China’s Communist Party regime has remained hostile to the United States with little chance of evolving into a normal nation-state despite decades of engagement by Democratic and Republican governments, a former high-ranking party official said.
Cai Xia, a former professor at the Central Party School, stated in a report published this week that the Chinese Communist Party system is not just authoritarian but also “neo-totalitarian” in its control of the country.
Ms. Cai, a former communist and part of the class of offspring of senior CCP leaders known as “princelings,” said more than 40 years of U.S. trade and economic engagement with China had failed to produce a more benign system or a responsible global power.
“Looking at it objectively, the Chinese Communist Party’s fundamental interests and its basic mentality of using the U.S. while remaining hostile to it have not changed over the past seventy years,” she stated in a report made public this week by the Hoover Institution.
The report, “China-U.S. Relations in the Eyes of the Chinese Communist Party: An Insider’s Perspective,” by an authoritative critic was published as Chinese leaders were marking the 100-year anniversary of the party’s founding. Beijing on Thursday was filled with parades, speeches and elaborate celebrations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, adorned in a Mao-style gray tunic, said in a congratulatory speech to the 95 million party members that they were leading the country to national rejuvenation. Mr. Xi said the system the party forged was responsible for China’s economic success that until recently was based on reform communism adopted during the 1980s and is now shifting to more hard-line Marxist policies.
“Marxism is the fundamental guiding ideology upon which our party and country are founded. It is the very soul of our party and the banner under which it strives,” Mr. Xi said in a speech carried in the official Xinhua News Agency.
The president also had some unusually confrontational language for unnamed foreign countries that he said were trying to keep China down.
“The Chinese people will absolutely not allow any foreign force to bully, oppress or enslave us, and anyone who attempts to do so will face broken heads and bloodshed in front of the iron Great Wall of the 1.4 billion Chinese people,” he said at one point.
Mr. Xi reiterated a vow to reunite democratic Taiwan with the mainland. He announced that “complete reunification is a historic mission and an unshakable commitment” of the CCP. U.S. military commanders warned Congress recently that China could attempt to seize the island by the end of the decade.
Under Mr. Xi, China has largely abandoned the approach of post-Mao leader Deng Xiaoping, who sought to hide China’s communist system while quietly building national power.
Mr. Xi called for speeding up China’s already-rapid military buildup of conventional and nuclear arms.
“A strong country must have a strong military, as only then can it guarantee the security of the nation,” he said. The military, he added, is “a powerful force for protecting peace in our region and beyond.”
Biden administration officials declined to comment on Mr. Xi’s remarks or the anniversary celebrations in Beijing marking the Communist Party‘s anniversary.
Views of China have soured internationally as a result of Beijing’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which spread from Wuhan, according to opinion polls. Some analysts say Mr. Xi is under fire in China for his role in mishandling the outbreak in December 2019.
The Chinese government covered up details about the virus, including its infectiousness to humans, and failed to limit travel by Chinese from infected areas. Beijing refused to provide initial virus samples sought by international virus researchers to combat the disease.
Since Mao Zedong assumed power in China in 1949, the number of Chinese deaths under the communist system is estimated to be 65 million, through forced collectivization, government-produced famines and political purges, according to the authoritative Black Book of Communism, published in 1999 by six European academics. China has built the world’s second-largest economy and emerged as the chief challenger to the U.S.-led liberal global order.
Ms. Cai, the former party official, said Mr. Xi has stepped up the implementation of communist ideological principles that resulted in increased repression, including the imprisonment of her friends who spoke out against the regime. He has removed another major check on his power by eliminating the term limits observed by his predecessors.
“[China’s] combination of ideology and extreme repression make it a totalitarian regime, and the sophisticated digital nature of its surveillance and repression has given totalitarian control a new dimension. All of this makes China a more dangerous adversary for the United States,” Ms. Cai stated in the report.
Mainstream news media and many China experts frequently describe the government as an “authoritarian” system. But Ms. Cai said the CCP regards China’s foreign and domestic policies as integrated and aimed primarily at keeping the party in power.
International engagement and economic, trade and financial relations “failed to soften the political character of the CCP regime,” Ms. Cai said.
The U.S. policy toward China, she said, is based on a fundamental misunderstanding about the CCP’s nature and its long-term strategic goal, which Beijing hid to gain benefits from the United States and others in the West.
“By contrast, since the 1970s, the two political parties in the United States and the U.S. government have always had unrealistic good wishes for the Chinese Communist regime, eagerly hoping that the People’s Republic of China under the CCP’s rule would become more liberal, even democratic, and a ‘responsible’ power in the world.”
Ms. Cai said Americans are too naive about her native country.
“One basic cultural tradition of Americans is not to lie, to obey the rules and to respect the spirit of contracts,” she said. “In Chinese culture, deception is in our blood. There is no spirit of the contract, no sense of fairness, and people often say different words to mean the same things under different circumstances.”
The current Chinese political system makes meaningful improvements in U.S.-Chinese ties unlikely, Ms. Cai concludes in the report. She noted Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent statement during a meeting in Alaska with top Chinese officials. Mr. Blinken said the Biden administration would seek relations with China that are either competitive, collaborative or adversarial, depending on issues.
“In fact, these three principles are in logical conflict,” Ms. Cai said.
She noted that the administration is hoping for the best in its relations with China. “But this is mere wishful thinking,” she said. “Over many years, although the U.S government and elites in various circles sensed some political changes happening in China, they did not realize that China has turned into a refined form of neo-totalitarianism.”
Many American China hands still view the regime as authoritarian and rely on unilateral good wishes and illusions in promoting continued engagement with Beijing. As a result, U.S. policy amounts to appeasement, she stated.
Standoff and confrontation
Ms. Cai said the differences between the U.S. and Chinese systems will eventually lead to “standoff and confrontation.”
Mr. Xi has used powerful surveillance capabilities that have made China more repressive than either Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, she said.
The CCP rule in China is a combination of terror plus ideology bolstered by a high-technology digital surveillance system. The result is “a highly refined and sophisticated neo-totalitarianism,” Ms. Cai said.
Following the model set by Mao, Mr. Xi “has fostered a personality cult, made himself equal to the party, revised the constitution to secure a lifetime dictatorship and further intensified repression with the rule of coercion and deception.”
She sees Mr. Xi’s use of extreme nationalism as similar to the Nazis under Hitler, a system that was based on racism.
“For a long time, the CCP has been continuously imbued with Han racial superiority and has carried out cultural genocide in disguised forms against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, Tibet and Inner Mongolia,” Ms. Cai said.
The former CCP insider was once part of the middle- to upper-level tier of party elites who grew up in freedom compared with other dissidents such as Liu Xiaobo, who analysts say died in prison. She served in the Chinese military and at the party school specializing in CCP ideology and “party building” within the country. Her students included senior party cadres, provincial and municipal administrators, and Cabinet-level ministers.
Initially a critic of Mr. Xi and an advocate of political liberalization, Ms. Cai eventually broke with the CCP. She moved to the U.S. in 2019 and was formally expelled from the party in August 2020 for her criticisms.
The expulsion followed the disclosure of audio recordings in which Ms. Cai calls Mr. Xi a “mafia boss” and the CCP a “political zombie.”
The Chinese Communist Party was founded in 1921. By 1949, Mao had seized control of the country.
“In the process of socialist construction, we overcame subversion, sabotage and armed provocation by imperialist and hegemonic powers, and brought about the most extensive and profound social changes in the history of the Chinese nation,” Mr. Xi said.