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Resolved: On balance, Xi Jinping’s power consolidation is beneficial to the People’s Republic of China.  (Argument List. Background. Bibliography. File. Evidence)

Resolved: On balance, Xi Jinping’s power consolidation is beneficial to the People’s Republic of China. (Argument List. Background. Bibliography. File. Evidence)

Related:  August 9-11 China Topic Cram Camp! China Threat .  China Daily Update

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Pro

Consolidation increases internet censorship, internet censorship good
Consolidation increase military power projection, military power projection good
Consolidation increases China’s economic growth, economic growth good
Consolidation strengthens One Belt, One Road; OBOR good
Consolidation  reduces anti-corruption, anti-corruption good
Consolidation enables China to defend its national interests
Consolidation means more cooperative agreements are reached between the China and countries in Asia at the expense of the US
Consolidation increases censorship, censorship good
Consolidation increases  surveillance, surveillance good
Consolidation increases military power projection, challenges US imperialism/dominance in Asia

Con

Consolidation increases military power and threats (risks war with the US)
Consolidation increases war risks in the South China Sea
Consolidation increases internet censorship, internet censorship bad
Consolidation increases risk of war with Japan
Consolidation increases human rights abuses
Consolidation creates too much opposition, undermining power
Consolidation undermines long-term economic development
Consolidation strengthens One Belt, One Road; OBOR bad
Consolidation reduces increases mistreatment of Muslims, mistreatment bad
Consolidation increases China’s challenge to the global liberal world order
Consolidation undermines societal stability
(a) Alienates the public
(b) Alienates regions
Consolidation increases the risk of a coup or leadership crisis
Consolidation creates anti-corruption campaigns that are just used to push out enemies.
Consolidation means no safety valve when there is pressure to change leaders, increasing instability; this increases nationalist war risks

Background

Wikipedia

Xi Jinping (/ʃ ɪnˈpɪŋ/;[2][3] Chinese习近平Mandarin pronunciation: [ɕǐ tɕîn.pʰǐŋ]; born 15 June 1953) is a Chinese politician serving as general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC),[4] President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC),[5] and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC).[6] Often described as China’s “paramount leader” since 2012, he officially received the title of “core leader” from the CPC in 2016.[7] As general secretary, Xi holds an ex-officio seat on the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, China’s top decision-making body.[8]

Since assuming power, Xi has introduced far-ranging measures to enforce party discipline and to ensure internal unity. His signature anti-corruption campaign has led to the downfall of prominent incumbent and retired Communist Party officials, including members of the Politburo Standing Committee.[11] Described as a Chinese nationalist,[12] he has tightened restrictions over civil society and ideological discourse, advocating Internet censorship in China as the concept of “internet sovereignty”.[13][14] Xi has called for further socialist market economic reforms, for governing according to the law and for strengthening legal institutions, with an emphasis on individual and national aspirations under the slogan “Chinese Dream“.[15] He has also championed a more assertive foreign policy, particularly with regard to China–Japan relationsChina’s claims in the South China Sea, and its role as a leading advocate of free trade and globalization.[16] Xi has sought to expand China’s African and Eurasian influence through the One Belt One Road Initiative.[17][11] The 2015 meeting between Xi and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou marked the first time the political leaders of both sides of the Taiwan Strait have met since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1950.[18]

Considered the central figure of the fifth generation of leadership of the People’s Republic,[19] Xi has significantly centralised institutional power by taking on a wide range of leadership positions, including chairing the newly formed National Security Commission, as well as new steering committees on economic and social reforms, military restructuring and modernization, and the Internet. Said to be one of the most powerful leaders in modern Chinese history, Xi’s political thoughts have been written into the party and state constitutions, and under his leadership the latter was amended to abolish term limits for the presidency.[20] In 2018, Forbes ranked him as the most powerful and influential person in the world, dethroning Russian President Vladimir Putin who held the accolade for five consecutive years.[21][22][23]

Political observers have called Xi the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, especially since the ending of presidential two-term limits in 2018.[96][97][98][99] Xi has notably departed from the collective leadership practices of his post-Mao predecessors. He has centralised his power and created working groups with himself at the head to subvert government bureaucracy, making himself become the unmistakable central figure of the new administration.[100] Beginning in 2013, the party under Xi has created a series of new “Central Leading Groups”. These are supra-ministerial steering committees, designed to bypass existing institutions when making decisions, and ostensibly make policy-making a more efficient process. The most notable new body is the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms. It has broad jurisdiction over economic restructuring and social reforms, and is said to have displaced some of the power previously held by the State Council and its premier.[101] Xi also became the leader of the Central Leading Group for Internet Security and Informatization, in charge of cyber-security and Internet policy. The Third Plenum held in 2013 also saw the creation of the National Security Commission of the Communist Party of China, another body chaired by Xi. This is believed to have ultimate oversight over issues of national security such as combating terrorism, intelligence, espionage, ultimately incorporating many areas of jurisdiction formerly vested in the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission under Zhou Yongkang.[citation needed]

Xi has also been active in his participation in military affairs, taking a direct hands-on approach to military reform. In addition to being the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, and the leader of the Central Leading Group for Military Reform founded in 2014 to oversee comprehensive military reforms, Xi has delivered numerous high-profile pronouncements vowing to clean up malfeasance and complacency in the military, aiming to build a more effective fighting force. In addition, Xi held the “New Gutian Conference” in 2014, gathering China’s top military officers, re-emphasizing the principle of “the party has absolute control over the army” first established by Mao at the 1929 Gutian Conference.[102] According to a University of California, San Diego expert on Chinese military, Xi “has been able to take political control of the military to an extent that exceeds what Mao and Deng have done”.[103]

