It is widely observed that over the past six years under the current government there has been a re-focusing on and re-strengthening of the Chinese Communist Party in the social, economic and political lives of contemporary China. To many commentators, this noticeable return of the Party is much alarming given the authoritarian nature of the Chinese political system where systematic recentralization of power can be easily and understandably read as the re-emergence of the ancien regime from the Mao years. Yet at the same time there is also a notable movement under Xi towards increasing regularization, institutionalization and in some sense legalization of the Party's own system of rules and norms. This paper explores the background and motivating factors behind this revamp of the Party's rule system, identifies its distinctive trajectory and characteristics, and teases out its internal tensions and contradictions.
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