Whither Xi? Whither CCP? Whither China?

China observers in many fields – economics, psychology, philosophy, health care, education, politics, business - agree that there are critical or life-threatening issues for CCP and Xi to address.  They differ on the ability of CCP, via Xi, to successfully address the economic, cultural, and political concerns.  The era of China as the big dog on the international stage in 2019 does not mask the severity of issues.

I want to touch on several political questions salient in China over the next three years – or ten, or twenty, as long as Xi lasts in power.   First, is CCP resilient enough to withstand the pressures of modernization as well as the pressures of Xi?  Does Xi have a game plan for reform?  Many observers over the years, including senior Party theoreticians, have seen democratic reforms as necessary to future growth and CCP survival.  Is that even feasible?   Xi has now amassed more power than any leader since Mao, but created much uncertainty within China and around the world.  Whither China with and without Xi?  Must China come to democracy, or else?

Whither Xi? Whither CCP? Whither China?

There are many questions about the direction in which Xi Jinping is taking China and CCP. A question left over from the World War II days is when will China democratize?  Even today, that remains a pertinent question for some observers, including CCP theoreticians.  Another – will CCP collapse?  Internal political weaknesses apparent from the Bo Xilai fiasco are now obvious to the world.  A third – is Xi Jinping a reformer (of sorts) with a master plan to restore China and purify CCP to ensure its dominance?  Will he have to destroy CCP in order to save it?

This is first of a series of posts perusing these questions.  Each post can stand alone.  This first post is just background reading – a set of references.  I briefly review work from well-known China hands, including Minxin Pei, David Shambaugh, Cheng Li, Willy Lam, Andrew Nathan, and Carl Minzner.  This is a long post, mostly for the reader who wants to read the original articles. Subsequent posts attempt to answer whither Xi, whither CCP, and whither China.

The list of posts is below. 

This paper was published in the Journal of the Zhejiang Province School of Administration (otherwise known as Party School) in 2015.

So far as I know, it is the only original contribution by a foreign author to this Journal.  Since the Journal is from CCP in Zhejiang, one of the wealthiest and most sophisticated provinces in China, it is as well respected as a CCP journal can be.

The paper is way too long for a blog read.  I outline a way for CCP to provide meaningful voice to populations angry over land thefts, pollution problems, and corruption.  Among other suggestions, a ready-in-waiting conflict resolution organization, structured at the provincial level, could be brought to bear on incidents of mass protest.  A stand-still agreement is necessary to force parties to negotiate.  This is one way to provide voice to Chinese people in the absence of democracy. 

This is a theoretical paper, although no one in China would describe it that way.  A bit too clear and direct.  The paper was presented at a conference at Zhejiang Business and Financial University in 2015, although my presentation was kept apart from those of other presenters.  I gave a more or less private briefing to about 30 faculty and students - either to inoculate others from dangerous ideas or provide me with a rapt audience.  Probably both are true.  The presentation was in the school's Party conference room.  

A Note on the Middle Income Trap

In the last couple of years, a number of China political observers have commented on the dangers to China of the middle income trap.  The fear is that the Chinese economy will fall into the trap. Since economic growth is the remaining claim to legitimacy for CCP, a substantial slowdown from real growth rates of 6 to 15 per cent per year, which obtained in the last forty years, will be disturbing to the harmony that keeps CCP in power. 

In what follows I am not making direct claims for or against the middle income trap in China, only describing the concept. 

Idle Thought           last week in January, 2019

What if this past weekend were the beginning of the end for the orange haired baboon?  And, in the process, the GOP were so damaged that even a Pence presidency couldn’t do much harm, and we gained a president in 2020 who was smart, thoughtful, respected intelligence and loyalty to allies and was up for repairing the extraordinary damage, domestic and international?

Someone who might say something that would remind us of these lines -

“Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world. Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

Similar and different – an occasional reflection

As huge economies with large and diverse populations, occupying about the same land area at about the same range of latitudes, China and the US have many similarities.  Similarities extend to many elements of culture and institutions, good and bad.  The similarities are often surprising; the differences confuse us, but may be a source of new perspectives. 

 

Domestic and foreign affairs in 2018 – Xi, CCP, DJT, GOP – Part 6 of 5

Public Morality  - not our finest hour

 

We come to public morality.

"...the spirit of liberty is the spirit that is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the mind which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women."

 Learned Hand  “The Spirit of Liberty” speech at “I Am an American Day” ceremony, Central Park, New York City (21 May 1944)