Is it only the virus that has made China Global Public Enemy No 1? Or are there other issues?
In the name of protecting China’s “core interests,” “eternal leader” Xi has picked fights with many of his neighbors and antagonized countries farther away, especially the United States.
Ambition and execution is not the same thing, and Xi has now placed China on a risky trajectory.
His belief that the CCP must guide the economy and Beijing should rein in the private sector will constrain the country’s future economic growth.
His demand that the party cadres adhere to ideological orthodoxy and demonstrate absolute personal loyalty to him has undermined the governance system’s flexibility.
There is a faddish but inaccurate notion that China is an impervious force, advancing on an immutable course and unresponsive to external pressure and incentive.
International pressure on China is building by the day.
The US Senate has unanimously passed the Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act, intended to bar the import of products made through forced labor.
Washington has a programme to rip and replace equipment from Chinese telecom companies considered national security risks by the U.S. government.
And China is reacting like a rabid canine.
China’s diplomats tried “wolf-warrior” diplomacy (blatant threats) to please their domestic masters, and managed to offend their hosts, further isolating China. If it is a warrior approach, it cannot be diplomacy!
China’s former darling Australia became the “white trash of Asia” and “chewing gum stuck to the boot of China” for demanding an independent international investigation into the origins of the Wuhan virus.
America, said China’s fatuous Foreign Minister in August 2020, had “lost his mind, morals and credibility”.
In Brazil, congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, President Jair Bolsonaro’s son, blamed China for the pandemic, and China’s Ambassador shot back saying Bolsonaro Jr. had contracted “a mental virus” while visiting the US.
In December 2020, a senior Chinese journalist called a US Senator a “lifetime bitch” for questioning China’s claim to 5,000 years of history (extended by a stroke of the Communist pen from the previous antiquity of 3,000 years).
Canada has been dubbed the “running dog of America” and its Prime Minister dismissed as a “boy”.
A wise diplomat knows how to pick a fight with the right target at the right time.
Realizing that this approach was counterproductive, the wolf master advised his wolves in early 2021 to switch track and create a lovable, trustworthy, respectable image of China, to roll over on their backs like cute puppy dogs wanting their bellies scratched.
The principal takeaway for the Chinese leadership of the Soviet collapse was that China should remain true to its core belief in socialism with Chinese characteristics under the absolute leadership of the Communist Party.
Tiananmen Square was Deng Xiaoping’s worst nightmare about a Gorbachev coming up in China!
The term Comprehensive National Power, so beloved of our self-styled intellectuals, is a Chinese construct as though weakness in one pillar can be compensated for by strength in another.
It cannot. All of the USSR’s military strength could not compensate for a catering economy, and it vanished without so much as a “by your leave”.
The ultimate determinant of a country’s strength is its people’s will power.
The brave Vietnamese could not match the mighty USA in weaponry or economic strength or international connections, yet brought their adversary to its knees.
China seeks greater power in the world as a substitute for fundamental changes at home.
“Peace for our time” will not come with Xi PingPong. It did not come for Europe despite British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli’s delusion after the Congress of Berlin 1878 or when Neville Chamberlain returned after meeting Adolf Hitler in 1938.
At its August 2020 meeting, for the first time ever, the National Peoples’ Congress (China’s rubber stamp Parliament) did not set a specific target for economic growth.
Since when did China start acknowledging its challenges? Something serious is afoot.
Subsequent boasts focused on how quickly the economy had been repaired and was back on track.
In August 2020, Prime Minister Le Keqiang had acknowledged that 600 million Chinese were flexible (migrant) workers, whose average monthly income of USD 140 could hardly pay for one room in a city.
As its economy worsened, in July 2020, Xi PingPong, Chairman of Everything, appealed to the patriotism of Chinese businessmen to build up the domestic market.
Memories of the 2015 stock market crash that tested the Party’s hold on the economy came rushing back.
China’s debt is over USD 40 trillion, three times its GDP.
Chinese banks have drastically reduced lending for the doomed Bilk and Rob Initiative (BRI).
