China Politics
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Episode 43
Featuring Elizabeth C. Economy
China Politics
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Play
Episode 43
Featuring Elizabeth C. Economy
In just five years, Xi Jinping has seized all the most important leadership positions in the Chinese government. By centralizing institutional power, he may thrust China into a new imperial age. Here, Elizabeth Economy discusses Xi’s top political, economic, and foreign policies and the impact that this new empire may have on the world.

We may be witnessing the birth of a new imperial China, one that was brought about by the charismatic machinations of the nation’s leader, Xi Jinping. At the present juncture, it’s not exactly clear what Xi’s excessive centralization of power means or how his disruptive new policies will impact the rest of the world, but we can say one thing with certainty — international power dynamics are already starting to shift in response.

 

Xi’s tenure truly began in 2012, when he became the General Secretary for China’s Communist Party, which is the sole governing party in China. Today, he also serves as the head of the state and the head of the military. Taken as a whole, these are all of the most important leadership positions in the Chinese government. If that’s not enough, earlier this year, in a highly controversial move, Xi did away with presidential term limits. So, he may be president for life.

 

Because of the near-total control that Xi wields, he is able to keep both his adversaries in the government and the citizens he presides over on a tight leash.

 

He eliminates his dissenters using divisive anticorruption campaigns, he oversees massive propaganda operations rooted in fabricated news and events, and he denies his people access to information by censuring the internet behind a Great Firewall.

 

Although many Western nations may balk at such practices, they have their benefits. Ultimately, Xi’s illiberal maneuverings often allow China to outcompete nations that cling to liberal values. This fact forces world leaders to contend with a question that cannot be ignored: Can liberal nations keep pace with Xi’s imperial policies and ensure that power structures remain stable?

 

In today’s episode, Elizabeth Economy, author of The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State, joins Demetri Kofinas for an extensive exploration of Jinping’s top political, economic, and foreign policy priorities and the impact that his policies will likely have on the rest of the world.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

 

Elizabeth Economy is the C. V. Starr senior fellow and director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

 

Dr. Economy is an acclaimed author and expert on Chinese domestic and foreign policy. Her recently released book, The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State, (Oxford University Press, 2018) analyzes the contradictory nature of reform under President Xi Jinping. She is also author of By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World (Oxford University Press, 2014) with Michael Levi, and The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future (Cornell University Press, 2004; 2nd edition, 2010; Japanese edition, 2005; Chinese edition, 2011). Dr. Economy has published articles in foreign policy and scholarly journals including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and the Harvard Business Review; and op-eds in the New York Times and Washington Post, among others.

 

Dr. Economy serves on the board of managers of Swarthmore College and the board of trustees of the Asia Foundation. She was also on the advisory council of Network 20/20 and the science advisory council of the Stockholm Environment Forum. She served as a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Global Agenda Council on the United States from 2014 to 2016 and served as a member and then vice chair of WEF’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of China from 2008 to 2014. She has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses at Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, and the University of Washington's Jackson School of International Studies.

 

Dr. Economy received her BA from Swarthmore College, her AM from Stanford University, and her PhD from the University of Michigan. In 2008, she received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Vermont Law School.

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