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A Clash of Values, Part II

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Developing the People’s Republic of China through the Barrel of a Gun

In contrast to an America that valued freedom, human rights, and universal values, and in which the only foundation on which legitimate authority could be based was Agreement, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) followed another course in founding the People’s Republic of China. Chairman Mao stated in Chapter Five of The Little Red Book, “Every Communist must grasp the truth: Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Having attained power through the barrel of a gun, it continued to use that gun in order to ensure its power in perpetuity.

Those who have studied Chinese history recognize that Communism is not inherently Chinese. Chinascope published a series of articles, “The Moral Crisis in China,” in which it described the tumultuous changes the Communist Party’s Cultural Revolution unleashed on China and the effect it had on the Chinese people. Part II of that series explored China’s “proud heritage of 5,000 years as an ‘ancient civilization with very high moral standards.’” [1] Part III described how the Communist Party gained ascendancy in 1949 and how, to “ensure its reign, the CCP consciously and systematically eradicated the Chinese people’s spiritual beliefs and traditional Chinese culture,” thus destroying “the Chinese’s people’s spirit, their traditional culture, and consequently their morality.” The upheaval was so dramatic that, “according to some high estimates, Mao’s repression, radicalism, and neglect may have been responsible for up to 80 million deaths.” [2]

Communist China’s development has been the antithesis of the American Dream and the freedoms guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. The sage Gu Zhun is known to have observed, “In the name of the martyrs, [the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)] has transformed its revolutionary idealism into a conservative reactionary autocracy.” They believed “that they themselves were the embodiment of ‘the people’ or ‘the general will’ and thus had full legitimacy to use all means possible, including dictatorship and terrorist killings to achieve this goal.” [3] [4] In other words, the never elected Communist Party alleged that it embodied the will of the people. If the Party was displeased, it meant that the Chinese people were displeased. If the Party chose a course of action, it was the Chinese people who chose it. The Communist Party’s fear of losing the control thus engendered has left its stamp on every aspect of Chinese society.

From time to time over the years, the people developed other ideas. Their aspirations culminated in 1989, when demands for reform inspired hundreds of thousands of students to gather at Tiananmen Square, with simultaneous mass protests in as many as 400 other Chinese cities and support from organizations throughout China. The Party had a problem. How could it claim it embodied the will of the Chinese people when so many wanted it to reform? How could it maintain strict control if anything other than the Party – human rights, the right to vote, universal values, a sense of morality, the rule of law, China’s Constitution, or even God – took precedence over the Party’s dictates?

The Ministry of State Security (MSS) submitted a report to the Party leadership that emphasized “the negative effect that the West – particularly the United States – had on the students at Tiananmen. The MSS expressed its belief that American forces had intervened in the student movement in hopes of overthrowing the Communist Party. The report created a sense of urgency within the Party and provided justification for the ensuing military action.” [5] Further, it provided the Party with the pretext of seeing dissidents and requests for change as the embodiment of Western hostile forces.

At Tiananmen, the students had built the Goddess of Democracy; the Communist Party dismantled it.

This theme continued when, after the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union the Party wanted to make sure it did not make the same mistake. In 2000, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) launched a research project, the Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union and Soviet Communist Party, which later developed into an eight part television series called “Preparing for Danger in Times of Safety—Historic Lessons Learned from the Demise of Soviet Communism (Ju’an siwei).” The findings reinforced the Party’s hostility toward Western values.

The Jamestown Foundation reported on the Party’s findings, “The message is that the Soviet party failed because it gave up the dictatorship of the proletariat, ceased to practice democratic centralism, criticized Stalin, was beguiled by western concepts such as democracy, and also tripped up by Western propaganda and other operations. … What exactly went wrong in the CPSU? According to official interpretation, most importantly, the party ceased to insist that it was the sole ruling party, seeking instead to bring society in as its own ultimate governor.” [6] Furthermore, “The assumption behind this argument is that if the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) avoids the sorts of attempts at change made by Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971) and Mikhail Gorbachev (1931- ) and adheres more to the wrongly-maligned model of dictatorship of Joseph Stalin (1878-1953), then its rule can be secured indefinitely. … Something went wrong with Gorbachev after his promising start, something that Chinese analysts have devoted much effort to explaining. The consensus is that Gorbachev was beguiled by the siren song of ‘humanitarian socialism’ (rendao de, minzhu de shehuizhuyi).” [7] The findings supported the Party’s already entrenched view that a government that relied on the support of the governed or on “humanitarian socialism” was doomed to failure.

