Süddeutsche Zeitung: Updating the Chinese Dictatorship

The Google Translate robot told me about this commentary by Kai Strittmatter in the “South German Times” —  Kai Strittmatter, Süddeutsche Zeitung: Update der chinesischen Diktatur   (Updating the Chinese Dictatorship)

In German:  http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/china-totale-kontrolle-1.3717154

Google Translated into English:

October 21, 2017, 1:21 pm

Party Congress of the Communist Party in Beijing:  Updating the Chinese Dictatorship

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 Xi Jinping Party Congress of the Beijing in Beijing The Chinese President Xi Jinping at a military parade in July. (Photo: AP)

The Communist Party crowns its chief to the Emperor. Xi Jinping has given her full rule again and wants to create a monitoring state. Europe needs to be careful.

Commentary by Kai Strittmatter

It’s time to listen. And to watch. China. There is something that does not exist yet. The Communist Party crowns its party boss Xi Jinping to the Emperor and reinvents the dictatorship. In competition with the systems of the West. This has huge implications for the democracies of the earth.

Xi presented his vision this week at the Beijing Congress in Beijing. He has drawn a country that is capable of leading the world as a “powerful power” until 2050. And a party that reigns unrestrictedly. The party thanks Xi, in which she takes him into the pantheon of her great thinkers.

The propaganda now celebrates the “Xi-Jinping thoughts”. This honor was recently given to Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Xi’s slogan of the “New Age of Socialism of Chinese Embossing” is at least one true: China is entering a new era. After the Mao Zedong era and the Deng Xiaoping era, the Communist Party gave the country the Xi Jinping era. It was not that Xi would oppress this party, but on the contrary: he executes his most secret desires with force.

In the Center: Political Control

The West must now abandon the wishful thinking that a wise author unmasked years ago as a “Chinese imagination”: the notion that economic opening-up and growing prosperity automatically bring about a political liberalization of China. Change through trade. For many years, this was a practical and calming idea.

After all, during the past decades there have been reforms, debates, experiments, at least in the underpinnings of the country and the party. This is no longer the case in Xis China: he has laid them dry, the non-orthodox currents. Disciplinarian Xi is struggling to prove that an autocracy is much better suited to make a country like China big and powerful. Yes, the realization of his “Chinese dream” requires the strong dictatorship of the party.

Xi puts an end to the premises of Deng Xiaoping’s reform and opening policy. His China is no longer a state that subordinates economic success. At the center is the political control. His party is no longer a task, to the state, to companies, to NGOs. Every spot of China should obey her again. Xi has stifled the growing diversity of opinion and made the most of many parts of civil society. Xi disciplined party and nation with such verve that some say China will become “North Korea light”. This impression of images from kindergartens, where four-year-olds sit tightly in a circle, Xi’s three-and-a-half hour long party congress speech, and the propaganda that Xis wisdom is also celebrated in Albanian translation.

So it is a big step backwards. A re-ideologizing and rhetoric, which some seduces to compare with Mao, a comparison that lags: In many, the control and stability feticist Xi is the antithesis to Mao, who loved chaos.

It is true, two experiments from Mao’s heritage are just coming back: the thought control by the party apparatus and the attempt to form a new human being. This time, the Communist Party believes the chances are much better: China’s dictatorship has just been updated with the instruments of the 21st century. It marches with giant steps into the future, puts on big data, on artificial intelligence and new technologies like no second government.

It thinks it can create the perfect monitoring state. Even better, one who is often not even watched because he transposes them into the lives and minds of the subjects themselves. This new China is not supposed to be a huge military camp, as it is in Mao, but rather a mixture of George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Beautiful New World”, where man is self-sufficient with commercialism and pleasure. For example, the “social credit system”, which will reward every Chinese for each of his actions with positive points from 2020 or punish with point deduction. With the help of artificial intelligence, the system is designed to create socially functioning and politically submissive subjects who censor and sanction themselves.

No New Cold War – but a Competition of Systems

If Xi’s Communist Party had success with its plans, it would be the return of totalitarianism in digital garb. Can this work in a country whose society is diverse today? The Communist Party is faced with enormous challenges, and the division of the country into rich and poor is one of them. And Xi’s autocracy holds its own risks: it makes a system, which until recently has been remarkably flexible, rigid and unresponsive to criticism and new ideas. She gives him enemies in his own ranks. Xi knows the problems. That is why he gives his people the national grandmother’s imagination. And a new ideological enemy: the West. Of all the ways, the nation to one, these are the cheapest.

It is also those who should give the West the most thought. After years in the defensive the Communist Party proudly propagates the supposed superiority of their system. The self-dismantling of the USA under Donald Trump is a gift to it. It is quite possible that China finds a market in parts of the world for its dictatorship 2.0. No, a new cold war is far from the truth, but the competition of the systems is back.

Europe has to face it. The liberal democracies must find a voice opposite the new China. Of course, we can and should continue to cooperate with China, whether on the North Korean problem, climate change or global financial system. But the Europeans must do this in the knowledge of China’s inner constitution and its possible intentions. It is time for Europe to abandon its ignorance and naivete. And that it can no longer be divided. One thing is certain: the biggest challenge for the democracies of the West in the coming decades will not be Russia, it will be China.

 

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About 高大伟 David Cowhig

Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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