Chinese President Xi Jinping is riding high into the pivotal 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, set to take place Oct. 18. He has sidelined political rivals, stacked the CPC leadership with men loyal only to him, and appears to have already become the most powerful Chinese leader in decades. His reform agenda has been bolder than many anticipated, his efforts aided in no small part by the vitality of the Chinese economy, which continues to grow as the financial system, shocked by a stock market crash in 2015, stabilizes. People are less likely to reject change, after all, if they are convinced that the change benefits them.
Still, Xi has not instituted the sorts of sweeping structural reforms needed to fix China’s economy. One of his biggest reasons for neglecting to do so was that he wanted to maintain economic stability ahead of the party congress. But he won’t be able to avoid more ambitious reforms forever – which raises the question: If