World View: Xi Jinping’s Speech on ‘the Humiliation of the Chinese Nation for Centuries’

Xi warns no one can 'dictate' China's path, 40 years on from reforms

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Xi Jinping’s speech on ‘the humiliation of the Chinese nation for centuries’
  • China’s history since the May Fourth Movement
  • Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’: revenge for centuries of humiliation

Xi Jinping’s speech on ‘the humiliation of the Chinese nation for centuries’

Xi Jinping gives his speech to the Great Hall of the People on December 18 (AP)
Xi Jinping gives his speech to the Great Hall of the People on December 18 (AP)

Last week on December 18, China’s president Xi Jinping gave a solemn speech in the Great Hall of the People, marking the 40th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping’s policy of reform and openness.

In my opinion, the most important part of that speech was his goal of “wiping out the humiliation of the Chinese nation for centuries.”

He made the same allusion in March of this year in a major speech to the National People’s Congress – a meeting where he made himself a dictator for life and modified the constitution to incorporate “Xi’s Thoughts” on “Socialism with China Characteristics (SWCC).”

In the March speech, he said “China has continuously striven for its dream of realizing great national rejuvenation for over 170 years,” alluding to the Opium Wars of the 1840s. This is a theme I have seen frequently in Chinese statements, that China would be a great nation today if it had not been humiliated by the West, particularly Britain and Japan.

For the past few months, I have been deep into studying China’s history, back to ancient times, but particularly focusing on the time since the 1840s Opium Wars. And there is a big puzzle about China that becomes starkly apparent when you compare China and Japan in the late 1800s.

Both China and Japan had generational crisis civil wars that climaxed in the 1860s (Taiping Rebellion and Meiji Restoration, respectively). Both countries were devastated by those crisis civil wars and each had to reconstruct a shattered country. But those reconstructions proceeded in vastly different directions.

Japan embraced the West, including culture, government, and technology, and by the early 1900s Japan was considered a “developed country” and even a “Western country,” although the people became imbued with a militaristic attitude that resulted in disaster in World War II.

China did not embrace the West. China rejected the West (or at best had a love-hate relationship with the West) and declared war on the West in the Boxer Rebellion. As a result, China had no idea what was going on in the world. The Chinese leaders were repeatedly “conned” by Japan and the West in World War I and they never seemed to learn what was going on. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” is the old saying. But the Chinese were fooled over and over and never seemed to learn anything. While Japan’s government was highly competent and driven, China’s government was totally incompetent and stumbled from one disaster to another.

This created the “New Culture Movement” in the late 1910s, a rejection by young people of all of China’s culture under previous governments, including Confucianism and the classical Chinese language. This created a vacuum that might have been filled by Western ideas, except that China was fooled and humiliated once again by Japan and the West in the Versailles Treaty of Paris, the agreement that ended World War I. The result was that a large segment of China’s society began adopting anarchism, socialism, and communism from Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution, leading to the formation of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the 1920s.

That triggered the May 4th movement (May 4, 1919), a massive anti-government protest by millions of students in Tiananmen Square that the government brutally put down, but which turned the people into a driven population seeking revenge against Japan and the West.

It is no coincidence that the May 4th movement was repeated exactly 70 years later, in May 1989, leading to the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989. It is also going to be a big problem next year for the Chinese leadership that May 4 and June 4, 2019, will be anniversaries of the May 4th Movement and the Tiananmen Square massacre.

The riddle about China is why the Chinese people are so naive and credulous. For three hundred years, from 1640 to 1912, they were governed by a small army of foreigners – the Manchus – that they could easily have overthrown at any time, but never bothered to do so. Then during the 1910s and World War I, their incompetent government was humiliated time after time by Japan, Britain, Russia, and France. In World War II, the huge Chinese empire would have been defeated by the small island of Japan if the West, principally the Americans, hadn’t saved China’s butt.

After the war, the disasters continued under Mao Zedong, with the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution and then, in 1989, the Tiananmen Square massacre. Even today, under Xi Jinping, China’s government (the CCP) seems like a child lost in the woods, with no idea how to deal with its own population except through brutality or how to deal with the other countries of the world except through deception and military threats. China Daily and Xinhua and Diplomat (5-May-2015) and RadiiChina

China’s history since the May Fourth Movement

Xi Jinping sees the May Fourth Movement as a major turning point in China’s history, and he lists three major outcomes in the last century of the May Fourth Movement:

  • The formation of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the 1920s.
  • The creation of the People’s Republic of China by Mao Zedong in 1949.
  • Deng Xiaoping’s “reform and opening-up” in 1978, including the redefinition and implementation of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics (SWCC). This is the event whose 40th anniversary was being celebrated last week.

