In his nearly seven years in office, Xi has relentlessly centralized decision-making authority in his hands. He has manipulated the military, the security services, and the CCP’s propaganda machine to silence his opponents and effectively coup-proof his rule.
Doing so has allowed him to pursue an assertive style of Chinese statecraft, one less awestruck by American power than in the past.
In a revealing moment on a recent trip to Jiangxi Province, he invoked the spirit of the Long March, the almost mythical retreat of the Chinese Red Army that preceded its triumph, to declare that every generation of the CCP leadership must face its own revolutionary test. The coming struggle with the United States, he implied, is the test that the current generation must weather under his stewardship.
In the end, Xi’s decision to backpedal on the draft trade agreement can be explained by the contradiction at the heart of the new narrative he is spinning for China.
The path to economic independence—and to the prosperous new era Xi has promised—runs through the United States and its high-tech industry. As a result, Xi must steer a difficult political course, one best navigated from the nationalist high ground.
But instead of giving him a chance to climb down, the Trump administration risks forcing him to dig in.
Source: Why Xi Jinping Won’t Back Down on Trade