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Tightening Control

How do we interpret the recent crackdown in China?
 
Unlike most commentators who foresee a coming dark age of Chinese authoritarianism, Edward Steinfeld argues, “It would be wrong to read the current crackdown as a sign of stasis or regression.” He offers convincing evidence such as the pluralization of actors and institutions and the coexistence of “profound change and harsh repression” in China, backed by a comparative perspective.

But while I agree with his assessment, I think that his evidence, which is primarily focused on economic and social changes, is incomplete. He doesn’t delve deeply enough into the “profound change” that has also taken place in Chinese politics.

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