AMAC Exclusive – By Ben Solis
More than 30 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, Chinese President Xi Jinping is turning the world’s most populous country and second largest economy into a formidable modern Soviet state – even as many Western leaders fail to recognize the magnitude of the threat.
Ever since securing an unprecedented third term as president in March, Xi has worked tirelessly to tighten his grip over the country. He is reportedly also already planning a fourth term – another sign that the 69-year-old plans to cling to power for life.
During the legislative session where he was re-installed and all of his laws were rubber-stamped, Xi said that China “must hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit” – the same mantra that every other Soviet leader has uttered in the past.
Yet also evincing the familiar Soviet trait of hypocrisy, Xi said shortly thereafter that he was preparing China for war.
A recent opinion article in the Chinese military’s daily newspaper – effectively a propaganda outlet for the Chinese Communist Party – discussed the concept of a “people’s war.” This phraseology traces its roots to Vladimir Lenin’s brutal purges of his enemies during the formation of the Soviet Union and was later adopted by other communist leaders from Joseph Stalin to Mao Zedong.
Eminent historian Richard Pipes has described how the idea of a “people’s war” was first put forth by Lenin to justify the use of violence as a political instrument. Lenin’s “people’s war” described a permanent struggle against “capitalist” elements not just inside Russia, but in the United States and around the world.
As was typical for communist regimes, such phrases as “people’s war” and previously the “Cultural Revolution” and “Great Leap Forward” – also products of Mao’s China – are designed to confuse, not inform. The “people’s war” is a lie covering the fact that the real war is being waged by the regime to perpetuate their own power.
However, it is the Chinese people, not the regime elites, who will be coerced to shed blood and sacrifice in service of the CCP. The article deemed the people’s war Xi’s signature doctrine for total war through ideological, cultural, political, economic, diplomatic, and military means.
The authors of the article, Xia Chenggong and Zhang Hongmei, have closely collaborated with Cheng Enfu, China’s principal propagandist and a close friend of Xi Jinping. Cheng and Xi share many beliefs, and it is evident that his thinking has had a profound influence on Xi’s rule; Cheng was recently promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee, a group of seven leaders who form China’s de facto government.
Throughout a 1,100-page manifesto that provides a glimpse into the ideology that has shaped Xi’s view of the West, Cheng reiterates Lenin’s claims about capitalism’s imminent demise and the existential threat posed by the “neoimperialist” United States. “The United States recognizes that it failed,” Cheng writes. “Therefore, its transformation is inevitable on the path of progress and socialization as follows: the American-type system will transform into the Western European model, then recast itself into the Scandinavian model that eventually converges into a Chinese-type socialist system.”
But as Cheng has made clear, China – led by Xi – should take action to accelerate this process and bring about the demise of Western ideals of democracy and individual liberties. In one notable incident in 2015, Cheng led an effort to prevent the Magna Carta Exhibition at a Beijing university and even a museum in Shanghai, openly admitting that Chinese Leninism does not tolerate Western concepts of human rights.
Cheng and Xi’s “people’s war” will play a specific role in the Chinese strategy of turning the American people, who have become increasingly fragmented into hostile and poor minorities, toward a permanent departure from American democracy, which Cheng claims is nothing but a “club of the rich” – a term which evokes the rhetoric of many so-called “democratic-socialist” politicians in the United States.
“America’s disbelief in its principles hastens the global Leninist revolution, which China anticipates,” Cheng writes. Chinese leaders watch with glee as Americans increasingly lose confidence in their democratic institutions.
Many Western leaders have for decades ignored the directness and seriousness of this threat, preferring instead to praise China as an “economic miracle” and promote the view that China would naturally democratize over time. One notable exception was the Trump administration, which sought to compete with China rather than facilitate its rise as an authoritarian superpower.
In one of his articles, Cheng identifies Trump’s “America First” agenda specifically as unfairly targeting China, inadvertently confirming the effectiveness of the policy at advancing American interests.
Now, however, it appears Xi and his leadership team view the Biden administration as weak, conflicted, and easy to exploit. Biden has done nothing as China has encroached further into the South Pacific, and Xi has been emboldened by multiple foreign policy disasters under President Biden.
Forty years ago, conservative icon William Buckley rightly observed that Chinese rulers attempted economic reforms without altering the totalitarian foundations upon which the country was built, and that American leaders were making a mistake by being willfully blind to this fact. Now, Xi is counting on Americans and the West closing their eyes again as he completes China’s descent into a Soviet police state.
Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian, and researcher.
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