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Sep 26, 2023·edited Sep 26, 2023Liked by Noah Smith

I would retitle your essay:

XI Makes Sense to XI

One important thing I think you left out of your analysis of XI is his obsession over why and how the Soviet Union fell. He believes that they lost their ideological commitment—but it was their nationalist ideology rather than their communist ideology. He sees the focus of the individual Chinese on their own economic welfare as so much attention subtracted from the nation's collective welfare--on Great China.

One reason why he feels affinity with Putin is that Putin has restored the primacy of Great Russia in the Russian mind, thereby reversing in a large degree the fall of the Soviet Union.

XI believes that the people of China have as much welfare as they need— in fact the populace should head toward belt tightening rather than the pursuit of a higher standard of living. At the same time, they should remember the truly poor among them and be glad to watch while the poor catch up with the median Chinese in a move XI calls "common prosperity."

XI is clearly determined to swim against market forces.

That is why XI shows no interest in bailing out the average Chinese or losses in the real estate market or in economic stimulus. Xi thinks the average Chinese has more than enough of this world's goods already.

This is a major reason why I think XI will never invade Taiwan. He doesn't respect or trust the Chinese people to have the intestinal fortitude to get the job done. In XI's mind, two decades of excess prosperity have made them — gasp! — decadent.

Finally, in adopting a posture of swaggering strength on the world stage —suppressing Hong Kong, wolf diplomacy — he wanted to show that China was finally post-colonial and could walk with its head as high as the US or Britain ever did. in fact, XI's invasion of Hong Kong was the final act in the reconquest of that bit of Chinese territory from British colonialism. He may have thought that China's swaggering attitude might actually be attractive to other post-colonial nations. It worked for Donald Trump. In fact, China’s swagger would have attracted other nations as cowed suppliants if there had not been another 800 pound gorilla in the world in whose shadow they could take refuge—the United States.

Note to readers: if you like if you're interested in my take on China, please subscribe to my substack because there will be more posts on China forthcoming.

https://kathleenweber.substack.com/

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author

I hope you're right about the Taiwan part

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The reason I think I'm right is that XI is a very fussy guy. He likes to have everything lined up just so before he makes a big move. To his mind, the Chinese people are too much of a mess right now to make a big move.

Note the fussy and careful way that he consolidated his power. I watched it unroll I thought it was ridiculous. He will never be able to conclude that his preparation is complete.

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He can’t bail them out he’s got 3 dead ends 1.he has capital flight tgat is accelerating 2. He has very very large domestic debt levels , banking asset are near $57t , 3. He is pegged to USD if he stimulates he could lose control of CNY if he doesn’t stimulate he could lose control CNY , his only way of controlling currency is burning reserves , CNY is heading for 10 4. Ageing demographics mean he can’t construct a consumption economy , consumption economies can only be founded on younger demographics 5. Property and construction is exhausted , 2.4 houses for every man, women and child ( the excess has already happened , the horse bolted and now he claims to be the responsible leader? ) , 6. He’s completely destroyed the economy through excessive covid lock downs and belligerence to his trading partners ( what western board room wouldn’t be looking to de risk from a China supply chain ) . He’s the antithesis of Sun Zu , his belligerence has signalled to the world to prepare for war ( so they have ) . We better pray he’s incompetent , the only other explanation is he’s heading into an existential war for control of the planet

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"This is a major reason why I think XI will never invade Taiwan. He doesn't respect or trust the Chinese people to have the intestinal fortitude to get the job done. In XI's mind, two decades of excess prosperity have made them — gasp! — decadent."

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I’m suggesting the “Chinese people are decadent “ is a ruse , he had plenty of time to get core values and express these sentiments on the way up and he didn’t . He’s trapped , incompetent & possibly insane

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and he's shot all of his messengers. He gets no good information.

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On the way up, he had to please those were in power. Now he can show what he really thinks. Perhaps the Chinese people's negative reaction to his covid policy made him angrier at them.

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My primary concerns regarding Taiwan are that the economy is slowing, real estate property bust will likely impact middle aged people's wealth, and there is a high unemployment of young people, especially men.

