Days later, on Sept. 30, 2004, Ching Cheong, who was chief China correspondent for the Singapore-based Straits Times
and also a Hong Kong citizen, published an article on Hong Kong’s Ming Pao Daily News
using the pen name, Zhong Guo Ren (“China man”). The article pointed out that Jiang gave Russia a large piece of China’s territory that was 40 times the size of Taiwan. Apparently, the Chinese government did not want to announce and explain the relevant treaties to the Chinese public.
Zhong Guo Ren believed that there were three major takeaways from this giveaway. First, it showed that the CCP was even worse than the Nationalists (China’s government pre-1949), who the CCP had been ridiculing for years for selling out the country. Second, it showed Jiang Zemin himself was more willing to sell out than other Party leaders on this issue. Third, it marked that the government formally and officially abandoned a huge territory, while keeping the Chinese public in the dark during the whole process of the negotiation.
On April 22, 2005, Ching Cheong was taken away by Chinese state security agents while he was in Shenzhen. On August 5, Ching Cheong was formally arrested under the charge of espionage. The authorities claimed that he had collected intelligence on mainland China for Taiwan since 2000. On Aug. 31, 2006, Ching was sentenced to five years in prison. On Feb. 5, 2008, Ching was released on parole and returned to Hong Kong, with the help of a lot of people. During his detention period, he was told, “You may never know the real reason for the arrest.” Throughout the whole trial, no one ever questioned what secrets he had supposedly “stolen” or “leaked.”
On Dec. 9, 1999, Jiang Zemin and Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed the “Narrative and Agreement of the East and West Segments of the Sino-Russian Boundary.” This treaty became the legal document for the Sino-Russian border. However, such an important event that concerned national territory had been kept secret until a few years after when Russia announced it. Until then, the Chinese people were kept in the dark that Jiang quietly sold a large piece of Chinese territory. On Dec. 11, 1999, People’s Daily briefly mentioned the treaty with merely 100 words.
In this treaty, Jiang Zemin sold the territory of more than one million square kilometers, equivalent to the sum of three northeastern provinces of China, or dozens of Taiwan. Jiang Zemin also gave the estuary of Tumen River to Russia, and cut off the China Northeast gateway to the Sea of Japan. In North China, Jiang gave away several large pieces of territory, including 600,000 square kilometers between the south of Stanovoy Range and north of Heilongjiang, 400,000 square kilometers to the east of the Ussuri River, as well as the 170,000 square kilometers of Tannu Uriankhai region and 76,400 square kilometers of Sakhalin Island.
The Russians had some basis for a claim to this territory of Tannu Uriankhai region, that is, squatter rights and Chinese indifference for centuries. It had been colonized by Russians in the 19th century, who didn’t want to provoke the Chinese. The Wikipedia says, “There is no evidence that Tannu Uriankhai was ever visited by a senior Qing official (except perhaps in 1726).”
The treaty completely denied the Treaty of Nerchinsk (尼布楚条约) signed by Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty with Russia in 1689. It acknowledged many unequal Sino-Russian Treaties that had been denied by every previous government of China ever since the Republic of China was established in 1911, including the Treaty of Aigun (瑷珲条约) and the Sino-Russia Treaty of Beijing (中俄北京条约). Moreover, the treaty permanently gave away large areas which had been usurped by Russia without signing any documents, such as the Tannu Uriankhai region and Sakhalin Island.
After signing the agreement, Jiang Zemin, then Chairman of the Central Military Commission, ordered the Chinese border guards to retreat, leaving 500 kilometers of undefended area, while Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan only allowed the undefended zone of 100 kilometers (except a few areas in Russia’s Primorye).
