The 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is scheduled to be held on October 16, 2022, will be a far-reaching event because it will determine the redistribution of political power in the CCP at a critical point in time. Xi Jinping may break the ten-year term limit set by Deng Xiaoping to return to a Maoist dictatorship, which will determine the future direction of the Party and the Party-state. This article attempts to explore and analyze the outcome of the Congress and its implications.
- Xi Jinping’s third term and the new CCP leadership
Since Xi Jinping amended the Constitution in 2018 to abolish the term-limit for China’s head of state, it is generally believed that he has paved the way for his rule for life, particularly to secure his third term at the 20th National Congress. In response to criticism at the time, Xi’s excuse was that he himself opposed the life tenure, but because there were no term limits for the posts of General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), he wanted to amend the term-limit in the Constitution to bring the Chairman (president) of the state in line with the two positions. The CCP official media also actively whitewashed Xi, claiming that the abolition of the term limit of the State President does not mean the restoration of the life tenure of leading cadres.
This excuse is not worthy of refutation. Why not amend the Party Constitution to limit the term of office of the General Secretary of the CCP and the Chairman of the CMC to keep them in line with the PRC Constitution?
After the Cultural Revolution, the CCP led by Deng Xiaoping abolished the life tenure system for leading cadres based on the lessons learned from the disaster brought by Mao Zedong’s dictatorship. This was unanimously embraced by the entire CCP and continued by the third and fourth generations of CCP leaders – Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. But because Deng Xiaoping did not fundamentally institutionalize the tenure system and the peaceful power transition within the CCP, his political reforms were very limited, giving Xi Jinping the opportunity to return to the days of Mao’s monopoly on power. Xi himself has never publicly stated that he will not seek the third term, but on the contrary, there has been a flurry of persuasive voices and related activities to urge him to grasp the power tighter, much like Yuan Shikai enthroned himself as China’s emperor after overthrowing the Qing Dynasty.
A lifelong dictatorship is against the tide of history, not in line with the will of the majority of the people and party members, and also out of step with the global trend of leadership. If Xi Jinping insists on holding on to power at the 20th Congress, China, along with North Korea, becomes one of the only two socialist countries in the world that are in a position to implement a lifelong leadership system. China’s increased North-Koreanization will surely turn it into a laughingstock in the world. Socialist countries such as Cuba, Vietnam and Laos have all abolished the life tenure system for their leaders and adopted the term system instead.
It is because the CCP has never solved the problem of institutionalizing the transition of supreme power that every time there is a change of leadership, all factions are involved in a power fight, gaming up to get into the core of power, especially the 20th National Congress. Some analysts believe that a series of incidents could happen before the party meeting, and that various anti-Xi forces within the system, especially Deng Xiaoping’s faction, could fight to death with Xi Jinping to protect their power and interests, and that the intensification of this power game may lead to Xi Jinping’s overbearing third term and uncertainty of the Standing Committee composition.
In my view, the Deng faction dominates in the CCP. Its members have benefited from Deng Xiaoping’s reforms, and therefore support the continuation of reform and opening up. But within the CCP system, it is only politically correct to follow the top leadership of the day and align with it to preserve their special interests. Even if they see that Xi may lead the CCP to a dead end, they will not sacrifice their own interests to save the party. This is illustrated by the fact that Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crackdown centered so many members of the Deng faction, and this faction has not seen any collective or organized opposition or voice to fight back. Furthermore, the adoption of the third historical resolution establishing Xi Jinping’s historical status, and the notice that the CPC requires the election process for delegates to the 20th National Congress to be the implementation of Xi Jinping’s ideas indicate that Xi Jinping has successfully taken control of the entire party, government, and military. Thus, Xi’s third-term should come as no surprise.