Historically, authoritarian societies come to the conclusion that starting a new war to reclaim historic lands is a rational solution to all of these problems. The goals are keeping young men occupied, creating major patriotic fervor, and a societal acceptance of austerity to support the glorious war. So invading Taiwan is an obvious potential move for Xi. If the US etc. falter on supporting Ukraine against Putin, Xi might view that as the moment to strike Taiwan. Not supporting allies during the runup to and initial phase of war is how the US often gets sucked into combat historically.

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You are correct that the US faltering on Ukraine would mean added danger for Taiwan. But XI has shown is keen awareness of the unbelievable destructiveness of modern warfare. He definitely told Putin not to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

On 4 Nov 2022, Xi said: "The international community should … jointly oppose the use or threats to use nuclear weapons, advocate that nuclear weapons must not be used, and nuclear wars must not be fought." He has made similar statements on many occasions.

I don't think Xi wants to see the prosperity of China tank completely. Although growth is not his primary goal, he sure doesn't want to go 30 years backward.

I think XI wants to pressure the US and Taiwan into surrender— he hopes that Western decadence will lead eventually to them bowing to China's pressure. Xi knows that he will not get tired, but he hopes the West will.

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Me writing Evergrande was a Ponzi scheme in 2012 , Xi economic management is arguably the worst in the history of civilisation , under him the entire Chinese economy has become a Ponzi scheme . There is so much incentive for fraud in the system back then the outcome eventually is a colloidal collapse . I spent a lot of time in China advising on baking system between 2002-2010 , the level of fraud and lack of supervision there is extraordinary . We often got to the stage tgat they couldn’t implement any of our recommendations because they’d uncover to much corruption https://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2012/06/28/the-looting-of-china-by-the-kleptokapitalist-bourgeoisie-roaders/

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Surprised by comments here defending Chinese growth. Covered well in the post, and demographic outlook alone is enough to continue dropping the growth rate. As others have said, like Putin, Xi has a ‘historic’ vision of China and its ideology and would rather stick to that and sacrifice growth. Both men are old and leading decaying empires, one at the end of decay and the other at the beginning. In their old eyes, who cares about growth? It’s about preserving some historical vision of the country in amber. Ironically it’s the strong armed attempt to do so that will make sure it doesn’t happen.

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Brilliant efitorial and good for you, for going where few would go.

Luck favours the Brave

My piece on the current India/Canada crisis and its links to Chinese foreign interferance which is the worst of any democracy today.

https://sundayguardianlive.com/top-five/trudeau-shifts-public-attention-from-china-to-india

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Sep 26, 2023·edited Sep 26, 2023Liked by Noah Smith

I justed to say that I think this article (I believe Noah retweeted) on Wang Huning is a really great resource for understanding Xi:

https://www.palladiummag.com/2021/10/11/the-triumph-and-terror-of-wang-huning/

Adding my own commentary now:

I think its exactly right to say it is an extreme type of cultural conservativism, authoritarianism, and paranoia not unlike an ideology from US right-wing cold-war politics. Xi believe his society is hopelessly contaminated by the liberalism of the West, and therefore that China must be isolated and micromanaged at all costs. That includes undoing most of the economic growth since the Deng era (making him a kind of reactionary degrowther). Furthermore, the very thawing of relations and development of human rights the West has been waiting for in China is the very thing that Xi seeks to avoid - for his project to succeed, ours must fail. When it's zero-sum and no mutual trust, I fear we are heading for a dark place.

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Thanks for giving the link to that article--I found it very helpful.

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What's with the dig on boomers? Blaming Xi's competence with being a boomer makes no sense given that there was no comparable baby boom in China to the one in the U.S. For that matter, I'm not even sure that boomers in the U.S. exhibit the characteristics ascribed any more than subsequent generations, but what do I know since I'm a boomer.

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Not Boomers in general, just the conservative ones ;-)

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I suspect this is an example where Noah’s online-ness means he’s picked up a bit of the generation-war terminology that is popular on Twitter but may not be 100% supported by the facts.

