On the streets of Beijing, people are also split in opinion about the changes under Mr Xi.
“The broader environment is getting too extreme,” said one man, 29, who requested anonymity over fears of repercussions. “Personal freedom of expression is more tightly controlled.”
“The government is making policy too uniformly rigid and not allowing for flexibility,” said Shi Daizong, 36, a salesperson, of the crackdown on pop culture.
Others praised the policies: “One-party rule is an advantage – epidemic control is very good, while other countries are chaotic,” said Gao Xia, 45, a pharmacist. “China is becoming more and more strong, and provides a stable and comfortable environment for us.”
Beijing seems to have clocked the uncertainty, this week trotting out vice premier Liu He, who vowed “unwavering support” of the private sector in China in a video speech for a conference in an attempt to assuage concerns.
Still, it hasn’t been enough to provide clarity on who or what might next be caught in the crosshairs.
Mr Xi “risks things backfiring as his reforms created resentment within the party and indeed amongst sections of society who oppose Xi’s authoritarian turn,” said Aleksandra Kubat, an expert on the Chinese Communist Party and cadre training at King’s College London.
But that’s where classes at party schools like the one in northwest Beijing come in handy – to drill loyalty and ideology into cadres. One of China’s most outspoken officials –foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying – studied at the institute before taking up her current post, in which she daily denounces the West and praises the party.
Lower-level officials will likely implement Mr Xi’s “common prosperity” to the best of their ability ahead of the 20th Party Congress next year, as many will be aiming to put their best foot forward in hopes of a promotion.
If party officials have learned anything in their training, it’s that the “standards of cadre work have shifted significantly back toward the political,” said Ms Kubat.
“No one really knows how much tighter they’re going to be,” said Mr Chorzempa. “But it’s pretty clear that they’re not going to stop here.”
Additional reporting by Wen Xu
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