I believe that we can reasonably assume that Xi would identify the fourth major outcome of the May 4th Movement as his own anointment as dictator for life and the incorporation of “Xi’s Thoughts” in the constitution, in March of this year.

In terms of intent, Deng’s “Reforms and Opening Up” are comparable to the kinds of actions that Japan took in the decades following the Meiji Restoration. So one might say that in 1978, China lagged a century behind Japan.

However, there is still a big difference. Japan is a democracy, while nobody would ever call China’s government a democracy.

According to the minutes of the “Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee,” meeting from December 18-22, 1978, where the reforms were presented, China must implement “socialist modernization”:

Socialist modernization requires centralized leadership and strict implementation of various rules and regulations and observance of labour discipline. Bourgeois factionalism and anarchism must be firmly opposed. But the correct concentration of ideas is possible only when there is full democracy. Since for a period in the past democratic centralism was not carried out in the true sense, centralism being divorced from democracy and there being too little democracy, it is necessary to lay particular emphasis on democracy at present, and on the dialectical relationship between democracy and centralism, so as to make the mass line the foundation of the Party’s centralized leadership and the effective direction of the organizations of production. In ideological and political life among the ranks of the people, only democracy is permissible and not suppression or persecution. … The constitutional rights of citizens must be resolutely protected and no one has the right to infringe upon them.

In order to safeguard people’s democracy, it is imperative to strengthen the socialist legal system so that democracy is systematized and written into law in such a way as to ensure the stability, continuity and full authority of this democratic system and these laws; there must be laws for people to follow, these laws must be observed, their enforcement must be strict and law breakers must be dealt with. … Procuratorial and judicial organizations must maintain their independence as is appropriate; they must faithfully abide by the laws, rules and regulations, serve the people’s interests, keep to the facts; guarantee the equality of all people before the people’s laws and deny anyone the privilege of being above the law.

There are two important concepts here: “socialist modernization” was necessary to open China to the world, and “democratic centralism” meant that the country was centrally controlled, but democratic in the sense there must be no suppression or persecution. Elsewhere, the same document says:

The Party members’ right to make criticisms within the Party concerning the leadership at higher levels, up to Members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, must be guaranteed and any practice that does not conform to the Party’s democratic centralism and the principle of collective leadership should be resolutely corrected.

This is what was meant by Socialism with Chinese Characteristics at the time of Deng Xiaoping in 1978, but none of this is recognizable in today’s China, where members of the CCP are clearly above the law and anyone who criticizes the CCP can be thrown into jail.

When Xi Jinping listed the three major outcomes of the May Fourth Movement, he probably left out the most important: the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square massacre.

In May 1989, exactly 70 years after the May 4th movement, millions of young Chinese students crowded into Beijing to demand greater democracy and less repression, exactly what Deng Xiaoping had called for. On June 4, Chinese troops and security police stormed through Tiananmen Square, firing indiscriminately into the crowds of protesters. Thousands of students were killed, and tens of thousands were arrested.

That was not the only thing that happened around that time. On December 26, 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and all the former Soviet republics became independent self-governing nations.

Arguably, the collapse of the Soviet Union was more traumatic to the CCP than even the Tiananmen Square massacre. Suddenly, the leadership of the CCP was staring death in the face, as they considered the fact something like that Tiananmen Square protests could force the Chinese Communist Party to collapse as well. Ever since the Bolshevik Revolution, Russian communism had always been the role model for Chinese communism. If Russian communism could collapse, then so could Chinese communism.

In the 1990s, Socialism with Chinese Characteristics began to take on a whole new and far darker and more sinister meaning. The CCP leadership became increasingly paranoid and began seeing ghosts. Centralism was still in play, but democratic centralism was gone. The “right to make criticisms” was gone, and any criticism of the CCP leadership could lead to torture, rape, and jailing.

Religious persecution surged. The Buddhism-based Falun Gong movement was and is particularly targeted after millions of people became practitioners of their form of meditation. The CCP has increasingly cracked down on Christianity and even Daoism for fear their practice could lead to the overthrow of the CCP. Beijing Review (26-May-2009) and Economist and China Global Television Network and South China Morning Post

Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’: revenge for centuries of humiliation

Deng Xiaoping’s reforms are almost completely unrecognizable in today’s CCP, led by Xi Jinping. Consider Deng’s “24-Character Strategy” (24 Chinese characters):

Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership.

