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The Coming Crisis of China’s One-Party Regime

In 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised that the Communist Party would deliver great successes in advance of two upcoming centennials, in 2021 and 2049. But no amount of nationalist posturing can change the fact that the fall of the CPC appears closer than at any time since the end of the Mao era.

CLAREMONT – On October 1, to mark the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic, Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver a speech that unreservedly celebrates the Communist Party of China’s record since 1949. But, despite Xi’s apparent confidence and optimism, the CPC’s rank and file are increasingly concerned about the regime’s future prospects – with good reason.

In 2012, when Xi took the reins of the CPC, he promised that the Party would strive to deliver great successes in advance of two upcoming centennials, marking the founding of the CPC in 1921 and the People’s Republic. But a persistent economic slowdown and rising tensions with the United States will likely sour the CPC’s mood during the 2021 celebrations. And the one-party regime may not even survive until 2049.

While there is technically no time limit on dictatorship, the CPC is approaching the longevity frontier for one-party regimes. Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party retained power for 71 years (1929-2000); the Communist Party of the Soviet Union ruled for 74 years (1917-1991); and Taiwan’s Kuomintang held on for 73 years (from 1927 to 1949 on the mainland and from 1949 to 2000 in Taiwan). The North Korean regime, a Stalinist family dynasty that has ruled for 71 years, is China’s only contemporary competition.

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