This article is the second part of a two part series titled, “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” – Hypocrisy in the 21st century. If you haven’t read the first part, I would suggest you go here and read it first to get a better insight. The first part deals with explaining Socialism/Communism and provides a brief history of China and its form of governance while this part deals with the authoritarianism, subjugation of human rights and China’s imperialistic outlook that is veiled behind, “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”.
In 2017, according to the Forbes magazine, out of 2043 billionaires worldwide, 319 were from China and 67 were from Hong Kong.
Vladimir Lenin, the founder and leader of the first Communist/Socialist state and Mao Zedong, the founder and leader of People’s Republic of China (official name of China) came from families that were considered generally well-off. Revelling in all comforts that a person of their class could afford, they hoped of creating a state that would remove the hierarchy enjoyed by families like theirs’s and establish a society in which all members were equal in terms of stature and success was based on merit rather than the pecking order. In their utopian society there would be no inequality arising from the difference in wealth of different citizens and the class system that follows the disappearance of equality, arising from dissimilar level of income, would be utterly and wholly removed.
Hence, it is predictable that if either one of them was reading this quote by Forbes, stated above, he would be turning in his grave, trying to fathom, where it all went wrong.
In the first part of this article, it was mentioned that Deng Xiaoping facilitated the opening up of the Chinese economy which under Mao had significantly stagnated and was in a state of utter collapse. From 1978 to until his death, he removed all rigid adherents of Maoism and left no stone unturned in reforming the Chinese economy. However, Deng Xiaoping while helping China survive the economic slowdown by privatizing both the agriculture sector and the industrial sector, expedited the demise of a socialist economy that was envisioned under Marxism-Leninism and made possible the existence of a capitalist economy.
Thus, one could say that while China was a Communist nation when Mao Zedong left it, the last dregs of communism left in China when it entered the 21 st century, were its authoritative government or supposedly the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” and the hope, that it was still on its path to achieve a society that removed all forms of social inequality, because with the advent of Chinese billionaires in this century, it would be near impossible to achieve financial equality.
However, if you read further, you will realise that even this hope of China achieving a socially equal and fair state, would be dashed under the reign of Xi Jinping.
In a once strategically important but now a culturally forlorn town called, Kashgar, located in the largest Chinese province, Xinjiang; growing a beard, naming your child “Muhammad” or even inviting too many people to your wedding is enough to summon the nearest law enforcement squad to detain you. With a population of just over 500,000, life without any basic humanitarian rights has become one of its widely varying cultures. Situated at the convergence point of several ancient empires, this city has seen and been the battle ground of various groups of people on the steppes, vying for its control. Because of the fact it acted as a trading post on the Silk Road between China and the Middle East and its proximity to Muslim majority nations of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, this city is distinct from the ethnic Han Chinese cities and thus consists of a predominately ethnic Uighur Muslim population.
Walking down a street in Beijing or Shanghai would make you doubt the Chinese claim of being a Communist nation, because of the fact that the urban inhabitants of these metros enjoy almost all privileges and personal liberty and live a life that would not be different from any democratic city of the same economic development. However, if you took a similar walk in any street of a Uighur Muslim dominated city like in Kashgar, you would arrive at the conclusion that the system of segregation that you thought died when Apartheid ended in South Africa, is back again.
Cities like Kashgar are examples of an Orwellian or dystopian reality in which a 21st century police state is no longer a distant nightmare. Not more than a couple of hour’s flight away from any bustling Chinese metro, they are live illustrations of what complete control of evert aspect of a person’s life would probably look like. Frequent disappearance, overall control of all means of communications, inability to visit a foreign nation or the right to practice one’s religion in a way one deems satisfactory, instances which may seem astonishing to people like you and me are not uncommon in a 21st century Chinese Police State. One may speculate, whether the Chinese authority on such matters, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has a valid reason (excuse) to exercise such brutality. The actuality is, they either feign ignorance on topics like this or validate their ill doing by stating, such police states are their attempt to eradicate radical Muslim terrorism. However, as a common person living in a modern Chinese police state would say, “Is it justified punishing almost 9 million Uighur Muslims living in such cities for a crime committed by a handful of miscreants?”
