All of the problems that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is facing today come from fundamental structural factors that can’t be resolved. This is its biggest crisis.
Western countries also encounter issues, but under their democratic form of government, there are solutions. Whether it is fast or slow, deep or shallow, democracies can mitigate conflicts and ultimately redress the balance. However, the CCP’s problems require rectification to bring order out of chaos.
Rigidly adhering to communism is the CCP’s major structural problem. As proven by history, communism is wishful thinking. The disintegration of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the communist bloc is an outstanding example of the failure of communism. Deng Xiaoping salvaging a failing system with a capitalist market economy through reform and openness is another. But the CCP continues to seek opportunities to rise while holding fast to communism.
Forty years of reform and openness have transformed the CCP from being strictly communist into crony capitalist, showing that communism is a big sham. However, it still ensures that Red elite families reap public wealth under the cover of a long-term brainwashing mechanism. Will the CCP completely relinquish communism? If they dare to do so, the tyranny will collapse.
Another fundamental problem of the CCP is leader Xi Jinping positioning himself as the “ultimate arbiter” in having the authority to give the final say. Among all the leaders of the CCP, I think only Mao Zedong had absolute authority. That’s until Xi began emulating Mao’s dictatorship.
However, Xi falls far behind Mao in many aspects. Regarding an evil nature and political astuteness, Mao enjoyed supreme power in personnel arrangements and left specific affairs such as government operations to Zhou Enlai, vice chairman of the CCP. However, Xi cannot even compare with Zhou’s high prestige as a Party veteran.
Xi’s absolute authority is tottering. It is not established by personal achievements of long-term political struggles, but by people around Xi providing unquestionable praise after he took office. Xi simply lacks personal charisma in the party.
He has repeatedly misjudged domestic and foreign situations. His absolute authority leads the regime to miss opportunities and frequently make mistakes in handling domestic and foreign affairs. The regime’s recent clampdown on the Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, right after it went public on the U.S. stock market, caused China Concepts Stock to plunge in the United States and damaged the regime’s global image. In addition, a third-generation Red, Zhang Tao, who assaulted two academicians of the International Academy of Astronautics, was only “suspended from his duties to cooperate with the investigation” a month after the incident. The regime slowly responded to both incidents because they were of great importance that called for Xi’s opinion.
Since Xi took office, he has made many severe misjudgments based on his personal political insights. These misjudgments have bred ill effects that have not been remedied in time. The regime is digging itself into a hole that only gets deeper.
Xi’s Seven Misjudgments:
1. China Is Strong Enough to Confront Democracies
The CCP has made great progress in gaining strength and accumulating a great amount of wealth for itself, while leaving a number of Chinese citizens poor, with 600 million people having a monthly income of about $140, according to state-run Global Times. It costs a fortune to achieve external expansion and maintain domestic stability, but the CCP demands more than it can afford.
According to a report by Radio Free Asia, “in 2013, the [regime’s] $124 billion domestic security bill outstripped the military budget. But since then, it has stopped publishing a total spending figure for its nationwide ‘stability maintenance’ system, which refers to a plethora of law enforcement agencies, including state security police who target rights activists, political dissidents, religious believers and ethnic minority groups as potential ‘threats’ to social stability.” Considering there are 1.3 billion people inside China, the regime only looks nice on the outside but is virtually rotten beneath the surface.
2. China Has Enjoyed Substantial Wealth From a Strong and Sustained Economy
The fact is that the national economy is crisis-ridden and seriously unbalanced in various categories such as local government debt, property bubbles, obscure and unhealthy bank systems, serious corruption, and many others. It will shake China to its foundations if any of these situations go wrong.
Nowadays, problems arise frequently and the regime is robbing Peter to pay Paul. A prominent example is local governments being forced to rely on new loans to repay debt and fund ongoing construction projects with central authorities struggling to honor their existing financing, according to the South China Morning Post.
China had $2.8 trillion worth of local government debts at the end of 2018. Dong Dengxin, director of the Finance and Securities Institute at the Wuhan University of Science and Technology projected that China’s outstanding local government bond issuances may exceed $4.6 trillion at the end of 2021, reports state-run Global Times.
“Yields on many of the projects invested in by local governments are not optimal, adding to the pressure of debt repayments, especially with the approach of the peak of local government bonds that are due in 2021,” according to Xi Junyang, a professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics told the Global Times. The worst scenario is looming on the horizon.
3. The West Is Declining
The CCP’s united front seems to work well for the communists to infiltrate and create chaos in Western democracies. Take the United States as an example: the financial crisis has dragged down the U.S. economy, the Republican and Democratic Parties have been fighting hard, and many Western media have been more and more left-leaning. Authoritarianism seems to defeat democracy. The West is easy to manipulate.
In fact, domestic issues are not only common in every nation, but also open for debate and improvement in democratic countries. However, Xi fails to realize that a consensus against the push of communist coercion in the international arena has been formed and is getting stronger than ever.
For instance, just this year, three major summits in the Western world—those of the G-7 (Group of Seven), NATO, and the U.S.–EU—highlighted a significant strategic shift to confront the systemic threats posed by the CCP.
In addition, “the United States is also promoting the Indo-Pacific Strategy, or the Quad, and strengthening the U.S.–Japan and U.S.–South Korea military alliance. This indicates that the military coalition among democratic countries is deepening,” according to Wang He, a commentator on Chinese current affairs.
