Liu Mingfu is right that the US is declining, but he fails to see that so far the US remains the largest economy and militarily strongest in the world. Its currency, the US dollar, remains the major currency and its central bank, the Federal Reserve, the most influential in world financial sector. US decline has mainly been caused by the stupidity of its leaders and politicians instead of the decline of its enterprises, technology, etc. However, the tremendous successes of US enterprises in the world prove that the US does not lack administration and management talents. The problem is but that American talents prefer a career in business instead of political sector; therefore, when the US has declined further and been surpassed by China, great leaders and politicians may emerge and conduct reform to enable the US to rise again.
China Has Not Risen Sufficiently
On the other hand for a long time to come China lacks the strength to grab world leadership from the US. It needs a peaceful environment to grow further. If it has grown much stronger than the US it may be strong enough to replace the US as world leader. That will be a long time away. During the Cold War, the US had a much larger economy than the Soviet Union but was unable to subdue it and had to be satisfied with being the leader of only a half of the world and let the Soviet Union led the other half. Judging by that, China has to grow much stronger than the US both economically and militarily if it wants to replace the US as the only leader of the world.
However, why shall China be world leader in the first place? I don’t see the necessity for and benefit from world leadership though lots of Chinese have such a desire.
For economic leadership, China shall not only have a much larger economy but its currency shall replace the US dollar as the major currency in the world and its central bank the People’s Bank of China shall be more influential than US Federal Reserve. It takes much longer for Chinese currency and central bank to obtain such statuses than mere surpassing in size of economy.
Militarily, the US has a much powerful navy than China that can dominate the oceans. It takes at least 25 years for China to build a navy of similar size and strength.
The Thucydides Trap
A rising power’s peaceful efforts to peacefully surpass and replace an existing power as world leader is but a peaceful competition, but that is true in theory only. In reality, the existing power usually tries hard to contain the rising power and hinder its growth.
Upset by such containment and hindrance, the rising power often resists, confronts and challenges the existing power.
In 2015, Harvard political scientist and professor Graham Allison studied such conflicts between an existing dominant power and a rising power in human history and found that such conflicts often give rise to war. The first war given rise by such conflicts was the well-known Peloponnesian War in early Western history that rocked the entire Greece.
At that time the city state Sparta was the dominating hegemon in Greece. However, the fast rise of the city state of Athens made the existing dominant power Sparta worry that Athens would soon threaten its hegemony. Sparta launched a preemptive attack at Athens and thus began the three decades of the Peloponnesian War. In old time, it was a war of quite a large scale as other city-states in Greece were forced to take sides and drawn into the war.
Famous historian Thucydides later wrote that the Peloponnesian War was entirely due to ”the growth in power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Sparta.”
Prof. Allison has identified such a scenario and calls it the Thucydides Trap. Basically, Prof. Allison’s theory of the Thucydides Trap states that when a rising power challenges the dominance of an established power, the dominant power is likely to respond with violence. It’s a model for predicting the possibility of war between two nations. However, awareness of such a possibility may cause country leaders to make efforts to avoid the war.
Therefore, if a rising power intends to or only gives the impression that it intends to be a rival to or even replace the existing dominant power, it has fallen into the Thucydides Trap. At first, the existing power usually tries to contain the rising power but mostly without success. Finally, it has to respond with violence.
Prof. Allison claimed that his research team at the Harvard-affiliated Belfer Center identified 16 cases over the last 500 years similar to the conflicts between Sparta and Athens. Twelve of the sixteen cases resulted in warfare.
The then Chinese leader Hu Jintao was perhaps aware of the trap though the term Thucydides Trap has not been invented yet. Hu pursued China’s peaceful rise for which good relations with the US is vital. Therefore, he banned reprint of Liu’s book. However, Liu’s idea for China to replace the US as world leader especially to surpass the US in military strength inspires alarm in the United States. In spite of Hu’s ban to please the US, the popularity of Liu’s book clearly shows Chinese people’s desire for China to replace the US as world leader. Such desire will finally be accepted by future Chinese leader though it was opposed by Hu at that time. As a result, the US fell into the trap and began its pivot to Asia to contain China.
US containment began with encirclement of China as described in my post “From Unrequited Love to China Can Say No” yesterday.
Article by Chan Kai Yee.
Colonel Liu Mingfu’s Arrogant China Dream of China Replacing the US as World Leader.