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Y’all about to get Noah writing a blazing piece on how yes, in fact, boomers pulled the ladder up behind them.

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Boomers created the hippie youth culture, so I don't think we qualify as hidebound.

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I'm no fan of Xi or the CCP but these points all seem unfairly harsh on him in ways that could easily be rephrased as neutrals or positives if they were about western leaders (depending on your personal politics).

> The top leader’s apparent reluctance to embrace such moves, which people familiar with the matter say is partly rooted in his ideological preference for austerity

I mean fuck me sideways, do we really have here western "capitalists" telling a communist he needs to increase government spending? And the communist saying no because it will create welfarism?

Given that the Chinese economy is apparently now tanking due to way too much government spending on propping up economic zombies, an ideological preference for austerity might seem pretty sensible! The west is heading towards bankrupt social security systems at full speed, so telling Xi he should be reinflating the real estate bubble (or any bubble) and then blaming his reluctance to do so on "ideology" just seems completely upside down. It's endless stimulus that's the ideology!

> there’s another set of stories about how Xi is growing increasingly paranoid, and causing turmoil in China’s leadership with a series of purges of his own hand-picked officials

Western leaders replace subordinates all the time, it passes largely without comment. Trump did a whole lot of this but it wasn't described as "purges", was it?

> The Chinese leader also overhauled the generals overseeing China’s Rocket Force, which manages the nation’s nuclear arsenal, without giving an explanation

Why should he give an explanation? He's a dictator! This is being presented as evidence of instability or incompetence, despite the fact that the CCP has never been a paragon of openness including in its supposedly competent earlier eras.

> There’s also a fun anecdote about Xi replacing every single object in his hotel room in Sudan with replacements flown in from China. It’s not clear whether this represents the beginning of a spiral into Stalin-like paranoia, but the signs certainly do not seem auspicious.

He's almost certainly the most spied on man in the world, why would he *not* be paranoid when staying in foreign and almost certainly bugged hotel rooms?

> policy mistakes like fiscal austerity in the middle of a financial crisis are only to be expected

A financial crisis caused by the lack of fiscal austerity (continence). This is only a policy mistake to western central bankers steeped in fake pseudo-Keynesianism, of the sort whose own competence is very much in question.

I'm sure there are tons of reasons to dunk on Xi. I just don't think legacy media is going to do a good job of communicating them.

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An interesting take on China, but it begs the question: "As compared to what?"

The whole world is going through spasms of abrupt change which is accelerating exponentially. Modern China is a relatively new country emerging out of Stalinist communism and transforming itself to being a leader in the transformation of the world into a technological economy in the 21st century. All of us have never been here before and none of us are going to get everything right every time.

Yes, China is organized as an hierarchic merit-based system just like most modern corporations and first responder organizations. Most of the Western World operated under monarchy up until the end of WWII and the rise of the far right politicians shows that many still long for the simplicity of autocracy. We just conveniently forget that King Arthur of Camelot was an autocrat and his Round Table resembles the current Chinese Politburo.

We disparage 'Wolf Warrior' diplomacy while convincingly forgetting Neocon invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. is still reeling from the toxic effects of "tariff-man"Trump's four years of economic and diplomatic world terrorism. I am a true "boomer" and in my 76 years I have seen the world's opinion of the U.S. wane considerably from post WWII days of respect and glory. If Xi is screwing up, he is at least keeping it largely private within Chinese borders.

Is China lacking grace and clumsy? Yes, but remember it is emerging from more than a century of humiliation under the brunt of Western imperialism. Modern China and most of Asia are finding their place in a world racked with growth pains. The regional disputes you mention are largely the result of centuries of imperialist subjugation of the region and remarkably Asia is finding their footing again and struggling to reinvent themselves and their national borders. Any meddling from former imperialists will naturally be resented. There is lots of ancient history to sort through and Asians must do this for themselves and to determine their own future. Our intrusive paternalism is insulting.

