In October 2019 the Chinese Communist Party celebrated 70 years of enslaving the Chinese people. The anniversary celebrations were marked by the biggest military parade of any nation this year or ever (possibly). According to state owned propaganda outlet Xinhua, there were 15,000 soldiers, over 160 aircraft and 580 tanks & armoured vehicles. Chinese dictator Xi, Jinping stated during the parade, “No force can shake the position of our country, and no force can stop the Chinese people and the Chinese nation’s steps.” The comments came alongside declarations that the authoritarian Communist state wanted to unite mainland China with Hong Kong and Taiwan ‘peacefully’.
But being the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of modern China, Big Kooka is tracing the history of the Communist Chinese superstate from its bloody origins in the 1930s to its Orwellian super surveilled current day.
Way back in the 1920s the Chinese Communist Party was formed and it was during this time that a vacuum of power had come into existence after the ruling Qing elite were removed from power. The latter decades of the Qing Dynasty were marked by repeated civil unrest and finally natural disaster. It was the natural disasters that led Chinese citizens to believe that heaven no longer supported the Qing rulers.
From 1911 The People’s Republic of China was ruled by the Kuo Min Tang. This government allowed warlords to rule their territories (akin to states) and set taxes at their own rates. During the 1920s the Communist Party gained traction with the peasant class who believed they were ill-treated by their ruling warlords. The governing KMT sought to halt the growth of the Communist myth that citizens could live happily with all their basic needs being met under a socialist ideology. Communist uprisings were brutally quashed during the late 1920s.
Forced underground, famed leader Mao Zedong emerged in the 1930s as leader of the Communist Party while it and its allies were forced out of the major cities and into the countryside. It was there that Mao was able to convince the peasants to join him with his tales of a Communist utopia where every man had access to basic needs.
Mao was able to build a peasant army and fight a guerrilla war with Chiang Kai Shek (KMT leader) and the Nationalist Party. While all this was going on, the emerging Asian power – Japan – had arrived in the north of China and took control of the Manchuria region (1931). During this time a quasi alliance was formed and the two parties (two Chinas) fought to rid the mainland of the Japanese (1937-1945 China-Japan War). Eventually they succeeded.
Influential at this time were the Russians who helped to expel the Japanese from the north. The Russians were only too happy to supply Mao’s Communist insurgents with arms pilfered from the retreating Japanese. The Communists eventually came to power in 1949 with the Nationalist leader Chiang Kai Shek forced into exile in Taiwan.
And so began Mao’s period as the great leader of the People’s Republic of China. Mao elected to intervene in the Korean War in 1950 despite the People’s Republic of China being financially strapped. As well as that, Mao and his Communists began taking land away from individuals, and in his First Five Year Plan from 1953 to 1957 the dictator planned to create prosperity for the peasant class by forcing individual farmers to give up their own farms and work on larger communes. Mao expected the communes (larger areas devoted to agriculture) would benefit both country folk and urban dwellers as more would be produced and shipped into the major cities. His plan failed.
As a result Mao and his ‘associates’ devised the Hundred Flowers Movement. Here Mao and co. encouraged academics and non-Communist Party aligned people to offer advice and criticisms of the government – as it was becoming obvious that the First Five Year Plan was an abject failure. Soon letters came flooding in and by July 1957 Mao called an end to the campaign as some intellectuals were going as far as suggesting that the country should split up and be governed by different political parties or even that the Communist Party should simply relinquish power. To quash these ideas, Mao commenced the Anti-Rightist Movement. Counter-Communist voices were soon removed from any high ranking posts in government and purged from the education ranks or medical professions. It’s estimated between 500,000 – 700,000 people were persecuted, i.e. lost their jobs and thousands were executed or simply starved in re-education camps.
China’s encroachment into Tibet was now in full swing and by 1959 the Dalai Lama was forced to flee his homeland as Communist ground forces were closing in. On the home-front Mao’s purge of the educated led to his next economic and social failure. The Great Leap Forward was another dent in the utopian dream of a Communist wonderland where everyone had access to basic needs. All private property was abolished and the peasant class grouped into communes of 1000+ people. The goal of the communes was to increase productivity. It failed. Life in the communes was melancholy with child care and care for the elderly carried out by other members of the commune. Forced to work six days a week, parents would only see their children once every seven days. One of the great flaws of The Great Leap Forward was the local Communist Party reps would inflate their own production figures to impress their overlords. As a result the big city bosses asked for larger portions of what the communes produced. By 1961, “an estimated 45 million people mostly peasants had died from hunger, illness, and exhaustion (p336, Westad, Restless Empire, 2012). So much for socialism and basic needs.