In the aftermath of the Tiananmen Massacre, the Party relied on two means to bolster its legitimacy. In a seductive palliative to deflect attention from its lack of values and need for reform, the regime unleashed the genie of economic aggrandizement. With slogans such as, “getting rich is glorious” and “let some people get rich first,” the Party’s market reforms “ensured that materialism would become the only official ideology.” [8] What is more, some in the Party’s inner circle did “get rich first.” To safeguard the primacy of the Communist Party, Deng Xiaoping put the families of his closest allies in charge of opening up China’s economy. This has resulted in a concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few. After examining thousands of documents, Bloomberg News recently revealed, “Three children alone –including Deng’s son-in-law He Ping and Chen Yuan, the son of Mao Zedong’s economic czar Chen Yun — led or still run state-owned companies that had combined assets of about $1.6 trillion in 2011, or the equivalent of more than a fifth of China’s annual economic output.” [9]

Harvard scholar Ezra Vogel, a specialist in both Japan and China, provided an analysis, based on decades of research, discussing the second means. In searching for another rationale for the party’s monopoly on power, the Party decided, “in addition to delivering economic growth, it needed a greater dose of nationalism.” Almost inevitably, “the Party’s Propaganda Department emphasized China’s humiliation by foreign powers from the mid-19th to mid-20th century, beginning with the Opium War and focusing on the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s and 1940s.”

“But the Party did not reckon on the cumulative effect that strident anti-Japanese rhetoric year after year would have on Japan. “Not surprisingly, it fanned the flames of right-wing forces in Japan. As Vogel said in his speech, “The Chinese have created their worst fears.” [10]


Maintaining the Party’s Entrenched Control of the Economy

The gains in GDP went to the families of Deng’s allies, not to ordinary people. “Based on data provided by the World Bank in 2008, roughly 30 percent of China’s population, or 390 million people, lived below $2 a day.” China’s GDP growth over the 1990s and 2000s has benefitted the select few over the average Chinese. Each year over the last two decades, household income growth has consistently lagged between 2 to 3 percentage points behind GDP growth. [11] According to the analysis of Professor Chen Zhiwu, a professor of finance at Yale University, after accounting for inflation, from 1995 to 2007, government revenues increased 5.7 times. At the same time, the per capita disposable income for city and town residents only increased by a factor of 1.4, while farmers’ per capita disposable income increased by a factor of 1.2. More than 76 percent of assets in China are owned by the state, leaving the people with less than 25 percent. [12] What is more, this situation is getting worse.

Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, a Chinese college located in the city of Chengdu, recently published a study in which it found that China’s Gini coefficient was, as of 2010, an alarmingly high 0.61. That would be up substantially from the CIA’s 2009 estimate of 0.48, the World Bank’s 2005 number of 0.43, [13] and the government’s own findings of .491 in 2008, which fell to 0.474 in 2012. [14]

This suggests a deeply embedded reason for the Party to stress maintaining “stability?” It is not just power but China’s burgeoning wealth over which the Party covets control. In a two Party system, the electorate might choose a “reform” Party. Three separate branches of government might result in a judiciary that places the Law or the Constitution above Party member’s aggrandizement. Congress might pass legislation detrimental to the Party’s unrestrained ascendance, not to mention what embarrassing reports a free press might publish with impunity or what people would say if they could talk freely to each other over an uncensored Internet.

To prevent such happenings, the Party makes use of two distinct tactics. The first is to demonize Western values and suppress their advocacy. In order to turn the Chinese people against the values they see in democratic Western countries and to make sure the Party never faces an election or a law it doesn’t like, the Party reinforces the view that these values are anti-China, promulgated by “the Western hostile forces.” Human rights and democracy are concepts calculated to contain China and impede its rise. Checks and balances are a source of “conflict between vested interest groups and the national interest,” while the Party represents “all the people.” [15] Religious freedom has become a means to Westernize and divide China by supporting “separatists” such as Tibet and Xinjiang. Criticizing the Party is an offense tantamount to treason and punishable by many vicious and often arbitrary means.

The second tactic is to create the façade of superiority and appearing “Great, Glorious, and Correct.” Over the years the Party has repeatedly touted the supremacy of China’s political system. [16] With regard to universal values, People’s Daily (overseas edition) recently published a commentary titled, “The China Model Is Smashing the Hegemony of (Western) “Universal Values,” touting how the China Model will transform the world’s universal values and establish the direction for the future of human civilization. [17]

The Party’s handling of the Olympics, of dissidents, and of the press, not to mention its use of propaganda and brainwashing, are examples of the Party’s extreme focus on appearance. The popularization of the Internet and some recent scandals, however, including Neil Heywood’s murder; the arrest of Bo Xilai and his wife, Gu Kailai; and Wang Lijun’s attempt to seek asylum at the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, have resulted in the people awakening to the Party’s behind the scenes factional infighting and the corruption of its officials. To maintain its façade that the Party is “Great, Glorious, and Correct, the Party has had to appear to address the problem.