On 21 April 2016 Xi was named commander-in-chief of the country’s new Joint Operations Command Center of the People’s Liberation Army by Xinhuanews agency and the broadcaster China Central Television.[104][105] Some analysts interpreted this move as an attempt to display strength and strong leadership and as being more “political than military”.[106] According to Ni Lexiong, a military affairs expert, Xi “not only controls the military but also does it in an absolute manner, and that in wartime, he is ready to command personally”.[10

The National Interest:

Xi has now accumulated more political and economic power and authority than any leader since Mao Tse-tung. The 19th Communist Party Congress last October reelected Xi as the general secretary of the party and the only contender of the post-Deng period left standing. Xi has replaced the collective leadership model and organizational limitations Deng installed to diffuse authority, to create some balance of individual and institutional power, and to preclude another cult of personality like the one Mao built, all precisely to thwart, for example, the catastrophes of the Great Leap Forward, the purges and the Cultural Revolution. In March 2018, the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, unanimously re-elected Xi to another term as president and amended the national constitution to eliminate the two-term limit on presidential terms, another provision established by Deng to prevent indefinite rule, the personality cult and the concentration of power. Xi may now be president for life and certainly for the foreseeable future. Simultaneously, the National People’s Congress enshrined Xi Jinping’s thought (“socialism with Chinese characteristics in a new era”) in the country’s constitution alongside Chairman Mao’s thoughts. The People’s Congress re-elected Xi as chairman of the Central Military Commission, Deng’s position of power in his latter days and the primary mechanism to ensure that the military remains under party control.

Only twenty years ago, Xi was one of several “princelings” angling for power, barely elected in 1997 as an alternate member of the Party’s Central Committee—indeed the lowest of the 151 candidates. Now at the top of the heap, he has removed all competitors. He runs the party, the congress, the bureaucracy and the military. His only rival is historical: Chairman Mao himself.

President Xi has concentrated his power in other ways as well, ways that portend problems and create weaknesses well-known to authoritarian regimes. He has empowered the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection to find corruption and root it out not only proscriptively through rules and regulations but vigorously prosecuting particular officials for their past transgressions. It has launched a broad and deep anti-corruption campaign disciplining hundreds of party and military cadres, notably including Xi’s earlier rival princeling, Bo Xilai, and then Sun Zhengcal, an obvious next-generation candidate for succession to Xi. Both had been communist party chiefs in Chongqing, a launching pad for party leadership, and both were removed and tried, though not before enduring humiliating confessions reminiscent of Mao’s purges. “I sincerely plead guilty and express remorse. I have only myself to blame and deserve to be punished,” pled Sun recently before his prison sentence rather than, as widely expected, his election to the Politburo Standing Committee.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

General

Vox. XI set to rule his country for life (2018).  Chinese President Xi Jinping is already one of the most powerful leaders in his country’s history. Now he’s poised to make history by staying in office for potentially decades to come. That’s because the Chinese Communist Party on Sunday proposed changing the country’s constitution to allow Xi to remain in power beyond his scheduled departure in 2023. The party will vote on the proposal — which would abolish term limits by removing the phrase that says China’s president and vice president “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms” — in March. That will pave the way for Xi to lead the country into the indefinite future. It will give him the time and political space to turn his deeply nationalistic vision for China into a reality. In practice, that means Xi will continue to reform that state’s control of the economy, allowing it to function like a pseudo-free market, while giving the country’s armed forces freer reign to project Chinese power further and further.

What Xis’ longer rule may mean for China (2018). This is a back and forth discussion on the pros and cons of Xi’s power consolidation. Arguments focus on economic reform, economic growth, One Belt and Road, surveillance, and political support.

David Dollar. (2018). Xi’s power grab gives a short-term boost with long-term ramifications. Consolidation of power under Xi Jinping may lead to accelerated reform in the short run, writes David Dollar. However, president-for-life is not a good recipe for economic policymaking in the long run. This piece originally appeared in The Hill.

Xi Power Consolidation Bad

America must prepare for the coming Chinese empire (2019). This article basically argues that kritik alternatives are fanciful and that China is emerging as a global empire that the US needs to challenge, particularly by building ties with India and Taiwan.  The author argues that these are more important than US ties to the Middle East,  He also argues Xi is a superior leader to any of the US leaders and that a strong Xi is a threat to the US.

The “Xi Doctrine:” Proclaiming and Rationalizing China’s aggression (2019).  The United States must respond to China’s belligerence with greater strength, adamantine determination, and more vigorous diplomatic and military measures. The document outlines 4 parts of the “Xi Doctrine” that present a military threat to the US. It also says the Xi Doctrine supports the BRI.

The Consolidation of Political Power in China Under Xi Jinping: Implications for the PLA and Domestic Security Forces  (2019). This testimony examines how the concentration of political power in China under President Xi Jinping affects its military and domestic security forces. For context, I will briefly review the broader background trends against which Chinese leaders, headed by Xi, have consolidated political power. I will then explore how these trends have affected China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the implications for the country’s domestic security forces, most notably the People’s Armed Police (PAP), the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), and the Ministry of State Security (MSS). The current centralizing trends might aggravate tensions within China’s armed forces and worsen bureaucratic deadlock. However, I assess that these measures also have increased central government control of the security apparatus, removed many opponents of Xi’s authority in the security forces, and facilitated military modernization efforts. The centralization of authority in the security forces does carry some important considerations for U.S. defense planners and officials, some of which I will review in my recommendations

Why the US should be wary of Xi’s power consolidation (2018). The article claims power consolidation means China can make more agreements in Asia at the expense of the US, that and that a crisis under a single leader risks war.

China’s attack on human rights and the rule of law continues (2019). This article says a strong Xi is undermining human rights.

Herman Peng. Xi’s Consolidation of Power and the Future of China. (2018).  This article argues that Xi’s power consolidation increases popular opposition, is used to weed out enemies, risks a leadership crisis, and alienates regional actors.