On Dec. 18, 2002, RIA Novosti
, Russia’s international news agency, published an article titled, “Russia-China border became a secured borderline 10 years ago.” The article disclosed the secret agreement signed by Jiang Zemin and Boris Yeltsin in 1992, “A memorandum of understanding between the two governments regarding reducing the border armed forces and strengthening mutual trust on military issues.” The article highly praised Jiang’s outstanding contributions of what was really a traitorous agreement. The article said: “In order to strengthen mutual trust in the military arena, Beijing has adopted a series of unprecedented measures by undertaking unilateral obligations, namely, vacating military troops from the 500 km-wide zone that China borders on several countries, except border patrols. On the side of Russia and several other CIS countries (Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan), there is only a 100 km-wide undefended border zone. For Russia, the undefended zone is a wild forest and no loss to them was incurred by withdrawing armed forces. However, the 500 km-wide zone at the Chinese side has heavily invested military facilities. Destruction of these facilities was a huge loss.”
By giving away large areas of Chinese territory, Jiang did gain political support from the Russian government in return. For example, the Russian government forced the chairman of Falun Dafa Association in Russia to leave the country, and deported Chinese Falun Gong practitioners living in Russia back to China without consideration of their personal safety. China must have brought pressure on Russia in the deportations and other actions against Falun Gong practitioners, although it is unclear whether it had anything to do with the Boris Yeltsin and Jiang signing of a treaty on Dec. 9, 1999, a little over four months after the persecution began.
In addition to Russia, China also has territory disputes with Vietnam, India, and some former Soviet countries. The Chinese media never publicized the contents of the treaties involved and deals were signed under the table.
Jiang Zemin signed border demarcation agreements with Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, basically giving up all disputed territories. For example, in the agreement he signed with Reich Rakhmonov, President of Tajikistan, Jiang gave away 27,000 square kilometers of disputed land near the Pamir region to Tajikistan, while China retained only 1,000 square kilometers. The story was not made public until the Tajik news agency reported this treaty.
Jiang Zemin, in his visit to the Philippines in 1996, offered to give up the disputed Spratly Islands, allowing for development by the Philippines.
In November 1996, Jiang Zemin visited India and signed “the agreement on strengthening mutual trust on military issues on the Sino-Indian borderline of militarily controlled region.” It set the tone for China and India to demarcate the controlled border line, which was to accept the McMahon Line and give up 90,000 square kilometers of fertile lands on the south side of Himalayas.
On Dec. 30, 1999, Jiang Zemin signed the “Land border treaty between China and Vietnam,” giving Laoshan (老山) and Fakashan (法卡山) or Hill 400 to Vietnam. Between 1979 and 1990 during the Sino-Vietnamese conflicts, thousands of Chinese soldiers lost their lives to protect that area.
Section 5: China’s Procurement Diplomacy
Starting in the Jiang Zemin era, “Purchase Order Diplomacy,” also known as “Commercial Diplomacy” or “Procurement Diplomacy,” became a way for the communist regime to survive as other communist countries became impoverished due to communist control of the economy. Purchase Order Diplomacy has come to mean a favorable policy towards China by offering the target country large orders of goods. It can also refer to the establishment of ties with special interest groups in the target country, who leverage their influence to lobby the government so as to effect policies that are more favorable towards China.
The Communists Offer Market Access
The ultimate goal of the communist regime is to perpetuate itself as its highest priority. In China, all policies are designed to serve this political purpose. Economic and foreign policies are also designed to justify the rule of the Chinese communists, which, for the sake of its own interests, will not hesitate to sacrifice the well-being of any other group. In contrast, the government in democratic countries exists to serve the public. In democracies, economic and cultural interests (for example, newspapers, schools, and religion) are not directly controlled by the political system and enjoy a large measure of freedom from state interference that is protected by the rule of law.
Therefore, the Chinese communists’ economic and foreign policies serve the interests of a tiny few. The communist party government’s policies, including persecuting believers in God, encouraging inefficient state-owned enterprises, funding state propaganda, and engaging repressive surveillance, serve their own interests and not the Chinese people’s. So, the CCP’s operation of its government runs a huge moral deficit.
In the 1990s, after Jiang Zemin and the Chinese communists received capital infusions from the West, their rule was able to continue. With deeper and deeper pockets, the CCP gradually gained a key instrument when dealing with the West: the bargaining chip of capital and market access. The communist government’s foreign exchange policy gives it absolute control over capital, while the regime does not need to be responsible to the Chinese people’s interests. The CCP is thus able to make the best use of capital to take advantage of western capitalists and politicians. It lures other countries into trade. The countries that cannot hold onto their principles, and fail to recognize the Chinese communists’ moral corruption, fall into the CCP’s trap.