In 2010, Colonel Liu Mingfu published his leftist best seller “China Dream: Great Power Thinking and Strategic Posture in the Post American Era” advocating China replacing the US as world leader. He first assumed the fall of the United States and believed that China would surpass the US in economy. In fact, in 2010, China has quite a few problems in maintaining its economic growth while the US, though failed to achieve much economic growth, still had an economy much larger and advanced than China. It was indeed too early for Liu to predict the fall of the US and the rise of China to replace the US as world leader. To replace the US as world leader, China has to be stronger not only economically but also militarily than the US; therefore, Liu advocates China’s military instead of peaceful rise in his book.
Lots of Chinese people, especially leftists, are very fond of Liu’s ideas. They vied with one another to buy his books and soon all the one million printed copies were sold out. However, like his predecessors Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin, the then CCP general secretary Hu Jintao upheld China’s peaceful rise and did not like Liu’s idea of China’s military rise. Hu did not allow any reprint of Liu’s book.
Xi Jinping Uses China Dream to Unite a Deeply Split China
In order to overcome conservatives resistance to reform and especially to eliminate rampant corruption, Xi Jinping disappeared for two weeks to win support from powerful elders. Soon after Xi Jinping’s reappearance after his mysterious absence in September 2012, Jiang came to Beijing from Shanghai. On September 27, 2012, he presided over an expanded meeting of CCP Politburo and adopted a resolution to punish Bo severely.
However, Jiang only deprived the powerful conservative faction of its leader Bo Xilai but the debate between the conservatives and reformists over evaluation of Mao remained unresolved. The conservative faction remained large and powerful and Maoism remained popular among quite a few people. China remained a deeply split nation over the evaluation of Mao. In Xi Jinping’s further thorough economic reform, He had to overcome not only the resistance from vested interests, especially the powerful group of corrupt officials, but also the fierce opposition from the powerful conservative faction.
For example, not long before the 18th CCP Congress, Li Peng, the arc conservative, published a new book to stress government control of market. Li’s book obviously aims at opposing in theory the reformists’ reform of further economic liberalization. Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao certainly opposed Li’s ideas. However, two weeks after publication on July 12, 2012, CCP’s mouthpiece People’s Daily carried a full-page article to promote Li’s book and denounce mainstream Western economic ideas that advocate free market. That showed conservatives’ strength in CCP’s media. China’s further reform was encountering serious resistance from the conservatives.
The combined strong resistance from vested interests and the conservatives made the reformists unable to move even a step forward in their further reform. That was why Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao had made no significant progress in the further reform they advocated in Hu’s Scientific Outlook on Development.
Xi was fully aware that he and the reformists behind him were not strong enough to surmount the obstacles to reform set by both the vested interests and the conservative faction. He had to adopt the strategy to split his enemies so that he might destroy them one by one as he was stronger than each of the split sections of his enemies.
Moreover, Xi believes that his most important task is to win over those who opposed the reform and make them support the reform as the success of his fight against corruption and for reform depends on popular support. Through analysis, he found that most of the conservatives shared reformists’ dream to make China rich and strong. The conservatives differed from reformists in the ways to realize the dream. They believe the communist way of public ownership and planned economy is the correct way while the reformists advocated a capitalist way to expand private sector and remove state-owned sector’s monopoly of Chinese economy.
Xi was impressed by the success of PLA senior colonel Liu Mingfu’s leftist book “China Dream: Great Power Thinking and Strategic Posture in the Post American Era”, a book that rejects reformists’ idea of China’s peaceful rise and advocates, instead, China’s “military rise”. Liu wants China to intensify its military modernization in order to replace the US as world greatest military power. The book became instant bestseller with 1 million copies sold out as soon as it was published. However, the reformists under Hu Jintao banned reprinting of the book due to its leftist ambition that pursues China’s military instead of economic rise. The success of the book proves that most conservatives are patriots that Xi may win over.
With that in mind Xi Jinping invented a way to exploit conservatives’ patriotism to win their support for his reform and fight against corruption by turning Liu Mingfu’s China dream into a dream for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Soon after he became CCP general secretary, he brought all the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) members to visit “The Road Toward Renewal” exhibition in Beijing. There, he said that the realization of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation was the greatest Chinese dream for the Chinese nation now and called on people to strive to realize the dream.
At one stroke, Xi Jinping had rallied around him both the reformists who advocate turning China into a great economic power and the conservatives who advocate turning China into a great military power. Moreover, the vested interests that opposed further reform due to their interests may also think that they may be benefited when China becomes powerful. Xi’s Chinese dream had also reduced their opposition.
