Month: March 2016


Asked by Bloomberg to comment on current trends in the Chinese regime, I offered the following:

I think we now have enough evidence to conclude that the Xi regime is a fundamentally different one from the one he inherited, that of Deng and his followers. Power has been concentrated to the party and to Xi himself, complete with person cult, and collective leadership is in the past. So is pragmatism, now the order of the day is ideology, discipline and national greatness. One visible consequence so far is China’s new aggression in the East Asia neighbourhood, the South China Sea in particular.

I think there are two reasons for this shift. The leaders have long known that they will not be able to rely on economic growth for legitimacy. The justification of party rule therefore becomes more dependent on ideology and a patriotic narrative of greatness. The other reason is that Xi is looking to be a true believer. He seems to believe in the purity of the party, which he is salvaging with his endless anti-corruption drive. And he seems to believe that it is the party’s destiny to be the force that can hold China together and enhance its greatness.



The Chinese political system is different from any other known to man, now or in history. We need a concept to help us understand that system and to distinguish it from all others. For that purpose, I’ve coined a new concept in political science and China analysis.

The new Chinese dictatorship is sophisticated and effective, hard in fact but mild in appearance. It does not tell everyone everything they must do. But it does control that they do not do what they must not, and it does so in great detail, from not having children that should not be had via not reading or seeing or hearing what should not be read or seen or heard, to not practicing faiths that should not be practiced – and above all to not organising.

That kind of dictatorship needs a name. It is not an autocracy; that is too benevolent. It is not a dictatorship like others; that is too primitive. I give it the name of controlocracy.