The presence of Xi Jinping in China pushes the US-led West to take a stand however uninterested it may appear.
When Xi Jinping is set to start the third year of his presidency, he’s in the same situation. Anyone who would have questioned his rule is either imprisoned or exiled from the Party for one reason or another which is the most popular being corruption. Its current team Xi is comprised of a select group of supporters and loyalists. This is what can explain why Xi’s favorite project — the Border and Road Initiative -is stumbling, and yet, the correction hasn’t been seen yet. Xi’s China as well as Mao’s, is reorienting itself and becoming more nationalistic, even as its economy appears to be slipping away. China desperately was in need of Deng 2.0 but is instead becoming Mao 2.0. Why shouldn’t this cause some relief to India?
Another, but more significant reason why Xi’s third term is a good thing is Mao’s China and Deng’s China were fundamentally identical. The only difference was their perceptions. Mao’s style was abrasive and hyper-nationalistic, Mao was also savvy in taking advantage of the deep ideological divide between the East and West (one must take the time to read Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s Mao: The Unknown Story to understand how Mao the Great Helmsman played tricks on and deceived the West) The Deng approach was subtle but convincing -but scratch the surface and the Maoist traits would emerge. Deng and Jiang Zemin would be the ones to speak the way they thought the West would prefer to be told and believed.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale writes in his highly readable After Tiananmen The China Rising of China (2022) the ways that Deng’s ally, Jiang Zemin, won over the US during his charm offensive lasting eight days in 1997. “Conscious that President (Bill) Clinton, during his election campaign in 1992, had excoriated President George HW Bush for ‘coddling dictators’, Jiang decided to visit the United States in an effort to change American minds about China,” the author writes.
In those eight days according to Gokhale notes, Jiang “laid a wreath at Pearl Harbor to remind the Americans of their shared history in the Second World War” He also visited the colonial city of Williamsburg as well as “donned a colonial hat to woo the American public, just as Deng had done at a Texas rodeo in 1979 by wearing a ten-gallon cowboy hat” as well as also rang his “opening bell for trading on the New York Stock Exchange to highlight China’s support for capitalist practices”. Jiang made the appropriate announcements, from pledging to open China to more American companies, to promising to hold “democratic elections” and promoting human rights.
Bill Clinton was duly charmed. In His memoir My Life: “I was impressed with Jiang’s political skills, his desire to integrate China into the world community and the economic growth that had accelerated under his leadership.” Jiang had left an impression so profound it was Clinton “went to bed thinking that China would be forced by the imperatives of modern society to become more open and that in the new century it was more likely that our nations would be partners than adversaries”. It was no wonder that by the time he left, Jiang had secured for China a “constructive strategic partnership” with the US and set up direct contact with Clinton.
China experts Frank Dikotter, in his recently published publication China Following Mao The rise of a Superpower, exposes Jiang as a person that “aimed to redress the emphasis on material pursuits alone, putting his weight behind a return to the core values of orthodox socialism”. Contrary to Deng who was a virtuous man, Jiang wanted people to be more than just rich, but also to be morally upright.
Under his administration as Dikotter recalls that it was “a renewed attack on anything smacking of a foreign culture”. In the words Jiang stated on the 24th of January 1997 “We must strictly ban the cultural trash poisoning the people.” Jiang was frequently portrayed as often invoking Mao as well. So, it is no surprise that during his tenure foreign ideas and names were viewed as “signs of neo-imperialism, incompatible with the demands of ‘spiritual civilization”. Dikotter writes “Across the country, starting from Xiamen to Chongqing and everywhere in between, signs bearing foreign names were removed from restaurants, hotels, and cinemas. In Chongqing alone according to local authorities, the colonial or feudal names were taken off the streets of 263 cities, 33 commercial centers as well as 27 tourist spots as well as no less than 23,873 corporate names.”
The West was enticed by Jiang’s charm offensive and convinced itself that increasing trade with China will transform things in the Middle Kingdom from the inside. It tried to convince itself even though every single factor such as democratic documents to human rights indicated otherwise. Incredibly, and ironically it was at the time that the West was adopting the questionable strategy that promoted “constructive engagement” with China as one of the most serious human rights violators, India was facing mounting pressure from the West concerning allegations of human rights violations within Jammu as well as Kashmir!
It was in those two decades between Deng and Xi between Deng and Xi that China established the bases for a solid military. “For the majority of the time, the expansion of the military was unnoticed as a result of Chinese deceit and deceit, but also due to the fact that the world took the repeated Chinese promises that the country would never pursue dominance or threaten the peace or stability of their country. Under the direction of general secretary Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, China managed to build the modern military that has enabled Xi Jinping to challenge the Americans in the fight for regional supremacy today,” writes Gokhale in After Tiananmen.
In light of this absurd Western backdrop, the economic crises that are threatening the entire world, and the ever-loosening morality in Europe and America and Europe, there’s no guarantee that the West will not once more ignore China’s crimes, but only if China tries to appear as if it were a little naive. The presence of Xi Jinping in China pushes the America-led West to be tough regardless of how disinterested it might appear. It is difficult to allow Xi’s China to remain off the international radar. For India, as its closest neighbor and long-term competitor, the news is not good enough. news in the midst of scenarios that could be catastrophic.
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