Chinese Communist Party: 100 Years, 10 Lies
Cdr Sandeep Dhawan (Retd)
Could anyone imagine that the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) founder Mao Zedong forgot that the first party congress was held on 23 July 1921 in Shanghai? Somehow, 1st July was later designated as the “anniversary of foundation”. Last few days CCP has been in overdrive. Caged pigeons, blocked roads, armed police, and K-9 units greet you everywhere in Beijing. Despite disinterest shown by the Chinese citizens, 1st July 2021 will be celebrated as the first centenary of CCP.
One must be wondering why 10 lies? Most certainly there must be thousands of lies. Of course, communism runs on lies and propaganda. However, there are some lesser but important facts about these lies. While the CCP celebrates hundred years of ‘Orwellian Society’, with full pomp and show, we expose the world’s longest-running dictatorship.
The slogan for the centenary celebration is “follow the party forever”, as if the Chinese citizens have any other option. Sloganeering in China is a common disease among Chinese leaders, when they have nothing substantial to offer to ordinary citizens. It is akin to Urdu poetry blabbered out by Pakistani leaders to fool the public, when they have nothing concrete to showcase.
Lie 1: Serve the People (1944)
Mao Zedong on 8th September 1944 for the first time used the Communist slogan ‘Serve the People’ in a speech. He was attributing the slogan to the death of PLA soldier Zhang Side. Zhang was a participant in the Long March and died when a kiln processing raw opium collapsed. Mao Zedong in the true communist style didn’t waste the opportunity and used it for spreading the propaganda. Opium addict Comrade Zhang was showcased as a true servant of people.
The farce of ‘Serve the People’ doesn’t cut ice even with the Chinese citizens, leave alone the international community. China has been ruled first by the revolutionaries and now by the ‘princelings’. The offsprings of high-ranking veteran communists who were holding offices in China before 1966 are commonly called “princelings.”
There are princeling politicians, princeling generals, and princeling entrepreneurs. Chinese dictator Xi Jinping is a typical example of a princeling politician. His father, Xi Zhongxun, served as secretary-general and vice-premier of the State Council in the 1950s and the 1960s and as a Politburo member in the 1980s.
General Zhang Youxia, second-ranked Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission; Admiral Wu Shengli, former commander of the PLA Navy; and General Liu Yuan, last political commissar of the General Logistics Department, all are examples of princeling generals.
There are also princeling entrepreneurs. Wang Jun, son of Wang Zhen, former vice president of China, was board chairman of China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) for 27 years. Wang’s successor, Kong Dan‘s father, Kong Yuan, was the director of the Investigation Department of the CCP Central Committee.
There are over two hundred families who control every walk of Chinese life today, serving their purposes rather than ‘serve the people’.
Lie 2: Let a 100 Flowers Bloom (1956)
Mao urged his countrymen to discard everything old, but he, himself often pillaged classical Chinese works to get his message across. In 1956, he borrowed a phrase from the Warring States period, “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend”.
Using the slogan Mao conveyed to citizens that it is okay to criticize the party. Widespread and bitter criticism hit the party hard. Streets were inundated with posters critical of party officials. Educational institutions had debates and discussions denouncing party policies.
Mao had no intention of giving freedom of speech to the citizens, he had just lied. He had used the ploy to expose the counter-revolutionaries. By 1957 large-scale purges took place. Intellectuals and academicians were denounced, jailed, or sent to work in the countryside.
Lie 3: Dare to Think, Dare to Speak, Dare to Act (1958)
The country was just recovering from the shock of purges of intellectuals and academia when Mao pushed the citizens into one of the biggest crimes against humanity, resulting in over 30-50 million deaths due to food shortages and starvation.
“Dare to think, dare to speak, dare to act” became the most crucial slogan during the ‘Great Leap Forward’. Mao launched an extreme campaign to outproduce Great Britain and the Soviet Union. The real gauge of development was steel. Instead of mining the ore for smelting, everyone contributed iron tools, utensils, and other everyday items. Furnaces used a huge amount of wood resulting in the loss of over 10 percent of China’s forests. The end result was, inexperienced farmers converted every practical item into useless lumps of pig iron that was good for nothing.
One thing the farmers knew well was farming. They knew that digging a big hole, the size of a swimming pool and then putting in all their seed grains in expectation of a phenomenal crop was the most ludicrous idea. They also knew that breaking up clay pots and work them into the soil would not give results, since all the nutrients of the soil had already been baked out.
Once again Mao was pushing the country in harm’s way. The slogan was a blatant lie and in fact, had no real message. The countrymen had already seen the result of speaking their hearts out in the previous years. This time they were keeping mum.
‘Dare to think, dare to speak, dare to act’ was daring citizens and forcing them to think what would happen to them if they think, speak or act.
Lie 4: Smash the Four Olds’ (1966)
If any slogan sums up the excesses of the Cultural Revolution, then that has to be this. It urged young cadres to destroy anything regarded as “old” – basically any old idea, custom, culture, and habit that had become blasphemous.
‘Smash the four olds’ had another companion, ‘to rebel is justified’. The movement escalated and many older people and intellectuals were physically abused; many of them died.
Mao encouraged physical and verbal terrorism to establish a permanent revolution. He was desperate to restore his image and reputation after the humongous failure of the Great Leap Forward program. What better way to distract people than to ask them to rebel. Once again, the decade-long campaign cost millions of deaths in violence related to the Cultural Revolution.
