Last week on October 1, the Chinese Communist Party celebrated 70 years of seizing control of China and the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949 — while its civil war with the Nationalist Party was still ongoing — and building the world’s second largest economy and a mighty military machine that is flexing its muscle regionally and globally.
In the process, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has consolidated his iron-grip on the Communist Party, winning status as its “core;” eliminated term limits; enshrined “Xi Jinping Thought” in China’s constitution; built a personality cult as the “People’s Leader;” the “Strategist Behind China’s Reform;” the “Top Commander Reshaping the Military;” the “Architect of Modernization for the New Era;” “World Leader;” and in the words of President Trump a “king.”
However, notwithstanding his glorious titles, Xi and the Communist Party are facing mounting obstacles in fulfilling their pledges of achieving the “Two 100s: the material goal of China becoming a “moderately well-off society” by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party, and the modernization goal of China becoming a fully developed nation by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic.
In a September 3 speech at the Central Party School, Xi spoke of the struggles facing the party and country, calling on officials “to maintain a fighting spirit and strengthen their ability to struggle, to strive for achieving the two centenary goals.”
He chose the word “struggle or “great struggle,”” rather than challenge “a staggering 56 times,” according to an analysis by The China Media Project, an independent research program partnered with the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Center.
While Xi is trying to position himself and China as the new world political and economic model, he is facing pushback and struggles within the Communist Party at home and globally to his Belt and Road Initiative and economic and political model.
The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, U.S. China Trade War, maritime assertiveness in the South and East China Seas, internment of up to a million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps, have all contributed to the growing international pushback of Xi and the Chinese model.
What China is doing pitching its Party controlled model vs America’s capitalist-democratic model is reminiscent of the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas when Spain and Portugal agreed to split the New World, or like the Iron Curtain that divided Europe between the West and the Soviet bloc after World War II.
Xi and the Communist Party’s thirst for regional hegemony and their new world order business and political model, has set the stage for a crisis. Within the Communist Party — and the party if they start reigning in their lofty goals.
“The party is always concerned about stability at home and fears losing control,” says Zhiqun Zhu, a political science professor at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. “Short of political reforms, tighter control seems the only option.”
Controls Hong Kong and the world are starting to resist and reject.
What that means for both Xi and the Communist Party’s continued existence and political future remains to be seen. Stay tuned.