Posted on November 15, 2022
When Xi Jinping arrived at the head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2012, then that of the Chinese state in 2013, one could easily think that he would follow in the reformist footsteps of his illustrious predecessor Deng Xiaoping.
And in fact, it is in Shenzhen, a center of economic development in the China and its openness to the world, as encouraged by Deng in 1978 when he took his colleagues on the CPC Standing Committee to symbolically inaugurate his first term. At that time, he was even seen scouring the international scene up to the Davos Economic Forum (January 2017), not having in the mouth than the words ‘free trade’, ‘end of protectionism’ and ‘liberalization of trade and investment’. You imagine the Western rapture. China is finally waking up and it looks like us!
It was to forget a little quickly that if Deng had had a decisive influence on the economic aspect of human development and if he had clearly perceived through the example of Mao that unlimited personal power is a factor of corruption and economic stagnation , to the point of having been the author in 1982 of the constitutional reform limiting the mandate of Chinese presidents to two five-year terms, he was also the one who gave the order to send the tanks on the protesting students of the place Tiananmen in 1989.
As I have already had occasion to write previously, it has not never plannedneither by Mao, nor by Deng, and certainly not by the current Chinese president that the modernization of China can extend the least in the world to individual freedoms.
On the heels of his grand pronouncements on the beauties of international trade, Xi Jinping rushed to have presidential term limits lifted (in 2018) in order to return to the lifetime presidency Mao wanted – which now allows him to begin a third five-year period triumphantly endorsed at the end of the 20the CPC Congress held last month.
Likewise, he hastened to “continentalize” Hong Kong, that is to say to strip its inhabitants of their intolerable civil and political freedoms and to muzzle the democratic opposition in defiance of the 1997 agreements which provided that the territory would continue to benefit from the rule of law established by the British as well as relative autonomy from communist China for at least another fifty years. But for Xi, the Chinese intervention allowed Hong Kong to pass “from chaos to governance” – he reiterated it with force in his inaugural speech of the XXe Congress.
Ah, governance! That’s his big word. And he applies it not without an unhealthy gluttony to the governance of the masses. The masses of Uyghursthe religious masses, the masses of potential patients of the covid – the Chinese masses, finally. No country in the world exercises tighter and more terrifying control over all of its citizens.
There is no need to go through a repression of the Tiananmen type to domesticate the population and bring into line any strong-willed people, since the technological development of the big data and the mind-boggling multiplication of cameras in the public space make it possible to establish constant surveillance of all citizens. the social control in full swing in China with the ultimate objective of extinguishing any hint of political opposition through a subtle use of carrots and sticks.
But here too, always come back to Mao. In the 1960s, the latter had developed a monitoring model as low-tech that terribly effective called “Fengqiao model” (here, here), named after the village where the system in question had given exceptional results. It was a question of combating the reactionary elements of society, the elements hostile to the brilliant Maoist revolution… by appealing to the denunciation of the neighbours. Concretely, the families are placed in groups of ten under the supervision of a leader who reports the behavior or the inappropriate speeches of each other to the authorities.
Another tradition revitalized by Xi who evoked it in his speech of the XXe Congress as making it possible to restore the power of governance at the local level! Digital policing on one side, community policing on the other – no doubt, “the shining light of truth”, as well as Xi qualified the theories of Karl Marx, and Xi Jinping Thought (yes, yes, you read that right, his) that he had written into the Constitution at the same time as his life presidency are not likely to suffer the slightest criticism.
Apart from the fact that the personalization of power reaches an almost pathological level of excess in Xi, everything is in place for the strictest conformism, identity of view, acquiescence to everything, the end of personal reflection, in other words zombification Population.
Add to that a merciless fight against corruption which means especially put in step or elimination enemies of the people in civil society as well as in the national and local authorities of the CCP, and you get a new Central Committee more locked than ever by Xi Jinping. As such, the sketch of the escorted exit of former Chinese President Hu Jintao from the XXe Congress is incredibly telling. Probable message of this unresolved incident: everything that can be closely or remotely assimilated to Western sympathies – and Hu is reputed to be rather open to the West – must disappear from the landscape. Would Xi give us his little Cultural Revolution?
Oh sure, the new CCP Political Bureau abounds aerospace or nuclear safety engineers. That turns out well ; from quantum to artificial intelligence, Xi has set ambitious goals for China.
Rapid progress guaranteed? It’s to do. There is not the economic prosperity guaranteed by an autocrat, presumed to be a little too quickly omniscient, on the one hand; and everything else, the freedom of expression, of opinion, of information, the freedom to create and experiment – those crazy fads of decadent Westerners – on the other. There will never be real economic and social well-being if it is not possible to let the autocrat who reigns know by instilling the fear that he is wrong when he is wrong.
In the meantime, as growth prospects retract, Chinese real estate has firmly entered a bubble bursting phase and zero covid policy still in progress accentuates the economic slowdown and the crushing of individual freedoms, Xi Jinping follows the Mao slope and makes it known. Where do you think he took his new Standing Committee to to celebrate re-election this year? In Yan’an, the city where Mao and his companions completed the Long March of 1934-1935.
Incidentally, another glorious episode of Chinese communism: according to the encyclopedia Larousse“of the 100,000 men at the start, only 8,000 remained on arrival”, because of the fights against the nationalist troops, of course, but above all due hunger, fatigue, illnesses and numerous desertions. For Mao, however, a very profitable operation since it allowed him to definitively consolidate his power over the CCP before taking power in Beijing in 1949.
And for Xi, determined as ever “to pass on the revolutionary genes” that founded Chinese communism, a new opportunity to slip into the dirty clothes of Chairman Mao with delight. I derive my formula from the title of Simon Leys’ book titled Chairman Mao’s New Clothes (1971) in which this author supports the thesis that the Cultural Revolution initiated in 1966 by Mao was only a ” gigantic sham “. A case known today, but very badly received by the left and even part of the western right at the time.
When we know that said revolution was clearly intended to purge the “traitors” and “capitalists” allegedly infiltrated into the CCP and to implant the socialist ideology in everyone’s head, we can only be alarmed by the ever more concrete and ever more laudably claimed rapprochement that Xi Jinping operates between his governance and that of an irresponsible and murderous ideologue like Mao. Not so much in terms of the number of deaths – I underlined this above, the constant threat of intensive social control makes it possible to avoid such an end – but precisely, by accentuating social control and systematically eliminating all dissent until a people is obtained. and elites with no will of their own. It promises.