Xi’s Purges

China sits there, growing ever larger and stronger. China is looming and lurking. American anxiety over China’s rise peaked in 2008 with China’s hosting of the Olympics. It was a spectacular event hosted by a people and regime proud of their heritage. Everything appeared new and functional.

Anxiety has abated somewhat. China’s economy has hit a rough patch, but the lingering fear remains and spikes when news items like man-made islands that can be used as air bases flash across a news screen. Unreported–but far more interesting–are the purges and reforms that Chinese President Xi Jinping is implementing.

Xi’s approach was an incredibly sharp and smart one. After taking power in 2012, Xi focused on an anti-corruption campaign. This is a tremendous public relations move that is a high-low alliance to go after wicked grifters within the government. The new king will be on your side, little peasant, and to prove it, he will imprison, execute, and humiliate these mid-level crooks. Per leaked records, the entire Communist Party apparatus has possibly trillions stashed abroad, so the targets are juicy. Xi can target rival power sources and networks to solidify his control over government infrastructure. In the process, he appears to be on the side of the little guy, while simultaneously scaring opponents and crooks from top to bottom. For Americans, imagine the political capital that Barack Obama would have had if in 2009 he had broken up some, if not all, of the too-big-to-fail banks and jailed many bankers.

Rooting out corruption with tangible results of imprisoned, executed, or impoverished corrupt kleptocrats is catnip for a public that may feel uneasy with the system. Some of this purge is simply replacing the old guard with his team; his network was triumphant with the most recent power shift a few years ago. Xi has not wasted that goodwill and moved from the attack on the tigers to other avenues. From a cultural perspective, Xi has made a few other moves recently that point to defense against Western corruption.

The attempt is to secure intellectual sovereignty.

In the last eighteen months, Chinese schools have been instructed to shun Western values. This has involved directives from the education ministry, censorship of books, and shaking down academics. Xi believes that Chinese thought should be rooted in the classic tradition of China. These acts are reported in the Western press without any self-awareness. Western universities select for progressive orthodoxy, purge non-believers and wrong thinkers and tightly control what is published, promoted, and taught. China is giving the same direction, but in opposition to progressivism; it’s just a bit more overt, as far as the eyes of Western media are concerned.

This does not just apply to the academic realm.

Chinese authorities have “banned all depictions of gay people on television, as part of a cultural crackdown on “vulgar, immoral and unhealthy content.“” This is not simply about homosexuals, but since the West adores homosexuals for now, this is the worst element of the ban. Extramarital affairs, underage relationships, homosexuality, and perversions are now banned, as well.

There will be no glorification or normalization of gays in China, which has the secondary effect of not fostering the feminization of men. If being effeminate is not normalized, accepted, or rewarded, men can remain men.

The Western righteous indignation over these reforms, as well as continuous insertions of the phrase “free speech,” are completely hypocritical in the current Western political and law enforcement environment. American colleges shout down invited speakers, ban speakers, and create safe spaces for students to silence any dissent. The British cannot be bothered to properly police Muslim rape gangs, but find time to arrest and jail citizens for tweets. Germany cannot police Cologne on New Year’s Eve, yet can get the brute squad out for German nationalists marching peacefully. Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook gleefully works to soft censor American trends, but Stasi-style censors any anti-migrant comments for Angela Merkel. In China, they cannot speak out against the regime.

In America, one cannot speak out against a myriad of sub-groups that all happen to be voting coalition blocs of the pro-regime party.

Xi’s work does not stop with the cultural, even if that is the reform element that the West pays the most attention to for tsk-tsking. Xi is attempting a major restructuring of the Chinese military. The genius of his anti-kleptocrat purge routine from 2012 is that it kept citizens’ eyes on going after the fat cats (red princelings), which would lead to the PLA since the PLA runs money-making operations. Xi does gain from the reforms, as well.

In the current reshuffling of power, the four general departments were weakened via the deactivation of some of their units. Some generals have even been removed from their positions. These signs are sufficient to conclude that the ongoing military reforms are in part based on Xi’s desire to consolidate his own position as leader of the military.

Xi takes control over the military, which in an moment of instability or outside-prodded agitation protects his position of power. If the Chinese house of cards economy does crash, having control of the tanks and troops can prevent a coup. This does help Xi not just from a matter of control, but for removing rival power factions and rewarding his men. Xi has even declared that the PLA cannot run businesses to fund their operations, which forces them to be subject to central budgets.

