“You and I know,” responds Li …”The rice is almost cooked.”
That homely phrase, spoken in a low voice, crashes like thunder in Wang’s ear.
“Indeed,” responds Wang. It is all he needs to say. The seemingly innocuous phrase “the rice is cooked” is a code agreed between them for implementing an audacious contingency plan they have worked out over the last few years. These men recognized that China’s economic slowdown was taking place in an environment poisoned by an array of deep-seated problems, political, social, and moral, which would interact at some point to cause a crisis. They have long resolved to be ready to seize that moment to move against Xi Jinping himself. Nothing less offers an escape from the dead end in which his policies have trapped China. His China Dream is a waking nightmare.
This is the moment in Roger Garside’s new book, “China Coup: The Great Leap to Freedom,” in which two of the highest-ranking officials in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Premier Li Keqiang and Politburo Standing Committee Member Wang Yang, set in motion a secret plot to oust Xi Jinping from his position as Chairman of the CCP and lead China into a democratic future.
While the storyline of the imagined coup, which uses the names of real Chinese leaders, is a fictional scenario, Garside—a noted China expert and British former diplomat who saw Mao Zedong in the flesh in 1968 and dined with Deng Xiaoping in 1977—says that his book constitutes a “first in the literature on China” in its effort to penetrate the psychologies of CCP leaders and “take people inside their minds and behind the scenes of their public actions.”
In an interview with The Epoch Times, Garside explained why he believes the one-party rule of the CCP, which he calls a “totalitarian regime,” will soon be ended, and specified economic “weapons” that nations, including the United States and its allies, can utilize to help the Chinese people achieve a ‘great leap’ away from the CCP to freedom and democracy.
Garside, who served as a British Army officer in the late 1950s and first viewed mainland China from Hong Kong through a pair of army binoculars, has the rare distinction among China experts of having experienced key eras in Chinese history while on the ground in China, both during and after the reign of Mao Zedong.
After attending boarding school at Eton College, Garside was conscripted into the British Army at the age of 18, and was soon commissioned as an officer serving in British Hong Kong with the Brigade of Gurkhas, chiefly comprising soldiers recruited from the hills of Nepal. Following his military service and subsequent graduation from the University of Cambridge, Garside served as a diplomat at the British embassy in Beijing from 1968 to 1970—near the height of the hysteria witnessed during China’s Cultural Revolution—and captured a photograph of Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square at a time when very few Westerners had access to China.
After finishing his first diplomatic posting in Beijing, Garside earned a master’s degree in management science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and helped manage the program of lending to Thailand by the World Bank in Washington, D.C., before returning to Beijing for a second diplomatic posting from 1976 to 1979.
In late 1977, he had occasion to dine with the future CCP Chairman Deng Xiaoping while managing former British Prime Minister Edward Heath’s visit to China. And in 1981, Garside’s first book, the widely praised “Coming Alive: China After Mao,” was published while he taught at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
Garside said that the fictional coup described in his new book is just one possible scenario in which China could end the oppressive rule of the CCP and begin a transition to democracy. He acknowledges the skepticism that “China Coup,” published by University of California Press, will inevitably encounter from some readers, but points to the collapse of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1991 as an apt case study.
“It’s too easy to say, ‘A coup d’état in China? Of course it won’t happen. The Chinese Communist regime is strong, prosperous, totally in control, what an absurd idea.’ It’s not as absurd as that,” Garside said. “Remember the Sovietology industry’s failure in January 1991 to foresee what would happen by the end of the year.”
Garside said that he hopes his book will play a role in what he calls a “great awakening” that is occurring in the United States and other nations regarding the threat that the CCP poses to the world.
“I saw that the U.S. and its allies were too complacent about China, about the Communist Party of China … and needed a wake-up call,” he stated.
In “China Coup,” Garside writes, “No people on earth is less forgiving than the Americans when they believe that their trust and friendship have been betrayed. Their trust will not be restored without systemic change in China.”
He elaborated on this, telling The Epoch Times that the United States has taken the lead in responding to the CCP’s systematic deceit and theft, as well as its continued assault on global freedom, democracy, and human rights.
He pointed to strong action by U.S. politicians against China’s abuses—particularly citing Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) China policies and positions—evidence that Americans, including voting constituents and corporate leaders, “feel betrayed and angry.” Referring to the United States’ efforts to usher China into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 and China’s subsequent violations of its agreements and abuses of its position in the WTO, Garside said, “[China has] betrayed that, in the spirit and in the letter, the treaty which they signed to gain entry. … Just put yourself in the position of people running businesses who’ve been hurt by that.”
Referring to the Chinese people’s government-enforced support for the CCP, Garside spoke of the “skill as actors which the Chinese people have had to develop under communist rule,” and suggested that a large number of people in China secretly yearns for political change that they have not yet been able to enact.
He said that the United States and its allies should help the Chinese people realize political change with the implementation of a carefully calibrated strategy that includes the use of strong economic policy “weapons,” and stated, “we are engaged in a fight for freedom, a global fight for freedom.”
“This techno-totalitarian [CCP] has great instruments of control, and it’s going to be extremely hard for any movement within China to achieve China’s liberation without outside assistance,” Garside said. “We have great economic assets, which we can deploy in order to come together with those who want change in China. And by using them in an imaginative and bold way, both cumulatively over time and then in a more focused, short-term way … we can create conditions in which those within China who want change can move.”
In “China Coup,” Garside prominently cites, as one important economic tool, legislation passed in 2020 that requires all companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges, including Chinese firms, to disclose whether they are owned or controlled by a foreign government and to submit detailed financial audit reports to U.S. regulators, with those companies not in compliance being subject to delisting.
“Another tool is denial of access for Chinese banks to the international banking system,” Garside told The Epoch Times, pointing to several Chinese banks alleged to have broken U.S. sanctions on North Korea as banks upon which this economic tool can potentially be utilized.
Garside also noted the need for government restriction of investment into Chinese companies, as well as the education of vested interests who will need to forego short-term economic gain in order to protect long-term interests. “There has to be a demonstration of resolve by government to implement its strategies—resolve demonstrated vis-à-vis domestic interests—which may take the form of outlawing investment by our companies, be they asset management companies or manufacturers or trading companies, in Chinese companies linked to the [Chinese] military,” he said.
He emphasized that international coordination among liberal democracies is important to maintaining a strong and united front against the bad behavior of the CCP, and highlighted the importance of alliance groups comprising liberal democracies, including the Five Eyes, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, commonly referred to as the “Quad.”
He said that a sustained, proactive approach among liberal democracies to facing the global challenge of the CCP is essential in order to facilitate political change in China.
“We can’t be complacent. We can’t just say to ourselves, ‘Oh, we have right on our side, we are the good guys. We believe in democracy and the rule of law.’ Yes, these are good things,” Garside stated. “But that’s not enough. We have got to have imaginative strategies for finding the points of vulnerability in the Chinese regime’s defenses.”