Whenever the United States escalated its opposition to communist China, the regime would quickly follow up with diplomatic actions to influence major U.S. companies via an enormous amount of new purchase orders. The companies then become heavily involved in advocacy and lobbying activities that pressure the U.S. government and Congress to back down.
With Qualms, the West Accepts Trading with Communist China
In the 20 years between 1990 and 2010, the Chinese Communist Party placed significant numbers of purchase orders with western countries in three periods: from 1990 to 1994, from 1997 to 1999, and after 2004. If we look at the three periods in connection with the ups and downs in international relations, the motivation behind these purchasing orders become very obvious.
After 1989, the U.S.-led western countries jointly imposed economic and diplomatic sanctions on the Chinese communists to punish them for opening fire on students and other civilians in Tiananmen Square. High-level visits between China and western powers, as well as other multi-channel diplomatic exchanges, suddenly came to a standstill. “Purchase order diplomacy” effectively broke the standoff by appealing to the pragmatic side of the West and its economic interests.
In 1990, China purchased $9 billion worth of Boeing airplanes in one order. Every year, for five years after 1990, China sent at least one large purchasing delegation to the U.S. to purchase products so as to facilitate bilateral relations. Toward Europe, China sent two large delegations to make purchases in 1991 and 1992, totaling more than $1 billion each year. Money repaired relations with Europe. China resumed high-level official visits with Germany and France in 1992 and 1994, respectively. After 1992, western countries gradually removed the sanctions against China. “Purchase order diplomacy” played a decisive role.
The second period of intense purchasing orders was in the late 1990s. After the Taiwan Strait crisis in 1995 and 1996 was past, China’s World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations entered the final stage. The United States, as the most important negotiator, was the biggest obstacle to China being accepted into the WTO. The growing trade deficit with China was the focus of both the U.S. government and the American public. At this point, the primary goal of “purchase order diplomacy” was to appease the United States on trade issues and to reduce anxiety. China brought $4 billion of purchase orders to the United States every year for three years with the purpose of diluting the anti-China atmosphere and buying its way into the WTO.
After 2004, “purchase order diplomacy” between China and other countries entered the third peak period. What is behind this trade strategy? In part, it is motivated by the CCP that wants the foreign investments to improve the Chinese economy and make the communist state prosperous. But the most important factor is the desire on the part of the CCP to create a large trade surplus between China and western countries by its “sweatshops” labor policy. Through the diplomacy of purchase orders, the American business community is satisfied with their profits while the cheap consumer goods were enough to soothe the anti-China sentiment of most of the American people caused by the Sino-U.S. trade surplus. However, this arrangement has been increasingly challenged in the U.S. political arena, often by Democrats in Congress, and later, by President Donald Trump who made it an issue before and during his presidency.
CCP Exploits Its Buying Power to Great Advantage
After 10 years of practice, the Chinese Communist Party had mastered the art of purchase order diplomacy. The skillfulness is reflected in the control of the timing. China has been quite effective at increasing the diplomatic influence of the purchase order by extending the period of purchasing activities or prolonging the contracting process. In the earlier days, the purchase order diplomacy was usually a one-time deal that lasted less than a month. In later years, however, the CCP developed a more effective strategy by making the purchase process a longer negotiation, sending delegations in batches to place purchase orders. These orders were placed strategically before and after their key leader’s visits. Sometimes the activities last more than six months.
For example, between November 2003 and January 2004, four purchasing delegations were sent to the United States. Orders covered airplanes, automobiles, soybeans, and telecommunication equipment. The overall period spanned over two months. On Nov. 18, 2003, the U.S. government suddenly made an announcement that it would set quota restrictions on imports of Chinese fabrics, bathrobes, and corsets. As the announcement was taking place right during the ongoing purchase activities from China, Beijing made a timely response by suspending one delegation that was to purchase soybeans from the United States. The suspension put a lot of pressure on the U.S. agricultural markets. A number of members of Congress from major soybean and wheat producing states, including Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, pressured the Bush Administration and eventually effectuated concessions from the U.S. government. China restored the soybean purchasing delegation weeks afterwards.
