticed cluster. In Qingdao, China, he urged citywide tests, the 9 million inhabitants of the city to be controlled. (As of this writing, 3 million have been tested so far.) Mass testing in China, combined with centralized quarantine, has been one of its most successful weapons in its triumph over the coronavirus. .

PLA against ARMY. Korean group BTS, one of the world’s most popular pop groups, was attacked this week in Chinese media for accepting the James A. Van Fleet Prize for Improving U.S.-South Korea Relations, with a speech that allegedly offended Chinese sentiments. There was no mention of China in the speech, although BTS said: We will always remember the story of the pain our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women, a reference to the Korean War that was apparently sufficient to trigger Chinese nationalists online.

Ads featuring BTS quickly disappeared online in China. Meanwhile, the BTS fandom known as ARMYbesieged the Chinese media. They may be the last recruits of the Milk tea alliance, a transnational group of East Asians who dislike China’s aggressive online nationalism.


The Shenzhen model. Xis speech The southern Chinese manufacturing giant that borders Hong Kong in Shenzhen on Wednesday reaffirmed the CCP’s new line on the economy: a focus on domestic consumption and Chinese innovation and nervousness on the international stage. This is a delicate message to Shenzhen, a city often presented as an alternative to Hong Kong, despite the lack of transparency.

While the pillars of Hong Kong’s prosperity appear fragile, Shenzhen may appeal to international companies that still want to stay in China under Beijing’s new rules.

New money. A fascinating report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute presents China’s e-money plans and their implications for business. Although still in its infancy, Beijing has long harbored an ambition to shape world order through monetary might, just as the United States has done with the dollar.

When I was talking to one of the architects of China’s financial supervision, Professor Shi Yong, in 2013, he also pointed out the power of supervision in electronic transactions for, he said, benevolent purposes such as fighting corruption.

Targeted financial services. While US bans on Chinese services like WeChat and TikTok have been temporarily suspended by judicial order, the Trump administration still has Chinese technology in its sights, with payment applications the next likely victim. Even in China, the sector has a questionable story, but the bans would hit Chinese tech companies hard.

Chinese fintech is years ahead of its counterparts in the United States, where even regular bank transfers and card use are decades behind European standards, and it has a real chance of establishing itself as the global standard as other countries strive to digitize payments.


What were they reading


The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War - a Tragedy in Three Acts, Scott Anderson, Penguin Random House, September 2020 ,.

The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies on the Dawn of Wara’s Cold Tragedy in Three Acts, Scott Anderson, Penguin Random House, September 2020, $ 30.

The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War A Tragedy in Three Acts, by Scott Anderson

It is not a book about China as such, although the shock of China’s fall to the Communists reverberates through it. But on the cusp of a second cold war, his fascinating read, especially on how good intentions can turn into devilish affairs with autocrats. The Soviet Union genuinely had high profile spies in the United States and the United Kingdom, for example, but the witch hunts for them did as much damage as their betrayal.

Likewise, Chinese espionage and coercion in the West is very real, but overreaction and racism could turn out to be just as toxic.


It’s all for this week.

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