China’s Communist Party Rebranding

Op-Ed: In China, Xi Jinping is getting an unprecedented third term. What should the world expect? A decade ago, China’s president, Hu Jintao, came to power promising to reform the country’s economy, to promote…

China’s Communist Party Rebranding

Op-Ed: In China, Xi Jinping is getting an unprecedented third term. What should the world expect?

A decade ago, China’s president, Hu Jintao, came to power promising to reform the country’s economy, to promote greater democracy and human rights and to use China’s powerful state-owned corporations to deliver goods and services to the world. Now, after more than 10 years of rule under Hu, Hu’s successor, Xi Jinping, the nation’s top Communist Party leader, is promising a different kind of transformation: a bold, dramatic overhaul of the party-state, the centerpiece of which is an ambitious campaign to wipe away the notion that China is a global “hierarchy of classes.”

Xi is pledging to restore China’s preeminence by restoring the pre-eminence of “Class One”—the Communist Party and its bureaucracy before the Communist Revolution—at the expense of the old capitalist class and the state of nature it supposedly embodies. In Xi’s rebranding of the party-state, China is following the Chinese Communist Party model that Mao Zedong first developed in 1948.

Xi is also pursuing an ambitious economic transformation, an effort that’s going to take decades to materialize: the elimination of price controls, the end of state monopolies to the sale of state-owned land, privatization of land and businesses, a nationalization of large state-owned industries, and the elimination of financial speculation and bankrolling of public and private corporations. As a result, Xi is promising to eliminate the poverty that’s plagued China for more than half a century and to create what he’s calling the “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Xi insists that his rebranding and economic transformation are in the service of an anticapitalist and internationalist agenda and that that is in keeping with the Chinese tradition of rejecting the idea of a world without nations or a “China without

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