Xi’s first challenge will be to convince or force the other six incumbent Standing Committee members to support his third term. The issuance of the above-mentioned documents also shows that he has already taken firm control of the Standing Committee, otherwise these two documents would not have been issued. If Xi continues to follow the “seven up, eight down” practice, referring to an unwritten rule that if a Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) member is 68 or older at the time of a party congress, he must retire, but if he is 67 or younger, he may still enter the committee, he must step down since he’s 69, along with two of the PSC incumbents. If Xi breaks the rule and stays for the third-term, how can he justify his own stay? The other two could argue that they also need to stay on as well. Xi may also want to get rid of some of the four remaining PSC members, replacing them with more loyal cronies. Regardless, arranging who is up and who is down will not be easy. Nor assigning positions to those who stay on. The key for Xi to further consolidate power by promoting his loyalists to the CCP’s core power. So, it is more likely that he will ignore the rule of seniority and age-based decisions and create a different set of rules. In fact, Xi has broken the tradition of promotion and succession procedures several times in the past nine years, such as by promoting military cadres out of order and forcing those under age to leave office early. But if all six incumbent members of the PSC are forced to leave, some of them will not support Xi’s third term which will create serious problems for Xi. Accordingly, Xi Jinping will use the glorified excuse that the CCP is facing domestic and international crises and needs relatively young and strong cadres with pioneering spirit to achieve the 100-year goal. He will use the method of pulling one faction to fight another faction and put people he trusts into the PSC and the Politburo. This will certainly intensify the internal power struggle, create more uncertainty, and even generate certain unexpected results. But in the end, after the smoke is cleared, Xi may likely achieve his goal, for the Chinese political culture of “every emperor has a cabinet composed of his own favorites” that cadres, party members, and the general public will not take this amiss.
Will Xi lose the power struggle and not be able to hang on to power? Minority analysts believe that Xi’s missteps in epidemic prevention, his blind command of the economy, international sanctions against the CCP’s atrocities in Xinjiang, including the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing “Winter Olympics,” and the scandal of the Peng Shuai incident have directly affected Xi’s political authority within the Party, thus generating resistance to his third term. This is especially so when Xi Jinping’s purge against the princelings in the military, and uneven power distribution among factions will bring additional uncertainties. Xi Jinping faces many uncertainties. However, I believe these factors are not insufficient to topple Xi Jinping because, as mentioned earlier, the CCP’s so-called democratic centralism allocates special power and status to the paramount leader, while Xi has removed potential political enemies and taken control of the Party and the military through anti-corruption and other means. There is no respected leader of the anti-Xi forces, and Xi Jinping’s strict monitoring of the top brass far exceeds that of the ordinary people. Under Xi’s total societal control, there is little chance that these anti-Xi forces within the party can get organized, or they are too small to get anywhere. As a strong leader, Xi Jinping’s third term is a sure bet, unless he gives up himself willingly or gives up for health reasons.
Many people are interested in whether Xi Jinping will decide his successor in the 20th National Congress, I think he will not, because Xi Jinping has enough time to deal with it properly before the 21st National Congress or even before the 22nd National Congress, there is no need to select one now. Xi Jinping is familiar with all the problems caused by the CCP’s handpicked successor, especially the Sun Zhengcai scandal. He needs more time to select the “right one” which is crucial for him. But that does not mean he does not have one or more candidates, as well as an emergency succession plan.
Since the reshaping of the CCP’s power at the 20th National Congress involves the CCP dealing with the serious crisis it faces at home and abroad, as well as achieving its strategic goals for the next 20-plus years, Xi will not go too far out of his way in personnel affairs. He will neither break completely from the norm nor go completely by it. He will basically follow the established CCP five-year plan for building the party leadership team introduced in 2019 for medium- and long-term personnel strategy, appointing more cadres born post-1960s and 1970s, as well as breaking the rules by retaining a few experienced older cadres and promoting even younger ones. His talent strategy is to promote capable, professional, and experienced officials who can deal with more complex challenges and accept more difficult tasks at home and abroad, but the most fundamental premise for the selection of Xi’s team members is that they must be absolutely loyal and obedient to Xi Jinping personally and adhere to Xi Jinping’s ideology, while the number of votes they receive, their age, and performance are not the main assessment criteria.
