DCB #120: China’s Political Situation in the Next Five Years

To support us with a donation? Click here!Dialogue China BriefingTalking About China NowIssue 120 – November 15, 2022In This IssueThe articles shared here do not necessarily reflect the views of the briefing or Dialogue China. All articles sourced from WeChat public accounts unless otherwise noted.I. Dialogue China Viewpoints1. Dialogue China Think Tank Report on Xi Jinping’s 20th Communist Party National Congress Report, China’s Political Situation in the Next Five Years, and Strategies for the Taiwan Strait CrisisII. Policy2. What Kind of Officials are Still Corrupting? An Analysis of Nearly 100 Chinese Communist Party Officials Based on Actual Cases3. The New Term of the 20th Chinese Communist Party National Congress: “Chinese Modernization,” Which Points to a New Form of Human Civilization. What Exactly is New About It?III. Politics4. Is China and the United States destined for War? Insights from Trade Expectations Theory5. The Strongest Microchip Blockade in History is Coming, How Can China’s Semiconductor Industry Break the “Iron Curtain”?IV. Finance and Business6. Understanding Chinese Modernization: Learning from the Economic Thought of the 20th ReportDialogue China Viewpoints1. Dialogue China Think Tank Report on Xi Jinping’s 20th Chinese Communist Party National Congress Political Report, China’s Political Situation in the Next Five Years, and Strategies for the Taiwan Strait CrisisWang Dan – Dialogue China Think Tank – November 15, 2022The opening scene of the 20th Chinese Communist Party [CCP] National Congress was the political report delivered by Xi Jinping on behalf of the 19th CCP Political Bureau. The report is generally considered to be full of hackneyed words and stereotypes, and dry as dust, a tasteless and dull Communist Party report. However, if we examine the full text carefully, it still reveals some possible political thinking of Xi Jinping in the future. In my opinion, there are three key words in this report that deserve the attention of the outside world.
The first key word is the word “struggle.” According to some people’s statistics on the Internet, this word was mentioned 17 times. For example, when talking about the “Four Musts,” Xi Jinping said that we must “be bold in struggling and good at struggling.” When mentioning the central task for the next five to ten years, Xi Jinping said in a very solemn tone that the whole Communist Party and the whole country should “prepare for a major test on the stormy seas.” He also said that in order to do so, we must “rely on tenacious struggle to open up new horizons in our business development.” The problem is: What is the shocking wave that will occur that will require such an emphasis on “struggle”? Will it be a struggle within the Communist Party or a war between China and the United States? Xi Jinping did not explicitly say, but whatever it is, the repeated emphasis on “struggle” is self-contradictory and runs counter to his claim of a “peaceful rise” for China. The emphasis on struggle once again reveals the political character of this second-generation Red Guard, who grew up drinking the wolf’s milk of the Cultural Revolution and is full of the spirit of the Red Guards and reflects his inner insecurity. It is said that the word “security” is mentioned even more often in Xi’s political report, about 80 times, which is also quite intriguing.
Most of Xi Jinping’s political report is full of old concepts, but there is a relatively new one that is worth noting: “Chinese Modernization,” which I think is the second key word. That is to say, during his term of office, Xi Jinping will try to establish a model for the modernization of human society that is different from the Western one. The content of this model is mainly “common prosperity.” This will probably be the main focus of the Communist Party’s propaganda and the so-called “Xi Jinping Thought” in the future. I think this reflects the further expansion of Xi Jinping’s ambition to “create a new form of human civilization,” as he put it in his report. Now Xi Jinping is not only trying to give direction to all aspects of China’s social development, but he is also trying to give direction to human development in the future. This is of course an imitation of Chairman Mao’s ambition to be the “leader of the world’s workers,” but it is also clear that Xi Jinping’s mind has developed an arrogance born of ignorance. If such arrogance continues, it will be a threat to both China and the world.
The third key word repeatedly emphasized in the report is “the people.” In addition to the familiar phrase so frequently heard it can be repeated in detail: “State power is the people, and the people are state power,” Xi Jinping made a new statement in his political report, saying “To defend state power is to defend the hearts of the people.” This is of course an empty phrase. I believe Xi Jinping himself does not know what he is talking about. But the word “defend” here, I think, actually conveys not the meaning of “protecting,” but the meaning of control and restraint. The term “the people” is used repeatedly. This was the main theme of Xi Jinping when he first came to power in 2012, and now, ten years later, I am afraid it will still be one of the main axes of the so-called “Xi Jinping Thought.” Old dogs really cannot learn new tricks. However, it still foreshadows that Xi Jinping’s future rule will focus on populism, that is, social policies aimed at pleasing the grassroots by improving people’s livelihoods. In other words, common prosperity is the embodiment of such policies. Such a policy, in essence, is to rob the rich to help the poor by attacking the landlords and dividing their property. I believe that after listening to this report, more rich people in China will speed up their efforts to transfer their capital abroad.