During the 1960s China engaged in more military conflicts. In 1962 they battled with India in a conflict lasting around four months which gained new territory for the Communists. China also continued to aid Communist forces in the Vietnam conflict. Eventually though, the North Vietnamese would tire of China playing god. Due to growing diplomatic tensions between the Soviet Union and China, China began interfering with the speedy passage of Soviet supplies into North Vietnam. Naturally the North Vietnamese had issues with this and the temporary union between the historic rivals was severed.
With fewer friends abroad ‘the dear leader’ Mao, Zedong retreated to the countryside while his subservient henchman facilitated his final solution. The Cultural Revolution would scare the public into silence and servitude. In 1966 Mao forced all Chinese diplomats and students abroad to return home and undertake new training in Mao Zedong Thought. Foreign embassies were attacked and a new culture of public shaming began. Mao employed young students – called the Red Guard – to do the killing and beating of those who were not supportive enough of the regime. The term ‘useful idiot’ often used to describe modern day leftists may be appropriate here, as many of the Red Guards’ victims were avowed Communist Party members. Even high profile figures like Liu, Shaoqi were tortured and died in prison. Liu’s wife Wang, Guangmei was also kidnapped and publicly shamed. Part of the official interrogation transcript reads:
You are being struggled against today. We are at liberty to wage struggle in whatever form we may want to, and you have no freedom . . . We are the revolutionary masses, and you are a notorious counter revolutionary old hag (p356, Westad, Restless Empire, 2012).
The Red Guard are also said to have ate the bodies of some of their victims. The signs that indicated an individual was bourgeoisie – or financially better off – and warranting public shaming, were possessions like a radio, glasses, or even a pet cat, as that was considered a foreign affection. If you had books written in foreign languages you were also likely to be lined up against a wall or driven off a cliff.
When the Cultural Revolution’s bloodiest period had ended, it became clear to Mao that his friendship with the Soviets was all but over but the despot had finally realised extreme isolationism was not working for China. Gradually communication with the ‘evil and decadent’ United States was opened. In 1972 President Nixon mad an official visit and not long after trade between the two nations commenced.
The death of Mao the megalomaniac in 1976 was a turning point. The new leader Deng, Xiaoping visited America in 1979 and saw new potential for China after being amazed by the productivity and technology on display. Deng was able to convince the U.S. to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan and make the mainland (where the Communists resided) the recognised voice of China. Meanwhile, China continued to engage in military expeditions with a failed war against the Vietnamese who had interfered with Communist Cambodia.
Under Deng individual property rights were slowly restored and some of his reforms included creation of Special Economic Zones where foreign companies were able to do business with exemptions such as; concessionary tax rates, land made freely available and surplus sent overseas freely. The catch was that the foreign companies had to agree to training and technology transfers (p 377. Westad, Restless Empire).
But just as China seemed to have turned the corner and international relations were on a good course, the Tian’anmen Square Massacre occurred. In the 1980s some brave individuals in the Communist Party began to voice calls for political change. Naturally the idea struck a chord with the young and it was originally students who began to congregate at Tian’anmen Square in Beijing. As the protest gathering continued on, more and more of the public joined the students, eventually resulting in an unprecedented meeting between the Communist leadership and protest leaders. Days after the meeting martial law was declared in Beijing (video link)
The final straw preceding the massacre of thousands in Tian’anmen Square was the erecting of a student made paper mâché like ‘statue of liberty’. Provocatively the students stood the monument opposite a giant portrait of Mao, Zedong. A day later the Communist regime showed the world how it dealt with a challenge to their authority on home soil. As a result economic sanctions were immediately placed on China by the U.S. and the European Union.