Asia comprises more the 60% of the world's population and has historically been the epicenter of knowledge and culture. The Industrial Age upset this president, but Asia is pulling ahead in the Electronic Age leading on most all indices. China has short-term problems, but compared to others they are manageable. Meanwhile the U.S. labor force is on strike and the government is threatening to shut itself down. Xi may not be Deng, but he certainly is not Trump.

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LOL amazing

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Noah - appreciated your original, and the update.

Certainly seems Xi's plans are hard to fathom, especially from a western perspective, but I'm reminded of some study I read somewhere that the world you think is "right" is the world as you came of age, when you were old enough to understand something about the world, but didn't actually have any responsibilities yet.

The article I remember was in the Atlantic about Trump's (white) voters wanting to recreate the world of their youth (the optimism of the white suburban 50's, with "no" racial problems and world dominance), but it seems to be common - people want to recreate the world as they thought it was at that time of their life, as it feels "right".

So if you have the power to do it - perhaps a factor in Putin's irrational insistence that Ukraine isn't a county, because is wasn't when he was growing up. Recreating the Soviet Union of his youth is an arc towards what's "right."

And Brexit pining for the Empire of days gone by - when Britain was "great." Not possible for them in the 21st century world, but having an emotional resonance beyond the rational.

And so Xi - what was China like in his coming of age years? Cultural Revolution time - and even if he isn't so stupid to launch an army of Little Red Guards to smash "4 olds," the emotional resonance of the collective and forging steel to be strong and the posters extolling a strong, single leader against the evil imperialists may be coming "home" for him, what feels "right." He had to eat bitterness, so kids coddled on video games should have to as well. Builds character or some such stuff. It may be more of a factor than a lot of rational economic arguments.

Just a thought...

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It's telling that you mentioned only people who disagree with you as being stuck in their formative years. Is it possible that the you and Noah being stuck in 90's liberalism prevents you from seeing the flaws in that worldview?

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Yes, and China's auto exports surpassed Japan's this year to become the world's largest, and the IMF forecast that China's GDP per capita will reach $20,000 in 2030. You know nothing about the pragmatism in the Chinese system. Keep underestimating China until you can't justify it

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China‘s share of global trade has peaked. They’re now of a size that they can’t export their way to growth. The development model needs to change.

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It’s not really that cut and dry.

Their auto exports went up but their domestic sales are dropping and industry wide profits are down.

What makes you confident their exports are going to keep increasing? They’ve managed to do this by slashing prices. They just stopped massively subsidizing their auto industry at the national level, (though local governments still are to the best of my knowledge) so this might be the last year of car sales impacted by those subsidies.

https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/chinas-byd-h1-profit-triples-deliveries-break-record-2023-08-28/

Also of note, even with all that, isn’t one of, if not their largest EV manufacturer, still Tesla? Im fine being wrong on that, it isn’t a lynchpin for my perspective or anything, but it’s hard to feel as confident in the chinese automotive industry if, despite all of the many many many advantages china has for manufacturing, a US company is still leading the charge. (If I’m wrong there I’m sorry I’ll edit this blurb)

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Sep 26, 2023·edited Sep 26, 2023

It's crucial to see beyond short-term jitters and focus on the bigger picture. China's vast market and resources are compelling indicators of its industry's potential trajectory.

Your confidence can come from their consumer market. Their current undergraduate share of the population is 4% (compared to the US's 38%). As this ratio rises, which is a likely scenario given the current trend (and the less pressure from student loans), the resultant educated populace will likely foster increased demand. A more educated population typically correlates with higher earning potential and, consequently, elevated purchasing power, which can be leveraged for products like automobiles. Economies of scale affect costs and thus increase the competitiveness of the industry.

The fundamental reason for optimism regarding China's exports is its staggering population, which exceeds the combined populations of Europe and America. China's immense population represents untapped and unparalleled R&D potential, making it a significant driver of innovation and a source of competitive advantage in the global market.

While Tesla might be a prominent EV player in China, their domestic companies like BYD are not only making strides in EV production but are also pivotal suppliers. For instance, BYD supplies batteries to Tesla, underscoring China's inherent strength in the supply chain.

