China’s Time of reckoning|Jimmy Lai

Published (HKT): 2020.11.23 09:33

While CCP is pressing ahead with the economic agenda to “advance the state and crowd out the private sector,” Xi Jinping desperately calls for the industrialists to saving the nation from the slump.

“Let the international economic circulation becomes an integral part of China’s dual circulation economy,” CCP goes revisionist just a few years after it boldly declared the autarkic vision to deliver perpetual economic growth with only the domestic circulation.

When Xi uses a word, it means just what he determines for it to mean, neither more nor less. And the question is whether he can make words mean so many different things. Is there any economy that does not encompass both the domestic and international economic circulations at the same time? The wishy-washy, Humpty Dumpty master contradicts himself and confuses the public.

Meanwhile, CCP cadres enjoy and busy themselves with the rhetorical political education, abandoning their duties altogether. The worthless crew, the wretches, trail the whirling banner that keeps circling and never can find rest.

It is a time of reckoning. People are perplexed. The cadres are exhausted. Xi, however, commands everyone to sacrifice for the grand ideological battle, the revolutionary long march. He holds that China is gigantic, wealthy, and the 1.4 billion Chinese are subservient. Therefore, as the most powerful nation’s leader in history, he can do whatever he wishes.

Xi does not discern any imminent threats to the nation. Contrarily, he tasks himself with building the utopia and transforming humanity. He sees himself as Mao’s ideological heir, but he is the one who will complete the unfinished revolution. Even though he has yet accomplished nothing, he already believes he deserves a special place in history and the authority to be the unlimited dictator.

One cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Perhaps Xi and CCP cadres genuinely believe everything can be justified in the name of the people. Oppression is, therefore, the price to pay for peace, stability.

Dictators like Xi often forget the fact that everyone thinks and feels. “In the great chessboard of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own,” wrote Adam Smith, in his magnum opus, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. It is often too late when the dictators find out people are not chess pieces, and the world is not a game.

Xi despises freedom and peace. He prides himself as the wolf-warriors pack leader and offends the rest of the world by flouting the universal values. He is the one who forces China into isolation.

Xi underestimates the free nations’ determination to protect world peace. China will end up cutting itself off from the rest of human civilization if it stays on the current collision course. China’s economic and technological development will cease. As the corpus of knowledge continues to grow exponentially, it will be impossible for China to catch up in the foreseeable future.

We can easily imagine the devastation if a nation is cut off from energy supply. However, it is much harder to see how severe the impact on the economy and society will be for a country to be secluded from the pursuit of knowledge with the outside world. Information is the new oil. The consequences of intellectual seclusion will be more disastrous than an embargo on energy supply.

The new Cold War between China and the West is a battle of ideology and values. This struggle does not confine itself only to specific issues but the general differences in ideas and beliefs. There is no doubt the Chinese economy carries a lot of weight, and it is why the world cannot allow the bully to stay unrestrained. Sooner or later, China will be the world’s biggest economy. If it is left to its own devices for setting the agenda and rules for everyone, the global political and economic order will return to a state of nature, the law of the jungle. Morality and reason will no longer bind and guide our actions.

Globalization allows CCP to exert unseemingly ideological influence alongside run-of-the-mill economic activities. Western countries have banned Huawei’s 5G products, as it involves sensitive communication technologies. However, it is almost impossible to have a blanket ban on all China-related affairs. Hence, the ongoing business with China implies the world cannot avoid dealing with the CCP and its mind tricks.

Some American companies, the Wall Street banks, academia, intellectual circles, sports and entertainment establishments such as the NBA or Disney, welcome CCP’s influence with open arms. But there is no need to make a fuss about this. We live in a transparent world. We should have faith in the people to tell right from wrong and black from white. Most of us will not give up our freedom and blindly accept authoritarian dictators.

It is, however, ludicrous to worry about the impact of CCP’s brainwashing. In the world of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Tik Tok, young people have an attention span of only a couple of seconds. How can the CCP brainwash young people when it is almost impossible to catch their attention? Even back in the old days of Lenin, Stalin, and the Cultural Revolution, brainwashing propaganda could only be effective at gunpoint. Can anyone brainwash effectively in the information age? Who are you kidding?

Not only will the CCP fail to exert ideological influence on the free world’s people, but it will also find Chinese nowadays more reluctant to accept brainwashing propaganda. Imported articles carry in them ideas from overseas. Many Chinese who traveled and experienced the outside world are also subtly changed. Chinese urban dwellers are more cosmopolitan than ever, and they will not accept old-fashioned brainwashing.

Xi Jinping, enough is enough. You better stop messing around with your ideological projects. Do you know you have made yourself the common enemy of the free world? Do you know you cornered China into a no-win situation? Are you sure you want to lead the people back to the ground zero of the communist revolution? Do you know you have come to a dead-end?

China does not have an infinite amount of resources. Chinese are not chess pieces to be moved around at will. Xi will be history. After Xi, CCP will learn from this painful turn of history. There is no going back. China can only move forward by opening. The government should allow the private sector to drive production and consumption, hence developing China’s market institutions. Allow private enterprises to explore and take part in the global economy, and naturally, to ignite social and political change.

Without political reforms, China will not overcome antiquated ideas on social hierarchy and the power structure that favors and protects the privileged class. There will not be a way out unless China learns from the West and becomes a global citizen of the free, civilized world.

A century of authoritarian dictatorship brought the Chinese nothing but suffering. The experiment to build communist heaven on earth failed miserably. Why have we not let go of the utopian fantasy?

Humanity had struggled for centuries and eventually settled with the free market and the rule of law. The rule of law is the checks and balance of power, thus protecting liberty and peace. The CCP, however, wants to distort and disrupt these fundamental understanding of human civilizations by buying its way into people’s everyday lives. To freedom-loving people, the wolf-warrior savage behaviors are not only offensive but also a threat that must be fended off. Xi single-handedly puts himself and China into such distress. The fall of Xi will be the turning point of liberating the Chinese from the obsolescent political oppression. The free world is eagerly looking forward to this day.

NB: “Neighborhood” is a French-Chinese fusion bistro I have requented in the past year. Although I fancy their signature items, salt-crusted baked chicken with rice and fish paella, it is frustrating to find two of my favorites, andouillette and boudin noir, are no longer on the menu. Having said that, I still find myself wanting to visit them from time to time.

(Jimmy Lai is the founder of Next Digital, which publishes the Apple Daily and Next Magazine in Hong Kong and Taiwan.)

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