Xi Jinping isn’t bringing back ‘Red China’ – it never disappeared – RT World News
The Chinese leader’s centralization of power is not an anomaly, but the logical reaction of a nation true to itself
By Timur Fomenkopolitical analyst
Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd recently published an article in Foreign Affairs magazine proclaiming “The Return of Red China” with the signature “Xi Jinping brings back Marxism.The article goes on to claim that Xi’s nomination at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China officially ended the era of “Reform and opennesslaunched by Deng Xiaoping in 1978, which is understood by the world to have pushed China to be more liberal, more open and more capitalist. He describes Xi as “a true follower of Marxism-Leninism” driving”Beijing’s return to party control over politics and society with contractual space for private dissent and individual freedoms.
Such an assessment of China’s change in direction is of course correct. But the argument, the understanding and the perceived reasons are wrong. In reality, China Red has always been China Red,and the Deng Xiaoping era was never really about abandoning authoritarian rule to transition China to democracy. People tend to forget that it was Deng who, in 1989, rolled the tanks when the people rioted. On the contrary, the world in which China exists today is radically different from that of the 1970s and 1980s, as are China’s perceived national interests, needs and prospects. Xi Jinping’s consolidation could not be further from the chaos espoused by the ideological dogma of Mao Zedong.
Since Mao’s death, every Chinese leader has built on the legacy of his predecessor and adapted his policies to the country’s conditions. All the leaders have been ideological communists, but since Mao everyone has manifested it in a pragmatic rather than a “revolutionary” way. It is, after all, what Deng Xiaoping described as “find stones to cross the river » and is the fundamental principle of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Since 1978, China had pursued socialist goals, but did so using a practical methodology, as opposed to a dogmatic one. Therefore, China introduced market reforms.
China in the 1980s was an incredibly poor country that desperately needed investment and access to foreign markets to transform itself. This was made possible by friendly ties with the United States, which actively encouraged the process through neoliberalism and then a preference for globalization. China was not an antagonist. For Chinese leaders, this put the benefits above the costs of opening up. But again, there was never any question of abandoning the communist regime. This was what suited China’s interests at the time. Even then, the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989 was a harsh lesson for Chinese leaders about the consequences of being “too liberal”.
But the world is now a very different place. China has become its second largest economy and a rival superpower that is locked in an increasingly tense and unpredictable rivalry with the United States. It is also a middle-income country with a very different population and society from three decades ago. This has introduced new security challenges for the Chinese state that did not exist at the time, especially as the United States seeks to provoke unrest in various hotspots, such as Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan Island. All of these have acted as structural factors in the renewed centralization of party power under Xi Jinping. The strategies and approaches of the 1980s are no longer suited to a totally different China and world.
However, the idea that Xi is a “back to Mao” is misleading. He is better described as a technocrat than an ideological dogmatist, because in practice he couldn’t be further from a revolutionary Marxist figure. Xi actually sees his fundamental defense against the United States “decoupling” as being a champion of globalization and free trade, which is why he has more “with insurance” sought to shape China’s fortunes on the world stage through projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative. Its philosophy is to shape a form of globalization preferential to China, as opposed to submission to that pushed by the United States.
He often describes this as a “community of destiny for humanity. Unlike the Mao era, he maintains China’s position of not attempting to “export” its ideology or promote revolutionary sentiment in other countries. On the other hand, there is of course evidence that Xi is more skeptical of unfettered capitalism than his predecessors and does not believe that simply letting the market work is the answer to the challenges and social problems of China. One can consider his crackdown on big tech or private education as examples of this. But again, this comes from a pragmatic position, not purely ideological.
Where China is aiming its diplomacy after the Communist Party Congress
When everything is taken into account, how can one seriously say that “Red China is back? It was still “Red China,” and it was only Western wishful thinking that assumed the opposite – that the country was on an irreversible path to liberalization. But that theory died in the 2010s. Xi’s China is hardly radically different. But it is a wake-up call for anyone who had assumed that the Western vision and path was China’s destiny. Yet historical revisionism describing Deng as not being a “Marxist” prevails, as if to say that Xi Jinping is a terrible anomaly rather than a product of the very system that has ruled China since 1949.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
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