The Chinese communist diplomatic skills in trade negotiations reached a new level with the extension of the time duration of the contracting process. Beijing would avoid committing a large deal, but instead start with the framework agreement or an agreement of intent, and finally inked the contract during the high-level visits. Airplane purchase orders were usually done this way. From the original intent to purchase to the final signing of the contract, there were three or four rounds of the official confirmation process, lasting two to three years. Each confirmation process would create a need for good diplomatic and political atmosphere from both sides, thus effectively extending the period in which the CCP controls the bilateral relationship. This way of negotiating showed a maturation of Chinese communist skills in getting the outcomes they wanted.
Of course, any big buyer is going to have a lot of leverage in trade negotiations. That’s the nature of being a big purchaser in a capitalist system, too.
Section 6: Anti-Human Rights Diplomacy
Opposition to Universal Values
For hundreds of millions of Chinese people, communism is morally bankrupt, as evidenced by seven decades of lies and abusive government in mainland China. Although the banner of Marxism is the official ideology and basis for the Chinese communist rule, the real basis under Jiang Zemin was his fear of the universal values of democracy, freedom, and human rights—a fear that runs deep in his being. Still, a deeper threat that must be terrifying to him is his fear of a Supreme Being watching every misdeed he does and condemning him to hell.
Jiang feared that the Chinese communists’ sham “communism” will be defeated by the western universal values, and lead to the collapse of the regime. Jiang himself had a history of trampling on human rights. He used his power as Shanghai’s party secretary to have the editor-in-chief of the popular liberal weekly newspaper, World Economic Herald, fired in 1989, and he closed down the paper, which was a heavy blow to reform-minded young Chinese and prominent intellectuals. In 1999, as general secretary of the Communist Party, he orchestrated the persecution of Falun Gong. On May 30, 2001, Amnesty International listed Jiang Zemin as one of five human rights “scoundrels.”
To expand his power base, Jiang cleverly used economic interests to weaken opposition, while at the same time, he promulgated a perverse version of the concept of human rights, discussed below, that he used as talking points for his demagoguery.
Jiang vigorously ran counter-propaganda against universal values. “The democracy, freedom, and human rights claimed by the United States are all fake!” (Jan. 18, 1990 during an official tour in Shanxi province). “Our system of socialist democracy is a democracy that represents the broadest body of people. It suits our country the best, and therefore is the best democratic system.”
“We can say with confidence: the system of People’s Congress is more democratic and superior to the western system of ‘separation of powers’.”
“Multi-party cooperation and political consultation system under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party ... This system of political parties fundamentally overcomes the weakness of the two-party system or a multi-party system of western capitalist countries in which parties attack and fight against each other. It can ensure the balance between centralized leadership and grassroots democracy, and between vitality and efficiency.”
“The West tends to hope that we all become capitalist. If everyone in the world became capitalist, wouldn’t it be too dull?”
Fearful of the influence of the United States around the world on the human rights issue, he often pointed to the United States. He said, “There are two sides of U.S. policy on China: on the one hand, it’s always the long-term strategic objective of the anti-China forces in the United States to achieve peaceful revolution in China. On the other hand, out of its own global strategic need and economic interest, the United States cannot give up the huge market of our country and thus it has to seek our cooperation in international affairs.... Since the United States adopts a two-pronged strategy against us, we should also respond dexterously, being able to both fight and cooperate.”
Jiang also issued an order, “We should vigorously expose the deceptive nature of western propaganda of ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, and ‘human rights.’ The western hostile forces are launching offensives in the name of ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, and ‘human rights.’ Through many channels, they infiltrate us and oppose our socialist system. We have to seriously deal with them and firmly fight back. We ought to expose the essence and hypocrisy of western ‘democracy,’ and make it clear that our democracy is the most comprehensive democracy. We should make it clear that socialist China respect human rights the most and care for the people the most. The people are the owner of the country and they enjoy the real democracy, freedom and rights.”