To add to their woes, at the Group of Seven industrialized countries June 2021 London Summit, the US supported the Build Back Better World (B3W) plan to be a higher-quality alternative to China’s exploitative BRI that helped finance trains, roads, and ports in many countries but saddled them with debt.
The G7 promises a transparent infrastructure partnership to help narrow the $40 trillion needed by developing nations for infrastructure by 2035, the White House says.
China tries to overawe her neighbours merely by her bulk and appearance, but becomes abusive when her bluff is called.
The 2020 Galwan intrusion was the stupidest self-goal by China since its invasion of Vietnam in 1979.
The PLA may have more military hardware and money, but the average Chinese soldier has nowhere near the courage, capability, competence, and conviction of his Indian counterpart.
The Chinese soldier is merely a slave of an authoritarian system which dares not even give him a decent public burial for fear of losing face but orders him to face the battle-hardened Indian military, of the best soldiers in the world.
As India’s Chief of Defense Staff said in June 2021, China’s PLA consists of temporary conscripts unused to high altitude warfare, India’s soldiers know how to fight in all terrains (if China stops conscription, no one will join the PLA).
In 2017, during the Doklam standoff, Chinese state media, so sensitive to xenophobic slurs, threatened to strip the Indian army to their underwear, and released a racist propaganda video. The English-language clip, accusing India of committing “sins”, featured a Chinese actor in a Sikh turban, speaking in a mock Indian accent.
Of course, we would never strip Chinese troops, since their underwear is needed to make face masks for Pakistan.
China has territorial claims and disputed borders with 19 countries in its Indo-Pacific neighbourhood.
The Quad (India, USA, Japan, and Australia) is making China quadriplegic, now that Vietnam, UK, Taiwan, South Korea, France, Germany want in on the action.
There are reports of a massive Chinese troop buildup on the Ladakh border, but she will not dare attack India.
A retiring Chinese general reportedly lamented that he regretted not fighting in a war. This reveals the greatest weakness of China’s fighting forces.
Just a few months ago, the Goebbels (sorry Global) Times published an amazing article on declining masculinity among young Chinese males, and I quote:
“Young people are less willing and enthusiastic to protect their country…more and more young people have mental illness…children between 8 and12 should be recruited into junior military schools…in order to train a reserve army for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation…the media and film and television works should idolize more masculine soldiers”.
The Chinese Rambo is on his way!
China’s leaders are so masculine that it took PingPong eight months to tell lies about its casualties in the 2020 Galwan Valley clash with India.
Xi keeps lamenting the weakness of the PLA, urging his troops to learn how to fight a war (since they cannot win it without fighting – sorry Sun Tzu!) and to be ready to fight within a second.
In October 2020, Xi asked PLA troops to be “absolutely loyal, absolutely pure, and absolutely reliable”.
Prime Minister Le Keqiang says the Communist Party’s goal is to strengthen the political loyalty of the PLA and bolster it through reform and training of capable personnel.
The Global Times warned about possible “preemptive action” on the seas by the Indian Navy.
China spends more on internal security than it does on external defense. Why? Is it frightened of its own people?
After assuming power in 2012, Xi unleashed a wave of anti-corruption measures (that made him very popular) which felled well over one million civil and military senior officials, including the chief of the domestic security apparatus who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2015.
In August 2020, Prime Minister Le Keqiang had criticized the bureaucracy, hedonism, and extravagance of party cadres, including the PLA.
Xi’s sidekicks announced a campaign to root out “two-faced” people who are disloyal and dishonest to the Party
Corruption is eating at China’s innards. The net worth of 3,000 members of National People’s Congress, according to Global Taiwan Institute, is about USD 500 billion or USD 150 million per member! And they are moving this money overseas.
According to Bloomberg, Xi’s family has assets of over USD 1 bn.