I believe that it is difficult to say how many of these new generations, who have grown up in the reform and opening-up environment and will soon hold real power in the CCP, sincerely believe in Xi’s ideology and consciously help Xi to engage in personal worship. Moreover, in the context of the CCP’s systemic corruption and “too many monks, too little porridge” — too many cadres and too few positions, it is inevitable that corrupt and incompetent officials will be promoted. The flaws of the system make it impossible to truly select and appoint talented people. This is an insurmountable obstacle to Xi’s talent strategy. But in general, the succession echelon of the CCP leadership at all levels are proceeding in an orderly and steady manner.
- Xi Jinping’s “intra-party democracy and full-process democracy” is an outright lie
Whether or not the next decade will go according to Xi Jinping’s design and ensure that nothing goes terribly wrong depends largely on the loyalty of the PSC, and Politburo but ultimately depends on the 2,300 party delegates attending the conference. In November 2021, the CPC Central Committee issued a notice on the selection of delegates to the 20th Party Congress, stressing in particular the need to “make the process of electing delegates to the 20th Congress into one of in-depth study and implementation of Xi Jinping’s thought,” in order to more closely unite around the core leadership of Xi to realize the Chinese dream. Subsequently, the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee specifically proposed that an important criterion for screening delegates was whether they could consciously maintain a high degree of consistency with Xi Jinping as the core in ideology, politics, and action. People’s Daily commentator in December of the same year issued an article that the CCP must resolutely put an end to “fence-sitters”, and “two-faced people”, to prevent “nomination of wrong people” into the 20th Congress by completely excluding people in the Party who disagreed with Xi’s policies. Obviously, the 38 major selection units of the CCP have been deployed, with layers of gatekeeping and defenses in place to ensure that Xi’s loyalists dominate the Congress and secure Xi Jinping’s third-term. At the same time, the CCP is trying to put a veil of shame on this tightly controlled process as “intra-party democracy”. The fact is that 95 million party members have no political rights, the party organization manipulates the entire election process, the nomination of candidates is controlled by the party committee, no secret voting rules are applied, and the party members’ vote is essentially a whitewash of the party’s autocracy.
Marx and Engels long ago clearly emphasized the need to replace the previous organizational principle of sectarian conspiracy with the principle of internal party democracy, and they stipulated in the new constitution of the League that the party committees at all levels were elected and could be removed at any time. Marx and Engels pointed out that this alone had blocked the path of any conspiracy maniac who called for dictatorship. The CCP claims itself to be a Marxist party, but it has long departed from its “belief” in Marxism and does not dare to engage in real internal democracy. The CCP’s Sixth Plenary Session of the Sixth Central Committee allegedly “decided the fate of China” and established Mao’s leadership which was not determined by an election but was decided on the basis of Wang Jiaxiang’s verbal instructions brought back from Moscow by Dimitrov of the Communist International that stated that the Communist Party should “be headed by Mao Zedong”.
After the Cultural Revolution, the CPC summed up the lessons learned, and since the Fifth Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee in 1980, it has adopted a series of rules, including the “Guidelines on Political Life in the Party,” in an attempt to establish an internal election system and to implement differential elections (差额选举) or more competitive election for Party at all levels, and to gradually expand the proportion of differential elections. The report of the 13th CCP National Congress proposed for the first time to “insist on promoting people’s democracy through intra-party democracy.” The report of the 16th CCP National Congress elevated the slogan of “intra-party democracy as the life of the Party.” The resolution of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 17th CCP Central Committee specifically proposed to “guarantee the resolution of the Fourth Plenary Session of the Seventeenth Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party” specifically states “to protect the principal position and democratic rights of party members, improve the party congress system and the intra-party election system, improve the intra-party democratic decision-making mechanism and actively develop intra-party democracy.”
