As Xi Jinping’s Chinese Communist Party parties, history is rewritten

As Xi Jinping’s Chinese Communist Party parties, history is rewritten. By Henry Ergas.

Underpinning that conception is a Manichean view of the world, in which “the most fundamental fact” is – as the CCP put it in deriding the long-term possibility of “peaceful coexistence” – “the antagonism between the imperialist bloc of aggression and the popular forces in the world”. …

But while the CCP has never hesitated to rely on violence, it is obvious that repression alone cannot provide the legitimacy stable and effective rule requires.

Since economic reform began in 1978-79, that legitimacy has been secured mainly through the party’s ability to deliver spectacular improvements in living standards, lifting millions out of abject poverty. However, growth rates of productivity have dropped sharply, and are likely to decline further as the party expands its control over business and moves to prevent entrepreneurs from emerging as a competing power base. …

Little wonder then that the regime, in its search to bolster popular support, has turned to a belligerent nationalism that has always been incipient in its “bloc against bloc” theory of international relations, which demonises those countries it views as China’s adversaries. And little wonder too that it has resurrected the cult of the personality, giving Xi a status — and a degree of personal power — surpassed only by Mao. …

No one understood that better than Khrushchev, who was exasperated by the insults the CCP hurled at him. The cult of Mao, he astutely observed in 1961, induced Chinese officials to prove their loyalty by acting even more aggressively than Mao did. Confusing stridency with substance, their “endless swearing at imperialism and revisionism” betrayed “a sort of voodoo belief in the power of curses and incantations”, deepening every conflict and vitiating every attempt at productive discussion. …

Unfortunately, far from heeding those lessons, the CCP is erasing them from the history books — just as it is seeking to erase the memory of the 35 million Chinese citizens conservative estimates suggest it sent needlessly to their deaths. More powerful yet also more paranoid, than ever and trapped in a Leninist mindset that has repeatedly plunged the Chinese people into untold misery, it is doomed to remain, for Australia and the West, an unreliable partner and an impossible friend.