In general, the political regression of the past decade under Xi Jinping’s rule is reflected in the state’s control over society. While the economic regression is highlighted by “the advance of the state at the expense of the people” [國進民退] and the resurgence of attacking landlords and dividing their property. A new political struggle making rival claims as an equal against the mainstream of civilization and increased populism is expected to be part of the main axis of Xi Jinping’s rule in the future.
But will China really revert to the dark ages? Not necessarily.
On the eve of the Communist Party’s 20th National Congress, at Stone Bridge in Beijing’s Haidian District, two banners were displayed. One read: “We do not want nucleic acid [COVID tests], we want food. We do not want another Cultural Revolution, we want reform. We do not want city lockdowns, we want freedom. We do not want dictators, we want elections. We do not want lies, we want dignity. We do not want to be slaves, we want to be citizens.” The other read: “Boycott classes, workers strike, recall the traitorous official Xi Jinping.”
It is still uncertain who did this. Some say it is Twitter user Peng Zaizhou. This has yet to be confirmed.
At such a sensitive moment, to pull off such a magnificent feat, this hero obviously gave great forethought and was willing to pay a huge price for this action, the authorities cannot just let him go. In such dark times, when almost everyone has to remain silent, this brave man was able to come forward, with such courage, it can be said to be so moving as to shake heaven and earth. It is not too extreme to call him the Tank Man of the 21st century. Regardless of what his personal fate will be, this feat has been and will be written in the history books, and it will tell future generations one thing: In the darkest of times, China still has people who are willing to stand up.
This is very inspiring. I certainly do not think that this is going to change China immediately, that people are going to take to the streets in large numbers tomorrow. But this event still has its own significance.
First, for so many years, the Chinese people have been regarded by outsiders as a cynical, cowardly group of people, slaves who dare not resist, but this is not true. Under such a comprehensive and brutal rule with Chinese characteristics, the difficulties of resistance are beyond the understanding of the outside world. When we fought in Beijing in 1989, we still had to pay the price of not being able to return home, which shows how difficult it is to resist in China. Critics should have empathy. If you were living in China, would you dare to resist? If you do not dare to do so, how are you qualified to criticize Chinese people? However, even under such circumstances, there are still Chinese people like Liu Xiaobo, Li Wangyang*, the brave man on Stone Bridge, who, under great danger and pressure, stood up and resisted without regard for their lives, which shows that Chinese people want democracy. This is important because there is a private perception in the international community that the Chinese do not want democracy and do not deserve support. One significance of this brave man’s act is to prove that this perception is wrong.
* Li Wangyang (12 November 1950 – 6 June 2012) was a Chinese dissident labor rights activist, member of the Workers Autonomous Federation and chairman of the Shaoyang WAF branch. Following his role in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, he served twenty-one years in prison on charges of counterrevolutionary propaganda, incitement and subversion. Of all Chinese pro-democracy activists from 1989, Li spent the longest time in prison. On 6 June 2012, one year after his release from prison, and a few days after a television interview in which he continued to call for vindication of the Tiananmen Square protests, Li was found hanged in a hospital room. Shaoyang city authorities initially claimed suicide was the cause of death, but it was revised to ‘accidental death’ after the autopsy.
Second, this brave man has stood up to oppose the widespread acceptance of Xi Jinping’s re-election to a third term in office, a development that is totally unacceptable to many Chinese people. The banner unfurled by this brave man is the expression of the thoughts of many Chinese people. It reflects the anxiety and despair in the hearts of the people. Finally, someone has shouted out the label of “national traitor” at Xi Jinping. Some people say that this protest action will not change anything. Whether or not this is the case, just by shouting out the thoughts of the people, it will be recorded in the history books, which is the second significance of this great feat.
Third, this protester may be a lone hero who struggles against many, and maybe we will not see more people taking to the streets anytime soon. But things always start with “1” and expand to 10,000. At the beginning, there were only 300 signatories to the hunger strike in Tiananmen Square in 1989, but later the number expanded to 3,000 or even 10 million people taking to the streets. For the opposition movement, the role model is very important, as long as someone bravely takes the first step, it is not difficult to predict that more people will follow. This kind of courage as a role model, at the cost of personal sacrifice, is the key to the success of social movements. This is the third significance of his brave act.
Fourth, Xi Jinping may have been re-elected, but this brave man’s actions are a harbinger of things to come. It is a sign that – with Xi Jinping’s dictatorship and the resistance and rebellion against him coming from all sides – the next five years will see the development of a new trend in Chinese politics. Anxiety and despair are, to a certain extent, healthy signs, and it is only when people no longer have hope that rebellion is possible. The result of despair may be the emergence of more warriors like Peng.