Xi’s great step backward (2018). President Xi Jinping’s recent moves to consolidate power may presage self-inflicted defeat.

CARDS

Xi power makes one Belt one Road stronger and his consolidated power ensures it survives forever because he’s the face of it

Knowledge @ Wharton, February 27, 2018, https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/chinas-constitutional-change/, What Xi Jinping’s Longer-term Rule Will Mean for China’s Economy

While the timing of the move surprised many, the ultimate consolidation of power by Xi in this way was not unexpected, say three experts who discussed the major development on the [email protected] show, which airs on SiriusXM channel 111. The guests included Jacques deLisle, a professor of law and political science, and director of the Center for East Asian Studies at Penn; Ann Lee, a professor of economics and finance at New York University; and Marshall W. Meyer, a Wharton emeritus management professor and China expert. (Listen to the complete podcast at the top of this page.)

The experts were divided on what the move could mean for China: Xi’s new mandate could allow him to better meet a long-standing Chinese goal of becoming a more socialist society modeled on northern Europe, and it could give Xi more time to see through important longer-term projects like the “One Belt, One Road initiative” – the country’s plan for a new Silk Road trade route from China to Europe…..According to Lee, the move is significant in that it reaffirms China’s commitment to the One Belt, One Road project in the face of opposition to it from several countries. “They feel it’s important to perhaps signal to the world, and even domestically, that Xi’s going to be around for a while so that everyone knows that this [initiative] will continue because he is the face of it

Power consolidation increases military power projection,

Alex Ward, February 26, 2018, VOX, Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to rule his country for life https://www.vox.com/world/2018/2/26/17053220/china-xi-jinping-constitution-thought-term

Chinese President Xi Jinping is already one of the most powerful leaders in his country’s history. Now he’s poised to make history by staying in office for potentially decades to come. That’s because the Chinese Communist Party on Sunday proposed changing the country’s constitution to allow Xi to remain in power beyond his scheduled departure in 2023. The party will vote on the proposal — which would abolish term limits by removing the phrase that says China’s president and vice president “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms” — in March. That will pave the way for Xi to lead the country into the indefinite future. It will give him the time and political space to turn his deeply nationalistic vision for China into a reality. In practice, that means Xi will continue to reform that state’s control of the economy, allowing it to function like a pseudo-free market, while giving the country’s armed forces freer reign to project Chinese power further and further.

Power consolidation increases China’s military power projection in the South China Sea and around the world

Alex Ward, February 26, 2018, VOX, Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to rule his country for life https://www.vox.com/world/2018/2/26/17053220/china-xi-jinping-constitution-thought-term

Under Xi, China took even more control of the disputed South China Sea by bullying its neighbors. But as Xi accumulates even more power, expect the Chinese military to act even more aggressively on the world stage, throwing its weight around in ways that will worry US allies like Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam — and possibly even challenging the United States.

Under Xi’s control, China will not turn into a democracy

Alex Ward, February 26, 2018, VOX, Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to rule his country for life https://www.vox.com/world/2018/2/26/17053220/china-xi-jinping-constitution-thought-term

Xi also championed China’s growing influence on the world stage, celebrating the country’s increasing control of the disputed South China Sea under his first term and calling for efforts to make the Chinese military more powerful. He described China as a country that wasn’t looking to pick fights but would unapologetically defend its national interests. As he spoke of his country’s growing stature, Xi made it clear that China wasn’t trying to mimic or replace Western powers. He said that China is “blazing a new trail” for developing nations to follow. “Under his reign, there is no more hope of convergence,” François Godement, director of the China-Asia program at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told the Washington Post last October. In other words: Under Xi, China is not simply going to morph into a Western-style liberal democracy as it grows wealthier.

Xi increasing censorship and control of the internet

Alex Ward, February 26, 2018, VOX, Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to rule his country for life https://www.vox.com/world/2018/2/26/17053220/china-xi-jinping-constitution-thought-term

And Xi signaled that he would continue to crack down on any signs of dissent. Under his rule, Chinese authorities have restricted the ability of citizens to criticize the government online and hit NGOs with suffocating government regulations. Xi even suggested there was more to come — pledging enhanced internet censorship to “clearly oppose and resist the whole range of erroneous viewpoints.”

Xi’s strength isn’t increasing societal stability – massive opposition. This undermines the stability of the country.

Herman Peng, October 18, 2018, The Politics, Xi’s Consolidation of Power and the Future of China, https://thepolitic.org/xis-consolidation-of-power-and-the-future-of-china/

The incident in July was the third scandal in the country tied to defective vaccines since 2010, and one of many health-related scandals in China over the past decade. However, this incident comes uniquely at a time when the government and the people are increasingly at odds. While Chinese President Xi Jinping has consolidated power within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Chinese people are slowly losing faith in his regime. Since last year, Xi has placed loyalists into head positions in the government and added his official philosophy of “Xi Jinping Thought” into China’s constitution. With his party behind him, he successfully abolished term limits on the presidency, which essentially allows him to be China’s dictator for life. Additionally, coercive efforts are being made to politically and culturally homogenize China’s population, including the placement of Uighur Muslims in internment camps and attempts to force Christians in the country to renounce their faith. “Xi Jinping has consolidated more power than anyone since Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s, and he’s probably consolidated more power in his own hands than Deng Xiaoping,” said Daniel Mattingly, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Yale University. At the same time, however, public trust in Xi’s government appears to be fraying. In July, Tsinghua University law professor Xu Zhangrun delivered arguably the fiercest attack on Xi’s government from a Chinese academic in recent memory. The Hong Kong Nationalist Party has resolved to combat further Chinese encroachment on its rights. Additionally and most notably, the revelation about the defective vaccines caused a two-day protest in Beijing. What does the simultaneous increase in government power and growing public mistrust of government mean for China’s regime? It means the stability of the state will begin to erode. To be sure, a public revolt in the short-term is unlikely. Public opinion polls suggest that the Chinese citizenry’s trust in the central government is remarkably high for an authoritarian regime. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, a comprehensive online survey of residents of over 30 developed or developing countries, found that Chinese citizens trusted their government the most among all countries in the sample. While many factors play into this, a key reason for this popularity is the government’s success at increasing China’s prosperity and quality of life. While many factors play into this measurement, a key reason for this popularity is the government’s success at increasing China’s prosperity and quality of life.

