In an ideal world, all ideas, even the bad ones, can be fairly evaluated. Their merits and demerits can be debated, and they can be experimentally analyzed (maybe in a nice randomized trial). But in practice, some ideas may have a hard time being given a fair chance, especially in certain contexts. For example, it would be hard to estimate the value of free speech in a true democracy, because by definition there cannot be full suppression of speech. So the claim that political freedoms are not really that valuable cannot be countered, at least with good evidence.
The CCP experiment feels like the closest we can get towards such a test. While democracies such as the US have emphasized a wide variety of freedoms, the CCP has consistently placed economic freedom over political ones, sacrificing the latter whenever the former is imperiled (the claim is always made in the name of “stability”, but I find it persuasive that stability is valued primarily due to its economic benefits). Xi seems to be reinforcing this choice. Although my strong belief is that economic advancement without political freedoms is insufferably hollow, the silver lining to Xi’s power grab will be a chance to see whether this is indeed true. Either Chinese citizens will soon push back in order to gain more political rights, or they will consign themselves to being rich and powerless. In both cases there will be lessons to be learned.