He’s not going anywhere

It’s hardly surprising that Sisci would offer a ringing endorsement of China’s “effective” response to the virus – although it is puzzling that he would describe democratic Taiwan and Korea’s own effective responses as “incidents or adaptations of the Chinese way.” Putting that aside, this is a useful reminder that the Emperor for Life probably ain’t going anywhere anytime soon, despite the inane delusions of certain foreign observers with “sources” telling them that “Xi is in trouble”:

This is a recurring story. Over a year ago I wrote:

«Certainly, there is mounting opposition to Xi Jinping’s administration. This opposition considers the issue of getting rid of the top leader according to the rules of the system: you can’t peacefully vote him out of power, you must use force – you have to stage a coup and take him out. So, the attempts on his life were most likely real, and communist China has a history of attempted coups. But did they succeed in their goals? And how were they staged?».[1]

And the only successful coup in the history of the People’s Republic was staged in 1976 against the Gang of Four. Here «the three main plotters controlled all the crucial elements: the party organization, the army, and the personal security of the people arrested».[2] That is, the main plotters were already in control of the party and the military and got rid of the challenge from the opposition. That was quite a different situation from the present one where Xi holds all the cards.

In the Party

Moreover, the CPC has rules limiting and strictly regulating meetings of senior officials outside of the appointed occasions. This was imposed a long time ago by Mao to thwart possible plots and as far as we know the rule is still in place.

In past years, Xi not only arrested a lot of people but deconstructed the party apparatus and the PLA (People’s Liberation Army), moving people around to break their chains of loyalties. Everybody now works in environments where they can’t be sure of where other people stand, and thus they are all wary about expressing themselves let alone organizing a coup against Xi.

A coup needs first and foremost a secretive, efficient, and quite pervasive organization. Without it a coup turns into civil war or the putschists are all arrested and killed by a firing squad (or die in a plane crash, as happened to Lin Biao in 1971).

How can there be any organization against Xi in these circumstances?

What some people register, confusing the signals, is that there is widespread, pervasive opposition to Xi among officials and their extended families (all formerly benefitting from the old pre-anticorruption life). But this opposition is scattered, with no glue or mortar to hold it. This sand-like opposition vanishes anytime and anywhere Xi puts his foot down.

Hua Guofeng arranged the coup against the Gang of Four, which included Mao’s last wife Jiang Qing.

The beatings will continue until morale improves

China port source BBC

From Axios, we learn that the Sino-American trade relationship will remain… strained… for a while:

President Trump has no intention of easing his tariffs on China, according to three sources with knowledge of his private conversations. Instead, these sources say he wants Chinese leaders to feel more pain from his tariffs — which he believes need more time to fully kick in.

What we’re hearing: “He wants them to suffer more” from tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, said a source with direct knowledge of Trump’s thinking, and the president believes the longer his tariffs last, the more leverage he’ll have. […]

Behind the scenes: Trump has privately boasted that his China tariffs have driven down the country’s stock market. Experts say the trade war has hurt market sentiment, but the stock market has never been a reliable barometer of Chinese economic strength.

As 罗臻 points out:

A-shares are not a good measure of Chinese economic sentiment, it’s housing. In order to crack the housing market, however, Trump would need to inflict more pain for longer, to the point where China can’t contain the fallout and home prices start sinking 1 or 2 percent per month.

Trump is pursuing the right strategy for his intentions, even if he isn’t watching the right signals. Or maybe the stock market comments are for public (and China’s) consumption.