Anti-corruption campaigns don’t actually reduce corruption

Herman Peng, October 18, 2018, The Politics, Xi’s Consolidation of Power and the Future of China, https://thepolitic.org/xis-consolidation-of-power-and-the-future-of-china/

However, X
i’s recent consolidation of power presents a threat to this continued success: corruption. Corruption prospers in a government controlled by relatively few people; when fewer people run more of the government, it’s easier for them to pick winners and losers with government policy and discretion in the enforcement of laws. Increased corruption leads to instability by further taking away influence from the people in government affairs
. It also leads towards Party leadership becoming less diverse and flexible than before, which could cause the gap between the opinions of the state and its citizens to widen. And while Xi Jinping has centered his presidency in part around reducing business and political corruption in the country, these efforts have had mixed results at best. In fact, Xi has used his anti-corruption campaign to replace government and military leaders from previous administrations with individuals specifically loyal to him.

Consolidating power alienates the periphery, undermining stability

Herman Peng, October 18, 2018, The Politics, Xi’s Consolidation of Power and the Future of China, https://thepolitic.org/xis-consolidation-of-power-and-the-future-of-china/

Corruption is not the only threat to the power of China’s population; centralized power itself also promises to decrease their influence. While China has been authoritarian since the days of Mao, local political leaders have usually been given significant autonomy to respond to people’s needs on the ground level. Scholars such as Andrew Nathan of Columbia University have written that this contributes to the Chinese citizenry’s faith in its government. But if Xi centralizes policy decision-making in China, the freedom of these local actors will decrease. As Xi focuses on controlling his government, policies at the local and provincial level will be adaptable to people’s needs, which may cause public belief in the system to weaken.

Consolidation could generate a leadership crisis

Herman Peng, October 18, 2018, The Politics, Xi’s Consolidation of Power and the Future of China, https://thepolitic.org/xis-consolidation-of-power-and-the-future-of-china/

Another threat to the Chinese government comes not from the public, but from within. The Chinese government’s stability over the past 40 years has been supported by its consistently peaceful transitions of power. Presidents were limited to two five-year terms, but Xi’s recent abolishment of term limits eliminates this stabilizing factor and makes succession and leadership crisis akin to those seen in the U.S.S.R. and other autocracies. “The problems of transitions between leaders is really the Achilles heel of autocratic regimes,” said Mattingly. “It seemed like the CCP had solved this problem that bedevils autocracies by having this institutionalized system of power change. I think this does change China’s long-term trajectory. It increases the likelihood of . . . things happening like an [intra-party] coup.” While a coup is by no means guaranteed, the abolishment of term limits makes it more likely to occur and also increases the probability of less dramatic inner-party struggles occuring that was be destabilizing in their own right. And while Xi is already using authoritarian methods to suppress this sort of public and political discontent, these efforts have largely been successful in part because of the country’s current success and political norms. As these factors fade away or are removed, the Chinese government will find it much harder to maintain public satisfaction in the future, casting a shadow over the country’s long-term stability.

Xi wants to develop China on a Socialist economic model

Knowledge @ Wharton, February 27, 2018, https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/chinas-constitutional-change/, What Xi Jinping’s Longer-term Rule Will Mean for China’s Economy

With a longer term, Xi also would be able to more fully pursue his vision for China to become more like a socialist society modeled on northern European countries, which include Denmark, Sweden and Norway, said Lee. “Northern Europe is obviously a western society, and he would like the end goal for China to be like that – a very high income, innovative and socialist government.” With the “respect and attention” that Xi has cultivated within the world community, he is seen as the right person to pursue that model, she added. On its part, the Communist Party would not “want to mess around with that formula,” she said.

Xi’s power is politically repressive

Knowledge @ Wharton, February 27, 2018, https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/chinas-constitutional-change/, What Xi Jinping’s Longer-term Rule Will Mean for China’s Economy

Xi could also use his power “to push forward with bold economic reforms, [but there is] not a whole lot of evidence of much movement in that direction,” deLisle said. What is evident, however, is that Xi has led a “very repressive regime in terms of civil liberties-type issues, in terms of dissident views and [other] such things, and there’s absolutely no sign” that is going to change, he pointed out. “So whatever the economic outcome, it’s not going to look like Northern Europe in terms of its politics.”

The US is locked into a global power struggle with China. Xi’s strength (and it’s economic global reach (Belt Road) give it an enormous advantage

Robert D. Kaplan,June 17, 2019, Robert D. Kaplan is a managing director for global macro at Eurasia Group. His most recent book is The Return of Marco Polo’s World: War, Strategy, and American Interests in the Twenty-first Century, America Must Prepare for the Coming Chinese Empire

