From one of the most admired reporters covering China today, a vital new account of the life and political vision of Xi Jinping, the authoritarian leader of the People’s Republic whose hard-edged tactics have set the rising superpower on a collision with Western liberal democracies.
Party of One shatters the many myths and caricatures that shroud one of the world’s most secretive political organizations and its leader. Many observers misread Xi during his early years in power, projecting their own hopes that he would steer China toward more political openness, rule of law, and pro-market economics. Having masked his beliefs while climbing the party hierarchy, Xi has centralized decision-making powers, encouraged a cult of personality around himself, and moved toward indefinite rule by scrapping presidential term limits—stirring fears of a return to a Mao-style dictatorship. Today, the party of Xi favors political zeal over technical expertise, trumpets its faith in Marxism, and proclaims its reach into every corner of Chinese society with Xi portraits and hammer-and-sickle logos. Under Xi, China has challenged Western preeminence in global affairs and cast its authoritarian system as a model of governance worthy of international emulation.
As a China reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Chun Han Wong has chronicled Xi Jinping’s hard-line strategy for crushing dissent against his strongman rule, his political repression in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and his increasingly coercive efforts to reel in the island democracy of Taiwan, as well as the domestic and diplomatic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. When the Chinese government refused to renew Wong’s press credentials and forced him to leave mainland China in 2019, he moved to Hong Kong to continue covering Chinese politics and its autocratic turn under Xi. Now, Wong has drawn on his years of firsthand reporting across China—including conversations with party insiders, insights from scholars and diplomats, and analyses of official speeches and documents—to create a lucid and historically rooted account of China’s leader and how he inspires fear and fervor in his party, his nation, and beyond.
Timely, revelatory, and important, Party of One explains how the future Xi imagines for China will reshape the future of the entire world.
About the Author
Chun Han Wong has covered China for the Wall Street Journal since 2014. He was part of a team of reporters named as Pulitzer Prize finalists for their coverage of China’s autocratic turn under Xi Jinping. As a Journal correspondent in Beijing and Hong Kong, Wong has written widely on subjects spanning elite politics, Communist Party doctrine, human and labor rights, and defense and diplomatic affairs. Born and raised in Singapore, Wong is a native speaker of English and Mandarin Chinese. He studied international history at the London School of Economics, where he graduated with first-class honors and won the Derby Bryce Prize.
“A respected journalist combines history, headlines, and personal reflections in a careful analysis of China’s leader-for-life. . . . A penetrating and timely unraveling of the personality and impact of a strongman president.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“In a crowded marketplace of books about Xi Jinping’s China, Party of One stands head and shoulders above its competitors. Chun Han Wong has combined rigorous investigative skills with a forensic grasp of an opaque political system to produce an enthralling portrait of the leader, and the party, that sits atop the world's emerging superpower.” —Richard McGregor, author of The Party and Asia’s Reckoning
“More than a decade into the era of Xi Jinping, readers ask, ‘Why are there so few penetrating books on China’s leader?’ The answer is that the Communist Party deems even Xi’s birth date too sensitive to disclose. But now, the skilled and energetic journalist Chun Han Wong has drawn on an impressive range of reporting and sources to craft a superb, readable, illuminating portrait of the man and his times. A must-read for China veterans and amateurs alike.” —Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
“Chun Han Wong does a masterful job of scrutinizing Xi Jinping’s impact on China and placing Xi’s first ten years in power in the context of the broader arc of Chinese history. Through extensive research and interviews with PRC citizens from all walks of life, he reveals in vivid detail the ways in which Xi Jinping’s policies have altered China’s evolutionary path, affected the lives of its people, and shaped China’s relations with the rest of the world. Party of One brims with insights into the multitude of contradictions that make up Xi’s China. It’s a captivating read for anyone seeking to more deeply understand China in the Xi Jinping era.” —Bonnie Glaser, Managing Director, Indo-Pacific Program, German Marshall Fund of the US
“Chun Han Wong provides a vivid and credible picture of political life under Xi Jinping’s Communist Party autocracy, drawing upon five years of on-the-ground reporting in mainland China before he was forced out in 2019. Particularly valuable are the details he reveals of how the leader has used the party’s discipline, internal security, and legal agencies to intimidate officialdom and control society, and his interviews with the individuals who were targeted.” —Susan L. Shirk, author of Overreach: How China Derailed Its Peaceful Rise