Rise of the Xi dynasty
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - October 21, 2017 - 4:00pm

For more than 2,000 years, China’s history has been dominated by a series of dynasties. The first known dynasty was the Xia dynasty which ruled for 470 years from 2070 BC to 1600 BC. The first imperial dynasty was the Qin dynasty which ruled for only 15 years from 221 BC to 206 BC. Perhaps the most well known was the Ming dynasty which ruled for 276 years from 1368 AD to 1644 or 1662 AD. In 1912 AD, the last imperial dynasty – Qing dynasty – was replaced by a republic. 

Nearly 70 years ago, the Communist Party established the People’s Republic of China. It was a Party originally based on Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideology. But the modern Communist Party of China bears very little resemblance in terms of ideology to the original party. 

Modern political observers believe that the Communist Party of China is beginning to resemble the ancient dynasties of China: “Though modern China has changed considerably from its imperial origins, it retains an authoritarian system of governance reminiscent of a earlier era. The Communist Party’s imperative to defend and sustain its monopoly on power – what was known in imperial China as “mandate of heaven” – scarcely differs from that of the dynasties that ruled the country for millenniums prior.”

The most unique achievement of the Communist Party of China is that it has managed to outlive other communist movements around the world. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe did not lead to the same fate in China. The CPC had to undergo a lot of trials – Maoist Cultural Revolution, Tianmen Square protests, globalization and the worldwide decline of the communist ideology. 

The CPC has survived by transforming itself from a revolutionary government into a form that closely resembles imperial China. In fact, many of the terms used by the CPC is a take-off from its ancient history. The new Silk Road is exactly the same route as the ones that brought China’s silk to Europe during the time even preceding Marco Polo. China’s maritime claims over territories which the Philippines and Vietnam have sovereign rights again goes back to imperial China. 

There are only two countries in the world – China and the United States – that believe that they are the greatest  on earth. The citizens of the United States call themselves Americans when actually 30 other countries are also in America and have the right to be called Americans. The people of the USA like to publicly call their nation as the greatest country on earth.

China, on the other hand, had historically referred to itself as the “Middle Kingdom” signifying that China is the “center of the earth.” 

Dynastic rise and fall

If we look at the Communist Party of China as a new dynasty, then it is easier to understand that Xi Jinping is not trying to be another Mao; but, to legitimize his stature as the new Emperor of the CPC dynasty. He must also be aware that China’s political history has been dominated by a dynastic cycle of expansion and collapse of its dynasties. 

Every dynasty follows the same historical pattern. A central power rises to replace a sitting dynasty. It expands its rule until a new challenger arises that will exploit any erosion of authority due to corruption or external forces. The immediate task of the new dynasty is to establish its legitimacy as the true guardian of the Chinese nation.  Its new ruler, Xi Jinping, must find a way to break this dynastic cycle of rise and fall. Stratfor, a geopolitical think tank, has this assessment:

“Expansive infrastructure connectivity along with deep political and fiscal ties to local governments – even those in autonomous territories such as Xinjiang and Tibet have enabled Beijing to achieve its basic imperative to unify the country. Even so the Communist leadership seems acutely aware of its own vulnerability. As part of its effort to enshrine the Party’s role in governing China, Xi has worked to stifle political discourse and dissent. The Party has co-opted factions that espouse a different political or moral ideology, and it has proven increasingly sensitive to and intolerant of perceived slights. At the same time Beijing has tuned up its propaganda machine to ensure ideological conformity throughout China. The crackdown extends to civil society as well as the legal system both of which the central government has in a stranglehold. More than any of his predecessors, Xi has focused on giving the Communist Party the tools to maintain control over the country.”

End of communist party

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Xi is expected to consolidate his power. The question now is what role the Communist Party will play or if it will have any future role at all. The CPC has been in power for 68 years and will, therefore, reach its 70th year in two years time. The Communist Party in the Soviet Union ended its rule after 70 years on December 1991. Rampant corruption and patronage has become endemic in the present Communist Party of China. The comrades who marched in the Long March and fought against the Japanese and Chiang Kai Shek’s armies are very different from today’s CPC leaders who are dominated by multi-millionaires and billionaires. 

An analyst, Bo Zhiyue, wrote that the CPC’s rule has been mixed so far. Under Mao Zedong, millions died because of the “Great Leap Forward” and the Cultural Revolution. Deng Xiaoping brought an era of economic prosperity but caused severe environmental problems. Under Hu Jintao, corruption and environmental degradation worsened. Xi has launched an anti corruption crusade and expanded China’s overseas influence. 

As Xi consolidates power, he could very well be the last ruler in China as a communist; but, he could start a new era as the new Emperor of a new dynasty in China that could last for decades.

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Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

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