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Xi Jinping – China’s New Mao-tse-Tung

Author: P S Deodhar
Publication: Hindu Vivek Kendra
Date: July 13, 2020
URL:   http://hvk.org/2020/0720/50.html

Xi Jinping became China’s president in 2012. For the first time China got its first strong and assertive president after Mao Zedong. After assuming the office the first thing he did was to cleanse the party. Xi was re-elected to a second five-year term in 1918 by the National People’s Congress, NPC, on which, by then, he had full control. His first target was to get rid of the corrupt and the political opponents by dismissing some and sending others to prison. This was like what Mao did when he returned to power in 1965.  

President Xi’s hold on the power was confirmed when he could assume total power by making the NCP pass the constitutional amendment that eliminated term limits for the presidency, discarding a rule that had helped keep leaders in check and underpinned collective decision-making for 35 years. The world then realised his supreme power and his total hold on China’s central working committee. 

67 year old Xi Jinping is the son of Mao’s colleague Zhongxun. He was with Mao during the revolution and was made China’s former Deputy Prime Minister. Xi Jinping was born on 15th June 1953. During the Cultural Revolution in 1968, Mao sent him his father along with 15 year old Xi for hard labour to rural China for several years. After Mao’s death in 1976, Xi patiently worked his way up in the party and the government till he became the head of the party in 2012. This is unprecedented rise in power in China’s history. 

Since China’s independence in 1949, Mao Zedong ruled over China for 27 years with a three years break from 1962 to 65. China suffered a lot during his regime due to his whimsical ideas like the ‘Great Lip Forward’. It was a seven year disaster till Mao was ousted out of power in 1962. After being out of power for three years, in 1965, Mao launched The Cultural Revolution aimed at wiping out China History. He threw out the ruling government. First, ‘the Great Leap’ caused a natural disaster, a manmade famine, that killed crores of Chinese and the second, the Cultural Revolution, was a political disaster that resulted almost in anarchy and ruthless purge of his political opponents. Many opposing leaders and bureaucrats were either killed or were sent to hard labour in rural China. His monopolistic rule turned China into a poor and a torn country. Today one rarely hears even the name of Mao Zedong whose historical blunders China wants to forget. Since Mao, China now has a similar strong arm monopolistic leadership. One has to wait and watch what is in store for the Chinese people under his rule. For certain, China once again has authoritarian rule. It is almost like a monocracy. Xi Jinping is the new Mao Zedong.   

Xi Jinping is cunning and suspicious. In his article published in 2017, Xi writes, “Chinese Communist Party is the largest and a very powerful organisation. No one can defeat it except itself. Therefore we must carefully protect the party from internal strife. We have to be alert all the time otherwise small things will blow up into a big crisis leading to a disaster. We have to be on guard from the inside foes. We have to be on guard about American exploits and their call for democracy”. His marathon speech to 2300 delegates of the Communist Party Congress outlined his plans for achieving China’s global supremacy. 

After reading this speech, many China scholars feel that Xi Jinping is suffering from paranoia. He fears that his opponents in the party will snatch the power from him. He suspects that there are conspiracies hatched against him in China and other countries. He is afraid of USA influencing Politbureau members against him.  All these fears show that he is paranoid. This fear of his led to the sacking of over 170 senior communist leaders, many being either jailed or ousted from their positions in the party. Reasons were corruption or disloyalty. He also removed 35 senior members of the Communist Party Congress. All this was to protect his unchallenged leadership of China. He now has surrounded himself with his trusted party leaders and confidants. During the reign of Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, China was ruled in close association with the Politbureau but now under Xi Jinping, he is the supreme leader of China. His word is the last; just like that of Mao Zedong.   

During his rule since 2017, China has almost declared a cold war with most of nations in the world; except of course with the indebted Pakistan. Many China Experts feel that this is a gross political mistake. Xi seems to forget that China’s economy is largely export dependent. Such attitude of his will soon directly affect China economically and industrially. Many countries today want to reduce their dependence on China. Foreign companies are moving out of China. His current actions are likely to hurt the welfare of the Chinese people. Already there are huge rise in unemployment; 7 to 10 crore Chinese have lost their jobs. Already, Covid 19 pandemic is widely considered as virus war declared by China against the entire world. Whether this is on purpose or not is not yet fully clear. Rest of the world is searching for clues. However, it certainly has turned the world antagonistic towards China and Xi doesn’t appear to be worried.            

