Politburo Possibilities: A Primer

This fall, the Chinese Communist Party will hold its 18th Party Congress and select a new generation of leaders who will face some of the greatest challenges seen yet in the PRC’s 63 years. Inflation is growing, wealth inequality is widening, the population is aging, the environment is degrading, the new-generation of internet-savvy youth is becoming more cynical, and the threat of a major economic crisis hangs over everything – threatening to unravel the “Beijing Consensus” of economic growth in exchange for authoritarianism. Hu Jintao has led for the past decade with a “stability at all costs” attitude – which in many ways has allowed these problems to fester. The question now is whether these problems will be addressed with greater authoritarianism or greater democracy.