Two years ago, on Jan. 23, 2020, Wuhan was forced to close the city due to the out-of-control epidemic. Yet, on the same day, at the annual meeting of the State Council of China celebrating the Year of Rat, Xi still smiled.
This year, on Jan. 30, 2022, at a similar meeting for the Year of Tiger, Xi Jinping said in the first sentence: “I feel very happy,” but it is hard to see his smile.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s position is at risk—this is not only a recent claim of billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros based on the actual uncontrollability of the Omicron Covid-19 variant in China. But it is also the judgment of international observers, taking into account the latest happenings in the fierce internal strife of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which possibly reveals Xi’s declining power.
On Jan. 4, 2022, Xi Jinping issued Military Order No. 1 to the Central Military Commission, emphasizing redirecting the gun muzzle from the outside to the inside, in other words, “protecting” the 20th National Congress so that it takes place successfully. What can be seen from his words is that Xi Jinping may be so worried about the 20th National Congress of the CCP that it has been upgraded to a military struggle.
Xi Jinping at the brink of life and death
Although the 20th Congress nears, Xi Jinping has not yet defeated any deputy state or state-level official to “establish power.” If Xi Jinping wants to “establish power,” the support of the military is of extreme importance. It’s possibly why Military Order No. 1 has such content.
If Xi Jinping does “big thunder” but “small rain,” unable to bring down a deputy state official, he will face great difficulty getting re-elected at the 20th National Congress, said Professor Zhang Tianliang, an overseas Chinese commentator. Xi would even be in danger because the coup gang led by Jiang Zemin and Zeng Qinghong has not been cleaned up yet.
In 2014, Hong Kong’s The Trend Magazine quoted a source identified as a top CCP official as saying that Xi Jinping has, to date, survived six assassination attempts. These include a sniper attack during Xi’s visit to Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, in Sept. 2012, and five others during his trip to Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Fuzhou, Jinan, and Qingdao. The investigations confirmed five of them were insider plans.
Reportedly, a Politburo proposal before Aug. 1, 2014, stated that should Xi Jinping encounter any accident that might cause loss of his leadership, a five-person team will replace him as General Secretary and Chairman of the Central Military Commission. This team consists of Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Wang Qishan, Fan Changlong, and Li Zhanshu.
The CCP’s historical curse: ‘Every succession is bound to have a coup’
Various reported attempts to assassinate Xi Jinping partially disclose the ruthless power struggles inside the CCP.
The CCP was founded in 1921 with the assistance of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Over the following decades, it quickly expanded, defeated the Kuomintang’s (KMT) Nationalist Government in a civil war, and conquered the whole mainland territory in 1949, making it the most significant single-party regime in the world.
The history of the CCP reveals a strange “coincidence”: Every succession is bound to have a coup. China expert and history professor Zhang Tianliang pointed out that after Mao Zedong died, Hua Guofeng succeeded him. Hua Guofeng swept the ‘Gang of Four’ out of the arena, but his position as Party Chairman was also unstable. Hua Guofeng’s resignation was not voluntary but a coup.
Then, a coup deposed Hu Yaobang because the CCP did not convene the Central Committee to remove Hu Yaobang from office.
Next, Zhao Ziyang was also overthrown. Then Jiang Zemin came to power through the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989, when the Eight Great Eminent Elders, a group of powerful elderly members of the CCP, organized a meeting without passing the election in the Party or through the Central Committee. This is essentially a coup d’etat, eventually deposing Zhao Ziyang.
When Hu Jintao took over, it was believed that Jiang Zemin would give Hu Jintao three positions: General Secretary, State President, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, which he had held since the 16th National Congress in 2002. But, unexpectedly, Zhang Wannian, a PLA general, forced Hu Jintao to let Jiang Zemin serve as Chairman of the Central Military Commission for another two years. This still counts as a coup.
After Hu Jintao was Xi Jinping’s turn, Xi no sooner took power than Bo Xilai launched a coup d’etat.
