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The Chinese state tradition can best be characterized as “rule for the people” – in contrast to the Western understanding of democracy as a “rule by the people”.
– Stefan Baron, Guangyan Yin-Baron in the book “The Chinese”
The Chinese national emblem. Above the Gate of Heavenly Peace hover 5 stars, which can also be found on the national flag. The big star symbolizes the party and the four smaller ones the Chinese people. Red is the color of the party.
In the West, one often looks condescendingly at the Chinese model of order and quickly stamps it as unfree and corrupt. In the Middle Kingdom, the liberal-democratic model will be introduced, which sooner or later will turn out to be superior anyway.
In contrast to this is the own feeling of the Chinese people. According to a recent opinion poll by communication agency Edelmann, 76% of the broad Chinese population have confidence in their government, the media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The western representatives, above all the USA, come with a confidence index of 47% to a significantly worse value. The German population is also a minority with 42%.
The Chinese also are much more optimistic about the future in the same study. With 71% of respondents, they are well ahead of the US with 48% optimists. In Germany, only 26% of all people are confident, only the French and Japanese feel worse.
Of course, despite these amazing values, one should not deny that the Chinese Communist Party is entrusting many millions of civil servants with surveillance and censorship of its people, and that the understanding of human rights differs from that of the West, which often leads to tensions – but more about that later.
The millennia-old history of China is marked by the rise and fall of various dynasties, often the rule ended in chaos. Therefore, order and stability are of high importance to the Chinese. What is often laughed at in the West as obedience to authority is often the yearning for a strong center in China, which keeps the 1.4 billion people society in a state of order.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
With more than 90 million members, the CCP is the world’s second largest political party and the only ruling party in China after the Indian Bharatiya Janata Party. It was founded in 1921 and called for an armed conflict under the leadership of Mao Zedong on October 1, 1949 today’s People’s Republic of China. Xi Jinping has been Secretary General since 2012.
October 1st is still the most important national holiday. The day is celebrated with a massive military and civil parade in which the CCP wants to demonstrate its power. During my stay in Beijing in October 2019, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, I was able to attend this spectacle. However, one must mention here that the central celebrations are not open to the public and the entire city center around the Tiananmen Square is already closed days before.
Helicopter formation on the occasion of the 70th anniversary in Beijing.
The official goal of the CCP is the “realization of the social order of communism” – in other words, what the Soviet Union failed to do in 1989. Presumably, this is also the reason for the condescending attitude of the West in relation to the Chinese model.
The Chinese themselves would not think much of this comparison. They like to refer to their model as 中国 特色 社会主义 – Zhōngguó tèsè shèhuìzhǔyì – “Chinese Socialism”, a term that coined Deng Xiaoping. By a constitutional amendment of March 2018, this model was even extended to the Xi Jinping ideas of Chinese socialism in the new era.
The realization of the goal is to be achieved through the merger and leadership of the masses of all nationalities by the Party. Here, the focus is on economic development – as a joint project, so to speak. In addition, the “four basic principles” – to show loyalty to the line, seek truth in the facts, serve the people and strive for democratic centralism – are to be oriented.
It is still important to “hold fast to reform and openness” and “work hard in relying on one’s own strength to build China into a strong, modern socialist state with sophisticated democracy and civilization.“ How hard the Chinese work and what they have already achieved can be read in my article on the Chinese economy.
The “Great Hall of the People” – serves as a reception for state guests and venues. The building is pictured on the back of the 100 yuan bill.
The roots of the CCP’s ideology lie in Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong ideas, and the Deng Xiaoping theory. At the 2017 Party Congress, it confidently said that “China offers the world its wisdom and approach to solving humanity problems.”
So much mission awareness is otherwise known only from the US, which describes itself as the God-chosen nation.
The CCP’s headquarters and headquarters is the Zhongnanhai Complex, west of the Forbidden City and south of Beihai Park in Beijing. Its meaning is comparable to the Kremlin, the White House or the Reichstag.
Unfortunately, this area is not publicly accessible. However, I have shot for you a picture of the very green and idyllic terrain.
View from the Beihai Park to the Zhongnanhai Complex – the seat of the CCP.