China is in conflict of one kind or other with many countries today. Let us start with India. Though there is a long standing agreement about resolving 106 year old border dispute through dialogue and a Line of Control is well established, since President Xi took over the power, border skirmishes keep on occurring. India, on its side LAC, in the sensitive Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, has been building roads and other defence infrastructure which is in full compliance with the bilateral agreement. But this apparently angered China’s Defence Chief in the region and on his advice there was a border conflict. In a hand to hand combat 20 Indian soldiers and 35 of Chinese troops died. Xi’s China unnecessarily has provoked this and the rest of the world blames China for it. What did Xi jinping achieve through this?    

Australia, which depends on its huge exports to China, has on-going conflicts with China. After Australia set up an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, China hit back with an 80% tariff on Australian barley and suspended imports of Australian beef. Now China is also avoiding import of Australian coal. It has on-going Cyber War with China. 

South China Sea disputes of China arise since China’s sea trade depends on it. The dispute involves both islands and maritime claims. It has disputes with Brunei, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam. It is the most important trade route for all countries including China but China wants full control over it. Major disputes relate to Spratly and Paracel islands, Indonesia’s Natura Island etc. There is no country in the region that is not being brow-beaten by China. What is China up to? Is it showing its super-power muscles? Since Xi Jinping became the president, he has made enemies out of almost every country. 

Consider China’s border disputes. Not only with India but China have border disputes with 17 other nations sharing border with it. Nepal, Bhutan, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, Laos, Tajikistan, Cambodia and Mongolia are all having border disputes. China thus has no friendly neighbour! That’s an achievement indeed. Prime Minister Modi extended his friendly hand to Xi Jinping. Both were guests of honour in the respective countries. Why destroy this friendship? Is it in the interest of people of China? Is he pushing away China’s big customers?     

The Xinjiang autonomous region of China in the far west was formerly East Turkistan. It is now a part of China. Residents of the region, in huge majority are Uighurs. They are Muslims of Turkish origin and have their own culture. China wants to change them, give up their culture and be like the majority Hans. On this account there is a long history of discord. China is now using its muscle by enforcing cultural changes. Since Xi came to power the life of Uighurs has become a hell. Local Hans and the Chinese army units are vehemently forcing a cultural change. Burkha is banned. Prayers are banned. Such ethnic deviations are unacceptable to Xi and the Hans in Xinjiang. They want China’s Han Chinese culture to prevail in the country. Tibetans also suffer the same browbeating. 

Life of the People of Hong Kong has changed since Xi came to power. ‘One country two political systems’ lauded by Deng Shao Ping is forgotten. Xi passed a National Security Act and will impose it on Hong Kong taking away their democratic freedom. Dispute is growing more serious each day as citizens of Hong Kong hold street protests.      

Xi Jinping’s war with the world has however helped India in two ways. Firstly the Chinese threat has forced India to be militarily strong and firmly guard its borders. Secondly it brought India close to many countries like Japan, Australia and others. All countries along the South China Sea like Vietnam and Taiwan are now friendly with India. European countries like France, Germany and other members of European Union also back India. Especially wealthy Japan as well as South Korea is now important partner of India. Bilateral trade is rising. They are expanding their presence in India. Australia and India are closer like never before. USA is cunning as usual in its anti-China, pro-India policies. US look at India as its buffer zone in its probable war with China and plan to fight it on Indian soil.   

Since Modi Government came to power, Xi’s China is worried about the world’s support to India. Even for Russia, India is a counterweight to China. Indian Armed Forces are getting stronger and well equipped primarily due to the threat from China rather than Pakistan. India has procured Rafael Jets from France, Ballistic Missile Defence Systems from Israel, Air Defence Systems from the US and Image Intelligence System from Russia. Cooperation between India and Israel is growing. To a large extent this is due to President Xi’s wrong policies and lack of wisdom. He is unmoved when India recently banned 59 Chinese Apps.     

President Xi Jin ping should also worry about his own country due to Covid 19 pandemic havoc. China’s SMEs are in great trouble. Their working is disrupted. According one estimate 60 to 80 million jobs are lost. There is no business for most of them since the demand has almost completely dried since over 3 months. 

However Xi Jinping and the members of the Central National People’s Congress, NPC, are not worried since they all are very wealthy. According to the US sources, these 3000 members together have the official wealth of over US$470 million. Communist China today is a nation of very wealthy leaders. They are doing nothing wrong since Deng Xiaoping told them in 1983 that “to get rich is glorious.” It was Deng Xiaoping who threw away the Mao jackets and people’s communes into China of Starbucks drinking and Gucci loving young in western cloths. There is no Chinese dress today in President Xi’s China. 

Mumbai; July 10, 2020

(P S Deodhar is a very senior professional in the Information Technology industry in India.)


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