China goes for the Mao thing again, and it's not going to like it
China's leader, President Xi Jinping, has done what Hugo Chávez of Venezuela did and abolished term limits on his current ten-year reign of power.
You'd think they'd know better than to follow a guy like that, but obviously, they don't.
... the publishing of a proposal – one certain to be ratified next month – that China's two five-year presidential term limit be abolished. This will essentially allow current President Xi Jinping, who is already China's strongest leader for generations, to remain in power for as long as he desires. The move is the culmination of a series of power plays by Xi over recent months, including having his eponymous political thought enshrined in the national constitution, and failing to appoint any potential successors to China's apex executive body, the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC).
Cripes, what a disaster for them.
Time tries to blame it on President Trump as part of a trend toward centralization of power, which is nonsense (Trump's criticized the press but certainly hasn't spied on any of its members, let alone tried to shut it down as President Obama did.) The real mystery here is why in the age of international trade, the internet, and social media, China would think it could try this at all.
Seems trade isn't about to lead to democratization.
Putting power in the hands of one man and making him a cult, which the Time analysis points out is beginning to happen, as well as launching more hideously planned centrally directed national projects such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution (which Time points out Xi was on the short end of), make for an absolutely certain road to ruin, as China's own history shows. Yet it's all starting to happen with this move, which shows that the will to power of one man is more important in the communist system than the wishes of a billion other people.
It also shows that communism, as the great Jeanne Kirkpatrick posited in Dictators and Double Standards, written in the 1970s, is irreformable. It can only go more tyrannical, or else it can break. For years, China's communist party has been in a crisis: it allows capitalism, and people see what capitalism can do, and then leaves people wondering why anyone needs the communists. It's atheist, so it doesn't even have a religious basis for public acceptance of its power. Seriously, what does anyone need these people for?
So now it's gone to the one-man absolute dictator model.
Does China really think it can roll back social media and internet access as a one-man Assad- or Saddam-style regime and control everything? Yes, there have been moves to control the internet, and maybe Xi has been emboldened by Google's and Yahoo's easy rolling over for those efforts, but it probably won't go on forever. What's more, with the dark internet, controls are being evaded. It really isn't possible to control the flow of information anymore, which one-man rule requires, yet Xi thinks he can do it.
Why is this happening? Probably because China's been down on its luck trade-wise, with Mexico and Central America snapping up its business, and Trump condemning free trade (which I don't agree with) has sent a chill to the forces inside China, which promote it. That's the economic backdrop. China also has discontented youth and fewer opportunities for them. And the discontented youth are not the wave of the future – old people are. The one-child policy has been a disaster so bad for the Chinese that it's created a population bust. China recently revised the policy to two children, but the move from the central planners came too late. The country is now facing the prospect of growing old before it grows rich.
Apparently, Xi thinks he can turn it around as a one-man dictator, as Mao was. His will be a really good socialism this time, as the Tom Wolfe-described justification for socialism in the wake of all its failures, goes. It makes absolutely no sense in reality.
Mao Zedong, Zhang Zhenshi and a committee of artists.
Instapundit's Stephen Green has far more insights as to what this likely means:
Dictatorships trade the superficial instability of democratic republics, where ritualized revolutions – in the form of elections – make for institutional stability, and allows for overhaul without violence. In its place, dictators bask in superficial stability, immune from electoral whims. But when the would-be electorate gets fed up, violence is often their only outlet.
Just ask the Ceaușescus.
Or, to keep the people distracted, the dictator might embark on a war of foreign conquest – which almost always ends poorly for the would-be conquerer.
This is the road Xi has chosen. We'll see if he (or China) likes where it leads.