The CCP claims that western-style “universal values,” such as democracy, freedom, and human rights, are not really “universal values.” “Those who promote ‘universal values’ were promoting the western political system in the name of freedom, democracy, and human rights. This is the crux of the problem.” “After the end of the Cold War, the West’s major diplomatic toolset is the ‘universal values,’ replacing the ‘anti-communist banner’ used before. Let’s put aside whether the West’s declaration of so-called universal values, ‘democracy, freedom, human rights, equality,’ is generally accepted as universal; the fact that the West is forcing its [political system] on the rest of the world is very suspicious. Especially for us Chinese, we need to question it.”
Following Jiang’s lead, the CCP took the human rights issue head on as a key task in responding to external forces. Human rights became an important theme of China’s foreign propaganda. On Nov. 1, 1991, China’s State Council Information Office published its first white paper: “China’s human rights situation,” claiming “Human Rights in the first place is people’s right to life,” and “The United States and other western countries’ concern over China’s human rights is a continuation of the U.S. hegemony and power politics, which endangers world peace and development. Using human rights [as an excuse] to interfere with other countries’ internal affairs and impose their power diplomacy hinder the practices of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Since then, “China’s human rights situation” has become the CCP’s quintessential human rights publication with numerous revisions. It became the foundation for a variety of study materials. It all derives from Jiang’s perverse concept of human rights.
To push back against the section on the poor human rights record of China in the U.S. State Department’s annual human rights report, the CCP published its own annual report, titled, “The Human Rights Record of the United States.” The regime put together a team and collected materials published by western media and compiled a report released through the Information Office of the State Council, to “urge the United States to face up to its own human rights problems.”
The first report was published on Feb. 27, 2000, titled, “U.S. Human Rights Record in 1999.” In the conclusion of the 2010 report, it said, “The United States ignores its own serious human rights problems, but has been keen on advocating the so-called ‘human rights diplomacy,’ taking human rights as a political instrument to defame other nations’ images while seeking its own strategic interests. These facts fully expose its hypocrisy by exercising a double standard on human rights and pursuing hegemony under the pretext of human rights.”
Closed-Door Human Rights Dialogs
The CCP also developed a ploy on human rights issues, that is, human rights issues can only be discussed behind closed doors; otherwise, China says that it is “interfering in China’s internal affairs.” Jiang claimed, “Human rights is a problem within the sovereignty of a country. All countries have different views on human rights issues and should engage in dialogue instead of confrontation.” Jiang Zemin once said in front of Bill Clinton, “On issues such as human rights, it can only be discussed without interfering in other countries’ internal affairs.”
Moreover, discussing with each country separately allows the CCP to weaken the international criticism. By isolating countries that have concerns over human rights, the CCP can be more successful in handling them one at a time. If the Chinese Communist Party is willing to talk one on one about its human rights problems, how could a western country find anything to object to? China also comes out ahead in that as long as a country is willing to sit down and talk, it recognizes the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party. As a result, the ability of all countries to unite together to effectively standup to China’s human rights abuses is effectively blunted.
Negotiations and dialogues are really what the Chinese Communist Party is good at, especially when the deal is made behind closed doors. You can say anything and Chinese diplomats will promise everything, but nothing will be delivered. At the same time, since it’s done in a private setting and the public knows nothing about it, it’s easy to manipulate international opinion.
The idea of keeping human rights out of public sight with closed-door dialogs was extended further by separating human rights issues from diplomatic and trade negotiations. The CCP insists on delinking human rights issues in the trade discussions as a pre-condition for those negotiations. Unfortunately, western diplomats and trade representatives are only too willing to comply.
Beijing Beats Back Human Rights Criticism
Sometimes, the Chinese communists not only feed with “carrots,” but also wield a “big stick.” For certain more vulnerable countries, it would silence their criticism on the human rights issue by economic retaliation. For example, communist China leveraged trade relations and managed to get the support of some countries to kill the U.S.-led United Nations motion on human rights in China.
