The 20th Party Congress: Toward Personalistic Autarky?

Joseph Fewsmith, Professor of International Relations and Political Science, Boston University

12:15pm - 1:30pm | CSCC Conference Room, PCPSE Room 418, 133 S. 36th St

The Twentieth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, held in October 2022, will go down as the congress at which Xi Jinping secured a third term, perhaps opening the way for the restoration of life-long tenure. Perhaps more important, however, the congress appointed Xi’s close political associates to fill out the Politburo Standing Committee and most of the Politburo. Not including people from contending wings of the party makes the new leadership the most personalistic in party history (even Mao contended with strong people in the party), thus making the party qua party less important. The historical record of personalistic regimes is not good; one can only hope that Xi Jinping can avoid the catastrophic errors of many personalistic regimes.

Joseph Fewsmith is Professor of International Relations and Political Science at the Boston University Pardee School. He is the author of seven books, including, most recently, Forging Leninism in China: Mao and the Remaking of the Chinese Communist Party, 1927-1934. Other works include Rethinking Chinese Politics (June 2021), The Logic and Limits of Political Reform in China (January 2013), and China since Tiananmen (2nd edition, 2008). Other books include Elite Politics in Contemporary China (2001), The Dilemmas of Reform in China: Political Conflict and Economic Debate (1994), and Party, State, and Local Elites in Republican China: Merchant Organizations and Politics in Shanghai, 1890-1930 (1985). He was one of the seven regular contributors to the China Leadership Monitor, a quarterly web publication analyzing current developments in China from 2002 to 2014. Professor Fewsmith’s areas of expertise include comparative politics as well as Chinese domestic politics and foreign policy.

Open to all. This event is held onsite with a Zoom session. Please register in advance here:


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