Professor Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS) in London, was speaking after Professor Cai Xia, a former prominent academic at China‘s Central Party School accused Xi of “killing the country” – and claimed he faced significant opposition from with the Chinese Communist Party. However, while Prof Tsang acknowledged there were plenty who disapproved of Xi, that was unlikely to materialise into anything more concrete, in the short term at least.
Prof Tsang told Express.co.uk: “Xi is undoubtedly the most powerful leader China has since Mao.
“He is taking China in a direction and in a way that many within the system are uncomfortable with but few, if any, occupying top positions in the Party or the government would dare to oppose him openly.”
With reference to her unusually candid assessment, which was leaked online in June, Prof Tsang said: “Prof Cai is rare in how open she is with her criticisms.
He added: “So, in reality, no one will unless most at the top see Xi as fatally wounded politically.”
Asked what it would take to remove Xi, who has has been Chinese President since 2013, and who successfully orchestrated the scrapping of two-term limits in 2018, Prof Tsang said: “An economic catastrophe perhaps.
“Not much of a prospect in the short term, but misguided policies can change the situation quickly.”
Speaking to the Guardian last week, Prof Cai said: “When no one can oppose him, that means that his power is unlimited.
“He has made the world an enemy. At home, all these big issues are left to him to decide. In other words, whether it is a domestic or international issue, it is very difficult for others to restrict him.
“It is inevitable that his judgment and decisions will be mistaken.
“It is a vicious cycle. After a wrong decision is made, the result is not good.
“But those below are too afraid to tell him and wrong decisions continue to be made until the situation is out of control.
“In this vicious cycle, there is no way to stop the country from sliding towards disaster.”
Nevertheless, she insisted opposition within the party was widespread.
Prof Cai added: “Those within the party have experienced the last 20, 30 years and they understand which direction is right and which is a dead end.
“Many of my good friends who saw the news of me being expelled are cheering. They think this is a good thing.”