In 1997, during the 53rd session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on April 15, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Denmark proposed a resolution condemning the human rights situation in China. Several major EU countries, including France, Germany, and Italy did not participate; neither did Japan, Canada, or Australia. Finally, the resolution was set aside as a “no-action motion,” which means the motion is rendered dead and nothing will come of it.
At the time, Denmark criticized China’s policy towards ethnic minorities and dissidents. A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry immediately countered: “I believe that the Danish government’s proposal of this anti-China resolution is shooting itself in the foot.” The official was saying your criticisms are self-defeating and will only bring pain to you. Indeed, the CCP made that pain happen by immediately canceling all commercial and trade contracts with the Scandinavian country.
In 2007, in retaliation for German Chancellor Angela Merkel meeting with the Dalai Lama, China canceled that year’s human rights dialogue with Germany.
In 2008 French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who also at the time held the EU presidency on a rotating basis, met with the Dalai Lama. China had warned the French government weeks before that it would impair Sino-France relations, but the French government would not be intimidated as to whom it can meet with. In protest, China canceled the 11th China-EU leaders’ meeting, which was originally scheduled to be held in France in early December. It was the first time in 11 years that the EU-China summit did not take place. In the end, trade was not impacted probably because the Chinese would be hurt too if they didn’t get to buy Airbus planes and from other French tech companies.
At the same time, Nicolas Sarkozy eventually decided to appear at the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games, as he felt that it would be wrong to insult China. He had seriously contemplated not attending. But he said he would still raise human rights issues with China. Putting these historical events in a proper context, note that all of these events concerning Sarkozy took place not long after the Chinese communists had mounted a bloody suppression in Tibet, which resulted in scores of Tibetans dead. This example shows the pressures communist China was willing to bring and the moral dilemma it posed to a free nation.
Over time as China’s power and economy grew, diplomatic conflicts of this kind between China and western countries dwindled, and eventually vanished. It was not because the CCP suddenly improved its human rights record, but because more and more western countries put their economic interests as their top priority ahead of human rights.
As Ms. He Qinglian, a Chinese author and economist living in exile in the United States, said in an article, “To put it bluntly, Beijing is not afraid of verbal criticism from the western world. Its only worry is the comprehensive economic sanctions from the West. But after China’s accession to the WTO, the West lost the ability to impose economic sanctions on China.”
After a period of intensive investments in China since the late 1990s, many large western multinational companies developed a keen interest in expanding trade in the vast Chinese market, even though they knew it meant conducting business with a regime that had turned its guns and tanks on its unarmed citizens who sought democracy and an end to chronic corruption.
The West’s criticism of the deterioration of the human rights in China has become more like a formality: “We already mentioned it, but we cannot do anything about it.” And the rebuttal from Chinese side becomes more and more confident: “Besides verbal attacking, what else can you do?”
Section 7: The ‘China Model’
A Global Strategy
The Chinese communist regime does have a strategy. By taking advantage of the greed of the western world, it aims not only to have the regime survive and continue to rule 1.4 billion people, but to achieve something bigger, namely, to propagate the “China Model.”
The talk about the China Model was once a hot topic. In the West, the term “China Model” is often used to reflect the Chinese way of economic growth. In China, however, government leaders and official scholars use it with a completely different implication.
In the scheme of things, the China Model contains the essential characteristics of the Chinese way of governance over the past 30 years under the Chinese Communist Party’s rule, and the strategic plan for China’s global expansion.
The China Model serves two purposes.
The first purpose is to use the “nutrition” from capitalism to build up the body of the Chinese communist state. “To strengthen Chinese socialism by extensively participating in the international division of labor, to obtain nutrition from the organism of capitalism, and to promote socialism with Chinese characteristics by cooperating with the capitalist systems.”
The adopting of some features of capitalism contains the “core characteristics of socialism with Chinese characteristics.” It has to be noted that the term socialism here in the dictionary of Chinese communism is different from the European style social democratic ideas, which are static, without any expectation that it will evolve over the course of time into something somehow purer. Instead, their idea of socialism means an early stage of communism. Jiang Zemin once put it this way: “Socialism is the infancy stage of communism, while China is in the infancy stage of socialism, a stage of underdevelopment.”