Using anti-corruption as cover initially allowed Xi to creep towards removing these rivals. Recall that Xi initially stated he was going after small (flies) and large (tigers) corrupt officials. The PLA offered some of the largest tigers out there. This also makes Xi’s anti-corruption efforts all the more spectacular with how high up the men are that he is arresting and expunging from power.

In 2014, Xi arrested a former CMC vice chairman, Xu Caihou, for participating in a “cash for ranks” scheme. After expelling Xu from the party, Xi followed up in 2015 with the arrest and purging of another former CMC vice chairman, Guo Boxiong, on similar charges. The arrests were unprecedented in that Xu and Guo were the two highest-ranking officers in China’s military when they served as CMC vice chairmen, and their arrests marked the first time the PLA’s highest-level retired officers faced corruption charges. As of early March 2016, Xi’s anticorruption campaign had resulted in the arrest of at least forty-four senior military officers, although the actual numbers could be higher.

If you live in an area with an influx of wealthy Chinese immigrants who buy large homes in cash, you may be talking to former Chinese military officers. The media’s mentions of Chinese millionaires emigrating is always portrayed as a vote against China’s situation. The 9,000 who emigrated in 2015 was a damning indictment of China, but what of the 3,000 millionaires who left Chicago in 2015? Some of those fleeing China are doing so for virtuous reasons and others to escape the crackdown on their corruption. Tens of thousands just want their kid to go to “good schools”.. What, pray tell, are the millionaires of Chicago fleeing?

If there is a hint of anger or annoyance in Western coverage of China, it stems from the “hurry up” feeling pervasive within the establishment that after economic development, liberal democracy flows automatically. The additional anger comes from the attempt in the ’90s to turn China into a vassal for America by granting most favored nation trade status. Recall that this also opened the door for American business to offshore millions of manufacturing jobs to China. There were not just economic gifts. There have been entire books written on the shenanigans of the Clinton administration with regards to its actions towards China.

Using the Blue Empire-Red Empire framework for reviewing domestic American battles, Clinton’s Blue Empire administration did its best to help hand over Red Empire military secrets and technology. The Blue Empire wanted a new client to use to fight the Red Empire. Clinton’s team was perfectly at ease with news that the Chinese had stolen American nuclear warhead design specs. It took over a year to even discuss it with the president. The CIA even interfered with the FBI’s initial investigation by saying that “shucks, we misread the data, no spying,” when in reality, there was clear-cut spying. Despite FBI recommendations, it was eighteen months before a suspected spy was fired from Los Alamos. The penalties for American firms giving China improved missile and satellite tech? Fines. For all of this wonderful help, the ungrateful Chinese chose to secure sovereignty, rather than become a vassal of USG.

There is a personal change that goes beyond reforms and hints at why this remarkable reform attempt is suppressed by Western media. Xi is not just reforming the government system, but he is reading his own speeches and connecting the current system with ancient ways. Xi argues about a cultural continuity and long historical thread that the West has completely forgotten in its drive to be on the right side of history. This could be the reason for Western tip-toeing around Xi’s work or views. Westerners should pay no attention to a large nation that punishes corrupt looters. Westerners should pay no attention to a call for historical continuity, honoring traditions, and following the rule of law. Xi’s purges, if successful, could not just set him up for stability as the global order changes. It could set China up for resistance to progressive infection.

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10 Comments

  1. Aristocles Invictvs June 26, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    You forgot to mention the recent ban on Chinese women miscegenating, also incredibly important for the future of China.

    1. My impression is that that was some sort of a hoax.

  2. Arthur Marian June 26, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Nothing remarkable here – the new Emperor is just doing some “tidying-up” after his predecessors. It’s an old Chinese tradition, a slow process – with the addition of ancient Confucianism seeping back into the ruling elite after decades of exile and denial.

  3. Thailand Military Government is becoming closer to China apparently. The USA lost a lot od credence in 2014 when Obama and others sided with the corrupt Thaksin regime

    [Ed. Rescued from spam]

    1. Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere Pt. II: Chinese Boogaloo?

  4. No small irony that the country ruled by a government still officially styling itself as a “People’s Republic” is in fact far less culturally Marxist than the West.

    1. It’s a lesson in thedes and social signalling. Just look at the rebels in Donetsk and Ukraine to see how little signalling means for logistical and real organization.

  5. Another way to interpret Xi’s coordinated actions is as a prelude to war. If one man can take a nuclear armed nation to war, with no checks or balances, most impedances to war suddenly shrink away, should a tempting opportunity arise.