China is not the challenge we face: rather, the challenge is the new Chinese empire. It is an empire that stretches from the arable cradle of the ethnic Han core westward across Muslim China and Central Asia to Iran; and from the South China Sea, across the Indian Ocean, up the Suez Canal, to the eastern Mediterranean and the Adriatic Sea. It is an empire based on roads, railways, energy pipelines and container ports whose pathways by land echo those of the Tang and Yuan dynasties of the Middle Ages, and by sea echo the Ming dynasty of the late Middle Ages and early-modern period. Because China is in the process of building the greatest land-based navy in history, the heart of this new empire will be the Indian Ocean, which is the global energy interstate, connecting the hydrocarbon fields of the Middle East with the middle-class conurbations of East Asia. This new Indian Ocean empire has to be seen to be believed. A decade ago, I spent several years visiting these Chinese ports in the making, at a time when few in the West were paying attention. I traveled to Gwadar in the bleak desert of Baluchistan, technically part of Pakistan but close to the Persian Gulf. There, I saw a state-of-the-art port complex rising sheer above a traditional village. (The Chinese are now contemplating a naval base in nearby Jawani, which would allow them to overwatch the Strait of Hormuz.) In Hambantota, in Sri Lanka, I witnessed hundreds of Chinese laborers literally moving the coast itself further inland, as armies of dump trucks carried soil away. While America’s bridges and railways languish, it is a great moment in history to be a Chinese civil engineer. China has gone from building these ports, to having others manage them, and then finally to managing them themselves. It has all been part of a process that recalls the early days of the British and Dutch East India companies in the same waters. Newspaper reports talk of some of these projects being stalled or mired in debt. That is a traditionally capitalist way to look at it. From a mercantile and imperialist point of view, these projects make perfect sense. In a way, the money never really leaves China: a Chinese state bank lends the money for a port project in a foreign country, which then employs Chinese state workers, which utilize a Chinese logistics company, and so on. Geography is still paramount. And because the Indian Ocean is connected to the South China Sea through the Malacca, Sunda and Lombok straits, Chinese domination of the South China Sea is crucial to Beijing. China is not a rogue state, and China’s naval activities in the South China Sea make perfect sense given its geopolitical and, yes, its imperial imperatives. The South China Sea not only further unlocks the Indian Ocean for China, but it further softens up Taiwan and grants the Chinese navy greater access to the wider Pacific. The South China Sea represents one geographical frontier of the Greater Indian Ocean world; the Middle East and the Horn of Africa represent the other. The late Zbigniew Brzezinski once wisely said in conversation that hundreds of millions of Muslims do not yearn for democracy as much as they yearn for dignity and justice, things which are not necessarily synonymous with elections. The Arab Spring was not about democracy: rather, it was simply a crisis in central authority. The fact that sterile and corrupt authoritarian systems were being rejected did not at all mean these societies were institutionally ready for parliamentary systems: witness Libya, Yemen and Syria. As for Iraq, it proved that beneath the carapace of tyranny lay not the capacity for democracy but an anarchic void. The regimes of Morocco, Jordan and Oman provide stability, legitimacy, and a measure of the justice and dignity that Brzezinski spoke of, precisely because they are traditional monarchies, with only the threadbare trappings of democracy. Tunisia’s democracy is still fragile, and the further one travels away from the capital into the western and southern reaches of the country, close to the Libyan and Algerian borders, the more fragile it becomes. This is a world tailor-made for the Chinese, who do not deliver moral lectures about the type of government a state should have but do provide an engine for economic development. To wit, globalization is much about container shipping: an economic activity that the Chinese have mastered. The Chinese military base in Djibouti is the security hub in a wheel of ports extending eastward to Gwadar in Pakistan, southward to Bagamoyo in Tanzania, and northwestward to Piraeus in Greece, all of which, in turn, help anchor Chinese trade and investments throughout the Middle East, East Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. Djibouti is a virtual dictatorship, Pakistan is in reality an army-run state, Tanzania is increasingly authoritarian and Greece is a badly institutionalized democracy that is increasingly opening up to China. In significant measure, between Europe and the Far East, this is the world as it really exists in Afro-Eurasia. The Chinese empire, unburdened by the missionary impulse long prevalent in American foreign policy, is well suited for it. MORE TO the point, when it comes to China, we are dealing with a unique and very formidable cultural organism. The American foreign policy elite does not like to talk about culture since culture cannot be quantified, and in this age of extreme personal sensitivity, what cannot be quantified or substantiated by a footnote is potentially radioactive. But without a discussion of culture and geography, there is simply no hope of understanding foreign affairs. Indeed, culture is nothing less than the sum total of a large group of people’s experience inhabiting the same geographical landscape for hundreds or thousands of years. Anyone who travels in China, or even observes it closely, realizes something that the business community intuitively grasps better than the policy community: the reason there is little or no separation between the public and private domains in China is not only because the country is a dictatorship, but because there is a greater cohesion of values and goals among Chinese compared to those among Americans. In China, you are inside a traditional mental value system. In that system, all areas of national activity—commercial, cyber, military, political, technological, educational—work fluently toward the same ends, so that computer hacking, espionage, port building and expansion, the movement of navy and fishing fleets, and so on all appear coordinated. And within