The second purpose is to challenge Washington’s economic order and ideology, while at the same time providing an alternative for other developing countries to use in their economic development. “To China, the competition between the ‘Washington Consensus’ and ‘Beijing Consensus’ (sometimes called the China Model) is of utmost importance, as it matters for both economic and political interests. If Beijing succeeds in forcing the international community to accept ‘The Beijing Consensus,’ Beijing can challenge the universality of western ideology.”
The terminology, “The Beijing Consensus,” was coined in an article in 2004 by Joshua Cooper Ramo, who wanted to contrast China’s approach to international economic development with the neoliberal “Washington Consensus” that is based on free market principles promulgated by the IMF, World Bank, and the U.S. government. The latter policies go hand and hand with the rule of law, limited government, human rights, and democratic values. The Beijing Consensus, inter alia, involves active political direction in the economy from the government and has little concern for the above-mentioned western values.
In the center of China Model is the Communist Party, which assumes paramount leadership and absolute control over every aspect of political, economic, and social life. It completely denies the multi-party system or parliamentary politics; neither does it implement separation of powers among legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the government. Marxism is always the leading ideology for the whole nation.
Economically, the China Model refuses full privatization but instead implements a mixed ownership structure dominated by the state. Although certain elements of market economy are introduced, the scope and strength of government intervention dwarfs that of western countries. The state has full control over land, for which the private sector has a limited right of usage. Large-scale state-owned enterprises overshadow key sectors of the economy, such as banking, energy, communications, transportation, and manufacturing. As in free countries, a competitive labor market is present in China as well as a limited capital market. China and the West follow two different paths: in the former, the state drives the flow of capital, while in the latter, the state generally stays out of the way, and capital flows where it is perceived by investors and bankers to reap the most benefit.
The mission of the military is to provide the utmost guarantee of the Communist Party’s leadership. Therefore, the military is under the absolute leadership of the Party. The armed forces must always carry out the Party’s tasks and unconditionally obey the Party’s command. In China, the Party has absolute control over the military. This marks a major difference with the West, where control is in the hands of the chief elected official, such as a president who is elected in some fashion. In the United States the legislative branch approves funding and has oversight.
Lenin’s Plan: Use Capitalism to Finally Defeat Capitalism
The China Model as espoused by the CCP is not a new invention. A lot of its ideas could have been taken from Vladimir Lenin, the founder of communist revolutionary Soviet Russia.
‘Make use of capitalism.’
In 2008, a Xinhua News Agency article stated, “We must make full use of capitalism. Moreover, the use of capitalism is never a measure carried out under certain special circumstance. In the era of transition from capitalism to socialism, it is a necessary guarantee of the development of socialism, and also a powerful weapon for socialism to win the final victory over capitalism (emphasis added).”
The article goes on to say, “Lenin pointed out [that] in the struggle for today’s goal of socialism, don’t forget tomorrow’s goal of communism. When the socialist transformation is underway, we should make it clear that this transformation is to fundamentally achieve the goal of establishing a communist society … Over the long-time exploration, we have found a hopeful path for achieving this, viz., ‘make use of capitalism.’ How to effectively ‘make use of capitalism’ is a major issue faced by economically backward nations when they set foot on the socialist path. It is for the goal of eventual accomplishment of communism, and is also for today’s struggle for socialism.”
The Academy of Marxism under Chinese Academy of Social Sciences published an article in 2004 that discusses Lenin’s viewpoint on the effective use of the capitalism. “On the occasion of commemorating the 130th anniversary of Lenin’s birthday, it carries important practical significance to revisit Leninism, and especially to revisit Lenin’s idea of conscious use of capitalism and the ultimate defeat of capitalism.”
The article stated, “The essence of the New Economic Policy under Lenin’s leadership … is the effective use of capitalism to develop socialism, and ultimately defeat capitalism.… In order to prevent the kind of capitalism from going beyond the restrictions, Lenin emphasized that ‘we need to be familiar with free trade, need to compete with free trade, and use the weapon of free trade to defeat free trade.’
This meant to use but also restrict capitalism, with the ultimate goal to wipe out the capitalist system and build a socialist society.”
