Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Xi is just as ruthless as his ‘normal’ predecessors

By Yu Jie 余杰

US bimonthly magazine Foreign Policy has misguidedly branded Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a “monster.” [The magazine on Feb. 26 on its Web site published a story titled Globalization has Created a Chinese Monster.]

The West is finally waking from its slumber of almost 30 years to find that China’s totalitarian model has for too long been allowed to expand across the globe.

In China, too, many are waking up, roused from their sleep by the news of a constitutional amendment to abolish the limit of two five-year terms on the presidency.

Overnight, Baidu searches for “emigration” increased 10-fold and people started making sardonic references to the second coming of Yuan Shikai (袁世凱), the first president of the Republic of China, who was notorious for his autocratic tendencies.

Reformist public intellectuals presented a petition opposing what they called a regressive development of “driving in reverse.”

Writer Chang Ping (長平), who is exiled in Germany, rejected the notion that Xi is driving in reverse, saying that he is instead careening ahead.

If only Xi could put the truck of history in reverse, he would transport us all the way back to before 1949, to a time when there was a leader he could admire, Chang said.

Chang cannot think of Xi as a political anomaly. Xi grew up in the era of Mao Zedong (毛澤東). He is a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official who sharpened his teeth during late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s (鄧小平) tenure. Xi is smart, hails from Chinese communist stock and has paid his political dues, fighting to get to a powerful position. In other words, he is a classic example of a communist cadre.

There is nothing anomalous about Xi. He is a product of the Chinese communist totalitarian system, which he has worked hard to perpetuate. To suggest that Mao and Xi stand apart from the rest of the CCP’s leaders is to say that Deng and former Chinese leaders Jiang Zemin (江澤民) and Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) were normal.

This would be a grievous mischaracterization. Xi is neither better nor worse than Jiang or Hu — they are birds of a feather, differing only in the degree of their charisma, the size of their ambition or the number of people they have killed.

There are other things that should concern us, beyond the hopelessness of preventing Xi from being declared emperor.

On Feb. 18, 49-year-old lawyer Wu Jiansheng (吳建生) was found dead in his home with 30 stab wounds. Local investigators determined that the cause of death was suicide. Even the bravest Japanese samurai committing harakiri would be hard-pressed to inflict that many stab wounds on themselves.

On Feb. 26, human rights lawyer Li Boguang (李柏光), only 49 years old, suddenly died of “liver disease” in People’s Liberation Army No. 81 Hospital in Nanjing, leaving behind a wife, an eight-year-old son and many questions as to the cause of his death.

Li had no history of liver disease and only two weeks earlier traveled to the US to attend the National Prayer Breakfast, where he was seen chatting animatedly with friends. This callous way of dealing with dissidents has become the new normal in China.

Calling Xi a monster is intellectually vacuous and morally lazy. Xi is no monster. He is exactly what Hannah Arendt was referring to when she wrote of the “banality of evil”: He is the same as the majority of CCP officials. However, although it is incorrect to label him a monster, that is not to say that China is not careening on a course straight to hell.

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