that system, Confucianism still lends a respect for hierarchy and authority among individual Chinese, whereas American culture is increasingly about the dismantling of authority in favor of devotion to the individual. Confucian societies worship old people; Western societies worship young people. One should never forget these lines from Solzhenitsyn: “Idolized children despise their parents, and when they get a bit older they bully their countrymen. Tribes with an ancestor cult have endured for centuries. No tribe would survive long with a youth cult.” Chinese are educated in national pride; increasingly the opposite of what goes on in our own schools and universities. And Chinese are extraordinarily efficient, with a manic attention to detail. Individuals are certainly more concrete than the mass. But that does not mean national traits simply do not exist. I have flown around China on domestic airlines with greater ease and comfort than I could ever imagine flying around America at its airports. And that is to say nothing about China’s bullet trains. Of course, there are all sorts of political and social tensions inside China. And the unrest among the middle classes we see today in Brazil and the rest of Latin America could well be a forerunner to what we will see in China in the 2020s, undermining Belt and Road and the whole Chinese imperial system altogether. China’s over-leveraged economy may well be headed for a hard, rather than a soft, landing, with all the attendant domestic upheaval which that entails. I have real doubts about the sustainability of the Chinese political and economic model. But the last thing American policymakers or strategists should assume is that somehow we are superior to the Chinese, or worse: that somehow we have a destiny that they do not. WE HAVE entered a protracted struggle with China, which hopefully will not be violent at certain junctures. And it may become more dangerous precisely because China could weaken internally due to economic upheavals, causing its leaders to dial up nationalism as a default option. It will be a struggle (or war) of integration rather than of separation. Throughout the human past, wars have seen an army from one place and an army from another place meet somewhere in the middle to give battle. However, in the cyber age, we are all operating inside the same operating environment, so that computer networks can attack each other without armies ever meeting or even blood being shed. The Russian attempt to influence our politics is an example of war by integration, which could not have existed even two decades ago. The information age has added to the possibilities for warfare rather than subtracted from it. The enemy is only a click away, rather than hundreds of miles away. And because weapons systems require guidance from satellites, outer space is now a domain for warfare, just as the seas became once the Portuguese and Spanish had begun the Age of Exploration. Every age of warfare has its own characteristics. Increasingly, warfare has become less physical and more mental: the more obsessively driven the culture, the better suited it will be for mid-twenty-first-century cyber warfare. If that seems offensive to the reader, remember that the future lies inside the silences—inside the things we are most uncomfortable talking about. In functional and historical terms, this will be an imperial struggle, though our elites both inside and outside government will forbid use of the term. The Chinese will have an advantage in this type of competition as they have a greater tradition in empire building than we do, and they are not ashamed of it as we have become. They openly hark back to their former dynasties and empires to justify what they are doing; whereas our elites can hark back less and less to our own past. Westward expansion, rather than the heroic saga portrayed by mid-twentieth-century American historians, is now often taught as a tale of genocide against the indigenous population and nothing more—even though without conquering the West, we never would have had the geopolitical and economic capacity to win World War I, World War II and the Cold War. Moreover, the Chinese have demonstrated an ability to quickly adapt, which is the key to Darwinian evolution: the continual changes that they are making to their Belt and Road model are an example of this. The Chinese also have more capable leadership than we do. Undeniably, our post-Cold War presidents have been dramatically inferior to our Cold War presidents in terms of thinking strategically about foreign affairs. Bill Clinton was not altogether serious about foreign policy, especially at the beginning of his presidency; George W. Bush was in significant measure a failure at it; Barack Obama too often seemed to apologize for American power; and Donald Trump is frankly unsuited for high office in the first place. Compare them to Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan and the elder Bush. Compare, too, our post-Cold War presidents to Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Xi is disciplined, strategically minded, unashamed of projecting power, an engineer by training, with living experience in the provinces, and perhaps, most importantly, someone with a deep sense of the tragic, as his family was a victim of Mao Zedong’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. This is a man of virtu, in the classical Machiavellian sense. One could go further and say that there is not only a crisis in American leadership but in Western leadership in general. The truly formidable, dynamic leaders, whatever their moral values, are more likely to be found outside the United States and Europe. Witness, in addition to Xi, Japan’s Shinzo Abe, India’s Narendra Modi, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. They have all grasped the art of power; they are constantly willing to take risks, and they are in office not only out of personal ambition but because they actually want to get certain things done. Thus, the competition between the United States and China will coincide with a political-cultural crisis of the West against a resurgent East. We have truly entered an American-Chinese bipolar struggle. But it is a bipolar struggle with an asterisk: the asterisk being Russia, which can always inflict consequential damage on the United States. Yet, whereas the Russians appear to our media as classic bad guys, the Chinese are more opaque and business-like, so the gravity of our competition with Beijing is still insufficiently appreciated by our media.

