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  • Cited by 16
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
June 2021
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Book description

Understanding Chinese politics has become more important than ever. Some argue that China's political system is 'institutionalized' or that 'win all/lose all' struggles are a thing of the past, but, Joseph Fewsmith argues, as in all Leninist systems, political power is difficult to pass on from one leader to the next. Indeed, each new leader must deploy whatever resources he has to gain control over critical positions and thus consolidate power. Fewsmith traces four decades of elite politics from Deng to Xi, showing how each leader has built power (or not). He shows how the structure of politics in China has set the stage for intense and sometimes violent intra-elite struggles, shaping a hierarchy in which one person tends to dominate, and, ironically, providing for periods of stability between intervals of contention.


‘In this compelling new book, Joseph Fewsmith questions how much Chinese politics has changed in recent decades. Not as much as most China watchers think, is his answer. His challenge to the conventional wisdom about China is sure to provoke debate for years to come.'

Bruce Dickson - George Washington University

‘Rethinking Chinese Politics is a refreshing reexamination of many long-held assumptions about Chinese elite politics.  By focusing on the core Leninist institutions of the Chinese system, Fewsmith provides an original and deeply insightful framework illuminating the critical drivers of change in Chinese politics and policy in post-Mao China.'

Minxin Pei - Claremont McKenna College

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