Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for March 11th, 2018

China’s Retrogressive Move

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 11th March, 2018

Xi JinpingChina’s People’s Congress, meeting in Beijing today, has altered the constitution so that term limits on the presidency have been removed. That means that the current incumbent, Xi Jinping, could become President for Life, if he chooses. The term limit was brought in to avoid anyone becoming a second Mao Zedong, but that increasingly appears to be what Mr Xi aspires to. Already his political writings have been enshrined into the nation’s Communist canon, echoing the position of Mao Zedong Thought. During the Cultural Revolution that ran for about a decade from the mid-1960s until Chairman Mao’s death, Mao’s Little Red Book was every person’s compulsory accessory and its messages were thrust down everyone’s throat — quite literally, in some extreme cases. Espousing any different view was a recipe for receiving humiliation, imprisonment or even death. Chinese diplomats will doubtless say that that couldn’t happen today, but the increasing authoritarianism at the centre of power is stifling free debate. Dissidents have been arrested, or have simply disappeared. And meanwhile China is moving into pole position to become the world’s leading economy, hoovering up the natural resources of Africa and gaining a growing commercial and financial hold over the rest of the world. That includes Britain, where Chinese capital investment has been entering strategic sectors of the economy. As Brexit looms, the Conservative government in London is keen to build on links with China, but it should only do so if it keeps its eyes wide open. Of course we need to keep a close eye on Trump’s America, too, as Washington flirts with protectionism and champions America First. But one big difference is that whereas Donald Trump will be out of office in 2021 (or 2025 at the latest), Xi Jinping is likely to be in power for as long as he wants. And he doesn’t play by the West’s rules.

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