Xi doctrine encourages China’s military aggression, Xi doctrine supports BRI

Bradley Thayer, June 18, 2019, Bradley A. Thayer Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas San Antonio and is the coauthor of How China Sees the World: Han-Centrism and the Balance of Power in International Politics. Lianchao Han is vice president of Citizen Power Initiatives for China and a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute. After the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, Dr. Han was one of the founders of the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars. He worked in the U.S. Senate for twelve years, as legislative counsel and policy director for three senators. The ‘Xi Doctrine’: Proclaiming and Rationalizing China’s Aggression, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/%E2%80%98xi-doctrine%E2%80%99-proclaiming-and-rationalizing-china%E2%80%99s-aggression-62402

Using the occasion of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore this month, Chinese Minister of National Defense and State Councilor Gen. Wei Fenghe, delivered a sharp message to the United States, which may be termed the “Xi Doctrine” on China’s use of force, after Chinese premier Xi Jinping. Wei declaring both China’s resolve to aggress to advance its interests and a rationalization for the use of force. Wei’s de facto threat of war should not be lost in his nuances, deliberate ambiguity, or in translation. His remarks were so bellicose that the world has noticed, as was certainly intended by the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Empirical evidence of China’s aggression is increasingly common, from its attempt to dominate the South China Sea, the neo-imperialist effort to gain control of states through the Belt and Road Initiative, to its technological imperialism to control 5G and artificial intelligence technologies. What is rather less frequent are statements from high-level Chinese officials proclaiming the country’s intent to be aggressive and offering an attempted legitimizing principle justifying that aggression. While much of the content of Wei’s remarks were in keeping with the gossamer pronouncements on China’s peaceful intentions, as well as a paean to Xi Jinping’s leadership, they still conveyed that China is ready and willing to resort to war if the United States stands in its way of global expansion; and they made clear that China must go to war, or even a nuclear war, to occupy Taiwan. 6 SECONDS Do You Know What Happened On This Day? Specifically, there are four elements that comprise the Xi Doctrine and are indications of China’s signaling its willingness to use force. The first component is a new and alarming proclamation of the undisguised threats to use force or wage an unlimited war. China is becoming bolder as its military power grows. This is evidenced in Wei’s muscular remarks on the People’s Republic of China’s approach against Taiwan, his explicit statement that China does not renounce the use of force against Taiwan, and his effort to deter the United States and its allies from intervention should an attack occur. Wei forcefully stated: “If anyone dares to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese military has no choice but must go to war, and must fight for the reunification of the motherland at all costs.” “At all cost” means that China will not hesitate to use nuclear weapons or launching another Pearl Harbor to take over Taiwan. This is a clear warning of an invasion. Second, the Xi Doctrine legitimizes territorial expansion. Through his remarks, Wei sought to convince the rest of the world that China’s seizure of most of the South China Sea is an accomplished fact that cannot be overturned. He made bogus accusations, which included blaming the United States for “raking in profits by stirring up troubles” in the region. He insisted that only ASEAN and China must resolve the issue. He claimed that China’s militarization on South China Sea islands and reefs were an act of self-defense. Should this be allowed to stand, then the Xi Doctrine will set a perilous precedent of successful territorial expansion, which will further entice China and jeopardize the peace of the region. Report Advertisement Third, the doctrine targets the United States as a cause of the world’s major problems and envisions a powerful China evicting the United States from the region. Wei obliquely identified the United States as the cause wars, conflicts, and unrest, and sought to convey that the United States will abandon the states of the South China Sea (SCS) when it is confronted by Chinese power, a typical divide and conquer strategy used by the CCP regime. The Xi Doctrine’s fourth element is the mendacity regarding China’s historical use of force and current actions. While the distortions of history were numerous, there were three major lies that should be alarming for the states of the region and the global community. First, Wei said that China had never invaded another country, which is a claim so transparently false it can only be a measure of the contempt he held for the audience. China has a long history of aggression, including against the Tibetans and Vietnamese, and perhaps soon against the Taiwanese. Second, Wei argued that hegemony does not conform to China’s values when, in fact, China proudly was Asia’s hegemon for most of the last two thousand years. Lastly, he claimed that the situation in the SCS is moving toward stability—from China’s perspective this stability is caused by its successful seizure of territory. In fact, the SCS is far less stable as a result of China’s actions. Efforts to counter this grab are denounced by Wei as destabilizing, which is a bit like a thief accusing you of a crime for wanting your property returned. Report Advertisement Wei’s belligerent rhetoric is an indication that the CCP regime faces deep external and internal crises. Externally, the Trump administration has shocked the CCP with the three major steps it has taken. First, it has shifted the focus of the U.S. national-security strategy and now identifies China explicitly as its primary rival—abandoning the far more muted policies of previous administrations. Second, Trump has acted on this peer competitive threat by advancing tangible measures, such as arms sales to allies and the ban of Huawei. Third, the administration has made credible commitments to assure partners and allies to counter China’s aggression and bullying. These have unbalanced the CCP regime, and its natural reaction is to bully its way out. Additionally, the CCP regime has perceived that the world today has begun to consider the negative implications of China’s rise, and the United States is determined to prevent what heretofore had been considered China’s unstoppable rise. From the perspective of CCP, conflict is increasingly seen as inevitable and perhaps even imminent. Wei’s bellicosity should be seen in this light, and the PLA is tasked with fighting and winning the war…. Drawing from the pages of unfortunate history, in a classic social-imperialist move, the regime wants to direct these internal tensions outward. At the same time, the nationalistic fervor advanced by the CCP’s propaganda and by the rapid military modernization have made many young militant officers in the PLA overconfident. This is infrequently noticed in the West. They can hardly wait to fight an ultimate war to defeat the arch-enemy. This plainly dangerous mentality echoes the Japanese military’s beliefs before Pearl Harbor. The bellicosity evinced in Wei’s speech is serious and is not bluster intended to deter. The United States cannot meet China’s threat with half-measures, which are likely to further encourage China’s aggressive behavior. The United States must respond to China’s belligerence with greater strength, adamantine determination, and more vigorous diplomatic and military measures. With the Xi Doctrine, China has proclaimed and rationalized its aggression. A Trump Doctrine forged in response has to reveal to all global audiences, most importantly the CCP leadership, the recklessness of the Xi Doctrine and the supreme folly of aggression.

Xi’s anti-corruption campaign has caused societal cleavages

Bradley Thayer, June 18, 2019, Bradley A. Thayer Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas San Antonio and is the coauthor of How China Sees the World: Han-Centrism and the Balance of Power in International Politics. Lianchao Han is vice president of Citizen Power Initiatives for China and a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute. After the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, Dr. Han was one of the founders of the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars. He worked in the U.S. Senate for twelve years, as legislative counsel and policy director for three senators. The ‘Xi Doctrine’: Proclaiming and Rationalizing China’s Aggression, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/%E2%80%98xi-doctrine%E2%80%99-proclaiming-and-rationalizing-china%E2%80%99s-aggression-62402

Internally, Xi’s anti-corruption campaign that selectively targets his political rivalries, and his abandoning the established rules such as term limited of presidency, have introduced deep cleavages into the unity of the regime unity. China’s economic slowdown, made worse by the U.S. trade war, is a fundamental challenge to the regime’s legitimacy. Xi’s repression and suppression of the Chinese people, particularly human-rights defenders, Christians, Kazakhs, Uighurs, and other minorities, have miscarried.

