It is no surprise that China's Xi Jinping has been called a modern-day emperor. Chinese emperors have historically claimed the “Mandate of Heaven” to rule China, and Mr. Xi seeks to extend that mandate to rule not just China but the entire world.
Unlike the European doctrine, which provided no moral guidance for the removal of kings (royal families ruled in perpetuity irrespective of debauchery, immorality, corruption, and other un-Godlike behavior), the pragmatic Confucians gave the Chinese an “out card” by teaching that Heaven withdraws its mandate to rule from an immoral or tyrannical emperor and that Chinese people had a duty to revolt against such emperors.
Is Heaven in the process of withdrawing its mandate to rule from the communist-who-would-be-emperor Xi Jinping?
The 4 PrinciplesFrom an essay at Thoughtco, four basic principles of the Mandate from Heaven are:
- Heaven grants the emperor the right to rule.
- Since there is only one Heaven, there can only be one emperor at any given time.
- The emperor's virtue determines his right to rule.
- No one dynasty has a permanent right to rule.
Losing the MandateOne big problem for Mr. Xi, as pointed out by Stephen Young, former assistant dean at Harvard Law School, in Asia Times is that “[there is no evidence] that Heaven (Tian) has chosen him [Xi], first, to lead China, and, second, to lead the entire world, the All-Under-Heaven (Tian-xia).” There is no evidence that the Chinese people have ever chosen him for anything. So much for the “will of heaven” and the “will of the people.”
Let us assume (incorrectly) for the moment that Mr. Xi did somehow have the mandate of Heaven once upon a time. Chinese tradition has it that an emperor would lose the mandate of Heaven when certain signs would stack up, including natural disasters, foreign invasions, uprisings by segments of the population, public debauchery and immorality, incompetence, and loss of trust due to a combination of these signs.
UprisingsWhile not rising to the level of open rebellion in comparison with past events, the massive street protests in Chinese cities against Mr. Xi’s signature zero COVID policy at the end of 2022 were unprecedented and sent shock waves through the country, ultimately forcing Mr. Xi to cancel the policy without fanfare but surely with a loss of face and credibility.
TyphoonsCNN reported on July 31 that “Typhoon Doksuri, one of the strongest storms in years, dumped torrential rain across China” (emphasis added) and that “authorities are preparing for incoming Khanun, the sixth typhoon projected to hit China this year.” On Sept. 2, Reuters reported that Typhoon Saola hit Guangdong Province in southern China: “Packing winds of more than 200 kph (125 mph) as a super typhoon, Saola was among the strongest storms to menace the southern province since 1949” (emphasis added). Meanwhile, even the state-run China Daily recently reported that “[a] ‘once-in-a-century' rainstorm has inundated and flooded Guangdong and Hong Kong.” The wrath of Heaven continues.
Heat WavesChina experienced its worst heat wave on record across Sichuan Province in southwestern China in August 2022, resulting in a power crunch that “dimmed skyscrapers, shut factories, darkened subways, and plunged homes and offices into rolling blackouts, forcing air conditioning to be unplugged—and killed thousands of poultry and fish at farms hit by electricity cuts,” reported CNN.
CorruptionPublic corruption is endemic in communist China. Mr. Xi has made fighting corruption a centerpiece of his rule from the very beginning with a variety of anti-corruption campaigns launched over the years. Yet the corruption continues apparently unabated.
Are his anti-corruption pronouncements only for show?
- From China Insights in August: The owner of China’s largest immigration agency was arrested “for illegally trading foreign currencies.”
- From China Daily in July: “A former vice-chairman of China's top banking regulatory body pleaded guilty to accepting 519 million yuan ($72.3 million) in bribes and abusing his power.”
- From The Epoch Times in June: “China’s top anti-graft body [the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection] recently announced that three of its own high-ranking officials are placed under investigation for 'violations of disciplines and law.'"
- From The Epoch Times in May: “Zhou Jiangyong, a former party secretary in China’s communist regime, pleaded guilty … to crimes of collecting nearly 200 million yuan ($28.91 million) in bribes over some 20 years in his official roles.”
Economic MismanagementOne of the CCP’s primary claims to legitimacy is the effective management of China’s economy. Recent facts appear to dictate otherwise.
- China’s housing slump is far worse than reported, with half of the country's state-owned builders reporting “widespread losses.” (Zero Hedge)
- The income disparity mentioned above is just the start of China’s economic woes exacerbated during the Xi era.
- In the first half of 2023, “the number of active China-focused hedge funds fell for the first time in more than a decade.” (Yahoo! Finance)
- China’s three major airlines reported heavy losses in the first half of 2023. (Radio Free Asia)
- China is “falling into deflation.” (The New York Times)
- From Exante Data Founder Jens Nordvig, who tracks Chinese economic data and performance: “When I look at the data in China—I've been covering China for about 20 years. I've never seen this type of weakness where it feels like you have a real confidence issue where the consumer is starting to get extremely nervous, worried about the future, and holding back” (emphasis added).
- From an essay in Foreign Affairs in August: “The [communist] government’s pursuit of total control has set the country on a path of slower growth and created multiplying pockets of dissatisfaction,” creating Xi’s “era of stagnation.”