The 1990’s saw more economic growth and more Chinese becoming wealthy, though links to the Communist Party were and still are most vital. By 2001 China joined the World Trade Organisation and the size of their market meant that nations around the world began to turn a blind eye to China’s continued human rights violations and incursions into Tibet, and the South China Seas. With the hand over of Hong Kong in 1997, the Communists agreed to a ‘One Country, Two Systems’ approach in order for a peaceful transition. But in the current day this noble sentiment is under threat.
Without doubt, issues around the Communist Party’s current expansionist regime are setting alarm bells off across the globe. New leader Xi, Jinping won an almost unanimous vote to make himself leader for life in 2018 with members at the Communist Party gathering voting 2959 to 2 in favour of the Xi dictatorship.
On the home front China is virtually untouchable. The country has set out to build an Orwellian 1984-like surveillance super state. Chinese citizens are now the guinea-pigs in an authoritarian nightmare as the Communist Dictatorship imposes its Chinese Social Credit System. The Social Credit System allows the government to prevent citizens from full participation in society. If one is deemed ‘disobedient’ that individual can be banned from using public transport, staying in highly rated hotels, buying a house, or even sending their child to a private school (see video here).
Technology is a domain that Communist China is using to control their citizens, and indoctrinate the minds of their people. Many social media platforms are banned in China and the regime seeks to remove any content from the internet that does not comply with the Party narrative. For instance, last year foreign airlines operating in China were forced to alter world map images that labelled Taiwan an independent state. Airlines including Australia’s QANTAS, British Airways and Delta quickly complied (dollars mean more). This is proof that Dictator Xi, and co. will go to any lengths to ensure Chinese hegemony.
How the Communist Chinese handle disputes in the South China Seas will greatly influence how the regime is perceived in the world. As it is highly unlikely that two superpowers such as China and the U.S. would go head to head in a military confrontation, the only thing deterring the Communists from sailing in and physically taking possession of uninhabited islands is the potential damage from economic sanctions. The Chinese leader famously said the Communists would not militarise the man-made islands China constructed in the Spratly Island chain (see video above). But they did.
Closer to home China is asserting its authoritarian ideology over Hong Kong and using soft power techniques to call Taiwan into line. Incredibly, the Hong Kong Parliament proposed a bill earlier this year that would have allowed Hong Kong citizens and even foreigners to be extradited to mainland China for ‘national security’ issues. Luckily the people of Hong Kong, particularly the young, have come out in force since the bill was proposed with regular street protests continuing to this day (millions at a time). Their actions have put the bought and sold, pro-China politicians on notice.
Just like Hong Kong, the people of Taiwan have issues with China. Remember in the early years of the Communist Party coming to power they exiled Nationalist Chiang Kai Shek to Taiwan. From that time Chiang Kai Shek and his KMT claimed they were the true representatives of China. Sovereignty dispute or not, Taiwan has flourished economically since the late 1900s. Much of the world bought into the KMT’s stance but the 1970s bond between the U.S. and mainland China was a turning point. Though the U.S.A., Australia and most of the world now recognises mainland China and the Communist regime as true representatives of China, America continues to sell high tech military equipment to Taiwan and conduct war games with the tiny ‘nation’ state. As in the video below, Communist China’s biggest concern with Taiwan is that they provide a perfect example of how successful democracy can be, even when the citizens of that democracy are of Chinese ethnicity. This is a direct threat to Dictator Xi’s narrative that Communist leadership ensures basic needs for all citizens.
The question remains, how far will China go with its authoritarianism. At home it controls the public perception of the country with dogmatic belligerence. China’s financial power also supports them on this front, as many state actors find themselves beholden to Chinese hegemony brought about by debt-trap diplomacy (see tiny Pacific island nations). China’s financial power also assures their influence over sporting organisations and their audiences. The recent NBA implosion where the Houston Rockets star player James Harden publicly apologised to China for a tweet from his club’s General Manager that pledged support for Hong Kong protestors. Money and the lifestyle that ‘compliance from a distance‘ affords some connected with the Communist dictatorship is a major weapon for China as it looks for support across the world. But China is not just all talk. Here in Australia we felt the force of the Chinese navy when three warships arrived unannounced in Sydney Harbour with Prime Minister Morrison saying everything was hunky-dory.
Happy Chinese Communist Anniversary!!!
And remember, Communist China will go to any length you allow them to in order to expand their authoritarian Global Communist State. Will you stand for freedom?