China’s ‘Leader’ Xi Jinping has obtained a third term in office, further increasing his stranglehold over power. This has involved the crushing of opposition within the Communist Party in the most brutal ways, including the public humiliation of a past President, Hu Jintao. It is a clear message of what awaits those who question Jinping’s absolute control, though nobody in China really needs to be told. The Communist Party has always had little respect for ‘bourgeois democracy’ and has developed China along lines focused on power alone. And, indeed, it has exploited very well the weaknesses of Capitalism for its own benefits without the fake ‘scruples’ of democratic functioning.
So far, matters have worked out well. China has prospered and its people have generally benefited. While human rights may be entirely absent, the quality of life has improved. The country has a crippling hold over the global economy, which makes it difficult to disengage from it in times of crisis. It has also effectively used the weaknesses of small countries to create an economic dependence on it for greater global clout. The world’s democracies naturally feel threatened but are unable to fashion an effective counter.
The worry is that Xi Jinping, with all his power and lack of opposition, might becoming afflicted with the Putin hubris and attempt to correct ‘historical wrongs’. Taiwan is one target, as is Indian Territory. It can only be hoped that Jinping will learn a lesson from the Ukraine War, where matters have not gone as Putin had wished, even to the point of a possible nuclear conflict.
The contradictions, however, are catching up with China and its leader. The laws of economics cannot be dictated to, nor dealt with through wishful thinking. The sustainability of the Chinese model is under question and the correctives might require the creative disruption not possible in a top down system. Any improvement will require better relations with major economies such as the US and India, which does not seem probable at the present. The process of disengagement would have been faster had it not been for the lure of the Chinese market for major manufacturers of the world. The next couple of years will show how much of a hold Jinping has on reality. India on its part, however, should prepare for the worst case scenario because the indications are by no means positive.