While Americans were celebrating our founding with fireworks and hot dogs, a very different celebration was taking place on the other side of the world in a country with a very different founding and very different ambitions.
The United States of America, the world’s oldest continuous democracy, was founded on the radical concept of self-governance. The current Chinese government, governed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has sought top-down control by the state in every aspect of society since its founding in 1921, particularly since the party took power in a bloody civil war in 1949.
July’s 100 year anniversary of the CCP is not something to celebrate, but something upon which to reflect. It should also prompt us to increase our resolve to see the CCP for what it is: an increasingly authoritarian regime that is the most serious future threat to a free, peaceful and prosperous world.
In a major speech commemorating the CCP’s centennial, ironically delivered from Tiananmen Square, where the party brutally crushed dissent in 1989, Chinese President Xi Jinping credited the party for all of China’s advancements and stated that “China’s success hinges on the Party.”
This is the false choice CCP leadership has presented its population since Mao Zedong: Either keep the CCP in power or the country will go backwards and again be overrun by foreign powers.
The primary argument that the party makes to its public, and as it presents its model of one-party authoritarian state capitalism to the world, is that this system has heroically lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens out of poverty. That’s like praising the arsonist for later putting out the fire.
Through the Cultural Revolution and forced famine, Mao Zedong’s CCP plunged the Chinese people deep into poverty, with tens of millions dying from starvation. Mao alone is estimated to have killed at least 40 million people through forced starvation, persecution, prison labor and mass executions. Hardly a role model for the world. There was nowhere for China to go but up from the depths of despair to which Mao had driven it.
In his Beijing speech, Xi said: “Since the very day of its founding, the Party has made seeking happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation its aspiration and mission.” Tell that to the people in Xinjiang, where a systemic genocide is underway to wipe out and “change the thoughts” of the minority Uyghur Muslim population. Or to the people of Hong Kong, where promised independence following the handover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese control has been crushed and extinguished. Or in Tibet, where cultural genocide is underway to wipe out a proud history of Tibetans.
Next, the Chinese Communist Party has always promised the world a peaceful rise. In his speech, Xi Jinping said: “We have never bullied, oppressed or subjugated the people of any other country, and we never will.” Tell that to Australia, where the CCP is executing a plan of economic blackmail, aggressive verbal threats and intimidation. Or to countries such as Japan, Malaysia or the Philippines, where China aggressively claims islands for itself that others have claimed for generations. China is even building new islands and militarizing critical shipping lanes in the South China Sea.
In resource, mineral and fishing rights, China shows little regard for any other nation or any international treaty to which it may even be bound. It conducts predatory economics globally and ensnares so-called allies in debt-trap diplomacy. China pursues an agenda solely intent on strengthening and further the grip of power for the Chinese Communist Party.
And now with its self-declared “president for life” Xi Jinping and its “wolf-warrior” style diplomacy, all pretense of the CCP’s intentions has largely vanished. As Xi said in his speech, “Anyone who would attempt to do so will find themselves on a collision course with a great wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people.” That hardly sounds like a nation seeking a peaceful rise.
Xi speaks often of a national rejuvenation, but the regime is focused on a rejuvenation not for China or for the Chinese people but instead for the party. For the sake of China and the world, let’s hope there is not another celebration for the CCP’s founding a century from now. Instead, let’s hope that with the world’s attentive focus and resolve, the CCP can be driven to what President Reagan declared should be the destiny of all Marxist-Leninist regimes — “the ash-heap of history.”
Andy Keiser is a former senior adviser to the House Intelligence Committee and is currently a principal at Navigators Global and a fellow at the National Security Institute at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School.