Fewsmith Expounds Findings of “Rethinking Chinese Politics“

On January 20, 2023, Joseph Fewsmith, Professor of International Relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, presented the findings of his book Rethinking Chinese Politics during a seminar hosted by the Public Law and Human Rights Forum (CPLR), Asia Pacific Law Review (APLR), and the City University of Hong Kong’s School of Law.

Up until a couple of years ago – until the 20th Party Congress in October 2022 – most observers viewed the Chinese political system as institutionalized; party leaders would serve two terms and another party leader who had been named at the previous party congress would take his (always “his”) place. But according to Fewsmith, closer examination shows that each party leader builds his own political power by appointing proteges to “critical positions.” In the case of Xi Jinping, Fewsmith noted that he has extended this model of personal dominance to a new extreme by purging those thought to belong to other factions and promoting close associates. This is seen not only in Xi’s “running the table” by appointing his allies to all the other positions on the Politburo Standing committee but also by turning over greater numbers of people who serve on the Central Committee. His personal control over the military is particularly notable.

Details of the event can be found on the City University of Hong Kong’s website. For more on Rethinking Chinese Politics, visit the Pardee School’s website.

Joseph Fewsmith is a Professor of International Relations at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University  He is the author or editor of eight books, including, most recently, Rethinking Chinese Politics (June 2021). He is an associate of the John King Fairbank Center for East Asian Studies at Harvard University and the Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University. Read more about Professor Fewsmith on his faculty profile.