China Punish Dissent Harshly to Strongly Say No to the West


Xi Jinping Thought, Declaration of ‘China Can Say No’ (9)

China punishes dissident Wu Gan with 8-year imprisonment for criticizing Chinese government. The punishment is regarded as quite severe as he had only regularly championed sensitive cases of government abuses of power, both online and in street protests. However, he had not advocated replacement of China’ one-party autocracy with Western democracy. Compared with the 11-year imprisonment Liu Xiaobo received for issuing a document on the replacement and collecting the signatures of thousands of people supporting the document. The 8-year imprisonment Wu Gan has got is quite severe.

Reuters says in its report “China chides U.S., German embassies after call for release of activist” on December 28 that the U.S. and German embassies issued a joint statement on December 27 to call for setting Wu free.

China soon responded strongly. Its foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press conference that the two embassies had “no right to criticize what was purely an internal affair of China’s and a matter of China’s judicial sovereignty” and “We hope that the relevant diplomatic missions can take the correct position with regards to their own responsibilities.” She, in addition, pointed out that China is a country with rule of law and justice officials handled cases in line with the law.

China says no so promptly and strongly as China now has self-confidence in its path, theory, system and culture as pointed out in Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping’s speech to CCP 19th Congress.

In the speech, Xi has set an ambitious goal for China to grow into a great socialist power by 2050.

If China can keep its fast economic growth, by 2050 it will by far surpass the US and replace the US as number one in the world.

US President Trump sees the potential replacement and wants US economy to grow faster but has encountered lots of obstacles. He has a tax reform approved by US Congress in order to boost US economy, but his policies may not be continued by his successor. At best, he can only be sure that his policies will last for 7 years if he can serve another term.

China is an autocracy, Xi is sure that he can serve two more terms, choose a successor to carry on his efforts to attain the goal while he will remain in control after his retirement like Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin.

Therefore, China is very likely to maintain its fast economic growth to surpass the US before 2050. Trump’s predecessor Obama saw that and began to adopt his policy of pivot to Asia to contain China but failed.

Now, the US adopts the Indo-Pacific strategy of quad to contain China, especially to hinder China’s Road and Belt plan, but quad is a military instead of economic strategy without being able to hinder China’s plan of win-win economic cooperation. China’s Belt and Road projects have been successfully carried out in Central Asia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Greece. With the win-win cooperation through its Belt and Road initiative, China will be able to maintain its relatively fast growth for the next two decades.

China’s grand plans to divert water from Tibet to Xinjiang will enable it to develop its west vigorously so as to maintain fast growth for another 3 decades. As a result, there are satisfactory prospects for China to attain its ambitious goal.

However, there may be serious setback.

In the course of China’s strife to attain the goal, the US will try its best to hinder China’s efforts. That is the influence of Thucydides Trap. Due to the trap, Obama began his pivot to Asia to contain China, but he did not admit that the pivot aimed at dealing with China’s rise.

Trump, however, says in his recent national security strategy openly that China is the most significant national security challenge among the five major threats from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and Islamic terrorism.

China is accused of being determined to control information and data to repress its society and expand its influence. That may refer to China’s censorship, restriction of freedom of press and speech and China’s human rights system different from Western ones.

The strategy says that Trump’s doctrine is to promote individual liberty, rule of law, democratic governance, tolerance, and opportunity, which is in fact what the US has been doing for decades. It has resulted in the Tiananmen Protests, Liu Xiaobo’s Charter 08 manifesto for multi-party democracy and rights activists’ activities for human rights. China believes that such activities are instigated by the US to subvert Chinese Communist Party’s rule as the US regards promoting such activities as its doctrine.

Unlike the US that is spreading its values including individual liberty, democracy and human rights system, China has declared that it does not export its model. However, The stronger and richer China grows, the more popular its model becomes among the large number of developing countries and the deeper the US sinks in Thucydides Trap. The US will enhance its efforts to support Chinese dissidents in the hope that they will disturb China’s progress. Therefore China is defensive instead of offensive in saying no to the West in order to prevent the emergence of another Tiananmen Protests that will hinder China’ efforts to attain its ambitious goal.

As a result, China has tightened the screw in oppressing dissidents. However, I believe that it is not necessary as Xi has successfully fought rampant corruption, the major cause of Tiananmen Protests.

The separatist Islamic terrorism is a much more serious danger that may give rise to panic throughout China and hinder China’s grand plan to develop its vast west. That will make it impossible for China to attain its ambitious goal.

That is why Zhang Haitao is punished with 20-year imprisonment, much severer than Wu Gan. According to SCMP’s report “How questioning China’s security crackdown in Xinjiang led to a 20-year jail term”, Zhang questioned Xinjiang government’s policies and warned that government’s restriction on Uygurs’ religious practices may spark an insurgency only on the Internet. Unlike Wu Gan, he has not protested in the streets.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters and SCMP’s reports, full text of which can respectively be found at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-rights/china-chides-u-s-german-embassies-after-call-for-release-of-activist-idUSKBN1EM0TB and
http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2125910/how-questioning-chinas-security-crackdown-xinjiang-led.

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One Comment on “China Punish Dissent Harshly to Strongly Say No to the West”

  1. Steve says:

    Excellent Commentary – but it won’t take till 2050 to surpass the US as number one in the world. My prediction is less 2040. China’s most capable non military weapon is Capital and Debt to contain the US economically. There is no Thucydides trap in this scenario, but economic dominance by China as China moves up. We all know that China’s economic growth has been nothing short of being miraculous.

    For three whole decades up until 2015, China’s annual GDP growth rate was 10 percent. Although in 2016, growth slowed down to 6.7%, that still beats the US GDP growth rate of 1.6%.
    China has been speculated to catch up with US b 2026.

    A lot of US debt and change belongs to China around one trillion $$ plus. China bought US treasuries by the billions, keeping US interest low, but it helped China grow. What is not miraculous about it is that China will outpace the US. China can alter the strength of it’s currency. However, Chinese military generals has been calling for a fire sale of US securities, since the US decided to sell weapons to Taiwan.

    China should be firm on dissent punishment and punish them harshly and China should seriously increase sanctions on Taiwan foreign trade and diplomacy.

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