‘… break the blockade of the West’
The article points out that Lenin saw Russia as a backward peasant economy with too slow economic development because Russia’s producers lack of knowledge and technology. To make a leap to a socialist economy and culture, Lenin called for making use of capitalism and free trade, to enable millions of small farmers to be connected with large industries.
Thus, he concluded that there was no choice but to “allow the western capitalists to set up plants in Russia to reap high profit. This is the only way to break the blockade of the West, and use the western capital and advanced technology, management expertise and experience to accelerate the pace of socialist modernization in Russia.”
‘… a desperate and fierce struggle between capitalism and communism’
However, Lenin could see that by inviting capitalism into the country, though in a restrained, controlled way, was not without risk. When capitalist features arise alongside the socialist state, Lenin could see it would become at times difficult to see “where our enemy is and who is our friend.’ Lenin said, “This is a desperate and fierce struggle between capitalism and communism”
“On the one hand, Lenin emphasized the need to overcome the ‘socialist emotions,’ and to face reality and be pragmatic. He proposed to transition from state capitalism to an economy where the state modulates the market transactions and currency circulation, where private capitalism is allowed to have a certain degree of development, and nonessential and poorly performing state-owned enterprises are leased to domestic and foreign capitalists. Such an economy would encourage domestic and foreign private investment in Russia, hire experts and business management with high pay, use free trade and market competition to attract capital and technologies at a low cost.”
Quoting again from the article: “On the other hand, Lenin stressed that utilizing capitalism is both a policy and a strategy. It’s necessary that the state controls the wholesale business, the state puts resources together to effectively manage the nation’s economic lifeblood: state-owned enterprises, and the state always has a tight grip on the power of regulating and tuning various economic relations. It’s forbidden to violate the employees’ legal rights and forbidden to hire child labor. Lenin also emphasized that throughout the process of utilizing capitalism, it was always an issue of who defeats whom. He mandated that Communist Party members and the working class combat ‘the invasion of bourgeois ideology and a return of the bourgeois world view.’ They ought to overcome self-pride and arrogant emotions and humbly learn advanced management expertise and technologies from the capitalists …”
This conflict between capitalist and socialist economies need never become kinetic. Lenin addressed how to be victorious in this bloodless war, using Marxist principles and advocating policies for the economy, politics, education, and diplomacy. He talked about the Communist Party, cadres and the working class, combatting hostile forces at home and abroad, and laying the foundation for the Soviet Union. What he wrote has implications for today’s China.
From the above quotes, one can easily see that Lenin’s ideas were actually implemented in Chinese communism’s so-called “reform and opening up,” beginning in the 1980s. China’s choice of state capitalism has a clear goal of eventually defeating capitalism. This is very different from some western policy makers’ wishful thinking that the growth Chinese economy would eventually lead to a democratic and free society. Jiang Zemin was clearly aware of this.
The China Model was about drawing from the achievements of the capitalist world over hundreds of years so that they can be used to create socialism and communism. If China continues to create more material wealth than the capitalist system, and if China’s total national wealth were to surpass the entire western world, socialism would present an unprecedented appeal to the people around the world. Then socialism can become a global common ideology in the future, gradually and peacefully replacing capitalism. In the CCP’s own words, the “success of the China Model” has “shaken the world’s confidence in the capitalist system.” “China’s great success is the tremendous success of the socialist system. It is bound to usher in the renaissance of the socialist system around the globe, and ultimately give birth to a Chinese version of universal values as the world’s guiding ideology.”
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Jiang Zemin’s speech at the meeting of leading Communist Party members at the First Session of the Eighth National People’s Congress (NPC) and First Session of the Eighth National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). (1993, March 13) 《在八届全国人大一次会议、全国政协八届一次会议党员负责人会议上的讲话》
Jiang Zemin’s speech at a forum with central committees of democratic parties and current and former leaders of All-China Federations of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC). (1997, December 23) 《同各民主党派中央、全国工商联新老领导人座谈时的讲话》
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Collected Works of Lenin, Volume 42
Collected Works of Lenin, Volume 43
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