Dictator's Shadow: Chinese elite politics under Xi Jinping

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7 Scopus citations


President Xi Jinping is arguably the most powerful Chinese leader since Chairman Mao. Recent constitutional revisions and a midterm leadership reshuffle has only substantiated the fear that Xi, like Mao, has no intention of handing over power to a future successor. Does Xi's rise signal an end to collective leadership and does a stronger president translate into a weaker party? In this article, I review the methods by which Xi has come to consolidate power as well as the implications for Chinese elite politics in the future. Drawing insights from the comparative literature, I question the zero-sum relationship between executive and institutional strength. Although Xi has certainly amassed unprecedented personal power, it has not necessarily come at the expense of the Party. Instead, the dangers of Xi Jinping's power grab are more likely to result from a chilling effect on dissenting opinions and thinning out of the leadership pipeline, each of which is likely to undermine governing capacity over the medium to long-term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-26
Number of pages10
JournalChina Perspectives
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2018


  • Authoritarian regimes
  • China
  • Collective leadership
  • Elite politics
  • Institutions
  • Power sharing
  • Succession

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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