In mid-July 2021, HuánqiúShíbào, the domestic Communist Chinese tabloid carried three articles on rampant profiteering on the Internet through fraudulent misery tales, soaring popularity of cosmetic surgery in Generation Z, unmindful of the mishaps caused by unlicensed peddlers and a defense of the Chinese idea of ‘freedom’ versus that of the West.
In “The Dictator’s Handbook”, two political scientists theorize that authoritarian leaders cannot rule without the support of other powerful players, such as military generals, business leaders and key intellectuals. Their demands must be met and the loot shared.
We might call this the “too many pigs at the trough” problem.
The Gini co-efficient of income inequality in China in 2020 is 58/100 and rising. This is very high for a communist country.
Demography is not destiny but is always a factor in a country’s long-term growth rates. Any country’s potential GDP growth is a function of population and productivity growth.
China is graying rapidly, thanks to its stupid One Child Policy (1979-2015). From 39 years today, China’s median age would be 42 years by 2030 and 46 by 2050. China will need huge expenditure on health, social welfare and pensions and its savings rate will decline.
China will get old before reaching the levels of rich countries like the United States, Singapore, Japan, and others.
This disappoints the legions of young Chinese.
The pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong in 2019-2020 were mainly young.
China’s brutal suppression was to tell its population that democracy is dangerous and disruptive.
People remember that in Tiananmen (1989) the young demonstrators erected a Styrofoam statue of liberty, and over 3,000 got slaughtered for daring to challenge the Communist Party.
But rather than a threat to political stability, young Chinese are better understood as harbingers of democratic change.
China’s Achilles Heel is the restive Muslim Uighur province of Xinjiang that abuts Afghanistan.
China has incarcerated over 1 million Uighurs in in “re-education” camps, provoking many young Uighurs to seek military and ideological training in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
With the Taliban getting back in Afghanistan, Beijing would be deeply worried.
According to some experts, since 1949, China has lost one fifth of its arable land to urbanisation and industrialisation and currently only about 10-15% of the land is good for agriculture.
China has negotiated with financially-strapped Argentina and Colombia to buy or lease land to grow food for China as it faces the daunting task of feeding a fifth of the world with only 7% of global arable land.
The problem of food security was highlighted when in August 2020 Xi called for an end to wasting food (Clean Plates Campaign), succeeding the 2013 ‘Operation Empty Plate’ campaign. Xi’s plea suggests China is in a food crisis.
China’s imports of barley, corn, sorghum and wheat almost doubled in 2020 and 2021.
In 2005, former Premier Wen Jiabao had said that water scarcity threatened the very survival of the Chinese nation.
China has one fifteenth of the world’s fresh water, and its per capita water availability is one quarter of the global average.
It is reluctant to sign international agreements on cross-border water management.
In 2017, a fictitious Red Flag River Project (meant to be a joke) to divert Himalayan glacial water to China’s arid west created panic among India’s media, since that water creates India’s most important rivers. This response illustrates the level of mistrust in whatever China does.
The 4-month drought in 2018 was unprecedented in the country’s history, and even the gospel according to PingPong did not have a solution.
A 2018 study by Greenpeace suggests that by 2030 China’s water consumption would surpass water supply, when the glaciers reach their “peak water”.
According to Government figures, over half of China’s rivers have disappeared since 2000! Officials blame statistical mistakes and climate change, never themselves.
In January 2020, the disgraceful Dr Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the WHO, was summoned to China by his benefactors (China had spearheaded his election) and came away mesmerized by the “commitment from top leadership, and the transparency they have demonstrated”.
His Chinese Master’s Voice repeatedly praised China for its speed and transparency despite senior WHO officials internally griping about obfuscation from their Chinese counterparts.
By early 2021, sensing the growing international opprobrium against China’s culpability for the virus, its son-in-law Dr Tedros stopped singing paeans to Xi Pingpong.
The US President has ordered his intelligence fellows to submit a definitive report on the origins of the virus by end-August 2021.
The god of viruses Dr Anthony Fauci is no longer sure that it is a natural phenomenon.
