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Where the Xi's China going ?
The risk of Stockholm syndrome
At the end of October, the 20th Congress of the CCP delivered a particularly disturbing scene. On the platform of the regime's dignitaries, Hu Jintao, strongman of the PCC from 2003 to 2013, was under shock. Haggard and flabbergasted, he was led towards the exit under the icy gaze of Xi Jinping. The audience, populated by layers in black suits, white shirts and red ties, offers no look of compassion.
With the strengthening of Xi's power, some might fear an increase in Chinese power. In the short term, no doubt; in the long term, it is doubtful. Contrary to what one might think, authoritarianism, in the long run, does not strengthen a country's power but destroys it.
To see this more clearly, we need to look at history.
Since Deng Xiaoping (1981-1989), a course was set: only openness to trade could strengthen China (and therefore the Party) that had been, for too long, captive to the delirium of Maoist purges. During 1990’s-2000’s, this seemed to work. The opening up (sometimes wild) placed China at the heart of world competition. A strong growth was emerging, and China could hope to become once again unavoidable and respected... then feared.
Under the worried eye of the West, Hu Jintao's China (2003-2013) appeared as the main game changer of the Pax americana. Under the supervision of the Party and with all the excesses of the nascent capitalist, a spirit of individual initiative, and therefore of innovation, was emerging. Two signs: narcissistic big bosses and a consuming middle class were emerging. According to the liberal scenario, the growth of the economy was supposed to provide a breeding ground for political freedom.
Then came Xi Jiping. In the 1950’s, he was a young “Red Prince”, one of the golden son of the Maoist regime. But in 1962, Xi witnessed the fall of his father. He was 9 years old when his father was designated an "enemy of the people" and forced to self-criticism. A traumatic journey begins: his sister commits suicide and he, Xi, a deposed prince, grows up in a re-education camp. Finally, it is the liberation and, after many refusals, the adhesion to the Party of Mao in 1971.
History seems to loop on the same film of violence. Since 2013, a victim of the Maoist era is gradually reviving China towards its concentrationist and therefore self-destructive demons. In other words, it is a trauma never digested. The Uyghur, Hong Kong and Taiwanese files say the same thing as the social passport and the Zero-Covid policy: the conversion of the Chinese People must follow the three stages of Xi's traumatic life.
As if the Stockholm syndrome was the only possible outcome. As if the leader's trauma should become the People's destiny. As if the prisoner could only survive by loving his own jailer.
But how? First of all, it is necessary to break and lock up the Other, all the others, the People (in the cities or in camps). The country becomes a penal colony where the rebels are suppressed and the others are re-educated. Broken and then reprogrammed, the survivors will also learn to love the Party.
The control over the minds and bodies of the Chinese testifies how the trauma of Mao's China is still there, never digested, once buried in the hope of growth, and now resurfacing. At the risk of China's lasting weakening. The spirit of initiative (the right to make mistakes and the possibility of saying no) is prohibited. Fear becomes the key to the game. Without initiative and confidence, there is no innovation, let alone hope.
A pragmatic leader knows that, without comparative advantages in economic competition, he is committing suicide. That leaves the army to convince himself that he is strong. The only friends left are the other dictators who, themselves, turn in a loop on their own traumas; it is self-destruction in lockdown.