What the Chinese Communist Party Learned From Lenin
By Nick Frisch
his week, after months of factional jockeying, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his colleagues will convene the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress. At the conclave's end, Xi will walk into a cavernous room in the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, flanked by China’s new rulers.
Xi and his colleagues head the bureaucracies that manage China's economy, military, propaganda apparatus, and security organs. But on this occasion, they will appear in their most important capacity: as the members of the Politburo’s Standing Committee, China’s top decision-making body. This group will govern China until the next party congress, in 2022.
For party leaders, this week marks another half decade in power. But it will also bring a different anniversary, which Beijing will greet without fanfare. The 19th Party Congress falls on the eve of the centenary of Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution, the movement that led to the creation of the Soviet Union.
China's leaders are attentive students of Soviet history, and the Bolsheviks and the Soviet state they built are both a model and a cautionary tale for the Chinese Communist Party. Memories of the Soviet collapse—the trauma of toppled statues, indigent apparatchiks, and secret archives opened to public scrutiny—steel party leaders’ determination to retain power.
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