I have said for a long time that Xi Jinping’s third term is unlikely to go smoothly, and there will probably not be a fourth term. I think the occurrence of this event is testimony to that.
Regarding the Taiwan crisis, Chen Ming-tong* said yesterday that he expected an invasion by 2023. The latest estimate from the United States’ side is 2022. I will not make a specific time prediction because I think the war has already begun. The Chinese Communist Party’s invasion of Taiwan has already begun, but it started with a war of perception, a war of the mind. Taiwan must first of all win this battle.
* Chen Ming-tong is a Taiwanese politician and currently the Director-General of the National Security Bureau. He was the Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council from 2018 to 2021 and 2007 to 2008.
In early October 2022, the Central Communist Party School in Beijing, the top Communist Party cadre training institution, announced the establishment of a Center for International Communication Studies. The name sounds very academic, but what it will do is obviously not study something, but propagate something. What will be propagated? The purpose of the center is said to be “to strengthen international communication capacity under the guidance of Xi Jinping’s Thought.” In this regard, Xie Chuntao, vice president of the Central Communist Party School in charge of this work, said more specifically: “Our goal is to accelerate the construction of the Chinese language and Chinese narrative systems, while telling the Chinese story well and enhancing our international voice.” As for the specific approach, some official scholars suggested it is “to optimize the channels and structures of the international dissemination of the Chinese voice and narrative.” At this point, the mission of the newly established organization at the Central Communist Party School is clear: we are so familiar with the three words we can repeat them in detail: Great Foreign Propaganda. In other words, “cognitive warfare” is a term more familiar to Taiwanese.
The Chinese Communist Party already has a large foreign propaganda organization and a large and well-funded cognitive warfare force, so why continue to expand this force? The reason is simple. For the Communist Party, whether it is against the United States or Taiwan, cognitive warfare is their best and least costly means of attack. Take Taiwan as an example: Recently, the Chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, Qiu Taisan, revealed that the Chinese Communist Party has started promoting cross-strait cultural and educational exchanges through diverse channels such as online new media, increased its unification efforts among Taiwan’s young students, spread disinformation, and conducted cognitive warfare. However, this is in fact only the tip of the iceberg of Beijing’s cognitive warfare effort. A deeper level of cognitive warfare is foreign propaganda’s theoretical targeting of the democratic system as a whole, government efficiency and social comparisons. This is what the Center for International Communication Studies of the Central Communist Party School calls “telling the China story well.”
In this regard, not long ago, Robert Tsao (Cao Xingcheng), founder of United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC), the world’s second-largest semiconductor foundry, proposed to strengthen the “resistance to China and protection of Taiwan.” Tsao specifically mentioned cognitive warfare. I believe that this is a very significant development. Because the battle between cognitive warfare and counter cognitive warfare is a silent battle, and people who are eager for quick success and immediate benefits will not see direct effects in the short term. But in the long term, this is one of the important factors in the national strength of the two countries. The fact that Beijing has been continuously strengthening the power of its foreign propaganda is a recognition of the effectiveness of cognitive warfare. Taiwan must pay close attention to this. So far, Taiwan’s response to the Chinese Communist Party’s cognitive warfare against Taiwan has been mainly focused on defensive actions. For example, improving democratic security, clarifying and providing correct information in response to intentional disinformation, enhancing public understanding and support of the government’s cross-strait policies, and so on. All these actions are of course indispensable.
But in my opinion, the best defense is a good offense. In addition to defending against the Chinese Communist Party’s foreign propaganda and cognitive warfare against Taiwan, we should also take the initiative to take advantage of the huge cyber warfare power of Taiwan’s young people to conduct a comprehensive counter cognitive warfare and anti-brainwashing campaign against the Chinese people in Mainland China and the overseas Chinese community.
The counter cognitive warfare effort should be directed against the Communist Party’s attempt to “tell China’s story well,” aimed at exposing the truth about the Communist Party’s tyranny and against the Communist Party’s boasting about China’s economic growth, and show the dark underside of China’s rapid development. It should expose the Communist Party’s brutal means of maintaining stability, introduce the various practices of the non-violent civil disobedience movement among the Chinese people, and even – in response to the Chinese Communist Party’s continuous maintenance of a list of “die hard Taiwan independence activists” and its practice of publicizing the actions of Taiwan enterprises, organizations, institutions and personnel, the people in Taiwan can also produce and publish articles naming and shaming those that have long advocated armed invasion of Taiwan, at the slightest provocation use the words “bloody massacre” and “nuclear pacification” to intimidate the people of  Taiwan, fabricate rumors and distort Taiwan’s democratic development. Or regularly publish to the outside world a list of “anti-Taiwan diehards” or a “villains list” of those who within Taiwan advocate surrender.
