Alex Wolfe | Staff Columnist
Starting the new year with a fresh, clean slate is always good in theory, but I believe it’s extremely important this year. We have a new American president, a new party in total control of the federal government and the national hope that life will return to normal at some point this year.
With that in mind, I’m opening my first column this year by looking at China in a new light, with much more cynicism than in previous years given the events of the past year in particular. Frequent readers of this column, or those who know me on campus, may know of a particular obsession I have with studying China; and for the past seven semesters I’ve written columns for The Duke, I have never been slow to criticize China, especially in contrast to the previous American administration.
The current genocide of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang and systematic crackdown on democratic activists in Hong Kong are the true face of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and American leftists giving China a pass because the country is run by communists must wake up to the Chinese government’s true authoritarian nature.
A splendid national railway system and a daily reminder of the national commitment to upholding a socialist vision does not account for the fact that the Chinese people do not control the means of production. It’s a subcontracted communism whereby the people may hold national asset portfolios rather than the national assets themselves.
The total control of large scale national assets and suppression of both minority and political opposition is closer to fascism than communism. I don’t doubt the reasoning behind the CCP’s genocide — to establish an utterly secure and ethnically homogenous trade node for its transcontinental railroad to Istanbul, Moscow and the rest of Europe — but that can never excuse a policy of extermination. Forced sterilization, torture, family separation and detention are only one step away from large-scale executions.
It’s as if the Chinese government analyzed the Holocaust and presumed that they could commit these human rights violations as long as they didn’t make murder the official policy, and that analysis seems to have been correct. The only strong international voice attacking China on this issue has been former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the same person who joked abroad that the Trump administration would have a second term. The silence on this is deafening, and to the CCP, compliance is approval.
Similarly, the terribly strategic adoption of a new national security law in the wake of the 2019 protests has allowed the Chinese government to abduct and detain Hong Kongers who supported or helped coordinate those protests. Furthermore, the withholding of COVID-19 aid to Hong Kong from the central government has hamstrung the Hong Kong government’s ability to combat transmission, and many Hong Kongers have begun adopting permanent residence in mainland China out of concern for their personal health.
2020 was a momentous year for the CCP — the year of followthrough on a decade of grand strategy to rebuild international economic access and national pride — but 2021 has been set by the CCP as the target date for China to be a “moderately well off society.”
It should be noted that the arbitrary designation of “moderately well off” is very much a designation meant to be confirmed by the Chinese people as opposed to some international monitoring organization. In this way, China’s being well off is a measure of the national confidence of its people, which incorporates both economic and political achievements of the CCP.