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SNS: The Inequality Bet

SNS: The Inequality Bet


In This Issue
Vol. 26 Issue 38

The Inequality Bet

How Xi’s Attacks on Corporate Power Change the World’s Economic Calculus

  • Money Makes the World Go ‘Round
  • The Old Media Switcheroo
  • The Path Ahead


There’s never a dull moment with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Just when you think he couldn’t possibly be any more audacious, he goes and does it again. Take his new inequality reduction efforts, for example:

Rana Mitter, a historian and director of the University of Oxford China Centre, said Xi’s “common prosperity” rhetoric stemmed from genuine concern that previous economic models had created growth at the expense of inequality.

“Party officials also fear that the tech giants and the people who run them are out of control and need to be reined in. And then we must add Xi’s determination to be nominated next year for a third term, that changes to the constitution now allow,” he said.

Mitter warns that Xi is constructing a broad populist agenda that will make his bid for a third term in power unstoppable.

“He might not be facing a general election, but he wants social media to be behind him, cheering on policies that bring tech billionaires, property magnates and even film stars down to size,” he added.

It is a focus, in China at least, driven partly by necessity. As reported by The Economist, “The top 20% of China’s households take home over 45% of the country’s disposable income; the top 1% own over 30% of household wealth.”

But it’s also driven by fear: In Xi’s mind, every billionaire, every corporate power, is a potential threat to his next term as president and China’s eventual export of its surveil and control model the world over.

But this time, in slashing so bluntly at the corporations within his own country, Xi Jinping has made a grave tactical error: he is betting that the populist upswing against inequality will carry him further than the world’s current global powerhouse – capitalism.

And that he’ll be able to dodge capitalism’s immune system.

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