4. European Countries Can Be Easily Manipulated
Xi believed the EU did not care about human rights issues as much as the United States, and would remain silent about the CCP’s human rights violations in exchange for economic benefits. He thought this would be the perfect time for the CCP to manipulate and control Europe.
On Dec. 7 last year, the EU adopted a decision and a regulation establishing a “global human rights sanctions regime.” The EU announced in a statement: “For the first time, the EU is equipping itself with a framework that would allow it to target individuals, entities, and bodies—including state and non-state actors—responsible for, involved in, or associated with serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide, no matter where they occurred.”
The EU imposed sanctions on the CCP in March this year over the Xinjiang human rights violations. The CCP counter-sanctioned 10 people and 4 entities of the EU, including European lawmakers. The sanctions imposed by the CCP on the EU have caused serious consequences. The EU on May 20 passed a resolution to freeze ratification of the EU–China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), in response to China’s sanctions on EU politicians. This is the most recent consequence of Xi’s misjudgment toward the EU.
5. China’s Market and Supply Chains Have Become Indispensable to Western Nations
Xi believes Western countries will bear bitter consequences of worsened relationships with China. Governments will be forced to make concessions under the pressure of business groups and professionals.
The reality is, however, opposite to Xi’s judgment. The CCP’s geopolitical tensions, aggression on neighbors and in the South China Sea, high tariffs, use of forced ethnic minority labor, misusing WTO (World Trade Organization) rules are all coming together to move the world’s factories away from China, according to Financial Express. The pace of this is increasing since the CCP virus has destroyed much of what people knew as a way of life in 2020 and beyond.
The pandemic has brought medical supplies into the group of industries traditionally sensitive to national security concerns such as defense, telecom, and technology. From the United States to Japan to Europe to Australia, governments are pondering how to bring the production of crucial items such as personal protective equipment and pharmaceuticals back home. In November 2020, the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai (AmCham) released its annual China Business Report (pdf) showing that 29 percent, nearly one-third of manufacturers polled by AmCham, were thinking about or already planning to exit China.
6. Pervasive High-Tech Control Has Inhibited the Development of Civil Disobedience
In fact, the prerequisite for effective social control lies in the gradual improvement of people’s living standards. In other words, civil unrest breaks out once the economy declines, people’s livelihoods are at stake, property prices plummet, and unemployment surges.
A 2012 report by the European Union-funded Europe China Research and Advice Network (ECRAN) noted that incidents of social unrest rose from 8,700 in 1993 to 87,000 in 2005. The Ministry of Public Security of the CCP stopped issuing such data altogether after 2005. Unofficial data estimated by a researcher at Tsinghua University suggested that there were 180,000 incidents in 2010.
According to the report, the immediate reasons for such unrest include land disputes, environmental degradation, labor conflicts, and ethnic strife rooted in the institutional structures of central-local relations and the authoritarian nature of Chinese politics. To control society but lose sight of people’s well-being turns society upside down.
7. Hong Kong is Easy to Settle, Taiwan Can Be Taken by Force, and Xinjiang Will Be Conquered Behind Closed Doors
But things did not go as planned. The oppression of Hong Kong has sparked international backlash, Taiwan has become an indispensable ally of the United States and Japan, and the Xinjiang suppression has become the regime’s weak point. The three issues exacerbate an already difficult situation for the regime.
Nevertheless, the CCP will neither abandon the communist sham, nor will it lessen Xi Jinping’s absolute authority. Many of Xi’s misjudgments have wreaked irreparable harm that comes one after another.
Take Hong Kong for example. Since the Hong Kong National Security Law ended the “one country, two systems” model on June 30, 2020, the ongoing political turmoil and tensions between China and the West have increased sharply. On July 14, 2020, the United States United States revoked Hong Kong’s special trading status, which may expose Hong Kong exports to higher U.S. tariffs as applied to mainland China. The Washington-based Heritage Foundation removed Hong Kong from the 2021 Index of Economic Freedom, where Hong Kong topped for 25 years up to 2019, partly as a result of Beijing’s growing control over the city’s economy.
In recent weeks, the regime has initiated wholesale jailing of opposition leaders and disempowered Hong Kong’s elected assemblies. The territory is even less stable. Hong Kong’s future as an international financial center is now in grave peril.
Xi recently made a remark about “staying fearless in the face of death … in the face of even greater difficulty,” referring to its guerrilla warfare in the early years when the Red army was trying to escape from the purge of the Nationalist army of the government Republic of China. He touted, “the revolutionary ideals soar above the clouds,” however, he cannot salvage the situation this time.
Some netizens said that Xi’s recent gaffe at the CPC and World Political Parties Summit—“Have I finished talking?”—signaled an ominous sign. The last emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Puyi, ascended the throne at the age of three, sitting on the throne and crying. His biological father comforted him by saying, “It’s nearly finished!” The casual remark came true. Sure enough, the Qing Dynasty was finished shortly after.
Signs of downfall often appear in inconspicuous places. Xi is mentally and physically exhausted. The turmoil-stricken regime is destined to collapse when a critical crisis strikes.
Ngan Shunkau is a writer and a publisher who has lived in Hong Kong since 1978. He is the author of “Blood Rain in My Youth,” a story about opposing factions among the Red Guards during China’s Cultural Revolution.