China is gearing up for the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party to be held later this year. According to the consensus view, President Xi Jinping’s historic bid for a third term as the party’s General Secretary is assured.
The Chinese President and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Xi Jinping, doesn’t have much fan following in the world. Therefore, my statement that Xi’s re-election is an opportunity would shock many people worldwide and specifically in India.
Xi Jinping: The Cult Figure
Chinese President Xi Jinping is the son of Xi Zhongxun, a revolutionary and a contemporary of Mao. In 1963 Mao had purged the whole family, and young Xi’s luxurious life came to a grinding halt. Xi Jinping was dispatched to the countryside, where he worked for six years as a manual labourer in an agricultural commune.
Instead of hating Mao for his actions against his family, Xi Jinping started patronizing him. Today, Xi glorifies his exile to the countryside and garnering as much profit from it as possible. Xi Jinping has also issued a history resolution that distorts the facts or circumvents controversial historic topics. This resolution allows Xi to compare himself to celebrated predecessors Mao and Deng Xiaoping implicitly.
Unfortunately, a country is as good as its leaders are. China is no different. In the past, China had some very talented leaders who improved China without a destructive mentality. Why Xi Jinping is terrible news for China? Because before he would wound the world, he would scar China.
The Farce Of Chinese Characteristics
CCP has been deceiving the world and the Chinese citizens that their way of working is unique. The fact is that they have been outright copying their one-time tormentor Japan. If the Japanese called their treaty of 1854 with Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States unequal, the Chinese also called the Opium Wars and the treaties that followed, unequal. Though the Japanese treaty ended Japan’s 215 years of self-isolation, this didn’t happen with the Chinese self-isolation that had started in 1434. Chinese citizens had to wait till the Third Plenum of the CCP, held from 18-22 December 1978, which saw the launch of China’s reform and opening-up policy under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping.
Japan’s model had surprised the world, and Deng Xiaoping had to just copy the successful model. Japan had smartly identified, modified, and adopted in each sphere of life the western models that were best suited to Japan. Like Japan in the 1870s, China started sending government representatives, scientists, scholars, and students to the U.S. and various European countries. They visited factories, government offices, met political leaders, worked in the western scientific institutions and, studied in the world-class universities, and got immensely benefited from that.
While Japan sent representatives to observe the French-Prussian war of 1870, to understand how Europeans fought and implemented military reforms, China also closely monitored the Western wars to draw its conclusions. Japan purchased modern Western equipment, modeled its army on the German army and navy on the British navy. China went one step further. They not only imported the modern equipment but reverse-engineered them for indigenous production.
China’s Smart Moves
The Chinese leaders of the 80s and 90s clearly understood the Japanese shortcomings during World War II. In the 1940s, U.S.’s manufacturing capacity for high-quality steel was 50 times Japan’s. The Western powers were way ahead in their industrial base. Leaders like Deng Xiaoping invented the phrase, “Hide your strength, bide your time” to garner Western support for China’s peaceful rise. Such nimble steps successfully brought China to a state where today it is called the ‘World Factory.’
2019 Manufacturing Data – Courtesy: theglobaleconomy.com
In 2019, China’s manufacturing output was at a staggering $3.8 trillion, accounting for 27% of the world output. The closest low-end manufacturing competitor India was $383 billion, representing only 10% of China’s numbers. Even if China stagnates and India grows at 10% annually, it would take 26 years to catch up. That looks worrisome, but there is hope. In Xi Jinping, China has a destroyer hell-bent on destroying previous generations’ decades of diligent planning, hard work, and meticulous execution.
Xi Jinping – The Destroyer
In 2012, Xi knew that he was not anyone’s first choice, neither in the Shanghai faction nor in the CCYL. Despite that, he was selected for the top job of General Secretary because he was considered harmless. Xi is like Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet’s 1973 coup was welcomed with relief and received broad support from all the political parties. Even the CIA described him as a quiet, mild-mannered, honest, harmless, friendly, hard-working, and businesslike person.