However, intra-party democracy was stillborn before it took off. In 2002, the 16th Party National Congress stipulated that the election margin ratio was 10%. The 17th National Congress increased to “not be less than 15%”, and the 18th National Congress again increased to “more than 15%”. The 19th National Congress did not change. Nor has the 20th Congress. In other words, the ratio of contested elections has not increased at all during the 10 years of Xi Jinping’s presidency, interrupting the practice of successive expansion of contested elections. From the 12th CCP Congress to the 18th Congress, the number of delegates to the Party Congress has been increasing year by year, with 1,545, 1,936, 2,035, 2,048, 2,120, 2,220, and 2,270 respectively. However, under Xi, both the 19th and 20th Congresses stipulated the number of delegates to be 2300. In practice, the scope and proportion of the so-called differential election are so small, and party organizations at all levels often manipulate the process, making it nothing more than a self-deceptive CCP’s ploy. It is the same as the past practice that the leader circles the candidates’ names and delegates raise their hands and elect them. The difference is, in essence, is only to add a few people to the list.
I once heard that before the 18th National Congress, Bo Xilai’s confidants advised him to “act first and report afterwards“ by initiating a real “free election” in Chongqing to pick the delegates for the congress. This way, Bo could force the Central Committee’s hand to move intra-party democracy forward, while securing his position in the PSC. Bo Xilai hesitated for a long time and decided to ask Hu Jintao for instructions. However, Bo’s free election plan was rejected by Hu, and Bo was ordered to conduct the election of party delegates according to the established differential ratio approved by the Central. On the one hand, it shows that “more than 15%” actually has a default upper limit. On the other hand, it shows that the ruling elites of the CCP do not trust their party members, the elites do not believe that the ordinary members are “vanguard members of the proletariat,” and they are sufficiently conscious to elect their own leaders. It is conceivable that if Bo Xilai executed his free-election plan in Chongqing, history is likely to be rewritten. Before the CCP’s 20th National Congress, Xi Jinping re-emphasized the strict prohibition of “free nomination” and “free election”, indicating that inner-party democracy is something that is really used to deceive the party members.
The CCP’s National Congress has always been a show for the Party’s ruling elites, and they raise hands, express their support of the leader’s policy, follow the formalities, go through the motions, which have nothing to do with the 95 million ordinary Party members. The Party Constitution stipulates that the Party Congress is the highest leading body of the CCP, but its actual function and role is merely a decorative vase, and the Party delegates cannot discuss and decide on the Party’s major decisions and policies. Few of the Party delegates were actually ordinary Party members in the front line of production and work. The 20th Congress limits the participation of party leaders to two-thirds of the delegates, with the remaining one-third from the front-line party representatives. Leading cadres still account for the vast majority of delegates. Ordinary members from workers, peasants, soldiers, academics, and the business community are far too few. Even if they do come from the “front-line,” they are tools that have been repeatedly screened to meet Xi Jinping’s requirements for formality and have little impact on the agenda and elections. This ratio itself shows that the CCP is not the working-class party it claims to be. Moreover, the CCP has always emphasized giving half of the sky to women, but with the exception of Mao’s wife Jiang Qing, no woman has ever been at the heart of the CCP’s power. There are also very few women serving as Politburo members and Central Committee members, which is completely out of proportion to the number of women Party members. This shows that CCP politics has always been a power game played by old men. Additionally, even after the reform and opening up, there is no formal institutionalized system for how to select its top leader, but follow the practice of secret consultation among the party oligarchies, and generational designation. This means the current party chief designates his own immediate successor. The successor will go through the fake elections to provide legitimacy.
When summarizing the experience of the Paris Commune, Marx and Engels put forward the idea of a new type of people’s state. They believed that “true democracy” based on universal suffrage was the inevitable choice to overcome the separation of state and society. They highly praised the system of the Paris Commune, in which public officials were elected and removed by universal suffrage, received common workers’ salaries, and served society as public servants, stating that this “ensured that state power remained in the hands of the people. But the Soviet Communist Party, led by Lenin, did not implement universal suffrage after seizing power, as Marx had advocated. The CCP followed in the footsteps of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and refused to allow the people the basic right to elect state leaders.
In a modern civilized society, only a democratically elected government has legitimacy to govern. Over 70 years ago, the CCP seized state power with the “barrel of a gun” and ruled China with bloody violence that killed and injured at least 30 million people, and no real and fair democratic election has ever been held. Similarly, Xi Jinping has been under the shadow of doubts regarding his legitimacy since he came to power and has been unable to free himself from it. Using performance in exchange for legitimacy will no longer work.
