The Achilles’ Heel of the Chinese Communist Party

August 25, 2021 Updated: August 29, 2021


In the two senior-level negotiations between China and the United States in March and July, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) used unprecedented tough words to lambast Washington.

This strong position was in line with CCP leader Xi Jinping’s claim that “China could surpass the United States because time and trend are both in China’s favor; the East is waxing while the West is waning.” These strong words, however, inadvertently reveal the CCP’s core weaknesses.

In the Alaskan meeting held on March 18 and 19, CCP politburo member Yang Jiechi drew a “red line” for the United States, warning the latter to stay clear of it. This forbidden area is the legitimacy of the CCP. He stressed that the ruling position of the CCP was the choice of history and its people, that China owed its development to the CCP, and that the socialist system it built best served China’s interests and is the key to its success. Hence the ruling position and institutional security of the CCP couldn’t be compromised. “This is an untouchable red line,” he declared. He also emphasized that the leadership of the Party and the core position of Xi are wholeheartedly supported by 1.4 billion Chinese people.

In psychoanalysis, there is no lack of literature explaining “why acting strong is really weak.” By stressing at length the infallibility of the CCP and Xi, it shows the inherent fear that their legitimacy might be called into question.

This inherent fear could be detected when Xi made a speech on Sept. 3, 2020, commemorating the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) when Japan invaded China 75 years ago, claiming an estimated 35 million Chinese lives. On that occasion, Xi said there were five things the Chinese people would never allow. The top three were: to distort the history of the CCP so as to tarnish its image, to deny socialism with Chinese characteristics and the great success it brought about, and to drive a wedge between the Party and the people. These three “never allows” precisely depicted the deep-rooted fear of the CCP. Yang’s performance at the Alaska meeting revealed this subconscious fear.

Epoch Times Photo
Chinese women sing at a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on July 1, 2021. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Thus, when the CCP urged its people to develop self-confidence in the system it built, the road it took, the theory it spread, and the culture it promoted (the so-called “four self-confidence”), it, after all, is still worried about its ability to maintain power. If the CCP were truly confident, it wouldn’t need to lecture the United States the way it did in Alaska.

In the July 26 meeting in Tianjin, Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Feng presented the U.S. counterpart with a list of demands he called “wrongdoings to be corrected,” the first of its kind in the 50-year history of bilateral relations. He likened the current U.S.–China relations to “Pearl Harbor” and “Sputnik” moments that defined Japan and Russia respectively as America’s most dangerous foes. Xie further said that to improve relations, the United States must rectify five wrongdoings. The first on the list is to remove restrictions for CCP members and their families to enter the United States.

The other four include the following: lifting the sanctions against Chinese leaders and government officials and visa restrictions on Chinese students; stop cracking down on Chinese companies; lifting the ban on Confucius Institutes and deregulating Chinese media as “foreign agents” or “foreign missions”; and stopping the extradition of  Meng Wanzhou to the United States, a key Huawei figure wanted for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

These demands reveal that what CCP members want most is to gain access to the United States. This explains why many key opinion leaders (KOLs) such as Sima Nan and Chen Ping, who are known for their fervent anti-American views, chose to send their families and wealth to the United States. The catchphrase of Sima Nan that went viral was this: “Anti-America is my job, while living in the United States is my life.” This hypocrisy of many CCP members accounts for the mushrooming of “naked officials,” a term coined by the Chinese media to denote CCP officials sending their families and wealth abroad while staying behind to cling onto power, thus enjoying the goods of both worlds.

According to the Chinese search engine Baidu, between 1995 to 2005, there were about 1.18 million family members of “naked officials” living abroad. By sending their families and assets overseas, CCP members are not truly “serving the people with their hearts and souls.”

While Yang used tough words to defend the legitimacy of the Party as a whole, Xie used rough words to defend individual Party members’ dreams. Together they provided the world with an insight into the CCP’s Achilles’ heel: The Party is not as strong as it appears to be, and its members are not as loyal as they claim to be.

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

Ching Cheong
Ching Cheong
Ching Cheong is a graduate of the University of Hong Kong. In his decades-long journalism career, he has specialized in political, military, and diplomatic news in Hong Kong, Beijing, Taipei, and Singapore.