CAN CHINESE SOCIALISM DEFEAT AMERICAN CAPITALISM AS XI VOWS?
Strategically speaking, the timing of the visit to Taipei December 10-12 by Koichi Hagiuda, Chairman of the Policy Research Council of the ruling Liberal-Democratic Party, couldn’t have been better. As the first incumbent leading LDP heavyweight to visit Taiwan in 19 years, Hagiuda conferred with President Tsai Ing-wen and demonstrated Japan’s resolve to give greater weight to the peace and stability of the self-governing island. The visit must have constituted a powerful deterrent against China.
I suspect the visit also significantly helped dispel the sense of insecurity among the Taiwanese, including their president, over who in Japan will follow in the footsteps of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who tirelessly strived to strengthen the ties between Tokyo and Taipei until he was gunned down in July.
Tsai and Hagiuda primarily agreed that Japan and Taiwan will work closely together to strengthen their bilateral relations, oppose any move to change the existing order in the Asia-Pacific order by force, move forward Taiwan’s application for membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement (TPP11), and cooperate in speeding up semiconductor development. Following their talks, Hagiuda said Japan and Taiwan share the same sense of crisis concerning the latter’s security, promising Japan’s readiness to grapple with the Chinese threat together. Akio Yaita, Taipei bureau chief of the conservative Sankei Shimbun, had this to say on my Friday “Genron” Internet TV news show on November 25:
“By delivering a keynote speech at a forum aimed at strengthening Japan-Taiwan ties, Hagiuda has given the people of Taiwan a big lift, just as Abe constantly did.. The Taiwanese really liked Abe and sincerely appreciated his having so earnestly focused on Taiwan. And they appreciate even more this visit by an influential incumbent figure in the center of the Japanese government like Haguida. Tsai reportedly told him: ‘I am confident that under your leadership, Mr. Abe’s belief in Taiwan-Japan friendship will, without fail, passed on.’ I suspect no small number of Taiwanese regard Hagiuda as Abe’s likely successor.”
In coming to grips with Xi Jinping’s view on history and his global strategy, one is reminded that protecting Taiwan is synonymous with safeguarding the security of the democracies of the world, including Japan. Should China conquer Taiwan, not only Japan and the US but the whole world would fall into crisis. While I will refer to Xi’s bitter hatred of the US later, allow me to note here that Japan is on the frontline of a colossal clash of values between the US and China.
At the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CCP) in October, Xi set himself up for another decade as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, succeeded in establishing his strongest ever power base—a power base nobody can oppose. The Politburo Standing Committee, the Politburo itself, and the Central Military Commission are now staffed by yes men across the board. Xi promotes slogans such as “a community of common destiny for mankind,” and programs such as the Global Security Initiative, and the Belt and Road Initiative. But behind these fine words is Xi’s unambiguous desire to overthrow a postwar world order centered on the democratic values of the UN, and replace it with a new order founded on Chinese values and leadership.
“CCP’S Dark and Hideous Ambition”
Foreign Affairs in its November 30, 2022 issue carried an incisive analysis of the world Xi aims for. The article was written by Matt Pottinger, former Deputy National Security Advisor under President Donald Trump, and his co-authors. A former Wall Street Journal correspondent in Beijing, Pottinger has carefully read through Xi’s addresses and remarks in Chinese. Pottinger points out that Xi’s addresses have customarily not been released in full, with references deleted that reflect China’s real intentions which the Chinese authorities don’t want the world to know.
Reading documents the CCP publishes is not an easy matter, as they are by nature overlong, repetitiously employing cut-and-dried stock phrases. Pottinger quotes the late Simon Leys, one of the most insightful China watchers in the West, as comparing reading CCP documents to “swallowing sawdust by the bucketful.”
The CCP deletes from its uninteresting documents what foreign observers wish to know most about China’s true intentions, which makes reading them all the more boring and painful. It would be correct to say this system was designed by China to let its real intentions and schemes go unnoticed even by the most dedicated of foreign journalists and researchers.
The dark and hideous ambitions the CPP wants to hide have traditionally been released several months or years later, subtly inserted into the original texts. Unable to detect that the past texts have been manipulated in this fashion, most Western journalists and researchers don’t notice this underhanded scheming even if the texts are subsequently published.
To understand Xi’s thinking, one must first learn how he views history. It is mandatory to see how the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which Vladimir Putin described as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” has influenced Xi and swayed the policy decisions of the CCP leadership.
A month into his first term in December 2012, Xi gave a closed-door speech to party leaders in Guangdong, stating, among other things: ‟Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse? An important reason was that their ideals and beliefs had been shaken. . . It’s a profound lesson for all of us! To dismiss the history of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Communist Party, to dismiss Lenin and Stalin, and to dismiss everything else is to engage in historic nihilism, and it confuses our thoughts and undermines the Party’s organizations on all levels.
Xi reportedly fumed: “In the end, nobody was man enough to stand up and resist!” But the more important point is Xi’s observation that the USSR collapsed because “they didn’t have the tools for dictatorship.”
“Don’t Hesitate to Destroy the Country”
In the Soviet Union, the military did not belong to its Communist Party but to the government, i.e., the state, making it impossible for the party to turn to the military to intervene and prevent the state’s collapse. In China, the military is subordinate to the party, not to the state. The People’s Liberation Force (PLA) belongs to the Communist Party, with Xi serving as General Secretary of the CCP’s Central Committee and head of the Central Military Commission. Xi alone controls the party and the military in China. As was the case with his predecessors in the successive Chinese Communist administrations, Xi is most afraid of revolts of the masses and revolutions from below. That is why he has placed under his full control the PLA, which boasts the world’s second largest military as his “tool for dictatorship,” creating a powerful system nobody in China can go against.
Pottinger points out that in a January 2013 speech only published six years later, Xi defended the theories of Marx and Engels, asserting that capitalism will inevitably perish and socialism triumph, as “this is the irreversible overall trend of social and historical development.” He went on to say: “But the road is winding. The ultimate demise of capitalism, and the ultimate triumph of socialism, will inevitably be a long historical process.” In his address at the National Congress in October this year, Xi stressed that in that long span of time the CCP must strengthen discipline with an iron fist and concentrate on maintaining strong party rule.
At home and abroad, Xi has emphasized the importance of a “community of common destiny for mankind”—a concept designed to enable all mankind to enjoy “win-win” relations under a new world order based on the CCP’s values. The Japanese would find it absolutely unacceptable to live according to the values of the Chinese Communist Party. In fact, none other than Xi has remarked that China’s “ideology and social system are fundamentally incompatible with the West,” further observing that “our struggle and contest with Western countries is irreconcilable, so it will inevitably be long, complicated, and sometimes even very sharp.” Following Mao’s line, Xi has also stated: “Do not hesitate to destroy the country in order to build it anew.” One isn’t surprised to hear such a statement coming a man who will not criticize Putin for his invasion of Ukraine.
It is quite clear that Japan must bolster its deterrence against China to the best of its ability. At a time when our nation’s security is seriously threatened, Prime Minister Fumiko Kishida must strive at all costs to employ every available means to strengthen Japan’s military capability.
(Translated from “Renaissance Japan” column no. 1,029 in the December 22, 2022 issue of The Weekly Shincho)