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Well China’s success can be attributed to the following factors which have eroded or imploaded

1. The move by Wall street to push for productivity and profit by deindustrialization and moving munufacturing to China. This started in the 70’s under Nixon but accelerated after 1986 after a key meeting with two of Hong Kong’s wealthiest tycoons and Triad bosses (Read Wilful Blindness)

This solved both the inflation issue with the noble attempt to lift the third world out of poverty via the trend to global collaboration

2. DFI Direct Foreign Investment in China peaked in 2020 and now sits at 10% of that peak 300 billion + to 30 Billion. Inspite of Xi’s belief that turning inward because China was all of a sudden self sustaining. We saw how that worked out last time. When China stopped trading with the West for centuries it imploded and turned backwards only to blame colonialists for their lot in life.

3. Slave and indentured labour.. Can anyone afford one of the 10,000,000 vacant apartments in ghost cities? Nope. The gig is up on China’s slave labour and cultural and physical genocide inside China as that misstep has gloriously been echoed in every capital in the world although there are new arociyues taking place that is currently under reported according to a Uyghur activist in Washington.

4. Elite capture operations in the west are being exposed. Where morally and ethically corrupt business leaders and politicians have traded for sex, money, power, and greed which compromised them China simply had most bend or support China on command. It was great for a while when things were on the rise but eventually the people figure it out, journalists ask questions and the public rebel and hold their leaders to account. We are still in the starting phases of this process. As China’s ruling families the continue to enrich themselves like other dictatorial criminals and that same level of nepotism and wealth concentration is readily apparent by the billionaire class that currently runs in China. But fon’t step out of line… Just as Jack Ma how that ends… Remember your wealth is the states and they can take it back anytime they are so inclined…

5. Climate change. The hypocrisy of it all

Here in the west we wish to make the necessary changes to decarbonize the global economy and yet this is a futile effort given Xi Jinping’s faustian bargain with his people. As Xi Jinping attempts to placate the masses by living up to the promise of increased living standards in exchange for pledging allegiance to the totalitarian nature of the Chinese communist party continues to be an important symbiotic relationship. He need to feed the industrial machine that has driven the success for the past thirty years. To do this while selling the West on decatbonization through the green initiatives we embrace the people in China need cheap subsidized power and it needs quickly and cheaply without spending tens of billions on major hydro-electric infrastructure… So China continues to invest in dirty and cheap coal to drive the bargain and what people in the west don’t know won’t hurt them, right?

But this narrative is now being understood by global leaders and expect more pressure for China to actually shift its energy and manufacturing posture. By doing so, China will be forced to raise prices and while the world has accepted the Chinese bullshit for so long because of the cheap product narrative to meet consumer demand technology is usurping the labour advantage and people will demand Made in a Democracy labels on products. In the end we can expect more wolf warrior rants about how the west should mind our own business.

Perhaps we should and in the process disengage entitrely from the grand illusion gone terribly wrong..

That summarizes it for now and that should hold you for a while.

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Ah, this "democracy vs totalitarian" narrative again. 

China’s pragmatic approach to governance has allowed it to rapidly ascend the global economic ladder, becoming a key player in several vital industries. For instance, China's photovoltaic industry has achieved significant growth[1], with the country leading the world in solar power production[2]. This aligns with their ambitious plans to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption. Criticizing China for relying solely on coal overlooks its substantial investments and advancements in renewable energy.

Similarly, China's battery and electric vehicle industries are at the forefront globally[3]. The country is home to some of the largest electric vehicle manufacturers and battery producers, contributing significantly to the global shift towards green and sustainable transportation. Painting China as indifferent to decarbonization is an oversimplified view, especially when considering the strides made in these industries.