In order to hold on to power, Xi Jinping has used the “bait-and-switch” trick, and created the absurd concept of “whole-process democracy” and put together a bunch of vague and empty words to whitewash the totalitarian system, framing it as “whole-process people’s democracy which integrates process-oriented democracy with results-oriented democracy, procedural democracy with substantive democracy, direct democracy with indirect democracy, and people’s democracy with the will of the state. It is a model of socialist democracy that covers all aspects of the democratic process and all sectors of society. It is a true democracy that works.” Xi brags about the superiority of so-called socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics far surpasses American-style democracy.
Looking back at the history of the world in the 20th century, many totalitarian countries such as the former Soviet Union, East Germany and North Korea all described their “democracy” as the most perfect democracy in the world, and Stalin even boasted that the Soviet Union’s elections were the most democratic in the world during the bloody purge in 1937, which has long become an international laughingstock. Xi Jinping’s “originality” is nothing more than a rehash of the tyranny of the former Soviet Union, East Germany, North Korea, and other countries, which is even more ridiculous.
Xi Jinping’s claims of “the people being the masters” and “whole process democracy” are outright lies. The so-called socialist system with Chinese characteristics is essentially an exquisite new totalitarian system under high-tech surveillance, an anti-democratic and anti-civilizational system of modern slavery. But the CCP uses a huge internal and external propaganda machine to brainwash in a futile and foolish attempt to turn lies into truth.
For the protection of human rights, equality of rights, freedom of speech, press and publication, openness and transparency, separation of powers and checks and balances, and independence of the judiciary are the necessary prerequisites and basic elements of democratic politics, and free and fair elections are the starting point of democratic politics. The most important criterion to determine whether people are masters of their own country is whether they can freely and fairly elect and dismiss officials at all levels of government. Additionally, to determine whether party members enjoy the main body status and democratic rights. It also depends on whether they can freely and fairly elect and dismiss leaders of party organizations at all levels.
Closely related to universal suffrage are guarantees of freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of association, as well as the availability of independent judges to adjudicate disputes fairly and judicially. Only in this way can the elected officials and party leaders reflect the will of the people and represent their interests and be held accountable to the people and party members, rather than to the higher-ups. In this regard, “free nomination” and “free election” are the litmus test of true and false democracy. This is a standard generally accepted by all democratic countries in the world. The Chinese Communist Party cannot get around this litmus test no matter how strong the arguments and sophistry are. In the past, village committee elections were relatively close to democratic elections, but village committees are not real governmental bodies of the CCP, but so-called grassroots “self-governing” organizations of the masses. In order to ensure the election of CCP members, Xi Jinping has strengthened the control of village party organizations over village committee elections since he came to power. Thus, democratic elections of village committees have existed in name only.
The CCP often talks about the people being in charge and it represents the will and interests of the people. It tries its best to justify its one-party dictatorship by arguing that the people have the right to participate in, discuss and monitor government affairs. This is obviously a big lie. In order to ensure its permanent rule, the CCP raises the banner of the Chinese model of democracy. It is the sole rule-maker, the sole participant, and sole referee of the game. The laws of the party-state are made entirely at the will of the CCP, and since Xi Jinping came to power, he has even demanded absolute leadership of the party over China’s judicial system. In recent years, the CCP has increased the number of procedures for consulting the public on new laws, but this is a mere formality. The people have never had the right to participate in the making of laws nor to monitor their implementation.
No matter how good the spin of its apologists, it cannot cite convincing concrete evidence of how the people’s mastery is achieved. To date, the Chinese Communist Party still has not ratified the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the rights stipulated in the Chinese Communist Party’s Constitution are rights on a worthless piece of paper that cannot protect individuals from the power of the Party and the State. Any criticism of the CCP will be punished as “subversion of state power”. The official media present the CCP’s rubber stamp – the National People’s Congress – as a body elected by the 1.4 billion Chinese people, with proposals and motions implemented every year to prove that it represents the will of the people under democracy. But the fact is that every year tens of thousands of people go to Beijing to petition for their grievances, and governments at all levels set up barriers, intercept them at every level, reprimand and fine them, and put them in black jails and reeducation through labor. How does the CCP serve the people and represent their interests?
