The New Chinese Dictatorship
Written by Alfonso Elizondo
Just a few days ago, China went from democracy to dictatorship when its maximum political leader, Xi Jinping, announced that he is going to change China’s constitution so that he can govern as president for as long as he wants. This major change means that the bet made by the West 25 years ago that China would move towards the democratic model has failed completely.
A few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West welcomed China, the world’s other major communist country, into the global economic order. Western leaders believed that giving China a space in global institutions would link it to the rules-based system that was established after World War II. These leaders believed that economic integration would encourage China to move towards a market economy like the one in the West, and that as they became rich, their people would crave democratic freedoms and the rights granted by a democratic state. Unfortunately that did not happen, and although China has become richer than anyone thought, its government has moved towards a dictatorship and the country has turned towards repression and state control.
Xi Jinping has used his political power to reaffirm the Communist Party’s dominance and his position as maximum leader. He has launched a campaign against corruption in which he has destroyed his potential rivals. He has reorganized the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to ensure allegiance to the party and to him personally. He also has imprisoned free-thinking lawyers and eliminated criticism of the party and the government that used to be made via the press and the Internet.
Previously, China showed no interest in the life of other countries, as long as they left it alone. However, it now views its political system as a rival to liberal democracy. In the last XIX Congress, Xi offered a new option for other countries which involves the use of ‘Chinese wisdom’ to solve the problems that humanity is currently facing. He said at the time that in China he would not export his political model, but he feels that the United States is not only an economic rival, but an ideological one as well.
At the moment, China has been integrated into the global economy and is the world’s largest exporter, with just over 13% of total exports. It is also home to twelve of the 100 richest companies in the world and has created extraordinary prosperity for itself and for those who do business with it.
Despite all this success, China is not, nor will it be, a market economy, but increasingly it is controlling the companies that are an arm of state power. It also sees a large number of industries as strategic. In its ‘Made in China 2025’ plan, it has put in place the subsidies and protection to create world leaders in ten industries, including aviation, technology and energy, which account for almost 40% of its total manufacturing.
Although China may have adopted some of the rules of the West, it has created its own parallel system, as in the case of the ‘Belt & Road’ that facilitates the investment of more than a trillion dollars in foreign markets, making the old Marshall Plan look small. It is also calling on Western powers to accept the use of Chinese laws to resolve disputes.
China uses companies to confront its enemies, as in the case of the Mercedes-Benz which had to issue a humiliating apology to China. It also punishes the behavior of foreign governments, for example when the Philippines challenged China’s claim to Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea and China stopped buying their bananas citing fake health reasons.
In addition to this immense power in the area of trade, it has its armed forces and so it behaves like a regional superpower determined to expel the United States from East Asia. At the moment, China’s investment in modern weapons is the source of great fear for the US which has not wanted or has not been able to stop it in that region of the world.
Addendum: This unexpected turn in politics and the Chinese economy could become the beginning of the Third World War and the end of the human race on Planet Earth or it could be the beginning of a new global society living in permanent peace.