Xi — By Himself
The Chairman and supreme leader of China is sitting in his office by himself. It is early evening and he’s just had supper.
‘Deng was right. We had to wait. Had to bide our time. And we did. Our strength was our market power. Our numbers. And then the party came in and imposed their will. We promised our citizens a better world and we are delivering. We have invented a new system of government and it has been a success.
And the world is envious.
America is envious. Europe is envious. Russia is envious. Envious of our discipline, of our creativity and commitment to being at the top. Envious of our ability to resolve disputes.
Some will say that we have sacrificed freedom, but that is a small price to pay for our rise to the top. And my fellow citizens have been willing to trust the party. It is their hour of greatness and they know there’s more to come.
He stands and goes to the window. A grand view of Beijing lies before him.
‘Yes, the West has helped us, but through our shrewdness we are on the way to dominate the world. It is only a matter of time. With our market power we enticed tech enterprises and all manner of businesses to come to us and share their knowhow. And our genius has taken all of it and made it our own. That is our triumph. No one has done what we have done on this scale.
To do so we needed discipline and the party imposed it. Without the rule of the Communist Party this grand leap forward would not have been possible.
Here in our land there is no free for all, no chaos and disruption like there is in America and the West.
Discipline. Vision. Commitment.
If the Uyghurs think they can have it their own way, we discipline them. We do whatever we must to make them Chinese. They have no alternative.
I learn every day from the chaos in America. It confirms how right we are.
Children shooting other children at school. And it happens again and again. What is that? Do they not learn from it?
Is that freedom? No, it is not. It is a perversion of freedom.
And they still can’t pass laws to ban firearms.
We have no such problem in China.
And then there’s the coronavirus pandemic. Why isn’t everyone in America vaccinated by now? Why is anyone allowed to refuse when getting vaccinated is in the best interest of the nation? But still they refuse and more and more Americans die.
Is that freedom? No, it is not. It is a perversion of freedom.
Nearly 800,000 Americans have died, so far. And now they will have to contend with the Omicron variant. And yet, some people will still not vaccinate.
We have no such problem in China. We haven’t vaccinated everyone but if we say vaccinate, then you vaccinate.
They have too many gods in America. A god that says having guns is right, another that says no guns is right, a god that says having an abortion is right, another that says not having an abortion is right, a god that says democrats are right, another that says republicans are right.
Meanwhile they’re killing each other.
Here in China there is only one god. The Communist Party. Me.
You obey, and you’re free to make money, within limits. Don’t obey and we step in.
That has been our genius. The recognition that the human spirit is naturally unruly and fractious. Therefore, to get anything meaningful done, we must enforce discipline.
He turns to pull up a chair and sits in front of the window, looking out, enjoying the view.
‘There is despair in America… and I like it. With our rise to becoming a superpower, they see us threatening their dominance, and yet their businesses still are coming here because of the size of our market, even if the result will be to strengthen a foe of their nation.
Someone once said that capitalists will sell you the rope with which they will be hanged. Lenin, probably.
Take electric vehicles, for instance. We got Tesla to come over and share their knowledge. They were very willing and understood the bargain which was, we make you rich but you hand over your expertise. Of course, we then take the expertise, subsidize new Chinese companies, and spread all over the world to rival Tesla. When the time comes, I will ask Tesla to leave our market. It is up to us. Up to me, to choose the date and time for their departure. One of the great benefits of our system. We don’t have to deal with any lawyers from Tesla saying that it’s unfair to do so.
And the word gets around.
The other day, an American banker, whom we have allowed to do business here because we can learn from them while making them rich — same bargain as Tesla — joked that their bank would outlast our system. Someone from his bank reminded him of the disrespect and he quickly apologized. He knew better. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
So there’s despair in America. Despair because their incentives, profits at any cost, often runs counter to the national interest and yet their government is not free to check them. They have to contend with the US Chamber of commerce, public opinion, political donors and an army of lawyers and lobbyists. Freedom to dissent, they call it.
We have no such obstacles in China. What the party says, goes. And since I run the party, what I say, goes.
He runs his hands past the sides of his head and laces his fingers on the back of his neck.
‘It’s not like they’re not seeing the problem, it’s that they’re not doing much about it.
Biden sees it, though. But they’ve been so critical of him that with all the noise, his views are devalued.
Take Afghanistan, for instance. He was right to pull out but the criticism he got was brutal. His critics went on and on about how messy the pull-out had been. But how can you have a clean pull-out from a nation in such confusion? Stay and sacrifice more American lives? No. Pull out. Just pull out.
All of his critics in Afghanistan forgot to take account of the state of things in their own nation. Racism, inequality, poor education for the lower classes, shootings, killings, people not getting vaccinated and an assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters. All of that going on and still you want a tidy pull-out?
Biden is right, too, to take my global ambitions seriously. He’s trying to rebuild infrastructure, protect vital industries, strengthen defense and renew America’s relationship with Europe, but business interests there, too, will fight him and work against his plans, for they also want to come to China to make money.
I don’t think he’ll get reelected… which is better for us.
He now stands and starts to walk around his office.
‘The more chaos in America, the better for me. The more divided the better. And the reality is, I don’t really have to help that process, Americans by themselves will make sure they stay divided. It seems they just can’t help it.
It is sad to see a nation like that slowly lose their power. We all owe much to them. If it weren’t for them in World War II, we would all be speaking German. And Japanese. But they can’t help themselves.
Surely tomorrow I’ll wake up to the news of yet another school shooting. And the NRA saying, don’t take away our freedom! What a disaster.
He stops for a moment, then resumes walking.
‘Which brings me to Putin and his intentions in Ukraine. Will he invade to annex the nation? Good question. If he does, it will make for a tense moment in the world. But Putin likes to be in the spotlight, with everyone guessing what he’ll do next. He may see his threat to invade as a way to stir up nationalism and counter internal resistance — the Navalny led movement. An invasion carries risks, of course. The Ukrainians will fight back and it will get bloody. And it could spark an insurrection in neighboring Belarus which will complicate matters. If there are many Russian casualties, that won’t play well at home, and may fuel the internal resistance he seeks to defuse.
On the other hand, the global preoccupation with the pandemic offers a unique opportunity. And yet Putin wants the World Health Organization to approve his Sputnik vaccine. I think they will.
Yes… he could still make the move. A quick grab. Pow! Overnight. Like in Crimea. A blitzkrieg. Right in your face, like the Americans like to say… and Europeans will wake up thinking of themselves as smaller and weaker, with Russia sharing a border with Poland and Hungary and Romania.
He has the power.
I could learn a thing or two from Vladimir.
As for us… I could… maybe… synchronize efforts… he moves on Ukraine… I move on Taiwan… yes… it’s a thought… but…
He stops, rubs his face.
‘… No… it doesn’t feel right for me. Not now. It would take more preparation. Lots more. Bide your time, said Deng. Bide your time. I need to consolidate my power… so, no… Taiwan must wait. Anyway… America is likely to get weaker, not stronger, as time goes by.
What I’m certain of is that one day we will seize Taiwan. Like it or not. And America will just watch… divided as ever… wondering why they didn’t learn to talk to each other… and then return to burying their heads in Tik Tok. Or whatever game we can make interesting for them.
He smiles to himself.
Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net. Available as a podcast in anchor.fm, apple, google and buzzsprout.