Mon, Mar 05, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Give heed to Xi’s use of the word ‘revolution’

By Tzou Jiing-wen 鄒景雯

After Beijing’s one-man leadership was consolidated at the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) Lunar New Year greeting drew a lot of attention from China experts around the world and set off a great deal of speculation.

“We should break new ground in our great social revolution, strengthen ourselves in the great self-reform and open a new chapter on our vast land in the great struggle of more than 1.3 billion Chinese people,” Xi said.

What does he intend by bringing up the word “revolution” again, and what are the goals he wants to achieve? Taiwan must come up with a precise interpretation of this in response to coming adjustments and challenges in cross-strait relations.

Qiushi (“Seeking Truth”), a political theory periodical published by the CCP, offered further interpretation of Xi’s speech in an article titled: “Promoting the great social revolution through the party’s self-revolution.”

People in democratic countries must think that China exists in a parallel universe with a different way of thinking. Even the Chinese themselves have hardly heard such a tone over the past 40 years, and the younger generation is certainly unfamiliar with it.

Many observers percieve this as a major political shift from late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) and his introduction of reform and openness following his 1992 inspection tour of southern China, which was followed by the rule of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) and Jiang’s successor Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).

Xi is following the route of Mao Zedong (毛澤東). His actions since he came to power in 2012, his respect for and worship of Mao, and that he compares himself to Mao, have made this evident.

However, eyebrows were raised when he announced China’s direction for this year at the Lunar New Year party. Xi’s talk about a “new era” borrows a lot from Mao and moves away from, or even rejects, the political line that Deng, Jiang and Hu followed.

With the CCP once again assuming the mantle of a “revolutionary party,” Xi is stressing the legitimacy of his rule as a politician of the so-called “red second generation,” while indicating that the Chinese government is about to take a left turn.

While the former implication is political in nature and the latter economic, the two are often complementary. This is the same trick that Mao used when he incited power struggles not only against political rivals, but also between social classes.

Hence, many observers believe that, as Xi now has supreme power, he will continue to crack down on those whose views differ from his own in order to maintain a sense of security.

Meanwhile, in the face of the internal crises caused by a widening income gap, as well as increasingly rigid social structures, he might have no better solution than Mao did and could have to borrow Mao’s strategies.

Instead of waiting for the public to launch a revolution, he might initiate one in order to shift political accountability.

Given how tightly controlled China is, more information is needed before anyone can judge whether Xi’s approach could be persuasive. However, for Taiwan, it is not good when China’s leader decides to move from “reform” toward “revolution.”

It might be necessary for Taiwanese to review each and every approach it has taken when handling cross-strait political dialogue and administrative exchanges over the past two decades to enhance the strategies while ensuring national security.

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