If power transfer is precarious once or twice, this is probably a random event that any political regime might face. However, in this case, every succession is bound to have a coup, without exception. Thus it is likely a problem of the CCP’s system.
The eternal fear of the CCP
So what is the inherent problem of the CCP system that led to repeated coups?
As a totalitarian regime with no democratic elections or freedom of thought, the CCP lacks the legitimacy to rule China from a modern perspective. Mao’s quotations were frequently recited during the Cultural Revolution: “Fight ferociously against every passing thought of selfishness.” and “Execute the Party’s command whether or not you understand it. Even if you do not understand, carry it out anyway, and your understanding should deepen in the process of execution.”
Various dynasties in Chinese history had no popular election, either. Still, traditional belief holds that the highest power of a nation or its head is given by the King of Heaven or under Heaven’s Mandate. Ancient Chinese had faith in gods and respected the heavenly mandate. As Confucius once said, “Life and death are predestined, and wealth and rank are determined by heaven.” Both Buddhism and Taoism are forms of theism believing in the reincarnation cycle of life and death and the karmic causality of good and evil. Good will be rewarded, and evil punished.
The CCP, on the contrary, not only promotes atheism but also runs wild in defying the Tao and attacking divine principles. Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party has analyzed the contradiction between the CCP’s underlying ideology and Chinese traditional values. Notably, while Confucian culture encourages kindness to others, the CCP incites class struggle. Moreover, the Communist Party applies Darwin’s inter-species competition to human relationships and human history, declaring that class struggle is the only driving force for societal development. Struggle thus became the primary “belief” of the CCP, a weapon to gain and maintain its political control.
Falun Gong is a peaceful meditation practice based on three principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance, which has gained exponential popularity since 1992 in China. Yet, at a Politburo meeting on June 7, 1999, Jiang Zemin baselessly classified the issue of Falun Gong as a “class struggle,” labeled Falun Gong practitioners as the CCP’s political enemy, soon launching unprecedented bloody persecution against the practice.
When Wen Tianxiang, a famous military commander in the Song Dynasty, was taken prisoner, he refused to submit to the Mongol invaders even when the Song emperor tried to persuade him to surrender. Because, as a Confucian, he believed in what Mencius had said: “The people are of supreme importance; the nation comes next; last comes the ruler.” By contrast, CCP canonizes its leader and forces the people to obey it unconditionally and blindly. During the Cultural Revolution, everyone in China carried out religious-like rituals: asking the Party for instructions in the morning and reporting to the Party in the evening; saluting Chairman Mao several times a day, wishing him endless longevity; and conducting morning and evening political prayers every day.
In brief, from both modern and traditional perspectives, the CCP, since its first day coming to power, has always been missing something fundamental, namely the ‘legitimacy’ of the government.
“The communist movement, which produced a big fanfare for over a century, has brought mankind only war, poverty, brutality, and dictatorship. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern European communist parties, this disastrous and outrageous drama finally entered its last stage at the end of the last century. No one, from the ordinary citizens to the general secretary of the CCP, believes in the myth of communism anymore … Today, with its ideology destroyed, the legitimacy of its reign is facing an unprecedented challenge.”Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party
The lack of legitimacy presents a problem: whoever’s in power is not legal, and there is no way to prevent others from using illegal tricks to replace him. So the leader has no legitimacy. On what basis do they ask others to be legit?
That is why Bo Xilai and other high-ranking officials wanted to take the place of Xi Jinping without hesitation; and why Xi Jinping was that serious while ordering the military to focus on protecting the 20th National Congress.
Xi Jinping’s beautiful days have gone
The current political sphere in China is characterized by the so-called “power triangle,” implying three significant forces in the CCP, namely:
- “Xi Jiajun,” which literally means Xi Jinping’s army;
- “Jiang Pai,” also known as Shanghai Gang, headed by Jiang Zemin;
- “Tuan Pai,” i.e., the Chinese Communist Youth League (CCYL), led by Hu Jintao.