Xi’s power means there is no societal safety valve when there is pressure to change leaders

Stavridis, James Stavridis is a Bloomberg columnist. He is a retired US Navy admiral and former military commander of Nato, and dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. His most recent book is Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans. Copyright: Bloomberg, March 4, 2018, https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2135439/why-us-should-be-wary-xi-jinpings-power-consolidation, Why the US should be wary of Xi Jinping’s power consolidation, https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2135439/why-us-should-be-wary-xi-jinpings-power-consolidation

But there will be challenges as well. No matter how competent and effective a leader he is, Xi will be faced with several knotty problems: a badly damaged environment, a super-heated real estate market, badly skewed gender demographics (more men than women), geopolitical and international legal disputes over the South China Sea, and an ageing population. When growth begins to slow significantly, which it must over time, these irritants in the political and economic system will build up internal pressures and create political discontinuities, as they have in other authoritarian societies.

This presents the greatest risk for China. In the end, democracy, for all its flaws and shortcomings, is a safety valve for society when things become frustrating or go wrong – and something always goes wrong. Democracy allows the people to change leaders without bloodshed and anarchy. The Chinese people have been relatively content with their authoritarian system while hitting growth targets of 10 per cent annually, building glittering new infrastructure, moving millions out of the countryside and into the urban settings, and lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. But what will happen when internal pressures grow and there is no mechanism to change leaders?

Crisis under a single leader means more nationalism and war

Stavridis, James Stavridis is a Bloomberg columnist. He is a retired US Navy admiral and former military commander of Nato, and dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. His most recent book is Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans. Copyright: Bloomberg, March 4, 2018, https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2135439/why-us-should-be-wary-xi-jinpings-power-consolidation, Why the US should be wary of Xi Jinping’s power consolidation, https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2135439/why-us-should-be-wary-xi-jinpings-power-consolidation

Perhaps most worrisome is the possibility that if Xi eventually comes under serious domestic pressure, he may be inclined to create external threats to maintain his own popularity. Authoritarian leaders like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Vladimir Putin in Russia have done so, painting the US as a nefarious enemy. A hypernationalist turn in Beijing could lead to confrontation between the US and China, and a path towards the so-called Thucydides Trap, in which a rising power confronts an existing power – a dynamic that has led so often to war over the past 2,400 years. It will take diplomacy, economic cooperation and leadership on both sides to avoid this.

Strong Xi means more cooperative agreements in Asia at the expense of the US

Stavridis, James Stavridis is a Bloomberg columnist. He is a retired US Navy admiral and former military commander of Nato, and dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. His most recent book is Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans. Copyright: Bloomberg, March 4, 2018, https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2135439/why-us-should-be-wary-xi-jinpings-power-consolidation, Why the US should be wary of Xi Jinping’s power consolidation, https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2135439/why-us-should-be-wary-xi-jinpings-power-consolidation

From the US perspective, Xi’s consolidation of power will make China an even more formidable competitor both within East Asia and globally. Countries in the neighbourhood – most of which are US allies, partners or friends – will see a single, powerful figure at the top of the Chinese leadership structure and be more inclined to enter into cooperative agreements with what they correctly view as a stable power. Globally, over the long term, authoritarian leaders also have advantages over the revolving door of real democracy. They gather decades of experience and can develop ambitious strategic plans that they will execute themselves.

Xi’s power consolidation undermining human rights

Washington Post, July 31, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/chinas-attack-on-human-rights-and-the-rule-of-law-continues/2019/01/31/305067ee-2410-11e9-90cd-dedb0c92dc17_story.html?utm_term=.23b331b20857, China’s attack on human rights and the rule of law continues

ON JULY 9, 2015, China launched its war on lawyers. Over the course of a few weeks, some 300 lawyers, legal assistants and other advocates for the rule of law were rounded up. One of the most prominent, Wang Quanzhang, disappeared into secret detention on Aug. 3, 2015; after being held incommunicado for nearly 3½ years, he was the last to go on trial. On Monday, he was sentenced to 4½ years in prison on charges of subversion, putting a punctuation mark on one of the principal means of repression used by President Xi Jinping to consolidate power.

Since taking office six years ago, Mr. Xi has employed corruption investigations to purge rivals in the Communist Party; stepped up censorship of social media; and conducted a massive campaign against Muslims in the Xinjiang region, hundreds of thousands of whom have been confined to concentration camps and forced to undergo “reeducation.” Meanwhile, he has sought to stifle dissent by targeting the lawyers who defend human rights activists and religious believers or bring cases against local authorities for corruption. Most of the lawyers and activists detained in what became known (for its July 9 date) as the 709 campaign were held for a few weeks; a number were later stripped of their licenses or driven out of business. But at least four besides Mr. Wang have been sentenced to prison. In August 2016, lawyer Zhou Shifeng and activist Hu Shigen were given terms of seven and 7½ years, respectively; in November 2017, lawyer Jiang Tianyong was sentenced to two years. The next month, human rights activist Wu Gan was handed an eight-year term.

Anti-corruption campaigns result in poor governance and increased corruption over the long-term

Hyman, May 10, 2018, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/xi-jinpings-great-step-backward-25778, Xi Jinping’s Great Step Backward

Hardly unique to Xi Jinping, authoritarian officials commonly target anti-corruption campaigns through selective prosecution of their predecessors and potential successors to secure their own tenure and monopoly on power—a recipe for poor governance and, ironically, additional corruption.

Xi supports surveillance and social control

Hyman, May 10, 2018, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/xi-jinpings-great-step-backward-25778, Xi Jinping’s Great Step Backward

Gerald F. (“Jerry”) Hyman is a nonresident senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.

More broadly, President Xi has reined in traditional and social media outlets. He has mandated further deployment of facial recognition technology connected to resident identity cards and the social credit system, and encouraged greater social surveillance, which is growingly ubiquitous. The Internet is now under much greater scrutiny and control. The state has clamped down on opinion of every non-hagiographic kind with particular vigor for political dissent and in areas with minority populations, like Xinjiang and Tibet. The contribution these measures make to social control is obvious and disconcerting.