In 1981, U.S. President Ronald Reagan said: “It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of human freedoms and human dignity.”
Naysayers contended that the Soviet Union would never fall—right up until Dec. 26, 1991, when it did exactly that. The Soviet Union was no more. Reagan was proven right. Reagan understood that the Soviet Union—despite its apparently invincible army and other outward signs of strength—was riddled with internal contradictions and weaknesses. This was only apparent to the world when the wall came down and the Soviet Union was exposed as the paper tiger it had always been. Totalitarianism is always a fraud.
Could this scenario be the case today in China, which has been in the chokehold of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since 1949—a regime that is now being severely tested by a very nasty virus?
Li Wenliang’s death has profoundly shaken the Chinese peoples’ belief in the omnipotence and infallibility of the CCP. Li was the ophthalmologist who warned officials in December that the newly mutated—and as yet unnamed coronavirus that surfaced in Wuhan—was cause for great concern.
For that courageous and insightful warning, however, Li was arrested by the state and forced to publicly renounce his warning. Shortly after, he died of the same coronavirus. His death, and the alarming spread of the disease, resulted in public unrest and rare criticism of the totalitarian leadership. It also caused many previously silent Chinese citizens to begin questioning the credibility of a regime that had hitherto seemed omnipotent.
As for Hong Kong, its citizens have certainly made it very clear that they want no part of what the Chinese regime has to offer. Although the COVID-19 crisis has temporarily put an end to the ongoing public protests, it is clear that the people of Hong Kong are determined to hold on to those vestiges of British colonialism—namely a democratic tradition and personal freedoms—that are completely lacking in mainland China.
Hong Kongers are also far more prosperous than their mainland compatriots and understand that democracy and economic prosperity go hand in hand. The totalitarian system on the mainland that allows free enterprise only under the complete control of the CCP cannot compete with what is the Hong Kong miracle.
And the same applies in Taiwan. Taiwan is a thriving democracy, and citizens there are far more prosperous than are their counterparts in mainland China. In the recent elections, Taiwan’s voters left no doubt that they refuse to let their successful democracy be sacrificed to CCP autocracy, no matter how much Beijing huffs and puffs.
All of which is deeply troubling to the CCP leadership. How do they maintain absolute control in a country of one and a half billion people—most of whom have smartphones and are well aware that Hong Kongers and Taiwanese are free and prosperous and that they themselves are not.
Most Chinese, be it in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, or elsewhere, are decent and hardworking. They deserve something far better than a parasitic ruling communist party that treats them like robots; that persecutes Falun Gong, Christians, and Uighurs; and currently holds two Canadians hostage and subject to a possible death sentence just because Canada did the right thing by honouring a legitimate U.S. extradition request.
At this time, with the world in crisis because of the Wuhan virus—or probably better termed the “CCP virus”—it is unclear what the future will be for the world, much less for China itself. After the crisis passes will there be international action against the CCP for the trillions of dollars of damage and the thousands of lives lost? Will there be massive class-action lawsuits? Will heads roll?
After all, the CCP knew about this new disease as early as Dec. 10, 2019, and spent almost a month covering it up instead of taking action against it. It is credibly estimated that if the regime had taken prompt action, COVID-19 would have been a minor local event instead of the worldwide crisis it was allowed to become. Instead of taking responsibility for the birth of the virus and its massive spread, the Party fabricated conspiracy theories that the American military birthed and spread the virus.
So will the Chinese regime be held accountable for this huge disaster and its own unconscionable behaviour? Or will its massive wealth let it escape scot-free? It is unknown at this time how things will play out, but one thing is clear: we now have a much better sense of exactly how dangerous and brutal the CCP truly is.
When Reagan predicted Soviet Russian communism’s demise in 1981 he was criticized, even ridiculed, by many historians and other pundits who had much fancier university degrees than Reagan’s humble Eureka College credentials. But he was proven right. A few years later Chernobyl exposed the Soviet Empire’s corruption and ineptitude—and played a big part in its collapse.
Will COVID-19 prove to be the CCP’s Chernobyl?
Brian Giesbrecht is a retired judge and a senior fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.