The central governing bodies of the CCP are the State Party Congress and the Central Committee elected by it. The Central Committee is responsible and accountable to the State Party Congress. The committee includes all major decision-makers in the state, government, army and society. The Central Committee in turn elects the Politburo, which has 25 members, and the Politburo Standing Committee. The latter consists of seven members and is the highest-ranking party organ. It sets the guidelines for Chinese policy.
The seven members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party. From left: Han Zheng, Wang Huning, Li Zhanshu, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Wang Yang, Zhao Leji in Beijing 2017.
The National People’s Congress, which consists of almost 3,000 delegates, is the legislative body of China. It meets once a year and elects the president every five years. At the 13th National People’s Congress in 2018 it was decided to lift the term of office of the President. It may now serve more than two consecutive terms. This clears the way for Secretary-General, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces – Xi Jinping.
Xi Jinping is certainly one of the most powerful Chinese leaders of all time. US President Donald Trump once called Xi, in his own eloquence, “King of China”. The British Economist described the Chinese as the “most powerful man in the world” and some observers are even talking about the emergence of a “Xitocracy” in the Middle Kingdom.
The truth is that he is almost affectionately referred to as “Xi Dada” (Uncle Xi) because of his humble and sympathetic appearance in the population. He is also known as “Baozi Xi” (Dumplings Xi) because of his fondness for Chinese pasta. Well – then I would probably also called “Baozi Robert“, because the pasta is really delicious!
The CCP was less tolerant of the publicized comparisons of Xi Jinping with the bear Winnie Pu. After distributing images of Xi, which showed him in unfavorable poses, in which he actually looked amazingly similar to the Disney bear, they were quickly removed from the Chinese Internet.
Xi Jinping, Secretary General of the CCP and Chinese President.
Xi Jinping was born in Fuping (southwest of Beijing) in June 1953. He holds a degree in “Marxist Theory” and “Ideological and Political Education” from Tsinghua University and holds three law degrees. In January 1974, he joined the Chinese Communist Party.
His father Xi Zhongxun was one of the founding fathers of the CCP. At this point one could rashly judge, “how dull, he has received his post only because of his father” – but far from it. During the Cultural Revolution in 1962, Mao Zedong made sure that his father was arrested and “purified” of his thought.
The son of a “political enemy,” Xi was sent to the country at the age of fifteen – to the village of Liangjiahe. He should be re-educated there by hard field work. Many of his comrades died there, but he was to return seven years later. The experiences in Liangjiahe have, as he says himself, shaped him very much and continue to determine his life and thus the politics of China.
Re-education, however, seems to have had its effect. After all the suffering he experienced in his youth, one might assume that he must despise Mao Zedong and the CCP. The opposite was the case. Xi desperately wanted to prove he could become a valued member of Chinese society as a party member. A psychologist could probably diagnose the Stockholm syndrome here in Xi Jinping, in which the victim feels sympathy for the perpetrator.
Young Xi Jinping tried to join the CCP several times, but was repeatedly rejected by his father until 1974. From then on he worked his way up from party secretary in Hebei province to higher political office. He became deputy mayor of Xiamen and was party-minded, hardworking, unpretentious, full of ideas, and warmly connected with the staff. In 2000, he became governor of Fujian Province and two years later joined the CCP Central Committee. After 38 years in 2012, he eventually made it to the top of the Politburo Standing Committee.
He also received great popularity through his marriage to the well-known Chinese singer Peng Liyuan.
I embedded a short post by BBC-News about XI Jinping.
Xi Jinping is an advocate of the Confucian teachings – in 2014 he explained his point of view at a Confucius memorial service:
If a country does not cultivate its own thinking and culture, it loses its soul and can not last.
– Xi Jinping
The goal of the President is to strengthen the confidence of the Chinese in their own system and make them less susceptible to unwanted Western cultural influences. He therefore supports the expansion of Confucius schools in China and of Confucius institutes abroad.
In order to consolidate the unity of the population with the party, Xi Jinping also increasingly harder against religious communities, NGOs and civil rights activists and restricts the media further.
Especially with the Internet censorship, he draws the reins ever firmer. He uses the possibilities of digitization to build a surveillance state, which would certainly make the officials of the GDR state security pale with envy.