It's easy to focus solely on ideological differences, but it’s imperative to acknowledge the actual economic development and advancements made by China. The narrative surrounding China’s economic policies and its impact on the global stage is multifaceted, and reducing it to a binary ideological conflict is leading to misconceptions and an unbalanced understanding. China has been successfully moving up the value chain, securing more premium from international trade, and fostering innovations across various sectors. This is not merely about mass production but about the creation of high-quality, value-added goods and services. Additionally, the country produces a colossal number of undergraduate graduates, which surpasses the combined output of Europe and America[4], highlighting the massive intellectual capital that is being nurtured. This substantial educational attainment underlines the objectivity and inevitability of China’s progress in science and technology, as well as their economy.

Besides, the vast and diverse population of 1.4 billion in China presents a unique governance challenge that cannot be accurately assessed without considering the complexities and intricacies of managing such a populous nation[5]. Maybe you can consider traveling to this country, to witness firsthand how its government manages to govern a country with such a vast and varied population. Observing the on-ground realities, the advancements in technology, infrastructure development, poverty alleviation efforts, and environmental initiatives might offer a more nuanced and balanced perspective.

[1] https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.122848

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jun/29/china-wind-solar-power-global-renewable-energy-leader

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/05/16/business/china-ev-battery.html?smid=url-share

[4] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35776555

[5] http://theory.people.com.cn/BIG5/n1/2018/1203/c40531-30437663.html

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This reads like it was written by AI. if you're hired to do propaganda for the Chinese government, you gotta make it zippier.

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Yeah, everything that doesn't fit your point of view is propaganda. Looks like you don't like fact-based discussion

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What if Xi isn't that competent [at running a country]?

I have a couple of thoughts on that:

1. Of course he isn't that competent at running a country. The system that chose him doesn't select for competence at running the country, and is only interested in running the country effectively to the extent that it helps keep the Chinese Communist Party in control. As you say, his main competence is taking control of a large organization by putting his loyalists in all the key positions.

2. No one is competent at running a country - that isn't a skill set that exists. Some people are more inclined to interfere destructively, and some have fewer constraints on interfering than others. Xi seems to be inclined to take action, I suppose as a way to claim legitimacy. I'm not sure he needs this type of legitimacy - he might do just as well by counting only on terror. He has few constraints on his scope to cause problems, aside from inability to personally monitor everything.

3. No other country really selects for competence at running the country, either. Democratic systems at least tend to limit the harm that leaders can cause. And they have the potential to replace leaders who are too conspicuously incompetent, corrupt, or misguided.

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Xi was never received formal education thanks to cultural revolution, he ‘brought’ a PHD in law to decorate his CV as most of privileged CCP high officials did during 2000s. I remember his academic credentials were joked and questioned on internet after he was selected as heir of Hu. There was a good time in China during 2005-2012 as the CCP simply has no mean to control social media. Xi likes history but never had any training in academic so he turned to historical fiction like Yongzheng Emperor(雍正王朝) by Eryue He (二月河). Eryue He was popular during late 90s and early 2000s, as he depicts Qin Emperor as assertive, benevolence , dedicated and brought glory to his nation. I watched two of his Qin emperor trilogy at the time and I am convinced today that Xi is influenced by the world view of Eryue He. Xi’s polices are so obsessed with the appearance of assertiveness both domestically and internationally even though they are at the expense of weakening the very foundation of the country’s power. Note that Eryue He is no historian and his accounts for Qin ‘s emperors are almost certainly false. He has little knowledge about Qin’s domestic and foreign policies. Such shortcomings are reflected on Xi. It is unfair to say Xi doesn’t care about economy or foreign relation, it just his vision of it are according to transitional Chinese Machiavellianism (帝王術) which is the main theme of Eryue He’s novel. Certainly these visions are incompatible with today’s economy and international relations. Poor Xi is product of cultural revolution. He is a one of many typical 50s born Chinese males - lacked education but seized opportunities in 2000s which ascended them economically or politically. They know education is their weak spot so they turned to alternative source to find knowledge (such as Eryue He who is popular mostly among 50s Chinese male) .I personally met many of this kinds. So what can you expect from Xi? To manage such a huge and complex nation, Xi is almost certainly going to Fxxk it up. We don’t see this coming in his early years simply because he hasn’t consolidated his power then so these issues we see today were left alone. We will see more and more Xi’s policy missteps in future and i am 100% confident on this prediction.

