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Opinion

The road to communism in China

BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz - The Philippine Star

For several months the Russian invasion has virtually monopolized international headlines and the attention of world leaders. It seems that during this period, China has disappeared from the front pages of major newspapers. However, the recent visit of Xi Jinping to Hong Kong has revived interest in China, especially in Xi and his future plans.

Two years ago, the burgeoning pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong was brought to a halt by strong arm tactics of mainland China. In this recent visit, Xi Jinping again virtually laid the law for Hong Kong with his statement that this territory must be ruled by “patriots.” Officially, Xi was in Hong Kong to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the colony’s return to China.

However, Xi used the visit to warn against any future challenges to Beijing’s authoritarian grip on this former British colony. The new head of Hong Kong’s government, John Lee, played an instrumental role in crashing the 2019 pro-democracy protests.

In spite of accusations that Xi Jinping was going against the original agreement of a one-nation, two-systems government for Hong Kong, it is clear that he is determined to continue the crackdown on any dissent. It should be remembered that when the British left the colony on July 1, 1997, there was a commitment that for 50 years, Hong Kong would be granted a certain degree of autonomy.

These recent developments have placed Hong Kong’s role as an international capital for business and finance in jeopardy. The system of capitalism is now considered in peril by some observers. During his visit, Xi said, “All Hong Kongers should be able to respect and safeguard the fundamental socialist system of the nation.” At the same instance, John Lee said that the system had overcome foreign interference that had “threatened the national security of the country.”

This has led geopolitical observers to discuss China’s move to reintroduce communism in China. There has been a barrage of new regulations that has stifled the decision-making of large China-based businesses like Alibaba and Tencent.  It is noticeable that these large Chinese corporations have stopped expanding in many new areas in the world. It has been said that China hopes to replace these large capitalist companies with a new generation of businesses that is more aligned with the goals of the Communist Party.

In terms of the communist ideology, the path to communism is not direct but must be taken one level at a time. A decade ago, Zhao Ziyang, who was then Communist Party chief, had said that China must be freed from the restrictions of orthodox socialist principles. This allowed China to introduce capitalism and to repudiate the Maoist ideology. The dramatic economic growth in China is the result of this return to market economy. Today, under Xi Jinping, Zhao’s beliefs have been repudiated. Xi has vowed to put China back on the path of socialism and eventually, communism.

Early this year, Xi Jinping said that the Party’s goal was “forging ahead to a higher level of socialism.”  He has often urged party members to have faith in the “lofty ideal” of communism.

I can remember that sometime in the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping, the country’s paramount leader at that time, said: “The basic completion of socialist modernization” would take at least a hundred years. Communism was then considered a very long-term goal. But this has changed under Xi Jinping, who believes that socialist modernization, another term for communism, would be completed by 2035.

There is much speculation on why Xi has insisted on a zero-COVID policy, on cracking down on pro-democracy sentiment in Hong Kong and on bringing large business firms under the firm control of the Communist Party.

Personally, I attribute this to the fact that towards the end of this year, there will be a major Communist Party Congress. At the same time, this will also be the end of the unprecedented ten-year term of Xi as head of China. It is clear by now that Xi is aiming for another five-year term which he hopes to ratify at this Congress. It seems to me that all these moves are geared towards laying down the groundwork for an extension of Xi’s term on the grounds that he will be a necessity and ultimately will be beneficial for the Communist Party and for China.

The biggest obstacle to Xi’s coronation as the president for life is the need to reduce the tremendous gap between the rich and the poor in China. I believe that this is the reason that Xi has been talking a lot about the need for “common prosperity.” Officially, the Communist Party’s goal is to put common prosperity in place by 2050. I believe that Xi Jinping is aiming to be the next Mao Zedong without the need for mass violence.

The coming Party Congress will be very critical for Xi Jinping’s ambition to be ruler for life.

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Young Writers’ Hangout on July 23 with returning author-facilitator Kim Derla, 2-3 pm. Write Things’ six-day summer workshop “Writefest” is on its last three days this week. Contact [email protected]. 0945.2273216

Email: [email protected]

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