As China’s economy continues to rapidly decline, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is relying on the “Big Lie” to both shape reality and deflect it.
Both may be true. Regardless, the sole leader of communist China understands that no level of state propaganda is sufficient to mask the massive and widening gap between the average citizen’s economic reality and the wealthy members of the CCP. Not publishing the latest unemployment numbers among young people doesn’t make the dire reality of tens of millions go away.
Power, Not Economic Growth, Is Top PriorityNor, Mr. Xi realizes, will the growing economic disparity be narrowed by the recent policy changes that transfer even more wealth and power to the CCP. The Party’s priority is, and always has been, to hold onto power in all its forms, expand it, and control every aspect of Chinese life. The Party leadership has used foreign investment and free enterprise within China to increase power, not diffuse it.
That’s a critical difference that the West never grasped.
That’s also why the days of a rising middle class, rock-star tech gurus, and financial wizards criticizing the Party and its leadership are over. Mr. Xi knows that too many people with economic autonomy pose too much of a threat to his authority and risk to one-party, one-man rule in China. Thus, wealth and power continue to be transferred from the citizens to the state and, ultimately, to the Party.
How do we know this?
Necessary-But-Ineffective LiesNonetheless, the CCP sees the necessity of telling and selling whoppers regarding the economy with schizophrenic messaging. On the one hand, the CCP’s propaganda tries to convince the people that their personal financial and economic situations aren't as bad as they truly are. On the other, the Party blames the Western nations for the worsening economic conditions in China.
A Confidence Crisis in the Party and the PeopleSigns of the collapse of the CCP’s economy aren’t hard to see; they’re everywhere. The aforementioned atrocious unemployment is just one of many. The real estate development crash marked by the Evergrande bankruptcy, as big as it was, also remains a huge red flag.
Manufacturing activity is also down dramatically, which began with the CCP’s zero-COVID policy in 2020. That resulted in lost work and earnings for tens of millions of workers in China’s most dynamic manufacturing sectors and regional hubs. China’s manufacturing sector and employment levels have never really recovered.
'Religion of Communism': Xi's RefugeIt’s been said that “religion is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
Failed dictatorships can also be found in that dubious refuge. Because the CCP can no longer point to prosperity from economic growth and development to justify the Party’s rule over the country, like Chairman Mao Zedong in the 1960s, Mr. Xi has resorted to the pseudo-religious cult of personality to bolster his support and justify his reign. Again, like Mao, Mr. Xi and his “thought” is the focus of the new state religion.
This wasn’t necessary when the economy was booming or when the CCP was run by a committee. But when one man runs everything, personal insecurity and political paranoia become his closest companions.
The Ghost of Mao Returns With a VengeanceWhen the CCP comprehensively failed the country as it did under Mao’s rule, the founder of communist China launched the Cultural Revolution as a means of holding onto power by turning the people against each other, purging his enemies from the Party, and blaming external ideas and actors for the failure of his policies.
Unlike Mao, however, it isn't unreasonable to think that Mr. Xi’s call for the people to prepare for “sacrifice” isn't likely a code for the Chinese to fight each other, but rather, for military action outside of the mainland.