On November 17, 2012, in his first speech to the Communist Party’s Politburo, Xi Jinping said that officials needed to guard against the spread of corruption or it would “doom the Party and the state.” [18] Hu Jintao opened the 18th Party Congress with the statement that the 91-year-old Party could collapse if it failed to rein in rampant corruption. [19] Of course, Jiang Zemin gave the same speech in 1993. He said in a keynote address, “Corruption is the virus that has eroded the healthy body of the Party and the state. … If we lower our guard and let it run wild, our party will be ruined, the people’s power will be lost, and the great cause of socialist modernization will be forced off track.” [20] Mao even launched several mass campaigns to root out traitors and corruption. [21]

Internal factional infighting and all this talk about opposing corruption has had some effect. Fearing exposure and loss of assets, China’s wealthy have been moving their families and their grey income out of China. The “Chinese Communist Party’s own investigation showed that 90 percent of the family members of CCP Central Committee Officials have emigrated overseas.” [22] “16,000 – 18,000 corrupt officials with 800 billion yuan (US$128 billion) have escaped from China since the middle of the 1990s.” [23] In June, a central bank report said thousands of corrupt officials had stolen more than $120 billion and fled overseas since the mid-1990s – with the U.S. as a top destination. [24] The latest GFI report, released in October 2012, showed that cumulative illicit financial flows from China totaled a massive $3.8 trillion for the period from 2000 to 2011. [25]

In addition, thousands of Party officials have panicked, initiating a massive “fire sale” of their properties in order to smuggle their illicitly made billions out of China. “The Communist Party’s powerful anti-corruption unit, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CDIC), said ‘a wave of luxury home sales began last November and has accelerated since December.’” The officials had put the title in the name of a relative. On sale, they only accepted cash and communicated on disposable mobile numbers, which they later threw away. “It also claimed that an astonishing $1 trillion (£630 billion), equivalent to 40 per cent of Britain’s annual GDP, had been smuggled out of China illegally in 2012. [26]

Hong Kong’s Chengming magazine even reported that a new office has been established to stop Communist officials from fleeing China. [27]

It is a question whether those who benefit the most from corrupt practices have the will to oppose the very corrupt practices from which they themselves benefit. In China, the real meaning of opposing corruption may be something else entirely. “The Chinese would like you to think, ‘Official so-and-so was exposed for corruption and then lost power.’ It would be more accurate if you understand that ‘Official so-and-so lost power–and was therefore exposed for corruption.’ ‘New leaders bring new followers, with new demands. Corrupt old cadres are replaced, but not the corrupt system.’” [28]

On Wednesday, January 23, 2013, the Party announced that it would run a series of “spot checks” on high-ranking officials. Veteran journalist Zan Aizong observed that “anyone who was pursued for graft would likely be selected for the proposed ‘spot checks’ because they lacked powerful enough backing higher up in the Party, not because they were a genuinely random selection.” [29] When the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice awarded Chen Guangcheng the Tom Lantos Human Rights Prize on January 29, the blind Chinese dissident was even more blunt. He called “the communist authority”  “a leadership of thieves.” [30]

The wealthy leave with their money, while the poorest in China take to the streets to protest inequities. A previous estimate of 180,000 mass protests per year [31] has recently been revised upward. “There is now more than one major riot every two minutes.” [32]

The Internet has allowed people to see the extent of China’s internal tensions and to share their grievances. They share their dissatisfaction with society’s inequality, with discrimination against transient workers who come to the city from the countryside, with the development of businesses that harm the environment, with the effects of the “one child” policy, and with arbitrary arrests and rigged trials or none at all.

Multinational corporations also face the risk of selling hazardous products and tarnishing their reputations. China’s rules favor domestic firms; the Chinese government has often required foreign corporations to transfer technology to local firms in order to do business in China; the theft of intellectual property is a major issue. A Chinese company might start producing that very product, leaving the multinational corporation unable to compete. Accounting irregularities are also rampant. Officials even forced Google out of China so that Baidu could gain a greater control of the market. [33]

Tension is growing between China and its neighboring countries over territorial and border issues.

The news is inundated with reports of human rights violations, ill treatment of dissidents and people who stand up for their rights. Injustice is everywhere. In one worst case situation, there are even credible reports that the Party is making huge profits from harvesting the organs of living human beings, both Falun Gong practitioners and Uighurs. [34] [35] Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has gone so far as the say, “This is a gangster regime that murders their own people and should be treated in that way.” [36]


Part III of “A Clash of Values” will continue to explore the Party’s rejection of universal values.