The defining ideology of a Communist nation that China boasts of being, is achieving a state where there’s a common ownership of the means of production and a society that is stateless, classless and cashless. Although China has given up all hope of being a state that encourages common ownership of the means of production as it is evident by its support of billionaires and successful industrialist (in a “real” Communist nation, all business owners and extremely wealthy people would be executed or imprisoned), there was still hope that the distinctions based on class or caste would be eliminated sooner or later as it developed and implemented a stable economic system. Conversely, with the establishment and increase in the number of police states that differentiate between the citizens on the basis of their religion and caste, the manifest lack of China’s indifference towards its goal of achieving a classless state also becomes apparent.
Apart from the communist ideology that dictates common ownership of all means of production, the other main philosophy behind communism is the collective movement of all citizens and the communist nation towards establishing a stateless society. This thought, though prevalent in all works of Marxism-Leninism and encouraged and preached by all proponents of communism, was essentially a farce that could never be achieved by any Communist country. In other words, while the dictum of this theory implied the absence of any kind of leadership governing the nation-state, realism lead to this becoming a pillar of a Communist state which while provided support to the leaders to rule and hope to the governed class, was only as valid as the claim that suffering is temporary in a communist nation.
What I am trying to convey through the above stated segment is, that even though the philosophy of achieving a stateless, cashless and classless society is near impossible for any communist nation, the leaders keep on repeating this absurdity in the hopes of quelling the protests of the masses that jumped on the ship of communism only because they were insincerely convinced that it could lead to an unimagined utopia. This sham was repeated so many times in so many different places by so many different communist parties, that it very soon become a significant aspect of communism.
As farcical it maybe, it was still a part of communist ideology and it was the duty of all Chinese communist leaders to teach and promote this philosophy. However, as a rapidly capitalist converting nation, China lost its distinction of being a classless and cashless society, so did it lose its finesse in proselytizing a society where the state would have a minimal role.
Thus, China under Xi Jinping apart from losing its stature as an economically socialist nation also lost its status as an ideologically communist/socialist nation.
While China descended to the path of pseudo-communism, it did not lose all aspects of communism. It kept hold of one of the most basic and most terrifying proponent. Absurd as it may sound, even after losing all defining ideologies of a communist nation, China under Xi Jinping still borrowed the authoritative aspect of a communist nation. In other words the leaders of the CPC, in a bid to hold onto power and retain a despotic and an authoritarian rule over the nation, termed its rule as Communist. The truth, however is, that “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” is nothing more than a travesty to veil the tyrannical rule of the CPC and the governing ideology prevalent in China is more Fascist than its contradictory cousin, Communist.
All that I have stated above is a commentary, which serves the single purpose of establishing the fact that China under Xi Jinping is not a communist nation and uses the guise of communism to proliferate an authoritative rule. One may wonder what purpose this serves, as how does it matter what rule the Chinese bestow upon themselves as long as they don’t bother anyone else. This pretext would have been convincing before the 21 st century when the Chinese weren’t imparting any kind of influence on any nation apart from their brother in arms, the North Koreans.
Then again, this is not the 20th century when China was a developing nation just emerging from the brinks of poverty. We are 18 years into the 21st century and China is a superpower in all but name. She is spreading her wings and swaying both positively and negatively nations near and far from her.
Countries like Philippines, which were once a close ally of the United States of America and an exponent of a democratic system of governance have fallen under the uninspiring influence of the Chinese form of governance (Xi Jinping Thought) which incites the subjugation of human rights to achieve one’s goals and rise of single person dictatorships. This again could be brushed aside by an optimist as they could argue that Philippines falls under the sphere of influence of the Chinese. However in the recent year, in Nepal and in the past week, in Maldives, Chinese influence has spread to regions that were considered a part of Indian sphere of influence.
Nepal, motivated by Chinese economic strength is allowing increasing domestic participation by the Chinese, and it is not far when the democratic system present in Nepal crumbles to resemble that of the Philippines. Maldives, moreover has already began to succumb to a tyrannical rule not different from what the Chinese would have envisioned. The Maldives President in a move panned by the UN, the United States and India imprisoned all the opposition leaders and after storming the Supreme Court, put under arrest the Supreme Court Judges of Maldives. An undemocratic move, this was unsurprisingly seen indifferently by both China and Pakistan which only implied their active support to this barbarity.
These actions though small and insignificant with respect to the political events happening all over the world are not to be brushed away. They represent the trivial wave that the devastating tsunami follows to engulf the old world order and bring in a new system. In this case, the tsunami that seeks to dismantle the democratic structure is “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”. This gigantic wave has both the potency and velocity to replace our liberal order, which we have come to like so much, with an authoritative repressive regime and will do so, if not checked in time.