Andrew J. Nathan, the Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science at Columbia University, has published the new article “China: Back to the Future” in the May 10, 2018 edition of The New York Review of Books. In the article, Professor Nathan writes about the Xi Jinping’s efforts to centralize his power, including the recent constitutional amendment in China that abolished term limits for the presidency, allowing him to hold the position indefinitely.
“Overall, Xi is making the institutional system he inherited from Mao and Deng more responsive and efficient,” Professor Nathan writes. “But he has reversed the attempt of the period between Mao and himself to do this through rule of law. As Carl Minzner notes in his recent book End of an Era: How China’s Authoritarian Revival Is Undermining Its Rise, ‘Law is becoming less and less relevant to China’s future.’ Instead, Xi is creating a twenty-first-century ‘organizational weapon’ of the kind described seventy years ago by the sociologist Philip Selznick—one that works through ‘disciplined and deployable political agents.’ The agents are accountable not downward to their constituents or horizontally to legal institutions, but upward, to their superiors. The system pushes problems to the top, until they reach someone who is willing to take responsibility. Xi has emerged to shoulder this burden, and he has the personality to do so. That is why many in the party have welcomed the reversal of the Deng system, which they believe led to stagnation.”
Please click here to read Professor Nathan’s article.