Reports are surfacing that the escalating trade conflict with the US is driving a wedge between elements of the Chinese leadership:
BEIJING (Reuters) – A growing trade war with the United States is causing rifts within China’s Communist Party, with some critics saying that an overly nationalistic Chinese stance may have hardened the U.S. position, according to four sources close to the government.
President Xi Jinping still has a firm grip on power, but an unusual surge of criticism about economic policy and how the government has handled the trade war has revealed rare cracks in the ruling Communist Party.
A backlash is being felt at the highest levels of the government, possibly hitting a close aide to Xi, his ideology chief and strategist Wang Huning, according to two sources familiar with discussions in leadership circles.
A prominent and influential academic whose views have found favor in some party quarters has also come under attack for his strident views on Chinese power.
There are hints — which, given the totally opaque nature of elite Chinese politics, we should take with a dollop of salt — that the factional tensions could even be weakening the “core leader’s” grip on power:
China, for all its problems, seems set on an inexorable rise to superpower status to rival the US. On multiple benchmarks – economic, technological, military and diplomatic – Beijing is making rapid advances.
We are a long way, in other words, from peak China. But that begs another question which has been sweeping Beijing over the northern summer – whether we are now witnessing peak Xi Jinping.
In recent weeks, the signs of a nascent pushback against Xi’s absolute power have started to emerge. Some are cryptic, given the nature of Chinese politics, contained in coyly worded postings on social media. Some are the stuff of rumour, or back alley news, as the Chinese call such information, which flourishes in the absence of a free press.
More background on CPC factional disputes.