A book by Australian investigative journalist Sharri Markson “What really happened in Wuhan: The Cover-Ups, the Conspiracies and the Classified Research” expected in end-September 2021 will hurt a lot of people and not just in China.
Frightened, the miserable Dr Tedros Adhanom did an abrupt volte face and in a global media conference in mid-July acknowledged that the virus could be a lab leak and asked China to be more transparent by sharing raw data with scientists.
China’s isolation is the fastest in human history. Within one year, its bluff has been called, and it is largely alone, economically, militarily, politically, and diplomatically.
In August 2020, Sri Lanka acknowledged that trading its debt for Chinese 99-year lease on Hambantota Port years was a mistake.
The same month, Papua New Guinea refused to repay a USD 74 million loan used by Huawei to build a fancy data centre that exposed Government files to theft, calling it a failed investment.
The auditor general of Myanmar has warned about continued reliance on Chinese loans. Myanmar’s current national debt is about $10 billion, with $ 4 billion owed to China. It must repay $500 million annually to China.
The Addis-Djibouti standard gauge railway completed in 2019 (USD 4.5bn), Ethiopia’s first railway line in 100 years and a flagship project of China’s BRI initiative in Africa, faces tremendous financial and technical challenges for relying on Chinese technology and debt-financing.
Malaysia cancelled some Chinese pipeline projects
Zambians are angry at Chinese nationals doing bottom-of- the pyramid work – selling second-hand clothes, rearing chickens and roasting maize at roadside stalls, thus competing directly with impoverished locals.
In Pakistan, a government enquiry into six power projects confirmed accusations of massive profiteering and financial jugglery by Chinese firms.
Chinese companies have been booted off the New York Stock Exchange for fudging figures.
In his 31 December 2019 speech to his people, PingPong had boasted that China had friends everywhere and swore to keep building “a community with a shared future for mankind, and making unremitting efforts for the creation of a beautiful future for mankind” (if it was a future with Chinese characteristics including repression, exploitation, abuse, humiliation and genocide).
A year later, he said “the whole world is one family”!
(Latest research confirms that “vasudhaivakutumbkan” was first uttered by Kong Fuzi (Confucius) in the 6th century BCE! A manuscript written in Kong Fuzi’s own hand has just been found in Jinping’s closet!!!!).
In July 2021, he addressed his CPC cadres in Tiananmen Square (where Mao had declared the Peoples’ Republic of China in 1949 and the PLA had murdered 5,000 pro-democracy students fifty years later) and promised broken heads and bloodshed for anyone who tried to bully China, repeated that the Party must maintain “absolute leadership” over the military (else the Party is history), which has to be grown and elevated “to world-class standards” (implying that it is not yet there), and asked party members to be willing to die for the Party.
Despite its best efforts, China has failed to Sinicize Tibet
In August 2020, Xi PingPong told senior party leaders that China must build an “impregnable fortress” to maintain stability in Tibet by strengthening political and ideological education. So, they must plant seeds of loving China in hearts of every Tibetan youth to build a “united, civilized and beautiful new, modern, socialist Tibet”.
PingPong added that Tibetan Buddhism must adapt to socialism and to Chinese conditions!
Islam is China’s Achilles Heel
It not only wants to eliminate the Turkic Uighurs; it wants to eradicate the religion of some 22 million Chinese.
The mass incarceration of Uighurs in special “reeducation” camps, where inmates are forced to abandon their “radical” views, and learn to love China, has pushed the Xinjiang region (unknown to most till a year ago) into the international spotlight.
With the fanatical Taliban wanting to kick neighbouring Afghanistan back to medieval times, China is shivering.
The world sees the warts in paradise with Chinese characteristics!
Ambassador Dr. Deepak Vohra, Made in India,
Special Advisor to Prime Minister, Lesotho, South Sudan and Guinea-Bissau,
Special Advisor to Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils, Leh and Kargil, Gauri Sadan, 5 Hailey Road, New Delhi 110001.
I am not Indian because I live in India, I am Indian because India lives in me!
They said: Hide from the storm; I replied: I am the storm