XI JINPING LINKING HARDLINE GLOBAL POLICY TO US ELECTION
It is impossible to predict the outcome of the US presidential election at this writing (November 2), but China’s global strategy going forward has come into view to some extent through the fifth plenum of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held in Beijing late last month. Xi Jinping has undoubtedly made up his mind to take a tough line against America.
What did Xi intend to accomplish during the session in the first place? His intent is obvious from the inordinate amount of information bandied about prior to the conference regarding the CPC’s personnel matters, according to Akio Yaita, a China expert and the Taipei bureau chief of the conservative daily Sankei Shimbun. He explained:
“Most noticeable were reports concerning Xi’s plans to resurrect the title of the chairman of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which he plans to eventually assume. It is possible that he leaked the information, as he desires to assume complete control of China like the late Chairman Mao Zedong for another 15 years, until he turns 82 years old. In other words, virtually for life.” Yaita was a guest on my regular “Genron” Internet TV news show last Friday (October 30).
Mao subjected China to his harsh rule as chairman, simultaneously commanding the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and heading the Military Commission of the party’s Central Committee. Holding absolute power that no Chinese could defy, Mao spun out of control over time. His authority was so enormous nobody could stop him, Yaita continued.
Reflecting on Mao’s rampant dictatorship after he died, Deng Xiaoping and other party leaders decided to do away with the post of state chairman. But Xi now wants to resurrect it to become a Mao Zedong and consolidate his rule over China. This time Xi did not quite succeed in implementing the personnel reshuffle of top party officials as he had envisioned, presumably because of a fierce power struggle within his party. But Xi will have two more chances to achieve his goal, Yaita noted.
Let’s take a moment to see how China’s political system works. The National People’s Congress (NPC), held every five years, is the CPC’s supreme decision-making body. After an NPC comes to a close, the party’s Central Committee takes charge of all CPC matters through seven plenums held over the next five-year period before the next NPC.
The first plenum of the new period follows immediately the close of the last NPC to decide on personnel matters pertaining to party executives, followed by the second plenum the following spring, aimed at designating members of the state council (the government) under the new regime. Then comes the third plenum about a year after the new administration is formed, primarily deliberating on economic issues. The next three plenums are held every autumn over the following three years to discuss current political, economic, and security issues. The last of the seven plenums is called just before the next NPC with the aim of reviewing the results of the party’s ongoing five-year plan and preparing for the next NPC.
Big Scandal Influencing US Presidential Election
Under the old rules, Xi was to retire following the NPC slated for 2022. But he now clearly has the ambition to reign over China as state chairman for another term after that—and yet one more term after that term is complete.
Xi’s outrageous ambition to revise the rules governing personnel matters involving top CPC officials failed to materialize this time. But it will be quite possible for him to move toward his goal step by step, utilizing the plenums still remaining for the next few years.
Anti-Xi forces within the CPC aren’t his only adversary, as he also has America to contend with. From the moves Xi has recently made, it is plain that he has vacillated significantly between pursuing a conciliatory policy toward the US and a tough line designed to implement a self-sustaining economy for China. Broadly speaking, it was a choice between the Deng Xiaoping line and the Mao Zedong line.
“On October 14, Xi visited Shenzhen, southern Guangdong province, offering flowers to the statue of Deng, who led China’s economic reform 1980-90, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. It was as if Xi declared he would follow the Deng line. Although he was said to be slated to stay in Shenzhen the next couple of days, Xi suddenly returned to Beijing on the same day. And then a very strange thing happened. The NPC’s Standing Committee held four meetings in the week starting October 16.”
The CPC’s Standing Committee, which equals the cabinet in Japan, normally holds one session a week. Holding four sessions in the same time frame is extraordinary.
As it turned out, Xi returned to Beijing before the US media started reporting on a potentially big scandal involving the US presidential election. The New York Post reported that a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, had been delivered to the FBI, which allegedly found questionable emails, sound, and images—purportedly “evidence” of Hunter’s secret dealings with Chinese operatives. The daily also reported that, in addition to records of transactions between Hunter and PLA agents and other operatives of Chinese intelligence outfits, the data from the computer included indecent video footage.
I suspect that Xi saw Biden solidly ahead of Trump about the time he was offering flowers to Deng’s statue in Shenzhen and had every intention of utilizing the video, presumably taken by Chinese agents, to his advantage in dealing with the incoming Biden administration. But there would be no deal-making now that the material had been made public. Not only that. Xi thought Biden would harbor intense resentment toward China for cornering his son in such detestable fashion and could very well end up being even tougher with China than Trump.
“I think Xi returned to Beijing in a big hurry, piled on meetings with party leaders, and made up his mind to pursue a hardline approach to the US,” observed Yaita. “Xi strongly pressed for an economic policy of self-reliance for China, vowing to never rely on the US or other members of the international community. I don’t expect China to want to mend fences with America for some time.”
Operatives Active Behind the Scenes
Behind the revelation of the Hunter Biden scandal is the dark and sinister world of international intelligence. To this day it is not known which forces of what country revealed the information, although Chinese or Russian operatives are generally most suspected.
First suspected was China. Among the information damaging to Hunter are said to be the details of his dealings with Chinese corporations that only the Chinese could get hold of. Such details must have been provided by the anti-Xi side—the forces in Beijing eager to weaken Xi by defaming Biden in order to help Trump’s victory.
If Russians were involved, it would have been a ploy to help Trump win. Let Trump grapple with China, while Russia does whatever it pleases.
Various other scenarios are of course conceivable, as operatives from around the world have converged on the US on the occasion of the presidential election. China, Russia, and the US itself, are all frantically working to safeguard their national interests. What is taking place is none other than war.
China’s determination to pursue a hardline global policy is apparent from the amendments recently proposed to its 1977 Law on National Defense, of which Xi personally took charge. One amendment stresses: “When China’s sovereignty or…development interests are under threat, we shall conduct nationwide or local defense mobilization as necessary.” Another states: “China’s national interests around the world shall be protected.”
The amendments are expected to be passed into law without fail. In that event, the rest of the world must brace itself for an unwelcome situation. For instance, if a specific nation should ban the export of some special IC chips that China is unable to manufacture domestically, Beijing could mobilize all Chinese at home and abroad to oppose the ban—to effectively wage war against the exporting nation or nations—on the ground that its interests are “under threat.”
Vast stretches of Japanese land have been bought up by Chinese over the years. It is dangerous to sell land to Chinese, as has been demonstrated by what Australia has gone through. Selling our land to foreign nationals is tantamount to selling our nation, even if they may not be nations hostile to Japan. As a Japanese national, I am immensely concerned about land sales to Chinese in Hokkaido and Okinawa, the two islands that are of particular strategic importance to Japan.
If the Japanese government were to restrict the use of land in Japan already purchased by Chinese, the Chinese government may mobilize its people to rise against Japan en masse, claiming that Chinese interests are at stake. One cannot rule out an alarming situation in which China’s revised National Defense Law would prompt Chinese residents in Japan to such action. The projected revision is yet another sure sign that the Xi Jinping administration is forging ahead with an unprecedented hardline foreign policy.
(Translated from “Renaissance Japan” column no. 925 in the November 12, 2020 issue of The Weekly Shincho)