Xi Jinping is certainly not following Deng’s advice. China today is belligerent, boastful, and military threatening to anyone who does not do as China demands. It is the opposite of Deng’s advice.

The May 4th Movement led immediately to two disastrous Chinese leaders – Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao Zedong – and to China’s bloody civil war (the Communist Revolution) and then to disastrous domestic policies, including the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

Today, China is led by the CCP and Xi Jinping and the government is insanity on steroids, completely delusional and out of touch with reality. There are a couple of examples I like to point to.

One is the fear of Winnie the Pooh, who looks like Xi Jinping. This is actually a real fear because the deeply paranoid CCP leaders are actually afraid that Winnie the Pooh can be used as a symbol for an internal revolt to overthrow the CCP. Can you imagine Donald Trump or any other national leader being afraid of Winnie the Pooh or some other cartoon character? That is the state of insanity of China’s CCP government.

Another example is the policy of locking up a million Muslim Uighurs in re-education camps in Xinjiang province. This has got to be the stupidest policy in the history of any country in the world. One would have to be insane to believe that this policy would work to convert the Muslim Uighurs into compliant Han Chinese.

Xi Jinping’s own father, Xi Zhongxun, was dragged by Red Guards in front in front of a mob and jailed in what might be called a “re-education center” during the time of the Cultural Revolution. In his recent speech, Xi Jinping says that the Cultural Revolution was a “mistake,” but that does not stop him from the insane policy of doing to a million Uighurs what was done to his own father.

Those are domestic policies. Foreign policies are equally delusional, characterized by deception and simple lying. I have studied China’s historic claims to the South China Sea and they are completely nonexistent. China’s claims are a complete hoax. When Hitler illegally annexed Sudentenland, he could at least claim that he was protecting ethnic Germans. But there are no ethnic Chinese in the South China Sea. China’s claims are a hoax.

In 2015, Xi told Barack Obama that China would not militarize the South China Sea. Today, the South China Sea is bristling with Chinese military bases and weapons. Xi’s statement was a complete lie, just like Hitler’s promise of “peace in our time.”

At first, China pitched the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as an exciting new version of the ancient Silk Road that connected China to Europe. However, it is increasingly seen as a policy of building infrastructure in other countries for the purpose of allowing China to exploit each country’s natural resources. The Chinese “debt trap diplomacy” model is to send in thousands of Chinese workers, lend money to the government and demand that they use the money to pay the salaries of the Chinese workers, who then use the money to send to their families back home or to purchase Chinese products within their enclave. The country cannot afford to pay back the loan, and the Chinese workers stay there forever.

One can see the elements of revenge in these policies. Xi Jinping and the Chinese blame the world for “the humiliation of the Chinese nation for centuries” and now are adopting policies to exploit and humiliate the other countries of the world.

This brings us back to understanding how incompetent China is to governing itself. When the Manchus governed China, there was some sanity. Today, Xi Jinping and the CCP have no clue how to govern their own country or how to navigate in the world. Today, the Chinese people are being governed by another monstrous authoritarian government, led by an incompetent leader Xi Jinping, who has adopted one insane policy after another, with no idea what to do next.

The most insane policy of all is its preparation for war. China has developed one nuclear ballistic weapons system after another with no purpose except to attack American cities, American bases, and American aircraft carriers. China has nothing to offer the world except that it has become an aggressive, imperial, militaristic nation that will launch a war that it will lose, but not before it has brought catastrophe to itself and the entire world. Financial Times and American Thinker

Related Articles:

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, China, Xi Jinping, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Reform and openness, Opium Wars, Britain, Japan, France, Meiji Restoration, Boxer Rebellion, New Culture Movement, Confucianism, World War I, Versailles Treaty, March Fourth Movement, Chinese Communist Party, CCP, Tiananmen Square Massacre, Manchus, Falun Gong, Socialist modernization, democratic centralism, Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, SWCC, Soviet Union, Bolshevik Revolution, Russia, Buddhism, Christianity, Daoism, Chiang Kai-shek, Winnie the Pooh, Uighurs, Xinjiang, Xi Zhongxun, South China Sea, Belt and Road Initiative, BRI
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