Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the second plenary session of China's parliament last month in Beijing.
Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the second plenary session of China's parliament last month in Beijing. - 
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Few economies in the world are more closely watched than China’s. It is the second largest and fastest growing economy, so there's a lot of attention being paid to who's running things. Chinese President Xi Jinping is the most authoritarian leader the country has seen since since Mao Zedong.

Jinping is making a clear effort to accumulate all of the formal structures of power in China. He is the head of the party, the head of the military and the head of the state. He has taken control of the police and the courts, and he even runs all of the most important committees on foreign affairs and government restructuring.

Although Jinping is taking over every structure of power in the country, he polls pretty well because of his anti-corruption campaign and patriotism.

"His success, failure and legacy will rest on his ability to re-engineer the Chinese economy for a new chapter," says Evan Osnos, who wrote about Jinping’s rise to power for the New Yorker. "So that it’s driven more by entrepreneurship [and] innovation, and less than by simply infrastructure and exports."

In order to do that, Jinping has to win some pretty big political fights, which is why he is accumulating power so fast and so brutally.

While many people who watch China from the outside see an economic force and growth, Jinping sees a serious corruption problem, environmental pollution and unrest — a series of threats to the Communist Party. 

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Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal