All eyes are on the Chinese Communist Party leadership this year, as the months count down to autumn’s National Party Congress, where Xi Jinping may be crowned for a third term. Already, the speculation is intense. The party boss is in trouble, some analysts say, as rival factions seek to constrain him. They say his premier, Li Keqiang, aims to undermine him and that progressive elites — such as they are — wish nothing less than to deny him history.

Yet those who float such ideas appear not to realize that the assertions are inconsistent with the internal operating logic of the Chinese Communist Party — that, across party, military, and state lines, President Xi is in control. Further still, in communist states it is the communist ideas, not those of supreme leaders, that matter most. Even in the unlikely event that Mr. Xi would be deposed, China would not be fundamentally altered. The party would retain the same strategic outlook that has guided it since the days of Mao Zedong.  

As with most such speculation, though, there is some truth being aired. Mass lockdowns instituted under Mr. Xi’s “zero-Covid strategy” have heralded a humanitarian and economic crisis. Public discontent is mounting, and loyalty to China’s communists is, to an extent, waning. President Xi’s embrace of the Russian president has also elicited pushback from some Chinese elites — and, should the commentariat be believed, Communist Party members.

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