Before, in the post-Deng era, Chinese politics had been dominated by only two rival factions—the Shanghai Gang and the CCYL. However, a recent study pointed out that the appointment of Xi Jinping as Party Secretary in 2012 could be considered an outcome of the factional power-sharing arrangement inside the CCP. Xi, a member of the Shanghai Gang, replaced Hu, the leader of the CCYL. However, by consolidating power during his first term, Xi established his own faction, i.e., the Xi Gang.
‘Beating tigers, killing flies’
Assuming the highest position in the CCP, Xi immediately launched an anti-corruption campaign named “beating tigers, killing flies, hunting foxes.” Besides “tigers” like Bo Xilai, Zhou Yongkang, and Xu Caihou, the “flies” are thousands of officials large and small who have all been put under investigation and imprisonment. In 2013 alone, more than 6,500 Chinese officials disappeared without a trace, over 8,000 officials fled abroad, and about 1,500 people were arrested. Most of them belonged to Jiang Zemin’s faction.
SCMP reported that after its meeting in December 2018, the CCP’s Politburo issued a statement emphasizing that “the fight against corruption has achieved a crushing victory.” More than 1.3 million party officials at various levels, from the powerful “tigers” to low-ranking “flies,” have been caught since late 2012. The CCP’s mouthpiece, Xinhua News Agency, said the change from “crushing momentum” to “victory” meant the war on corruption had turned from “the accumulation of quantity” to “the transformation of quality.”
But this confident tone has vanished in Xi’s recent speech. On Jan. 18, 2022, at the sixth plenary session of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, Xi Jinping said that “the battle between corruption and anti-corruption is still going on fiercely,” emphasizing that “it is impossible to stop,” etc.
Recently, former lieutenant colonel of the Chinese Navy Command Yao Cheng revealed that Jiang Zemin’s spies in the armed forces are still numerous, especially in the Navy. So when Xi Jinping says that “the battle between corruption and anti-corruption is still going on fiercely,” does he imply that Jiang Zeng’s forces are fighting back?
Xi Jinping has suffered big losses
On Jan. 21, 2022, The State Council of China announced an investigation report into the rainstorm in Zhengzhou, Henan, last summer. As a result, Xu Liyi, the Zhengzhou Municipal Party Committee secretary, was removed from his positions. Furthermore, the report deliberately mentioned that Zhengzhou City concealed the number of dead from its superiors.
Akio Yaita, director of the Taipei branch of the Japanese media Sankei Shimbun, pointed out that Xu Liyi was promoted five times in seven years and is considered a rising star of the new army of Zhejiang, belonging to Xi’s faction. At the 20th National Congress this fall, Xu will possibly be elected as a member of the Central Committee and will enter the ranks of ministerial-level officials. In this regard, Akio Yaita believes that this is a critical offensive launched by Li Keqiang against the Xi Jinping faction before the 20th National Congress.
Also, in January 2022, two of Xi Jinping’s former henchmen and important allies were sentenced to death. The two ministerial officials subject to suspended death penalties are Dong Hong, former Deputy Head of Central Inspection Group, which supervises the Party’s leadership at the provincial (ministerial) level; and Wang Fuyu, former Deputy Secretary of the Guizhou Provincial Party Committee and Chairman of the Province’s Committee of the Political Consultative Conference.
Dong Hong was a former aide of Vice-President Wang Qishan for years. Wang was instrumental in carrying out Xi’s anti-corruption campaign since 2013, cracking down on his political opponents.
Wang Fuyu was the former deputy assistant of Li Zhanshu, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee. The latter is widely considered the closest ally to Xi among seven members of the Standing Committee. As an intimate aid to Xi for nearly 40 years, particularly during his previous tenure as director of the Central Committee Office, Li usually accompanied Xi on external visits, responsible for scheduling, document handling, and security.
