The impact of the Sino-U.S. “new Cold War” on domestic Chinese politics

Willy Lam

President Xi Jinping, “the core leader,” “highest commander,” and “the people’s path-finder,” faces the worst political crisis of his career having been seen as unable to handle President Trump’s fusillades. While the “chairman of everything” remains in the media limelight, Xi faces internal opposition from different sections of the party. Criticism has come from princelings close to Deng Xiaoping who have blasted Xi for abandoning the Great Reformer’s liberalization dicta. Relatively pro-market State Council bureaucrats are unhappy about Xi concentrating decision-making powers within several leading party organs. Private businesspeople have lambasted Xi for boosting the monopolistic powers of the state-owned enterprises. Intellectuals and civil-society groups have complained about Xi’s resuscitation of Mao’s “one voice chamber.” An examination of how Xi is handling these disparate challenges will throw light on the trajectory of China’s political development: Will an embattled Xi take even more authoritarian steps to crush his enemies? Or will the “Mao Zedong of the 21st Century” be forced to adopt more flexible if not liberal policies on both the domestic and foreign fronts?

About the speaker

With 40 years of experience writing and researching about China, Willy Lam is a recognized expert on areas including the Chinese Communist Party, elite politics, foreign policy, the People’s Liberation Army, and Chinese economic and political reforms. Dr Lam is an Adjunct Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Centre for China Studies, History Department and the Master’s Program in Global Political Economy). He is also a Senior Fellow at Jamestown Foundation, a foreign-policy think tank in Washington D.C.

The veteran Sinologist has published seven books on China, including Routledge Handbook of the Chinese Communist Party (Routledge, London, 2018); Chinese Politics in the Era of Xi Jinping (Routledge, London, 2015); Chinese Politics in the Hu Jintao Era (M.E. Sharpe, New York, 2006); and The Era of Jiang Zemin (Prentice Hall, Singapore & New York, 1999). Dr Lam’s The Fight for China’s Future: Civil Society versus the Chinese Communist Party will be published by Routledge in July 2019.

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