Xi Jinping Is Slowly Restoring the Imperial Chinese Regime

On September 9, American President Joe Biden – as a supplicant – called China’s President Xi Jinping. Junior Chinese officials had refused to have substantive, respectful, discussions with President Biden’s subordinates.  For example, with former American presidential candidate and Secretary of State John Kerry, the Chinese side offered only a video link for his conversations with Vice-Premier Han Zheng and Foreign Minister Wang Li, even though Kerry was in Tianjin.

The Chinese refused the Americans’ request that the two nations respond jointly to global warming separate from the other aspects of their difficult relationship. The Chinese side demanded that the United States, without any criticism, respect and submit to China’s values and priorities.

Just a week previously, as the United States was getting kicked out of Afghanistan, China’s Maritime Safety Administration announced that, as of September 1, all ships seeking to transit the South China Sea would be required to register their passage with the Administration, thus asserting that the South China Sea was China’s domestic waters subject to Chinese sovereign authority.

Such an assertion can henceforth easily serve China as a casus belli – a just reason for going to war against any nation that refuses to accept such Chinese authority.

This remarkable demand, unprecedented in history, applies to all ships supporting the economies of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan with imports of oil and exports of goods in transit through the South China Sea.  Accepting the Chinese regulation would reduce these counties into dependents on Chinese goodwill and patronage, in some degree of vassalage.

In recent years, China has deployed perhaps as many as 3,000 nuclear missiles with independently targeted warheads. China has thus shifted its military strategy from one of deterrence toward one of global dominance, with the capability to win nuclear wars.  Governments with such striking power are more likely to be tempted into striking first if war seems inevitable.

On August 24, the Chinese Ministry of Education announced that "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era " will be incorporated into the national curriculum.  The Ministry affirmed that Incorporating Xi Jinping Thought into the curriculum will be “significant in helping teenagers establish Marxist beliefs and strengthen confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Studying Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is the primary political task of the Communist Party of China and of the country.

The guiding document requires that Xi Jinping Thought be integrated into curricula covering basic, vocational, and higher education, and be integrated with various subjects.   Primary schools will focus on cultivating love for the country, the Communist Party of China, and socialism. In middle schools, the focus will be on a combination of perceptual experience and knowledge study, to help students form basic political judgments and opinions. In college, there will be more emphasis on the establishment of theoretical thinking. 

Photo credit: Janna Wittoeck CC BY 2.0 license

The teaching materials must grasp the essence of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, systematically summarize its content, and clarify the scope of learning, read the statement. Also formulated are guidelines on labor education for students to cultivate their hard-working spirit, and on education of national security.

Domestically, the Chinese Communist Party, acting through the government, has limited video gaming for young Chinese to three 3 hours a week – one hour each on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  Control of the internet will permit the state to track who uses video games.

In further control over the culture of young Chinese, the Party has called on media to marginalize pop icons, “fandom” and promotion of “effeminate male stars”.  

Eighteen institutes for the study of Xi Jinping Thought have been established to interpret and promote the thought of President Xi.  Such institutes have been placed in significant centers of the Chinese ruling elite: the Central Party School, Ministry of Education, Academy of Social Sciences, National Defense University, Peking, Tsinghua, and Renmin universities, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong Province, and the China Law Society. (The Economist, August 28, p.34)

The Xi Jinping Thought Center of the China Law Society works on implementing the teaching that the Party leads the courts so that notions of separation of powers and judicial independence are alien to “Chinese characteristics” and so heretical.

All these developments share a common purpose and are interdependent.  Collectively and individually, they embody the spirit and practice of the traditional Chinese imperial order.

That order posits that above there is a Heaven (Tian) and on Earth one Son of Heaven (Tianzi) who provides order for the world and everyone in it (the Tian xia or All-Under-Heaven).

China is becoming once again a theocracy with Heaven as its God and Xi Jinping as its chief priest -- and the rest of us as subjects of the Most High which acts through its Chief Priest.  This theocracy was largely invented by one Mozi (470 – c. 391 BC).

Stephen B. Young is author of The Tradition of Human Rights in China and Vietnam and Global Executive Director, the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism.

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