The ultimate end of a situation in which communists are in charge of a capitalist economy is economic depression, with China’s economic woes the prime example. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime has suspended monthly reports on youth unemployment, which had previously been at a record high, going beyond 20 percent and rising.
It is often joked about in academic circles that when a national laboratory has made a great discovery, the institution will quickly call a news conference to announce it to the world, but when the research has been a total failure, the institution will keep it under wraps.
The manifestation of China’s economic depression would most likely cause the demise of the CCP, not dissimilar to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Less scientific, more metaphysical predictions came from the prophecies of ancient Chinese mystical books, Iron Plate Diagrams (鐵板圖) and Tui Bei Tu (推背圖).
Both books appear to predict that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) will be the last emperor of the CCP, brought down by his subordinates. Many of his subordinates have been “forced to disappear,” including his foreign minister, defense minister and some high-ranking military officers. Some political observers think Xi actually believes the prophecies of the two books.
A military coup, a political coup and a civil revolt are the three potential major crises Xi faces.
It has been quipped that Chinese military leaders understand it is easier to attack the Zhongnanhai — the center of power in Beijing — than to cross the Taiwan Strait, just as a Russian counterpart found it easier to attack Moscow than invade Kyiv.
In immature democracies, military coups often occur, and they even happen in more mature democracies. There are even some instances of political coups by high-ranking officials.
However, these are the power games of ruling elites and would not grant democracy to the people. Worse, coup leaders are, more often than not, more interested in extending their power beyond the “status quo” at the expense of constitutions and democracy.
The CCP has already gone through several coups, some of them successful, such as Chairman Mao Zedong’s (毛澤東) Cultural Revolution, the overthrow of the gang of four by Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平), and the failed coup of former Chinese minister of defense Lin Biao (林彪).
It would not be surprising to see another coup under Xi’s watch.
In a democratic system, power is already in the hands of the people, so accommodating revolutionary ideas and implementing changes requires a grassroots movement. Short of a popular uprising, China will not become a democratic country anytime soon.
The fact that Xi is afraid of military personnel having unnecessary social contact speaks volumes about how worried he is about a popular uprising combining the power of the military, political elites and the people.
A dilemma in the Qing Dynasty was well noted: “Without enlightening the people, resisting the West will be futile; but educating the people means the imperial system will perish.”
The same dilemma applies to the CCP today.
Not long ago, exiled Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng (魏京生), one of the most well-known leaders in the Chinese democracy movement, was opposed to Taiwan’s independence. A strong believer in democracy would not stop other people from seeking democracy and happiness. We now find that people in the Chinese democracy movement almost unanimously support democratic Taiwan. They have gone further, proclaiming that Taiwan is free and part of the democratic world, not a part of China.
That indicates that the Chinese democracy movement is mature enough to have gone beyond nationalism and racism.
When the free flow of information is enabled through cell phones with satellite connectivity or otherwise, it could lead to a Berlin Wall moment for the CCP.
The world, especially people in the overseas Chinese democracy movement, are watching and will certainly step in to help Chinese achieve their own dreams of pursuing democracy, liberty, justice and happiness for all.
James J.Y. Hsu is a retired professor of theoretical physics.
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