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With Xi's Power Grave, China enters a new era of the strong

"Thirty years ago, with what Erdogan did, Xi's would have sparked international concern:" You're leaving the way, "and so on," said Michael A. McFaul A political scientist and diplomat who served as US ambassador to Moscow from 2012 to 2014 and wrote extensively on building democracies

"Nobody makes this argument today," he added, "certainly not Trump."

Almost no one would have called China truly democratic before the last step, which was announced Sunday without fanfare; The country remains a one-party state with complete control over political, social and economic life.

However, Mr. Xi's Gambit ended a period of collective and temporary leadership started by Jiang Zemin, who held the same post Mr. Xi from 1

993 to 2003, many hoping China would lead to more rule of law and openness. Sunday's move confirms a growing belief that these expectations were probably naive, some say.

"We are deluded in our belief that everyone will become a democracy like us," Meriden Varrall, director of the East Asia program at The Lowy Institute in Australia,

Strongman on the rise

Mr. Xi, who will be 69 when his second five-year term ends in 2023, does not simply follow the example of Putin or other leaders, she and other experts said. His motives are unique in Chinese history and politics. However, they were deeply influenced by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union two years later.

These historic milestones led to an era of growing political and economic freedoms. Mr McFaul said that for almost a quarter of a century autocratic leaders had to play "defense" against the democratization trend that took place after the Cold War.

Even Russia, which emerged from the ruins of the Soviet Union, passed a democratic constitution and introduced free elections. Whatever the chaos of the Boris N. Yeltsin era in the 1990s, democracy took root when Putin came to power – in a relatively free and fair election, not less.

The contemplation of Francis Fukuyama, the scholar, has come up repeatedly. In a famous essay entitled "The End of History?" (Observe the question mark) He argued that western liberal democracy was recognized as "the ultimate form of human government."

"The end of the story is no more," Brad W. Setser, a treasury official during the Obama administration, who is now at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in a message after news of Mr. Xi's move had emerged.

Mr. Xi has ended a period of collective leadership begun two decades earlier by Jiang Zemin, many of whom had hoped that it would bring China closer to the rule of law and democracy. Credit
Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

In retrospect, Mr. Putin was the vanguard of what Mr. McFaul called the "illiberal International," a new version of the Communist International founded by Lenin to spread Communism throughout the world. [19659017] Authoritarian leaders now act more unpunished – or at least less concerned about international isolation. Emerging authorities such as Viktor Orban of Hungary, in turn, appear to be attracted by the friendly power exercised by Mr. Putin or Mr. Xi, unimpressed by the need to make compromises or consultations or, in the case of corruption and nepotism, to evidence of mismanagement and abuse of office Reply

President Trump's critics say that while he has not yet eroded democracy in the United States, his populist appeals and policies, his tangible aversion to the media and traditional control of power, and his admiration for some of the strongest

The trend toward authoritarianism, while specific to the history of each country, is based on uncertainties and fears that affect the world today: globalization and growing inequality, breathtaking and uncanny advances in technology, disorientation, chaos, and extreme geography walt of civil wars like Syria, separatism and terror.

The institutions of the post-Cold War – the basic values ​​of Western Liberalism no longer seem to cope. Countries that used to be lighthouses for others are devoured by the same fear and weakness and inner turmoil.


The trend towards authoritarianism is rooted in the uncertainties and fears that plague the world today: globalization and increasing inequality, disruptive advances in technology, extreme violence, separatism and terror. Credit
Roman Pilipey / European Press Photo Agency

Mr. Putin has long made such mistakes in order to strengthen his power at home; The campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election in the US seemed, in the first place, to further discredit American democracy.

"Liberal democracies in the United States and even Europe no longer look like an inspirational model for others," said McFaul, whose book discusses his experiences with Russian politics in the Obama administration's "Cold War" Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin's Russia "will be published in May.

From a Chinese perspective, the end of the Cold War was hardly an inspiration that led to the overthrow of one-party dictatorships A few months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Chinese students gathered in Tiananmen Square pretended that Beijing officials were "existential." Populist protesters brought down Communist governments in Central and Eastern Europe Threat – a legacy that still accounts for everything the government does.

"If anything, Xi Jinping gi And the party nights, it's perestroika and the fall of the Soviet Union, "said Mrs. Varrall, referring to the reforms that the last Soviet leader, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, had been aiming for before the dissolution of the system. Therefore, Xi believes that only stability can guarantee his vision of China's revival and its rise to world power. "He really seems to believe that he is the only person who can achieve this vision," she said. In the Communist Party's Congress last fall, Mr. Xi even introduced China as a new model for the developing world – a barely concealed argument that the United States and Europe are no longer as attractive as before.

The need for a strong grip seems to be a long conviction of Mr. Xi. According to a diplomatic telegram from 2009 unveiled by WikiLeaks, an old colleague told then-American ambassador to Beijing, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., that Xi, the son of one of China's communist revolution leaders, was an elite believer in the party's unwavering authority.

"You can not quite escape your past," said the employee. "Xi does not want to."

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