If Taiwan can mobilize hundreds of thousands of people who are familiar with Internet operations, mobilize and operate through the Internet, and use Internet guerrillas to proactively fight against cognitive warfare, not only to defend Taiwan, but also to actively introduce Taiwan’s democracy and social progress to people in China and the rest of the world, to tell the “Taiwan story well,” and to promote the basic concepts of democracy, I think this will be one of the most effective means to “resist the Communist Party and protect Taiwan.”
The above suggestions are ideas for friends who wish to take good care of and protect Taiwan, and strive to strengthen Taiwan.
Lastly, we the China Dialogue think tank, along with other international non-governmental organizations [NGOs], have moved to Taiwan and completed our registration with the Ministry of the Interior to help Taiwan win the fight against cognitive warfare. We need more support in the future, and we welcome the younger generation to join our team.
Thank you everyone!【Back to TopPolicy2. What Kind of Officials are Still Corrupting? An Analysis of Nearly 100 Chinese Communist Party Officials Based on Actual CasesMao Zhaohui etc. – Theory and Reform – September 21, 2022Why Read This?
The authors concluded that between 2018 and 2021, nearly 80 percent of Chinese Communist Party central cadres are characterized by new types of corruption. The new types of corruption can be divided into four major categories: “tunnel digging” transfer of interest corruption, “Russian nesting” concealment corruption, “undisclosed information” arbitrage corruption, and “soft power” influence corruption. “Soft power” influence type corruption. Managing new types of corruption is the latest issue in the anti-corruption struggle, which is directly related to whether or not to effectively curb the increase in corruption and clean up the stock of corruption.(Read the full text

Back to topPolicy3. The New Term of the 20th Chinese Communist Party National Congress: “Chinese Modernization,” Which Points to a New Form of Human Civilization. What Exactly is New About It?Wang Lisheng, Yan Kuoming – Beijing Cultural Review – October 18, 2022Why Read This?
On October 16, 2022, the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was held in Beijing, and the report of the Congress focused on “Chinese modernization,” which attracted widespread attention. The author argues that if we define civilizational forms by the criterion of “historical tradition and faith-based,” then the Western-dominated civilizational form can be called the “Greek tradition-Christian” civilizational form, while the Chinese civilization created by the socialist road with Chinese characteristics can be called the “Confucian tradition” civilizational form. The Chinese civilization created by the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics can be called the new civilization form of “Confucianism-Communism,” which will provide a new road choice for the future development of world civilization.(Read the full text

Back to topPolitics4. Is China and the United States destined for War? Insights from Trade Expectations TheoryDale C. Copeland – National Politics Scholar – October 2, 2022Why Read This?
Will economic interdependence promote war, or inhibit it? For quite some time after the end of the Cold War, it was widely believed that economic interdependence would inhibit the outbreak of war, and economic and trade relations have long been regarded as the “ballast” of United States – China relations. But since Donald Trump became the president of the United States in 2017, United States – China economic and trade relations have instead become a source of instability in the relationship between the two countries and even the world order, a situation that has continued to this day.(Read the full text

Back to topPolitics5. The Strongest Microchip Blockade in History is Coming, How Can China’s Semiconductor Industry Break the “Iron Curtain”?Zhou Jianjun – International Economic Review – October 16, 2022Why Read This?
The “Iron Curtain” between the United States and China on semiconductors is coming down completely. According to media reports, the U.S. has recently renewed its heavy-handed efforts to clamp down on China’s semiconductor industry in terms of technology, services and talent, including banning the import of high-capacity chips, halting related equipment exports and service support, and prohibiting Americans (especially Chinese American executives) from working for China’s semiconductor industry. The United States is trying to take China’s semiconductor industry “back to the Stone Age.” Over the past few years, China has been placing more and more emphasis on the development of the semiconductor industry and has been increasing its investment in chips, but the development of local high-end chips has not yet been successful. So, where does the problem lie? How to achieve catch-up in the future?(Read the full text

Back to topFinance and Business6. Understanding Chinese Modernization: Learning from the Economic Thought of the 20th ReportRen Zeping – Zeping Macroview – October 18, 2022Why Read This?
Looking around the world, China is the most dynamic economy in the world. After more than 40 years of reform and opening up, China’s economic and social development has achieved great miracles that have caught the world’s attention, providing a broad stage for everyone to realize their dreams. The report of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is inspiring and motivating, responding to the proposition of the times and conveying a major signal of the new development concept. This article focuses on the learning experience of the section on economic thinking, which is summarized as a central task and eight important supports.(Read the full text

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