On the second anniversary of the closure of Wuhan, Ma Guoqiang, the former secretary of the Wuhan Municipal Party Committee, who was dismissed for accountability by Xi Jinping, made a high-profile comeback. Combined with the demotion of Xu Liyi, and the death sentences suffered by Dong Hong and Wang Fuyu, it is believed that Xi Jinping’s power has been seriously hurt before the 20th National Congress of the CCP.
Xi Jinping faces an historic choice
According to Wang Youqun, a former member of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee, the 20th National Congress of the CCP for Xi is “a matter of life and death.” If it fails, the lives of Xi’s family will be hard to save because Jiang Zemin and Zeng Qinghong, who have been attacked by Xi’s ten years of “beating tigers,” have promoted and reused too many high-ranking officials.
Regardless of whether Xi could win or not, if he continues to struggle for power within the current apparatus, his fate would be attached to the CCP. As a famous Chinese poem goes, “Deeply I sigh in vain for the falling flowers,” the collapse of the “red dynasty” has been alarmed.
In 2020, an audio recording was leaked online and soon went viral on Chinese social media platforms. In the audio, CCP’s longtime insider Cai Xia, a former professor at the elite Central Party School, at a gathering among “second-generation reds,” accused the CCP of being a “political zombie.”
Cai was then expelled from the Party and stripped of her pension. “The CCP now is a political zombie. I do not think this Party can carry out political transformation for the Chinese society,” she told VOA. “The Party itself needs to go.” Cai also revealed that 60% to 70% of Party members hold the same opinion as herself.
Cai might not have exaggerated in saying so. On the official website of the Global Service Center for Quitting the Chinese Communist Party, at the beginning of February 2022, roughly 400 million Chinese had announced to quit the Party and its affiliated associations.
Today, the CCP is facing domestic pressures from an increasingly informed population and cannot cover its lies to international communities. “… the last thing the world should do is trust the Communist Party of China,” wrote Chris Patten, last British governor of Hong Kong, former EU commissioner for external affairs, and Chancellor of the University of Oxford on Project Syndicate. Does the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics by various countries worldwide provide a hint to Xi Jinping that his future could be assured only if he detaches himself from the CCP or even dissolves it?
In 2022, China is hosting the Winter Olympics, just like Germany in 1936. The two authoritarian states used the spectacle to score propaganda victory for their system of tyranny. This comparison by billionaire George Soros on Fox Business is appealing, and it’s worth further clarification that the CCP controls the people and ruins their souls and takes their lives.
Compared to China’s five-thousand-year history, the several decades of CCP rule are but the blink of an eye. Nevertheless, Xi has often shown his love of traditional Chinese culture, for instance, by opposing the Shanghai Education Bureau’s decision to cut down classic ancient Chinese poems in the elementary students’ textbook in 2014 or by telling of his admiration for Yue Fei, a military commander during the Southern Song Dynasty since childhood. Legend has it that Yue’s mother tattooed four Chinese characters on his back: “Jing Zhong Bao Guo,” or serving the country with total loyalty. When Xi was five or six years old, Xinhua Net said that his mother bought him picture books about Yue Fei. “Jing Zhong Bao Guo: I have long remembered these four characters. It is the pursuit of my entire life,” Xi said.
But “serving the country with total loyalty” is far different from devoting one’s life to the Communist Party. Before the CCP came into existence, China had created one of the most magnificent civilizations in the history of humankind. However, after taking control of China, the CCP started to bury traditional Chinese culture, physically and spiritually. Only when making a definitive break with the evil communist spirit, using his power to accelerate the dissolution of the CCP, will Xi Jinping truly realize his “Chinese dream” and create a bright future for his own country.
Just like in a poem by Meng Haoran, a major Tang dynasty poet:
“While worldly matters come and go,
Ancient, modern, to and fro,
Rivers and mountains are changeless in their glory
And still to be witnessed from this trail.”