Is Xi Jinping Weaker Than We Think?
The author of China’s Crony Capitalism discusses the Chinese response to COVID-19, why the Communist Party reads Alexis de Tocqueville, and why the Chinese regime is both brittle and aggressive at the same time.
TAI Contributing Editor Gary J. Schmitt recently sat down with Minxin Pei, a renowned China scholar and author of China’s Crony Capitalism, for an interview about the Chinese response to COVID-19. They discussed why Xi Jinping was slow to respond, how the U.S. government should conceive of policy toward Beijing, why Alexis de Tocqueville continues to haunt the Chinese elite, and why both Xi and the party-state may be more vulnerable than we think. (This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.)
Gary J. Schmitt for TAI: Minxin, you recently published a piece in Foreign Affairs entitled “China’s Coming Upheaval: Competition, Coronavirus, and the Weakness of Xi Jinping.” The usual view is that President Xi is really quite strong. Why do you think that’s not the case?