Among the armed forces figures of today, Major General Luo Yuan (羅援) often calls for a war in the South or East China seas, while Major General Zhu Chenghu (朱成虎) once said that China could abandon everything east of Xian (西安) if it came to a nuclear war with the US. These men have clearly inherited Mao’s warlike character. Young officers like these, ranking up to the level of major general, are a powerful force in China’s military, and they might be keen to launch a war that they think could bring them promotion and wealth.
Since Xi’s family were targets of criticism and struggle during the Cultural Revolution, his experience is somewhat different from that of other new Chinese leaders, and he is not as arrogant and domineering as they are. On the other hand, former Chongqing mayor Bo Xilai (薄熙來) has a similar background, but he chose to follow a Maoist line. Will Xi influence the other new leaders, or be influenced by them, or will he follow the old adage that everyone has to make compromises? These are unknown elements that will influence China’s future.
Faced with these realities, sensible Chinese people should choose Western-style democracy rather than a “revival of the Chinese nation,” because the first in line to benefit from any such “revival” are powerful and corrupt officials. In fact those officials have already reaped great profits, which are passed down among their families from one generation to the next, while the great majority of working people toil away at grassroots level and suffer abuse at the hands of the rich and powerful.
Paul Lin is a political commentator.
Translated by Eddy Chang