    Xi aims to control all of Asia, for a start. China’s greater ambitions are restricted on almost every front, however, except perhaps for Central Asia, Mongolia, and Pakistan.

    1. Hold on a second — restricted except for Central Asia, Mongolia and Pakistan?

      Central Asia is de facto Russian territory.

      Mongolia is de facto a DMZ between China and Russia, and will remains o as long as the two powers want productive relations.

      Pakistan is definitely not going to allow China to infringe on its sovereignty. The ISI is not a goofball’s operation, unless I’m sorely mistaken.

  6. Shakes the Clown July 2, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Just got back from a two week guided tour of China with my family. We were restricted in where we went, being on a guided tour. The Chinese did strike me as a proud people. Their cities seemed to be safe, even when we were among poverty like the Hu-Tongs that didn’t have indoor plumbing.

    China is like a big mix of first class and white trash. They build new buildings and you can see the marble and fine wood and everything is nice, but it looks like they never maintain them. Every building looks like it is never really maintained. They build it the best they can, then move on to build another building. They have 1.4 billion people. That is like the USA+Canada+1 billion more people. It is insane. Largest city we visited had 33 million people. When you aren’t completely in the first world, 33 million people is just a lot of piss and crap every day for an infrastructure to negotiate, let alone all the trash.

    In 1995, people were allowed to buy apartments for 70 years on a lease. Nobody knows what happens next because it hasn’t been 70 years yet. My tour guide told me that before that, everything was owned by the PRC. All the buildings, all the farmland. That explains why buildings aren’t maintained. Nobody owns them, certainly not the people that live in them.

    So when you are cruising the river and you see a barge that looks like it burned and exploded and sunk just sitting there on a mud flat, it looks like it has been there for 20 years as it slowly rusts away. Nobody owns that barge. Nobody owns the frontage on the riverbanks either, that the barge sits right in front of. Their is no agency, and no customer complaint hotline. All the river traffic seems to be owned by the PRC is some way or another, at least in theory. It is hard to wrap my mind about it.

    But you see wealth, and you see fancy expensive cars, and high end shops for conspicuous consumption that the elites so love. It is a crazy mix.

    China doesn’t have a welfare state. It doesn’t matter if they wanted to be a truly communist country. They don’t have the money to put people up on the dole. Per capita they are still one of the poorest countries on the planet, with hundreds of millions living in abject poverty. So everyone has to work, and Chinese people are out their hustling. This probably makes China at least at the lowest level one of the most capitalist countries on the planet. Travel through the cities and you see small family owned shop after shop.

    They also have a horrible pollution problem and I have read that up to 25% of their rivers have dried up in the last few decades. They have no social security blanket, and an ageing population because of the 1-Child inverted pyramid. They are racing to get rich before they get old. I really think all we should do is get out of their way, so they have nobody to blame if and when it all falls down.

    I do think it is amusing that we are far more of a communist and Marxist country in many ways than China.

    I like the Chinese people. My tour guide told me that the population was 92% Han ethnically. My eyes told me they had a bit more genetic diversity that that. The Mongol hordes and the old silk road infused some new blood for sure. I lived in Japan for 6 years and Japanese look far more homogeneous compared to Chinese. I don’t think it is close.

    It is also hot as balls in China. At least in the summer. You can’t drink the water and you can taste the air right when you get off the plane. They apparently have mastered high speed trains that float on a cushion of air, but if you ride one you can’t buy a cold beer, just a warm one. Refrigeration isn’t something they have mastered yet, and I couldn’t trust any of the local food.

    Chinese Beer is first rate imho, but I am not a beer snob so I can’t explain just why. I knew at least it was safe so I had some with every meal. Fell in love with it, even warm.

    And for the creepy, on the river cruise we had a private deck on the room, so I could sit and imbibe and watch China roll by. And sometimes we would pass these villages and even towns, all new construction. But nobody was on the streets. No cars, no bikes, no people. Maybe a concrete truck or a dump truck for construction every now and again, but whole towns where all the buildings are new and nobody lived there. And then you pass these boats pulled up on the bank that are makeshift homes for peasants who can’t afford or find apartments in the PRC. The deserted towns just creeped me out.

    I would not mess with China. I would be friendly to them and let them choose their destiny. If they fall, let them fall on their own merits. We don’t need NGO’s over there carping about democracy or their treatment of gays and transsexuals. If we keep poking the dragon, at some point if their system collapses we will be an easy excuse. We have third world problems in places like Flint, Michigan. I think we should mind our own business.

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