Criticism of the CCP – Monitoring and Human Rights
If you want to access the social media services that we use in China – no indication. Only by means of a VPN connection (which is officially forbidden) can the state control of the Internet called “Great Firewall” be circumvented.
In my opinion, this can still get over for foreigners and especially for the Chinese. What should you do with Facebook or Instagramm if all friends and acquaintances use WeChat? Instead of Google there is Baidu.com and also other western search engines like Bing.com work – of course with censored search results.
The government plans next to the Internet censorship further measures to better control their people. Thus, for the 1.4 billion Chinese in the future, a separate database will be created with their photos. Already 200 million cameras are installed in the public area, which can locate every detected person in the country within seconds and with a hit probability of 90%.
According to the research service “Our World in Data” at the University of Oxford, China has one of the lowest murder rates in the world. With a value of 0.6 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, the murder rate is only half as high as that in Germany with a value of 1.2. In the US, this value is 5.4.
Presumably, the Chinese see the monitoring therefore a bit more relaxed. As long as you do not question the CCP’s monopoly of power and stick to its rules, you can basically do whatever you want. In return, the party must deliver on its promise of stability, prosperity and progress. This is the modern Chinese social contract.
The Chinese leadership is expanding its monitoring mechanisms with new technologies. In the future, citizens will be able to be clearly identified from a combination of gait and face recognition and identified at any time.
The introduction of a social scoring system planned for 2020 also caused a sensation. This classifies the Chinese because of their behavior in good and bad citizens. This is to record and control the financial, social, moral and political behavior of the Chinese. The government wants to reward exemplary citizens and punish wrongdoing. A Chinese can get a maximum of 1,300 points. Volunteering, caring for family members and a positive effect on people should be rewarded by a preference in the job allocation, shorter waiting periods in medical practices, tax cuts or reduced ticket prices in local traffic. Who drives drunk car, to state authorities, such as. The police are disrespectful or have criminal activities, are disadvantaged in lending, receive no air and rail tickets and are even excluded from some state benefits. In Shanghai, this huge Big Data system is being piloted under the name “Honest Shanghai”.
From a Western point of view, what can be considered a tremendous interference with the rights of personality and liberty is seen by the CCP as a suitable instrument for making the country’s economy and society more efficient.
In general, according to state media, Chinese seem to have a different view of human rights than Europeans or Americans.
For most Chinese, human rights mean a head over heels, reading and writing, food in the stomach, the expectation of reasonable treatment in case of illness, good future prospects for the children and confidence for the elderly.
– state news agency Xinhua
China expert Stefan Baron tries to explain why. The UN Human Rights Charter is based on the Western assumption that man is a likeness of God and therefore entitled to him by birth inalienable rights such as the free will. The Chinese, in turn, have a world view in which man is not an autonomous child of God, but a being integrated into the network. Freedom thus means understanding the need for interpersonal relationships. As a result, in the West, subjective rights carry more weight than in a society of interdependent individuals, as is the case in China.
I have chosen this explanation because I find it amazing and quite plausible at the same time. However, it does not mean that you have to endorse everything the CCP does in China. However, it opens up a whole new perspective on a culture that too often we do not really understand and yet judge about it.
Conclusion: The Chinese Communist Party is arguably the most powerful party in the world, with Xi Jinping as an intelligent and sympathetic as well as dangerous and calculating strategist as a leader at the top. The party has many successes and therefore has an amazing support among the population. It is skillfully expanding its power base in the country through the use of new technologies. Although it penetrates ever deeper into the lives of its citizens, but not without this promise a better life and an optimistic future. It remains exciting whether the Chinese model will prove to be competitive with the West, or whether, like the Soviet Union, it will fail.
Here I want to hold it like the former Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai, who asked about the impact of the French Revolution, about 150 years later gave the memorable answer: “For a reasonable assessment of this event it is still too early.”
Sources and Links:
German Foreign Office: China – Domestic Policy.
China Daily: Xi Jinping.
Book “The Chinese – Psychogram of a World Power”, Stefan Baron, Guangyan Yin-Baron.
BBC-News: Xi Jinping – Profil.
Our World in Data: Homicides.