In order to win over the conservatives, Xi allowed reprinting of Liu Mingfu’s bestseller. In addition, when Xi Jiping visited Chinese navy on April 11, 2013, he talked about the dream for a militarily powerful China to emphasize that his Chinese dream for a powerful China includes that for a militarily powerful China.
Xi Jinping used his Chinese dream to immediately turn China into a united nation from a nation deeply split between reformists and conservatives over the evaluation of Mao. Some people wondered how Xi was able to punish very powerful generals and officials who though retired, still controlled China’s military and armed police. They did not know that Xi’s Chinese dream has enabled him to have the support of lots of powerful conservatives in the Party who helped Xi eliminate corruption as they shared Xi’s dream to make China rich and strong and hated corruption that hinder the realization of the China dream.
Article by Chan Kai Yee
I have mentioned in my previous posts the fierce debates between conservatives and reformists over the capitalist and socialist nature of China’s reform and opening-up. The conflicts between conservatives and reformists continued until Chinese President took over the reign. How did the debates end in the first place?
How Jiang Zemin Put an End to the Debates
Since Deng Xiaoping began his reform and opening up capitalist in nature, there had been fierce debates between reformists and conservatives about the nature of the reform and opening up. Conservatives denounced the reform for its capitalist nature, but Deng and the reformists under him could not deny. Deng knew well as Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought were the dominant ideology at that time, there was no hope for him to defend his pursuit of capitalism against Marxism and Mao Zedong Thought. He resorted to a stalling strategy and told conservatives to wait and see the results of the reform and opening up.
After Tiananmen Protests, conservatism prevailed. Deng had to apply his power as paramount leader (“core of collective leadership” according to his term of expression) to force officials to carry on the reform. His successor Jiang Zemin had to play every trick to overcome conservatives’ opposition in order to carry on Deng’s reform while establishing his power base.
However, when Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji had achieved obvious successes in conducting reform and opening up, the facts of successes silenced opposition. However, Jiang and the reformist theorists knew that ideology was very important in China. Feudal dynasties could each survive for two to three centuries due to the ideological dominance of Confucianism. Jiang had to justify the reform and opening up with Marxism, the dominant ideology in China, to ensure the continuance of reform and CCP’s rule in China. To do so, he used the most fundamental Marxist doctrine that production relations shall suit the requirements of the development of advanced production force.
According to Marx, at first capitalist production relation the private ownership of means of production (enterprises) suited the requirements of the development of advanced productive force so that it replaced the feudal one and brought about prosperity. However, there is the basic contradiction of capitalism that the production is for the society but the means of production (the enterprises) are owned privately by capitalist entrepreneurs, who often make decisions on production for their own profits in disregard of the needs of the society, resulting in overproduction and overcapacity that gave rise to cyclical economic crisis. Marx believed that by that time, the capitalist production relation no longer suited the requirements of the development of advanced production force and should be replaced by communist production relations of public ownership and planned economy.
Marx instructed communists that they should represent the requirements of the development of the advanced productive force and carry out a revolution necessary to put all means of production (enterprises) under public ownership as required by the development of the advanced productive force so that the state can plan the production in accordance with the needs of the society. A planned economy will be the most efficient, Marx believed. Then as the production relations suit the requirements of the development of the advanced productive force, the economy will take off. There will be abundance of all kinds of products to meet the needs of all the people. Everyone including former capitalists whose assets have been confiscated will be benefited. So, Marx said that the proletariat (the working class) would emancipate the entire human race.
However, Marx was not able to foresee that public ownership and planned economy were good in theory, but have been proved inefficient by practice everywhere in the world.
The first of Jiang’s Three Represents goes deeper in Marxist theory for the communists to represent the requirements of the development of advanced productive force. It sums up the lessons of the failures of public ownership and planned economy and the successful experience of China’s capitalist reform and opening up to prove that capitalism instead of communist public ownership and planned economy suits the requirements of the development of advanced productive force in China now. That was why China remained poor and backward for three decades when it had monolithic public ownership and planned economy, but has become rich and prosperous in three decades since it began to carry out its reform and opening up capitalist in nature.
Jiang has thus justifies with Marxist theory Chinese communists’ pursuit of reform and opening up capitalist in nature. However, the Three Represents have not dealt with Mao Zedong Thought, which lots of people still regard as the doctrines China has to observe.