Lie 5: Seek Truth from Facts (1978)
After the death of Mao, the implementation of propaganda programs rested on the shoulders of Deng Xiaoping. The phrase ‘seek truth from facts’ was borrowed by Mao most probably from the philosophical culture of 2nd century BC and passed onto future leaders.
The slogan is a contradiction in itself. However, in propaganda the more ambiguous the leader’s speech is, the better results it gets. Deng in his 1978 speech stated, “Only if we emancipate our minds, seek truth from facts, proceed from reality in everything and integrate theory with practice, can we carry out our socialist modernization program smoothly”.
Simple Chinese folks could not make out the head and tail of the statement, but they very well knew “whoever writes the history owns the history”. Not only CCP has faked its history, but it has also meddled in the history of all their neighbours so that it fits into their narrative.
Lie 6: Hunting Tigers and Swatting Flies (2013)
Before taking over the helms of China, president-in-waiting Xi Jinping had vowed to crack down on both “tigers” and “flies” – powerful leaders and lowly bureaucrats. Everyone became hopeful. Especially the ordinary Chinese citizens started dreaming of equality in an unequal society.
The hope was short-lived. Xi Jinping had created the slogan to settle political scores. He waged a war against the tigers who were not toeing his line.
The former president of state-affiliated property developer Huayuan Group, Ren Zhiqiang, was openly critical of Xi Jinping. Today he is cooling his heels in jail. He was convicted for 18 years in prison on corruption charges.
Cai Xia was a retired professor from the Communist Party’s Central Party School. She just could not bear what Xi was doing to the country and criticized his policies openly. She was expelled from the party and lost her pension benefits due to her “misconduct”.
The list is so long that a book can be dedicated to the number of people who have been purged and made Xi Jinping, the undisputed custodian of China.
Lie 7: Chinese Dream (2013)
Even hardened apparatchiks couldn’t digest this vague slogan of Xi Jinping. The CCP leaders very well understand that despite various restrictions and censorship, the Chinese public has become much more aware, and such slogans do not resonate with them anymore.
However, Xi Jinping was in hurry in 2013. He wanted to showcase himself as a great leader, who was about to take China to greater heights. What better way than a vague slogan. Today he is about to complete a decade of rule. He is desperate to show his achievements. Alas, this slogan has also joined hundreds of such fake slogans. The Chinese economy is faltering and the growth rate has plummeted. But who will bell the cat, who will show the mirror to Xi Jinping?
Lie 8: Four Comprehensives (2015)
Chinese leaders are familiar with the first three “comprehensives”, however, it is the fourth comprehensive which makes them nervous and wonder if they had made a mistake, back in 2012. It is nothing else but the repackaged ‘hunting tigers and swatting flies’ slogan. Analysts are very certain that the campaign is not concerned with governance but simply a tool to eliminate Xi’s political rivals.
Lie 9: Building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind (2017)
2017 can be termed as a turning point in China’s sloganeering. In addition to the domestic audience, Xi Jinping started appealing to the global community with its propaganda. Building a community with a shared future for mankind was a step in that direction.
China had overtaken Japan in 2011 to become the second-largest economy in the world. By 2017 it had consolidated its position as the world’s factory and felt confident enough to take the next step.
The step in this direction was achieved in 2017, by hosting a conference for nearly 300 overseas political groups in Beijing. Xi Jinping told the gathering that the CCP would step up communications with overseas political groups. China’s ideas of authoritarianism were about to become a global disease but no political pundit or world leader could gauge Xi’s game plan and the major shift in his ambition. The world was about to become China’s playfield.
Lie 10: No 1 HAND (2021)
Ancient Chinese secret societies have been using the term yi ba shou (No 1 Hand) or ‘Big Brother’ to indicate who has the final say. As Xi Jinping’s ambitions continue to rise, his desire to be ‘No 1 Hand’ is not just restricted to China. His ambition is to rule the world and he is very open about it.
Xi has strengthened his grip on power. He sets the meeting agendas of the 25-member Politburo and its seven-member standing committee. Today Xi Jinping sits at the throne of CCP as no other leader sat before. It was fine with the world till the time Xi was restricting himself to China. Alas, he has caught the world off guard. He has set his sight on world leadership. He wants to be the world’s ‘Big Brother’.
I, ME, MYSELF
Xi Jinping now stands tall as the supreme and most dominant figure in China’s political system. He conveys ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ as if he is a prophet or Messiah. He commands the military, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) apparatus, diplomatic and economic policies of China, and above all position of a president for life. However, he has established his authority at the loss of the most important political reform of the last four decades: the regular and peaceful transfer of power. While doing so, he has destabilized China. The succession crisis will haunt him and he would be looking over his shoulders all his life.
One profound implication for the international order and the global community is, they know that the concept of the benevolent dictator, just like the concepts of the noble thief or the honest gangster, is no more than a meaningless fantasy.
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A veteran of the Indian Navy, Cdr Sandeep Dhawan served in the Navy from 1988 to 2009. He was a Maritime Reconnaissance Pilot and a Flying Instructor. He is a geopolitical analyst and writes for the various online websites and organizations. His Twitter handle is @InsightGL.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of Chanakya Forum. All information provided in this article including timeliness, completeness, accuracy, suitability or validity of information referenced therein, is the sole responsibility of the author. www.chanakyaforum.com does not assume any responsibility for the same.
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