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Since taking office three years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been stepping up political regimentation, including a tighter grip on thought education. Now he is increasing control of the media and the Internet. The strict control of speech and media activities may reflect Xi’s desire to maintain social stability as China endures an economic slowdown. Such moves may also point to the difficulty Xi is experiencing in his bid to maintain the Communist Party’s rule as the country confronts various domestic as well as diplomatic challenges.

While Xi’s crackdown on rampant corruption among both high- and low-ranking officials may have the support of the general public, his stringent control of speech and media outlets could increase people’s frustration — a potential source of social instability. When a nation becomes economically advanced, the usual course that follows is the pursuit of democratization in the political sphere. Xi should keep in mind that his moves could bring unexpected effects.

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