[1] Chinascope, The Moral Crisis in China, Part II – Traditional Chinese Culture, March 12, 2012
[2] Chinascope, “The Moral Crisis in China, Part III – How the Communist Party Destroyed the Chinese Spirit,” June 4, 2012
[3] Gu Zhun, 顾准, (July 1, 1915 – December 3, 1974), a contemporary scholar, thinker, economist, and accounting scientist in China.
Gu was a pioneer of post-Marxist Chinese liberalism who became a victim of “anti-Rightist” purges and was later resurrected as a major resource for contemporary Chinese liberalism.
[4] Caijing (Magazine), September 2, 2012
[The full text can be viewed at http://www.wenxuecity. com/news/2012/09/02/1955383.html] For the English translation see Chinascope, “China’s Economic and Social Conflicts Nearing a Crisis” 2012
[5] Zhang Liang (2002), Tiananmen Papers: The Chinese Leadership’s Decision to Use Force Against Their Own People New York: Public Affairs. p. 343As mentioned in Wikipedia, Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
[6] Jamestown Foundation, “Chinese Analyses of Soviet Failure: The Party,” November 19, 2009.[swords]=8fd5893941d69d0be3f378576261ae3e&tx_ttnews[any_of_the_words]=Arthur%20Waldren&tx_ttnews[pointer]=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=35749&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=514dcc8e84eb69b1cd53dc419cf1945d
[7] Jamestown Foundation, “Chinese Analyses of Soviet Failure: Humanitarian Socialism,” May 27, 2010.[swords]=8fd5893941d69d0be3f378576261ae3e&tx_ttnews[any_of_the_words]=Arthur%20Waldren&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=36433&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=129d5598058919940d99a600a84831c9
[8] Rediff, China’s moral crisis, April 19, 2004.
[9] Bloomberg, “China’s Princelings Build the Wrong Kind of Capitalism,” December 27, 2012.
[10] New Strait Times, “Nationalism could bite China back,” January 27, 2013.
[11] Foreign Policy, “The Key to Bringing Democracy to China,” November 19, 2012
[12] Unirule, “The Rise of the State.”
[13] Washington Post, “Study: Income inequality skyrockets in China, now among world’s highest.”
[14] Caixin, “Debate Erupts over Official Gini Figures,” January 22, 2013.
[15] Chinascope: Qiushi: China’s Political System is Superior to Capitalist Democracy, September 27, 2011
[16] People’s Daily, Six advantages of China’s political system, March 19, 2010
[17] People’s Daily, January 12, 2013
For an English translation, see Chinascope, People’s Daily: The China Model is Smashing the Hegemony of (Western) “Universal Values,” January 12, 2013
[18] New York Times, “Xi Jinping,” December 10, 2012
[19] Washington Post, Hu opens Chinese congress with call to fight corruption, November 8, 2012
[20] New York Times, “Beijing Promises Corruption Fight,” August 22, 1993
[21] PBS, “Commanding Heights.”
[22] China Gate, October 28, 2012
[23] China Gate, October 15, 2012
[24] Huff Post, “China: Anti-Corruption Program Launched.”
[25] Global Financial Integrity, Washington, D.C., Dev Kar and Sarah Freitas, “Illicit Financial Flows from China and the Role of Trade Misinvoicing,” October 2012
As quoted in Brookings Institute: China at the Tipping Point: Top-Level Reform or Bottom-Up Revolution?
[26] Telegraph, “China’s Communist party cadres launch property fire sale,” January 21, 2013
[27] Chengming, October 1, 2012.
[28] Daily Beast, China’s Clever ‘Anti-Corruption’ Campaign, December 26, 2012
[29] Radio Free Asia, “Graft ‘Spot Checks’ Launched,” January 24, 2013
[30] Washington Times, “Blind dissident says change is in the air in China,” January 29, 2013
[31] Wikipedia, Protest and dissent in the People’s Republic of China
[32] New Statesman, China’s Affluence Trap,” January 17, 2013
[33] Chinascope, Insights into Political Infighting in China: Reports about Bo Xilai and Zhou Yongkong, May 20, 2012
[34] Bloody Harvest, January 31, 2007
[35] Weekly Standard, “China’s Gruesome Organ Harvest. The whole world isn’t watching. Why not?” April 27, 2010.
See also: eastofethan, “‘How many harvested?’, revisited,” March 10, 2011.
“How many harvested?” revisited
[36] You Tube, CNN: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher ‘China’s Hu a gangster’


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