Xi Jinping warns top officials to contain political risks to avoid China’s

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned top cadres to get ahead of political risks, saying a “butterfly effect” could turn small threats into big dangers.

Xi conveyed the message to senior officials at an internal meeting in February, but the comments were only made public earlier this month in a book released by Central Party Literature Press.

“Now, various risks and dangers are highly correlated, strongly linked and rapidly transmitted. A little carelessness can cause a butterfly effect,” Xi told hundreds of senior officials at the meeting on February 7.

“Small risks will become big risks, risks will become general risks, and economic and social risks will become political risks.”

In the speech, Xi also asked officials to “identify risks early, act quickly, take command at the front and make immediate judgments as soon as they arise”.


Xi Jinping, Joe Biden hold talks on sidelines of Apec summit to ease strained US-China ties

Xi Jinping, Joe Biden hold talks on sidelines of Apec summit to ease strained US-China ties

“Do not let small things be delayed to become big things, and big things be delayed until they explode,” Xi said.

While some parts of the speech had previously been made public, the butterfly effect comments have only just been revealed in Excerpts of Xi Jinping’s Discourse on Chinese Modernisation.

Xi’s February speech came a month before he began his record third term as China’s president in March. Officials across the country were asked to learn from the speech and put Xi’s mandates into practice, according to earlier reports in state media outlets.

In recent years, Xi has repeatedly stressed the need to be alert, urging officials to wage a “great struggle” and prepare for “worst-case” scenarios.

Dali Yang, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, said Xi’s comments were tied into his all-encompassing approach to China’s security.

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“Xi has been concerned about all kinds of risks for many years, and an important thing for him lately is to look at national security from a holistic perspective,” Yang said.

“I think when he talked about the butterfly effect, it was related to the protests last winter.”

A rare wave of protests against the strict zero-Covid policy erupted in a handful of Chinese cities in late November last year after a deadly fire killed 10 people in a residential building in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
China eased many of its controls in December, but risks that still regularly appear in Beijing’s talking points include a post-pandemic economic slowdown, demographic crisis and massive local government debt.

Abroad, major challenges include tight US restrictions on China’s technology sector and geopolitical tensions with Washington and its allies.

Protests against the strict zero-Covid policy erupted in Chinese cities, including Shanghai (pictured) after a fire in a residential building in Urumqi late last year. Photo: SCMP
In May, Xi warned at a high-level meeting that the national security issues facing China were “much more complex and much more difficult”….

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