Just like General Pinochet purged every political and military opposition, Xi has also decimated every kind of opposition in the party. He has not even spared retired party leaders and warned them, “violations of disciplinary rules should be dealt with seriously.” Today he is called the ‘Core Leader.’ Since Xi had no base, he made PLA his base. He took the support of the hawks in the PLA and purged Generals and Admirals who came in his path. The problem is that it is not clear if Xi controls the PLA or PLA controls Xi. One thing is amply clear, either PLA is running the show, or Xi is letting them run the show for his sake. PLA’s imprints on diplomacy are apparent. Their methods are fast replacing diplomacy with sharp power.
This once again takes one to Japan in the early 1900s. Meiji Japan had created history by defeating Russia in the 1904–1905 war. Japan annexed the southern half of Sakhalin Island and controlled South Manchurian Railroad. Korea became a Japanese protectorate, followed by annexation in 1910. Micronesian island colonies were conquered in 1914, and in 1915 China was presented with the so-called ‘Twenty-One Demands,’ making it virtually a Japanese vassal state.
Japan was on a roll. But Meiji Era’s Japanese leaders were realists. They always made an honest appraisal of Japan’s strengths compared to the strengths of other countries. Every step Japan took was only when it was confident of success. Compared to this, the 1930’s Japanese army commanders were hothead officers who were intoxicated by the previous generation’s successful campaigns. Today’s China is in a similar situation. Xi’s diplomats and generals are hotheads who are not honest in their assessments. They are intoxicated by the previous generation’s successful but illegal occupation of Tibet and the South China Sea islands. The Japanese hotheads took Japan to doom in World War II, and Xi’s hotheads would do the same in the coming years.
A Man In Hurry Is Bound To A Make Mistake
Xi is a man in a hurry, and he has started to falter. China, under Xi’s watch, has had the slowest economic growth in the last three decades and is held responsible for the spread of Covid-19 worldwide. Chinese officials’ shameful display of celebration over their recovery and mounting deaths in other countries has further isolated China. Xi’s regular rhetoric of war over Taiwan, siding with Russia in the Ukraine war, debt-trap diplomacy, and luring of the Pacific island nations hasn’t helped China’s cause, either.
Despite all this, China has become too powerful and wealthy to fail. China also doesn’t have the factory output problem that ailed Japan during World War II. Xi and his hotheads have been working smartly just below the threshold of war. Therefore China has to be lured into war. The lingering China problem has to be taken to a logical conclusion. All the Quad+ nations have to put their heads together since the present offset strategies won’t help in China’s case.
The Outdated Offset Strategies
The concept of offset strategy came into existence with the help of superior technology soon after World War II. The ‘First Offset Strategy’ was nuclear deterrence. The ‘Second Offset Strategy’ was achieved with the guided munitions, stealth aircraft, radar and tracking systems, and the battle networks that controlled them. The ‘Third Offset Strategy’ was implemented by introducing deep learning systems, human-machine collaboration, human-machine combat teaming, assisted human operations, and network-enabled cyber-hardened weapons.
Unfortunately, China is not far behind the Quad members in almost all these fields. Therefore, while Xi Jinping is destroying China from the inside, a ‘Fourth Offset Strategy’ has to be devised to achieve that aim from the outside. Holding or hedging strategies won’t work with China.
Xenobots, the organic robot – Courtesy: thenextweb.com
The answer may lie in combining two or three scientific fields together. In 2022 a team of biologists and computer scientists from Tufts University and the University of Vermont created the novel, tiny self-healing biological machines from frog cells called “Xenobots.” These living, programmable organisms could move around, push a payload, and even exhibit collective behavior in the presence of a swarm of other Xenobots. These organic robots may change the way we fight a war without firing a single bullet.
Such out-of-the-box thinking present technological advantages and make the fourth offset strategy a reality. If the ‘China Problem’ is not resolved at war footing, the next decade could be the most harrowing experience humanity has ever endured. War is not the solution to any problem, but ignoring an existing wound for a long may turn it into cancer. China has been giving those cuts and wounds to the world under Xi Jinping for a long time. Why should the world wait for those wounds to turn into cancer?
“Peace is not the absence of war; it is the ability to deal with the war” ~ Insightful Geopolitics
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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