Without political and civil rights, the people are the country’s masters, and all power belongs to the people are empty words and falsehoods. By this standard, Xi Jinping’s whole process democracy is a fake democracy, and so is the intra-party democracy.
III. CCP’s path post-20th Congress
Xi Jinping’s intention in engaging in false democracy is to maintain the CCP’s one-party dictatorship, to guarantee its long-term rule, to keep power in the hands of the Party permanently, and to ensure no color revolution in the Red Empire for a thousand generations. The CCP’s gun barrel, knife handle, pen holder and purse all serve this purpose, and regime security is the core of the CCP’s core interests, a task that will remain central after the Party’s 20th National Congress and the starting point for all of the CCP’s work. In addition to strengthening the first three dictatorial mechanisms, the purse will be used more often to fool the people and gain legitimacy through sustained economic growth and new policies such as common prosperity.
In Xi’s third and fourth terms, the CCP wants to move toward achieving its second 100-year goal of building a modern socialist power by 2049, the 100th year of the party-state’s founding. Before that, it also has to modernize its army by 2027, the 100th year of the PLA founding; meanwhile, the CCP faces a critical point in time when the end of its term is near. The CCP’s Russian creator, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, held power for 74 years. By the end of 2023, the CCP will reach that limit. This is important because the CCP leaders are superstitious, and the collapse of the Soviet made them highly nervous. In recent years, a variety of gray rhinoceros or Black Swan events have emerged. The economic woes caused by structural problems and Covid-19 pandemic, extreme weathers, the CCP’s aggression in changing the current international rules and order, and the collective backlash from Western countries caused by China’s expansion and war-wolf diplomacy for world domination, have made Xi encounter the most severe crises at home and abroad since he came to power in 2012.
Xi himself is personally ambitious and sees himself as a great savior of the party and the people who can stand shoulder to shoulder with Mao Zedong, and as the initiator of the CCP’s second century of a thousand years of greatness. He will not respond to the crisis conservatively but will essentially follow the same old playbook of Mao and Deng Xiaoping. Internally, since the authority of the CCP leadership has been declining from generation to generation, Xi Jinping will certainly build up his absolute authority as Mao did and make great efforts to promote his own great achievements. Xi will do his utmost to promote his personality cult in the name of the Party. At the same time, he will also continue Deng Xiaoping’s strategy of “soft-hard two hands” by strengthening the reform of various fields and institutions of the Party and the state, while cracking down ruthlessly on dissent. Xi will push hard to further fortify his totalitarian rule in the name of perfecting the efficiency and effectiveness of the Chinese socialist system and governance by restructuring the giant power pyramid under the so-called the fifth modernization. This enables him to control the Party and state in a more refined, sophisticated, comprehensive and diversified way. On the other hand, he will seek to strengthen the dominant role of the socialist public sector economy through restructuring, including different forms of seizing private businesses, improving the productivity of state-owned enterprises, and preserving China as the world’s factory while turning it into the world innovation center. This is the core spirit of Xi Jinping’s fifth modernization.
But history has proven that political oppression is unsustainable, and that human nature aspires to freedom and dignity. Moreover, the fatal drawback of a socialist economy is its inability to mobilize individuals – the flaws that cannot be fundamentally eliminated even by adding limited market mechanisms. Likewise, a politically stifling environment is unlikely to produce disruptive innovation on a sustainable basis. Western countries are beginning to recognize the political and economic motivations of the CCP’s all-out effort to seize the technological high ground, and have stepped up countermeasures, such as restricting Huawei and reducing technology transfers to China, which will also make Xi’s economic transformation difficult.
