The limits of knowledge

This is a pretty hilarious example of how we know nothing about what goes on inside the black box of elite Chinese politics. Understand that Francesco Sisci is an eminent Beijing-based journalist and sinologist, who has been studying and commenting on China for decades.

I posted earlier about the shocking allegations made against the now-vanished former party secretary of Chongqing during the ongoing party congress. Well, here’s Sisci’s take on all that:

The story tells us that there is deep-seated opposition to Xi Jinping and his way of ruling China, or at least Xi thinks so, and that is the same thing. […]

It is not clear what Xi will do next.

An indication of the internal difficulties also comes from Xi’s speech. He stressed the importance of the leadership of the party, which was repeated 16 times. It is a sign that many party cadres turn a deaf ear to orders from Beijing. If cadres obeyed, Xi would not need to remind them of this.

Furthermore, on Thursday, at the Congress opening, Xi sat between his predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. Perhaps Xi wanted to stress continuity, or maybe it is a sign that he still has to deal with past leaders.

Ah yes, the seating arrangement. The key to understanding everything! It couldn’t be that this particular positioning of chairs was chosen with an intent to deceive and misinform the media and the public about the real hierarchy of power.

I don’t mean to make fun of Sisci. He is normally very insightful. It’s just that there is so little to work with here. Trying to make sense of this stuff is like shining a flashlight into a black hole.

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