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. 

Crash-out.  Or D-Day - Disaster Day - minus 7

The original D-Day was salvation for Britain and Europe - even, in its way, for Germany.  This one seems less promising.

Not much to say anymore.   Cue the violins and watch the China moves.

Update at April 28 - Aside from the current delay in the crash-out - From Brexit to Belt and Road by Keith Johnson in FP - Britain's turn to China for salvation

Read Ives Smith at Naked Capitalism - https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/03/brexit-opening-the-seals.html

She opens with

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

– Revelations 5:1-2

I didn't know, but this is where the Four Horsemen come from.  And it is the apocalypse.

Right following the Brexit vote in 2016, I thought Britain had voted itself out of being a major world economy.  Now it appears we will see if that was right.  China, of course, will be sympathetic to a now developing country that needs assistance. 

This can only be shuang yin - win-win for China.  Or maybe win-win-win.   Help the Chinese economy, better entre to the EU, more confounding of US policy. 

http://chinareflections.com/index.php/104-comments-on-the-news/379-shuang-yin-win-win

 

 

 

 

 

Huawei - Taking a Fall, Hoping for a Call

 

Pardon the soccer reference.  But to my mind, that is the Huawei move.  But Huawei has the support of the fans, at least in China, and they are vocal.

Don Clarke, professor of law at George Washington University, has penned this response to the declaration of the Zhong Lun law firm in Beijing, in support of Huawei as an innocent private company caught in a nasty trade spat.  According to the declaration, no company in China is ever required to comply with demands from the central government to install spyware or backdoors in any communication equipment.   Clarke points out that this is misleading and inaccurate.  Chinese law says nothing about what provincial and local governments might demand from a company, and in any case, law is not a constraint. 

“There’s a whole variety of pressures that the government can bring to bear on a company or individual, and they are not at all limited to criminal prosecution Clarke says.  “China is a Leninist state that does not recognize any limits to government power.”

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.  

 
What Chinese are talking about ... real fake news

You know that China is increasing pressure on every state it can bully.  The bullying is easiest when the victim state has a substantial share of its GDP connected to China, whether as exports or as Chinese FDI coming in.  Now come fake news stories published in China, quoting New Zealand politicians approving of Chinese policies on the Belt and Road initiative.  New Zealand is in a tough spot. 

Recent

  • CCP and Mr. Xi’s Learning Disability

     CCP and Mr. Xi’s Learning Disability

    Two full months into the Covid-19 crisis, we see where Mr. Xi’s crackdown on communication and openness has taken him.  He is himself in no danger, but CCP runs into a conceptual wall with free flow of information. That is a disability – a learning disability – for CCP and China now.

    CCP has always shown itself to be flexible and adaptable.  That has been a strength.  But with a modern middle class society, and an arteriosclerotic governing structure, the crisis points out two things - limits of CCP tolerance for free flow of information in the Xi era and people’s anger, anxiety, and disgust at censorship of their heartfelt emotions. 

    Read more ...  
  • For leaders, information does not want to be free - lessons from Wuhan

    For leaders, information does not want to be free - in US or China

    (Note: update at February 13 - Hubei has changed the manner of identifying virus infections, and the new system overnight adds about 15,000 people to the total.  The number of deaths is also changed, but obviously the government will not go back and change death certificates from the last month.  I have no access to the statistics, only reports from Chinese of illnesses and deaths, but an increase in the total of cases seems necessary.  There were just too many stories, too close to home.  The new count coincides with the change of the Wuhan and Hubei CCP leaders.  Politically, it will now be possible to identify the crisis with the former leaders, and the end of the crisis with changes made by Mr. Xi.  This is the China wechat meme of the moment.)

    We should not waste the coronavirus crisis.

    Whether or not it turns into a full-fledged pandemic, surprises and lessons already have emerged that demand attention and need to be learned by Chinese -- also by America and the rest of the world.

    Read more ...  
  • Masks of the Red (Cross) Death

    Masks of the Red (Cross) Death

    You remember the Edgar Allan Poe story - The Masque of the Red Death

    Prospero and 1,000 other nobles have taken refuge in this walled abbey to escape the Red Death, a terrible plague with gruesome symptoms that has swept over the land. Victims are overcome by "sharp pains", "sudden dizziness", and "profuse bleeding at the pores", and die within half an hour. Prospero and his court are indifferent to the sufferings of the population at large; they intend to await the end of the plague in luxury and safety behind the walls of their secure refuge, having welded the doors shut.

    Read more ...  

Resources

Economics Blogs

Party News

Australian National University ANU and related

History, Language and Culture Basics

Contemporary Economics, Governance, and Law

Economics and Cultural History - Interpretation

Work on contemporary China, academics and journalists but in the popular media

Work on contemporary China, mostly in the popular media

Philosophy, Daoist and Confucian Studies

Political Reference Documents