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Epidemic control in an authoritarian state

February 19, 2020

“It’s all about confidence: If people lose confidence you will have defection where regime insiders stop helping the regime.”

Victor Shih

Since several weeks, China is struggling with a severe coronavirus outbreak. China’s regime and its leader Xi Jinping are facing huge criticism in handling the crisis – both internally and internationally. Given this situation, questions arise on how an authoritarian state deals with such a crisis. Can China control an epidemic from the top down? What are the political and economic impacts? Where are potential pathways to instability? And what are currently the most important factors for stability in China? Which measures has the CCP taken so far and do they demonstrate strength or weakness of the system? How much time is left if it doesn’t want to fall from power? And what is at stake for Xi Jinping?

In this episode of our MERICS Experts podcast, Victor Shih, one of the leading experts for elite politics in China, Associate Professor at the University of California, San Diego, and editor of the recently published book “Economic Shocks and Authoritarian Stability”, discusses these and other questions at stake with Kerstin Lohse-Friedrich, Director of Communications at MERICS.