Why Does Xi Jinping Believe Time Is on His Side?

February 8, 2021 Updated: February 8, 2021


During a top-level meeting in Beijing in mid-January, Chinese leader Xi Jinping told officials that “time and momentum” are on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s side. But Xi seems overly optimistic. Since he came to power, the CCP’s “time and momentum” has been declining and China has even fallen back to the time of the Cultural Revolution. The relationship between the United States and China has never been as bad as it is today; and the CCP has never been as isolated from the international community as it is today.

During the contested U.S. presidential election, the CCP mistakenly thought that American democracy had come to an end and dictatorship had a chance after the U.S. Capitol building was breached by protesters while lawmakers were counting electoral votes on Jan. 6. Beijing assumed that the “time” had arrived, the United States was about to “fall,” and the CCP would take advantage of the “momentum” to “rise.”

When former Party leader Deng Xiaoping began the reform and opening up of China’s economy in the late 1970s, he emphasized that U.S.-China relations are the top priority. After the foundation of the U.S.-China relations was laid by Deng, aside from small twists and turns, the CCP has basically kept relations positive. Every successive U.S. president hoped that economic assistance would bring about democratic reform in China.

A number of short-term crises did flare up between the United States and China, such as the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia in 1999, and the Hainan Island Incident—a collision between a Chinese fighter jet and a U.S. military aircraft in the South China Sea in 2001. But these incidents subsided in a short time because neither the United States nor China wanted to disrupt the diplomatic relations they had established over the years.

When Xi came to power, using his ambition as a second generation “Red Princeling” (descendants of former senior CCP officials) to “liberate all of mankind” along with the unprecedented financial resources China had accumulated over several decades, the CCP carried out a large-scale expansion into foreign countries. Xi implemented a policy of infiltration of the United States in order to change the political conditions and to replace America as the world leader.

At that time, were “time and momentum” on the side of the CCP? No! In actuality, the United States tolerated the CCP based on the misjudgment of successive U.S. presidents. The United States began to awaken during the Obama administration. Former President Barack Obama began to implement the national policy of “Returning to the Pacific.” But it took time to prepare. Consequently, the contradictions in U.S.-China relations didn’t fully come into play until Donald Trump succeeded Obama, who won the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Has the CCP ever achieved the “time and momentum” to dominate the world? There is, in fact, no such thing. The CCP’s temporary inroads were based solely on account of the United States being trusting and ignorant. Once the United States and the rest of the Western world awakened, the CCP’s smoke and mirrors of “time and momentum” disappeared overnight.

Former President Trump’s counter attacks to Chinese aggression during his fourth year in office have disrupted the Chinese regime’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and rebuilt the global anti-communist coalition to contain the CCP. The BRI is a transcontinental investment project launched by Xi in 2013 which expanded China’s global influence.

In just one year, the CCP’s international standing has hit bottom, and its ambition to build a community with a “shared future for mankind” has evaporated. The BRI is drying up. The “Hong Kong takeover” has exposed the CCP’s true face as a brutal dictatorship, and the “reunification of Taiwan” is just a big pie-in-the-sky dream.

The CCP has been unable to reverse its difficult situation and has had no choice but to turn its economy into an “internal circulation,” meaning having domestic sectors provide all the goods needed for Chinese consumption, from raw materials to manufacturing. The current international situation can only worry the CCP as it faces the most difficult situation since the country’s reform and opening up. It’s hard to understand what gave Xi Jinping the confidence to state that “time and momentum” are on his side.

Under a Biden presidency, Xi believes times are favorable. However, Trump’s legacy of setting a hardline stance towards the CCP is difficult for Biden to downplay—he will only tinker with it. Moreover, Biden will likely focus on the U.S. economy, the American people’s livelihood, and a flexible diplomacy. But Biden should be smart and continue with the Trump administration’s China policy. He should just wait for Xi’s plea and not bend to his will.

The right “time and momentum” can only happen if the leaders rule with a sense of justice and morality and the people support them. If Xi understood this principle, he wouldn’t have dared to claim that “time and momentum” are on the CCP’s side.

Ngan Shunkau is a writer and a publisher who has lived in Hong Kong since 1978. He is the author of “Blood Rain in My Youth” (血雨華年), a story about opposing factions among the Red Guards during China’s Cultural Revolution.

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