Last Thursday, the Communist Party of China celebrated its 100th anniversary, a truly remarkable achievement. The CCP has survived a bloody civil war, a world war, and the Cold War.
But what has kept the Communist Party alive? Experts have argued this point to no end with many pointing to the party’s willingness to adapt to the times. Even at its onset, the CCP was unlike other socialist revolutions around the world. Mao Zedong, one of the party’s founders, allowed non-marxists peasants to take part in its formation and recognized the importance of the country’s ethnic minorities and even allowed them to hold important posts. Mao went on to establish special administrative territories for these minorities as the country was established in 1949.
During Deng Xiaoping’s rule, the economic polices changed to match with the time and a liberalized China seemed on the horizon. Many historians will remember Deng’s speech at the United Nation’s General Assembly in which he reaffirmed that China had no conflict with anyone and that all nations must help each other. High-minded rhetoric to be sure, but Dang was praised both inside and outside China for at least trying to follow this mindset.
But in the era of Xi Jinping, things have changed.
The policies of ethnic tolerance under Mao and the friendly face policies under Deng Xiaoping have given way to a belligerent China. In his speech last Thursday, Xi said that he would deal with foreigners who bullied China. But if anything, China increasingly looks like the bully that it wants to confront.
Its Belt and Road program have placed countless countries into a debt trap, its foreign diplomats increasingly are belligerent and rude, and its ethnic policies borders on the genocide.
Economically, things aren’t much better. The era of liberalization is over. China’s promise to become more laissez-faire to attract foreign investors was an empty one. If anything, Beijing has become increasingly protectionist and interventionist under Xi under the disguise of national security.
The CCP of yesteryear seems to be dead. In its place is a new Chinese empire led by its Emperor Xi Jinping. This is no longer communism, internationalism, or any of the romanticized ideological concepts taught in western classrooms as scripture. This is a crony state, propped up by an increasingly growing cult of personality aimed at enshrining one man’s rule.
What Xi and the rest of the CCP’s bureaucracy fails to realize is that the more they grow outwardly belligerent, the more resistance they would find. Instead of creating allies with a pan-Asian vision, their policies in Xinjiang, in Hong Kong, and their online witch-hunt will create better allies for the west.
China needs to understand that in their quest for subservience, they will find resistance. And rightly so.