China watchers say China is going through its third revolution since Mao’s forces seized control of the country in 1949. The first revolution was led by Mao. The second took place under Deng Xiaoping who succeeded Mao and dramatically moderated his policies. President Xi is leading a “third revolution.”
Shannon Tiezzi, writing for thediplomat.com, interviewed Elizabeth Economy, the C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, on this topic. Economy has recently published a book called, The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State.
Economy made the following observations.
- [Xi] has created a China that is both more authoritarian and insular at home and more expansive and ambitious abroad. Under his leadership, for example, the Internet is more controlled, the party is far more intrusive in economic and social life; ideas and non-governmental organizations from the outside have much less access to the Chinese people; and the Chinese military is far more assertive in the region.
- It is difficult to assess popular opinion in a country that does not permit open expression of dissenting views. In most polls, Xi appears as enormously popular, and this may well reflect reality.
- Nonetheless, it would be foolish to ignore the unhappiness around his more authoritarian policies, including the new Internet constraints, the elimination of presidential term limits, and the intrusion of the CCP into Chinese social and economic life.
- Beneath the surface calm presented by the Chinese leadership and media, there is a fair amount of discontent swirling around.
- Xi Jinping has sought to control the range of ideas and organizations that enter into the country.
- University professors are discouraged from using foreign textbooks;
- more than 95 percent of foreign NGOs present in China in 2016 have not yet been able to register to operate in China since the Law on the Management of Foreign NGOs came into force in January 2017; and
- China’s industrial policy, Made in China 2025, deliberately creates an uneven playing field for foreign firms desiring to access the Chinese domestic market in a number of areas of cutting-edge technology.
- It is not feasible for Xi to cut off all interchange between Chinese citizens and the outside world—millions travel and study abroad every year and continue to go around the Great Firewall to access prohibited information from outside the country.
- What he can do, however, is limit the range of ways in which Chinese citizens who don’t travel abroad or actively seek information from outside China are exposed to western thought and practices.
Source: Read the entire interview at thediplomatic.com. This article was published on May 2, 2018.