Xi Jinping also wants to play the common prosperity card after the 20th Congress, which is also “a one stone and two birds” – a two-pronged political and economic power play, by robbing the rich to help the party. Xi Jinping wants to both use and weaken China’s private sector. He will intensify his effort to plunder the private assets to fund economically troubled governments, and at the same time, he also wants to weaken it, prevent it from getting bigger and stronger to become political security risks. A series of initiatives against private enterprises in recent years are already aimed at this. At the same time, he will take advantage of the Chinese people’s hatred of the rich to put forward the popular slogan of common prosperity in order to eliminate and divert the discontent against the Party. Although the Communist Party announced that it had achieved the first 100-year goal and completed the construction of a moderately prosperous society in the 100th year of the Party, the fact is, as Li Keqiang admitted, that 600 million people earn only 1,000 yuan ($145) a month, which is not enough for the rent in a medium-sized city. Xi advocates common prosperity to give the people a false hope and thus support Xi’s policies. However, as long as the invisible dual-track system of the economy exists, collusion between government officials and business people, the exchange of money and power, and the powerful’s rent-seeking are inevitable. The huge gap between the rich and the poor in China is the result of the power elite’s use of the invisible dual-track system of the economy. The unequal opportunity created by the system is the core of the problem. If this is not resolved, common prosperity is empty talk. It is a promise that cannot be kept. The CCP has failed to deliver for more than 74 years.
When the domestic crisis cannot be resolved quickly, Xi Jinping will surely divert the public attention through external conflicts to incite extreme nationalism to serve his politics. In 2022, the beginning of the New Year, the active provocation of the CCP army on the Sino-Indian border is proof of this. Beyond the CCP’s regime security, the core of the CCP’s interests are the occupation of Taiwan and the annexation of the South China Sea, and finally, the struggle for global hegemony. But the actions to promote the realization of these interests go hand in hand. The so-called liberation of Taiwan or reunification of the motherland is the most important part of Xi Jinping’s China Dream, and Xi Jinping will increase pressure after the 20th Congress to find a solution to resolve the Taiwan issue. It is predictable that Xi will even use the liberation of Taiwan to justify his third-term. It is likely Xi may use force against Taiwan between the end of his third term and the beginning of his fourth term. Prior to his resort to force, he will implement the strategy of forcing unification mainly through public opinion warfare, psychological warfare, legal warfare, united front warfare, and economic warfare, along with military provocations to maintain the CCP’s presence in the Taiwan Strait and to dispute Taiwan’s sovereignty. These steps are taken in order to warn the United States and other Western countries not to upgrade their official relations with Taiwan. Once the forced reunification fails and the U.S. resolve to protect Taiwan is weakened, Xi will attack Taiwan by force.
It is certain that Xi Jinping’s foreign policy after the CCP’s 20th National Congress will increase its hostility against the United States and treat the US as its main adversary. This is because Xi perceives that the U.S. is the biggest obstacle to the CCP’s strategic goals of expanding its core interests. He will increase military expansion and preparedness in an effort to win the final war for China’s global domination. At the same time, Xi will continue to deceive the United States for a longer period of strategic opportunity, as the CCP is still not strong enough for a showdown with the United States for a considerable period of time.
To sum up, I believe that China’s future will get gloomier under Xi’s third term. Xi’s domestic and foreign policies after the 20th National Congress may delay the collapse of the CCP for the time being, but Xi will eventually take the Party-state down a more dangerous path with disastrous results. Because Xi will further alienate the public and the Party elites, and clash with other countries, dragging China into a catastrophe. The PSC will become Xi’s personal front office to carry out his will. The military will not do anything as long as Xi continues his “military-first” policy which prioritizes the PLA in the affairs of state and allocation of resources including increased benefits. Economic crises and war could spark civil unrest. At some point during Xi’s tenure, discontent masses will rise to oppose Xi’s worsening totalitarian rule. But the powerful security forces, which are equipped with the most advanced high-tech total societal control system and anti-riot weapons, will likely defeat them unless the masses have a free and open internet to get their messages out and get themselves organized nationwide. Wise people inside and outside the party should have a clear understanding of this. If the 95 million members of the Party really want to remember their original mission, they should follow Marx’s teachings and fight for universal suffrage for themselves and their people, and elect party representatives and party leaders freely and fairly.