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From where did you get this information?

"Xi was never received formal education thanks to cultural revolution, he ‘brought’ a PHD in law to decorate his CV as most of privileged CCP high officials did during 2000s/"

Xi Jinping is the only Chinese president to have a Ph.D. According to “The Goverance of China”, in the words of Elizabeth Economy of the Council on Foreign Relations:““Xi Jinping studied chemical engineering from 1975 to 1979, at the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing but he never worked in a related field. He later majored in Marxist theory and ideological education at Tsinghua Humanities Institute. Xi Jinping is one of the few leaders in China who is educated in humanities and is the only Chinese president to have a Ph.D. [Source: Elizabeth Economy, Council on Foreign Relations’ Asia Unbound blog, Forbes, October ct 15, 2014.

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These lines are in perfect alignment with Xi ‘s CCP official CV. But I want to point out some obvious implications. 1) culture revolution was on going in 1975 and onward and student admitted were called worker-peasant-soldier student(工農兵大學生)which basically means they admitted not based on merit but their connection to party. They are basically regarded as inferior to college students admitted after Deng resumed higher education exams. 2) There was virtually no real education offered in China since beginning of cultural revolution at 68 until Deng resume university entrance exam in late 1977, which means Xi hardly received any education from 15 to his 3rd year in Tsinghua. 3) The most controversial of Xi's academic credential is his phd in Law. He did it when he was deputy governor of Fujian province. It will be foolish to believe he had time to complete a PHD degree when he was acting governor of a province, and it is very common for CCP officials to obtain a degree by their privilege.  His thesis is unrelated to law and it is now censored in China. (Was available for a while in early 2010s) His educational qualification was already questioned by western media as early as 2013. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/objection-mr-xi-did-you-earn-that-law-degree-q9vc3nqjbsl 4) all these could be dismissed as speculation, but you can't miss many of his mispronunciation in his public speech which is elementary school level mistake. The only implication you can make is that is indeed poorly educated. I guess the most well known comment with regard to Xi's education was from Li Rui who was Mao's secretary. His comment on Xi was that ' the most shocking revelation to me is that Xi is so uneducated ! ' (我没想到他文化程度那么低!) 5) Just for your information, Xi is often mocked on oversea Chinese internet community as Phd in elementary school. (小学生博士)

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Just want to say I greatly appreciate when you hold yourself accountable by looking back at claims and predictions you made and evaluating whether you got them right or wrong. Understandably you've focused on the former but you've also called out the latter. It's a refreshing change from writers who just endlessly spew stuff without any further reflection, no matter how inaccurate.

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Augusto Pinochet would like to be remembered in the list of competent autocrats

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Noah can't ever acknowledge that a pro-free market right wing dictator who just did what the Chicago school told him to do was incredibly successful and turned around one of the most dysfunctional economies in world history.

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I sort of wonder how much of this is that we can't speak Russian or Chinese so their leaders seem tough and stoic. The French leader often is translated much more often so more of a person. The UK and US leaders are so familiar as to be a bit repulsive.

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only "a bit"? I'd say very much repulsive. And, you left off Canada.

https://babylonbee.com/news/xi-jinping-criticizes-trudeaus-heavy-handed-approach/

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Good luck to your rabbit. Mine was stolen by an hawk many years ago. Just turned my head towards my coffee cup and he was gone. As to Xi, I've had some doubts since he became the absolute monarch. China was not a democracy before we it looks to me that it was ran collegially in the upper circle with a primus inter pares. And it was working well for them. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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Venezuela's Maduro just returned from going hat-in-hand to China in an attempt to beg for more money ahead of the 2024 venezuelan presidential elections. Little has been said about the outcome, which reinforces the possibility that two things happened:

-Xi said no new money will be lent to Maduro and the $10 Billion now due MUST be paid. It becomes a matter of respect towards China, and if any leniency is shown it will make it more difficult for China to collect on the loans it has issued worldwide.

-Xi communicated displeasure with the appearance that the American company Chevron has been treated better than China by Maduro.

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