In 1980, writing the last paragraph of the last chapter of Coming Alive: China After Mao, I declared that China was moving “from totalitarian tyranny to a system more humane, part of a struggle by this nation to free itself from a straitjacket woven of feudalism, Marxism-Leninism, and twentieth-century technology.” In 2020, 40 years later, in China Coup: The Great Leap to Freedom, I describe a China firmly in the grip of totalitarian tyranny. In the years between, there were periods of loosening. But since Xi Jinping assumed the leadership of the Communist Party in 2012, he has progressively tightened the drawstrings the Party first imposed on China in 1949, cinching them closed with the technology of the 21st century.

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