An Unusual Criticism of Xi Jinping Reflects Core Realities in the Sino-US Trade War

Analyzing the Duowei article ‘Xi Jinping Should Take Responsibility for the Extreme Leftism That is Tearing Apart China’
December 10, 2018 Updated: December 10, 2018

With the world’s eyes on the Trump-Xi trade negotiations at the G20 Summit and the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada, a third event related to China—largely unnoticed by the international community—has grabbed readers in the overseas Chinese diaspora.

On the second day of the meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump, the pro-Beijing Duowei Magazine published an article with the headline “Xi Jinping Should Take Responsibility for the Extreme Leftism That is Tearing Apart China.”

The article said that Xi’s policies, which have seen increasing consolidation of power in the Communist Party, are behind the decline in private enterprise and by extension the economic difficulties affecting China during the Sino-U.S. trade war. The article hints at the need for Xi, who it says is leading the country down an “extreme leftist” path, to issue a self-criticism.

First, it is necessary to establish some background on Duowei Magazine. Duowei News is a Chinese-language news website established in the United States before being purchased by Hong Kong media mogul Yu Pun-hoi in 2009. Yu, who has taken pro-Communist Party stances in the past, moved the Duowei headquarters to Beijing.

Because of this, Duowei is considered part of the Party’s “great external propaganda” by overseas Chinese. And owing to its stance since the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), it is considered to be a pro-Xi publication. Naturally, it comes as a surprise that it should publish such a critique of Xi.

Duowei’s actions after running the article are also curious. The piece was removed less than a day after it first appeared online, and then republished in edited form under the headline “Xi Jinping Is Powerfully Rectifying the Turmoil of Extreme Leftism That Is Tearing Apart China.”  

Furthermore, Duowei published a follow-up article saying that reactions to the original article were “malicious interpretations” made by overseas media.

Without reading the new and old texts, and simply looking at the topics as introduced, it is seems that they are diametrically opposed.

However, apart from the contrasting headlines from the original and edited versions of the article, the essential content has remained mostly unchanged.

In both versions, the article begins by introducing the idea of “private enterprise in decline” and recent phenomena associated with this narrative, such as promoting a cult of personality [around Xi Jinping] by invoking the imperial-sounding “rely on one person as the sole authority;” expanding the power of the CCP; the leftward shift in official ideology; the Fengqiao experience [referring to a case of grassroots “justice” against class enemies in the Cultural Revolution that had been praised by Mao Zedong and was recently revisited by Xi]; and the controversies over censorship and political background checks creeping into universities.

This then segues into the author’s main thesis, which is that the Communist Party faces a fundamental dilemma: it lacks theoretical consistency and suffers from an inconsistent and convoluted ideology. And according to the author, one of the main theoretical problems boils down to the matter of whether the CCP intends to eventually abolish private ownership.

In the revised version, the article said that the people’s uneasiness has been settled by several speeches made by Xi and other Party leaders. But the malaise facing the private sector cannot be solved by a few words from the leadership. Rather, the problem stems from the dilemma of theory as mentioned above, that is, how the Communist Party intends to deal with the problem of private property. Private entrepreneurs are not going to be placated by speeches from the leaders. Not only does the Party leadership change, their positions and and the Party’s policies are also malleable and as such cannot provide any long-term guarantees.

The “Three Represents” of former Party leader Jiang Zemin tried to incorporate new capitalists into the CCP system, but this in itself raised new difficulties. If the new capitalists were legitimate, why did the landlords and capitalists in the early years of CCP rule have to suffer the go through the three major political movements that confiscated their land and capital? If the new capitalists receive protection for their property, it follows that the property of the landlords and capitalists which was confiscated in the past should also be protected. They should be returned to the descendants of their original owners, and the state should issue apologies for those unjustly murdered in the campaigns.

But since the CCP regards the three major political movements—including the land reform that led to the deaths of millions of landlords—as correct, no one can guarantee that they will not happen again. But if the Party were to deny the importance of these three movements, it would be tantamount to denying the necessity of the communist revolution which aimed for the eradication of the landlord and capitalist classes in the first place. It would negate the only basis for legitimacy upon which the rule of the CCP rests.

The Party’s existing theoretical system is a bland mess of contradictions. The Duowei article itself implies that all the various so-called theories touted by the Party since the period of reform and opening up are actually nonsense.

Whether it is Deng Xiaoping’s analogy of white and black cats being chosen for their ability to catch mice, rather than the color of their fur [the analogy of cats being used to refer to the competing systems of planned and market economics]; or his “unyielding principle of development;” Jiang Zemin’s Three Represents; Hu Jintao’s concept of “Scientific Development,” none of them can solve the aforementioned theoretical problem.

The only things that have remained consistent are Mao Zedong’s destructive revolutionary doctrines and and the Marxist-Leninist theory of class struggle; however, the theory of the Three Represents contradicts them on a fundamental level.

The contradictions between the socialist planned economy, characterized by state-owned land and large state-owned enterprises, and the capitalist market economy are impossible to reconcile. This is why the so-called Chinese model that the CCP is so proud of and that was once once touted by some countries is doomed to be short-lived.

This contradiction between the Communist Party’s theoretical roots and the market economy is also the biggest obstacle for progress in Sino-U.S. trade negotiations, as the United States and the Chinese regime are locked in a conflict of ideological, social, and political values, whether this is acknowledged openly or not. Even assuming some headway can be made under the present talks, resistance on the Chinese side may not necessarily come from some vested interests within the regime, but from the Communist Party system as a whole.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.