Jiang can say his reform and opening up conform to Marxism, but cannot say that they conform to Mao Zedong Thought that advocate public ownership and planned economy as CCP’s dogma before the reform. Jiang should have negated Mao Zedong Thought but could not as Mao was too popular to negate among lots of Chinese people.
However, Marxist theory is quite abstruse to learn even for secondary school graduates. The fundamental Marxist economic theory, useless in modern economic environment is not taught even in most tertiary schools. As a result, lots of Chinese, even CCP members, know nothing about such theory. They still hold Mao in high esteem as they regard Mao as the symbol of the great Chinese nation perhaps due to Mao’s victory over the strongest nation the US in Korean War though Mao’s doctrines of monolithic public ownership and planned economy were refuted by Jiang’s Three Represents.
Fierce Struggle between Reformists and Conservatives
In his 2010 New Year’s message on New Year’s Eve, Hu Jintao, the then Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary, said: “In the upcoming new year, we will unswervingly uphold the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, further implement the Scientific Outlook on Development under the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents,…”
Hu put forth his Scientific Outlook on Development as China had to blaze new trail to replace its old way of pursuing export- and investment-geared growth. China’s export market was shrinking due to world economic recession and quite a few local governments and SOEs might become insolvent as they had borrowed too much for investment-geared growth. Their blind investment had given rise to excessive production capacity in some industries, especially steel and building material industries.
For sustainable economic growth, Hu had to uphold reform and opening up and overcome conservatives’ resistance to further reform and opening up based on Maxism-Leninist theories on public ownership and planned economy, especially Mao Zedong’s extreme leftist thoughts that absolutely ban private business operations of even family private farming or individual hawker’s business.
In CCP’s and China’s constitutions, the guiding ideologies at that time were Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents, but Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought were conspicuously missing in Hu’s New Year’s Eve message.
Hu’s above-mentioned words became CCP jargon and were frequently repeated by him and other Chinese leaders and in CCP documents in the last couple of years when Hu was in charge. The then premier Wen Jiabao repeated the exact wording in his speech in celebration of the 61st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 2010.
Hu’s omission was necessary not only for further reform but also for preserving what China had already achieved through reform and opening up. Hu was very clear that opponents to China’s reform may use Mao Zedong’s socialist doctrines of public ownership and collective farming to denounce the reform that not only allows but encourages private enterprises and farming.
Conservatives were much upset by the omission as they still held Mao in high esteem and quite a few of them remained Mao worshipers.
According to a survey in 40 cities including large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Wuhan in 2008, 11.5% of the total number of families there had Mao’s statutes or portraits for worship. Those who had statues or portraits of Buddha, God of Wealth or local god of the land for worship accounted for much smaller percentages. Worship of Mao remained hot among common Chinese people. It was especially so when corruption was rampant at that time. Even those who did not worship Mao had nostalgia of Mao era when egalitarianism prevailed and there were no rich-poor gap or the uncertainty caused by the reform and opening-up in people’s lives.
In 2009, the year of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), there was “Mao Zedong Craze” as Mao was PRC founder. Mao’s homeland Shaoshan became a hot red travel spot with thousands of visitors every day. Such enthusiasm remained hot even in late 2012 three years after the 60th anniversary.
Bo Xilai exploited Hu’s omission to rally around him the conservatives who worshiped Mao or held Mao in high esteem in addition to true conservatives who oppose Jiang’s theory. He launched a nation-wide sing-red campaign to advocate Mao’s values and even sent quotation of Mao’s works to all the mobile phones in Chongqing. He had thus become the head of the large and powerful conservative faction in China and launched a fierce power struggle with Hu’s reformists over the evaluation of Mao. Hu and his reformist faction, though in power in China at that time lacked the strength to defeat Bo’s strong conservative faction. They were even unable to punish Bo in spite of the discovery of Bo’s crimes of corruption.
However, if Bo and his faction had remained powerful, Xi Jinping would not have had the power to conduct his anti-corruption campaign or deepen China’s reform. He went to Jiang to request the removal of Bo. Jiang owes Bo’s father Bo Yibo, a deceased powerful CCP elder, for his help in establishing Jiang’s position as the core of CCP leadership when he was alive, but Jiang could not allow Bo to use Maoism to oppose his Three Represents, reform an opening up. He decided to punish Bo severely so as to remove a major obstacle to Xi’s fight against corruption and for further reform.
In September 2012, Jiang came to Beijing to preside over an expanded meeting of CCP Politburo and made the decision to punish Bo severely, but he had not resolve the power struggle between conservatives and reformists. He left the tricky job to Xi his chosen successor to him as the core of CCP leadership.
