China needsa Deng Xiaoping
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - January 27, 2019 - 12:00am

During the recent 2019 global summit of the economic and political elite, at a panel on how “global orders fail,” Fang Xinghai, vice-chairman of the Chinese government’s main securities regulator offered his personal view of democracy: “You have to realize that democracy is not working very well...You need political reforms in your countries.” 

It would be easy to just ignore those remarks. However, Karin von Hippel, head of the Royal United Services Institute in London recently warned: “China is a growing power and is obviously a threat in some ways but at the same time, it is so big and will be so powerful that we can’t treat as an enemy. We all have to figure out ways to work with it.”

For countries, like the Philippines, there is no escaping the fact that China will play a critical role in shaping world geopolitics. The question is really a difficult one for societies that believe in democracy, human rights and religious freedom. How does one deal with a superpower that does not believe in democracy and human rights? How do we relate to a country that persecutes Muslims and Christians? 

The problem is that history teaches us that all superpowers will try to impose their social, political, and economic model on the world. This was the case when Spain, hundreds of years ago colonized and imposed the Catholic faith on half the world. Then came the French and the British who colonized and exploited the world and imposed the parliamentary system of government and the English and French languages. Then came the Americans which used neo-colonial methods using Big Business and capitalism to expand their global influence. All these powers used imperialist methods.

Now comes China, the emerging imperialist power. If their view is that the present Chinese Communist Party model is the ideal, then it will necessarily export this economic, social and political model to the world. Already it is publicly criticizing the political system that believes in democracy and human rights. Already it is suppressing religious freedom as obstacles to the new China model. It is reported that more than a million Muslims in Western China have been sent to” re-education camps.”

Deng vs. Xi 

Four decades, when China, under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping embarked on its policy of “reform and opening up,” the external policy was “tao guang yang hui” – observe calmly, secure one’s position, hide capabilities, keep a low profile and never claim leadership. 

In the 1978 Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China, Deng Xiaoping told Japanese Foreign Minister Sunao Sonoda that China would never seek hegemony even if it were to become a major power in the future. Deng, at that time said: “If that happens, China itself must object [to hegemony] ...Japan and countries in the world must also object along with the Chinese people. 

China, under Deng, insisted that an anti-hegemony clause be inserted into the treaty. In Article 2 of the 1978 Peace and Friendship Treaty between Japan and China it said that neither country “...should seek hegemony in the Asia Pacific region or in any other region” and “...each is opposed to efforts by any other country or group of countries to establish such hegemony.” 

Although it was not publicized, it has now leaked out that Deng Pufang, the 74-year-old eldest son of Deng Xiaoping, gave a speech last September at the China Disabled Persons’ Federation where he said: “We must know our place and not be overbearing. We also should not belittle ourselves without reason.” This was widely seen, inside China, as candid advice to Xi Jinping.

Hegemony means the leadership or dominance of one country or social group of others. A year ago, Xi Jinping was being called as the most powerful leader since Chairman Mao Zedong. He was able to purge the top ranks of the Communist Party of all competitors; and rammed through changes to China’s constitution guaranteeing himself the opportunity to serve as China’s president for life. 

John Promfret of the Washington Post recently wrote: “Propagandists began touting China’s mixture of merciless authoritarianism and mercantilist economic policies as a roadmap called the China solution – for the developing world. Xi’s signature foreign policy program – the Belt and Road Initiative – looked set to wrap the globe with Chinese built railroads, ports, and airports. 

Today, foreign investment and retail sales are falling; property sales are flat. Taiwanese firms, which play a key role in China’s export sector, are moving some operations to Southeast Asia. And China’s private sector, the engine of China’s economy could actually be shrinking. China’s government has begun to block the release of economic statistics to quash the spread of negative sentiment.“

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has also increasing criticism in many countries like Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and others for creating a debt trap for developing countries desperate for infrastructure developments. The BRI has also been accused of causing a corruption bonanza in many developing countries. For example, a Chinese state owned enterprise was paid $2 billion for two pipeline projects that it had barely started construction on. Another BRI project, Malaysia’s East Coast Rail Link was so expensive authorities suspect its cost was artificially inflated.

  A year ago, nothing but praise could be heard inside China for Xi Jinping. Today, criticism, while still very few, is beginning with personalities like Deng Pufang, eldest son of Deng Xiaoping. As China tries to avoid another crisis, it becomes more apparent that what China needs is another Deng Xiaoping.

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout (1:30 pm-3 pm; stand-alone sessions) at Fully Booked BGC. For details and registration, email writethingsph@gmail.com.

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Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

DENG XIAOPING XI JINPING
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