Article by Chan Kai Yee.
The following is full text of SubChina’s report on Xi’s speech:
Prepare for real combat
Jeremy GoldkornJanuary 4, 2018
With Trump tweeting about his nuclear button and tensions in Northeast Asia as bad as they’ve been for some time, China is not being shy. All Chinese central state media are running a version of this top story (in Chinese): “Xi Jinping — Military training must prepare for real combat, focus strength on building an elite operational force,” or this much briefer version in English.
•Wearing camouflage, Xi addressed around 7,000 soldiers at a military base in Hebei Province, near Beijing, ordering them to ensure they are ready to fight and win real wars.
•Soldiers across the country listened in remotely. The speech was televised nationwide, and heavily featured in state and online media.
•“A tub-thumping display of military brawn involving thousands of heavily armed troops” is how the Guardian characterized the event in an article accompanied by a subtitled video of parts of Xi’s speech.
Source: SubChina “Prepare for real combat”
CCTV footage on that event can be viewed at http://tv.cctv.com/2018/01/03/VIDElak6K8tcggjdN6hA6z0u180103.shtml
Note: This is SubChina’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Xi Jinping Thought, Declaration of ‘China Can Say No’ (8)
China held high-level dialogue between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and political parties from around the world from November 30 to December 3.
In its report “China will take a more active role in world problems, Xi Jinping says” on the dialogue, SCMP quotes Guo Yezhou, deputy head of the liaison department, as saying before the even that the dialogue had been organised in response to international requests for “in-depth knowledge” about the 19th party congress and Xi Jinping’s political ideology, which had been accepted by the Congress into CCP Constitution as Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.
SCMP says according to Xinhua, the meeting was attended by representatives from over 300 overseas political groups mostly from Southeast Asia, Central Asia and Africa, but the Republican Party in the US and Russian ruling party United Russia also sent representatives.
CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping gave a speech at the opening session, saying, “We do not import foreign models, and we do not export the China model, either,” and “We will not require other countries to copy what we do.”
Xinhua says in its report “Many speakers attributed China’s success to the choice of a path based on its own characteristics and praised its standing of ‘not exporting the Chinese model.’”
That implies that China provides an example of choosing the way of development based on a country’s own characteristics instead of importing other countries’ ways, which clearly means negation of importing Western democracy.
Many attendees have accepted Xi’s proposal to make the conference of dialogue a regular event.
In addition, SCMP says, “Xi said the Chinese Communist Party would step up communications with overseas political groups and enable 15,000 of their members to visit China for inter-party exchanges in the coming five years.”
China will certainly incur lots of costs in providing accommodation, travel and other treatments to the 15,000 members of overseas political groups to convince them that Western democracy is not their only choice.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP and Xinhua reports, full text of the former can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2122536/china-will-take-more-active-role-world-problems-xi and that of the latter in Chinese can be found at http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-12/03/c_136797653.htm.
Xi Jinping Thought, Declaration of ‘China Can Say No’ (7)
China has long been criticized for its Internet censorship by the West, especially the US, but China holds World Internet Conference every year to counter the criticism. SCMP says in its report “Xi Jinping renews ‘cyber sovereignty’ call at China’s top meeting of internet minds” that at the annual conference on December 3, 2017 Xi sent a letter to be read by a Chinese official. In the letter, Xi Jinping expresses his desire “to work with the international community to respect cyberspace sovereignty and promote partnerships”.
By cyberspace sovereignty, Xi means that all countries have the right to regulate the internet within their own borders; therefore, China’s Internet censorship is within China’s rights of Internet sovereignty that others should not interfere.
Western Countries and media have indeed vigorously opposed China’s practices of censorship, but China has called others to cooperate with and support China’s practices. China’s successes are proved by Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google boss Sundar Pichai’s attendance at the conference.
US pro-democracy group Freedom House regards China as ranking the last in internet freedom in its survey in November 2017, but China denies Internet freedom with the idea of Internet sovereignty, stressing that each country has the right to censor and regulate the internet within its territories.
The problem now is that China is able to set rules as it is the largest market of Internet services. US giants Apple and Google have to obey if they want a share of the market.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on People’s Daily’s editorial, full text of which in Chinese can be found at http://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2017-12/06/nw.D110000renmrb_20171206_8-01.htm and SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2122683/xi-jinping-renews-cyber-sovereignty-call-chinas-top.