What am I to You? - The CPC's Shifting Affections from Marxism-Leninism to Capitalism
A recent political shakeup has offered a fresh perspective for our exploration: the dismissal of Qin Gang from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This event, potentially signifying President Xi Jinping's consolidation of power, acts as a catalyst for our examination. Is this an indicator of Xi eliminating potential rivals tied to former President Hu Jintao, or is it a hardened stance against external influence, notably from the United States? This shift in power dynamics underscores the importance of reassessing the CPC's ideological journey and its relationship with Marxist-Leninist principles. In this context, we'll expand on Fukuyama's robust governance model, which encompasses the dimensions of a strong state, rule of law, democratic accountability, and other influencing factors. By applying this model, we aim to dissect the CPC's seeming unfaithfulness to its ideological roots, a relationship once as firm as a "registered wife," now seemingly flirting with capitalist tendencies.
In a remarkable digital replication of events harking back to China's Cultural Revolution, the online records of China's Foreign Minister, Qin Gang, have been erased from the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) website. Qin, who was dismissed from his post on Tuesday, was a key figure in the Chinese political realm. However, all articles and official releases pertaining to him, including his interactions with the US Secretary of State and Russian Deputy FM, were found to be removed from the MFA's site. Searches for “Qin Gang” returned numerous headlines, but when clicked, these led to a message stating, “The page you are visiting does not exist or has been deleted.” Strangely, these official releases remain available on other media outlets, including the CPC’s flagship People’s Daily and commercial sites such as China Business Network.
Further analysis revealed that only reports prior to February 2 from Qin Gang’s seven-month tenure were accessible on the MFA site, but these too were disabled shortly after. Qin Gang’s bio, along with other related content, was listed under “Minister’s Resume“ as late as 4 AM but was being “updated” 15 minutes later. State media reported on Tuesday that China’s top legislative body had removed Qin Gang from his post and replaced him with his predecessor, Wang Yi. The reasons behind Qin's dismissal, however, remain shrouded in mystery. Initially, the Chinese state suggested that Qin, who had been missing from public events for over three weeks, was absent for “health reasons.” His continued absence, along with the removal of all Qin-related content from the MFA website, has fueled speculation about his fall from grace.
Insights from our PulsarWave's Google AI power
Delving into the possible implications of this abrupt dismissal, we sought the analytical prowess of our PulsarWave AI tool, recently featured in the finalist round of the Google Vertex AI Hackathon. Leveraging the advanced capabilities of Google's PaLM 2 (Bison model), PulsarWave provides the following insights:
The responses from the model have been diverse. One notable interpretation suggests that his dismissal might be attributed to his mishandling of the Ukraine-Russia war.
The dismissal of Qin Gang, an ally of President Xi Jinping, from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, marks a pivotal shift in China's political landscape. Possible reasons for his dismissal include his association with former President Hu Jintao and his outspoken criticism of the United States. This move suggests a further consolidation of power by President Xi and is likely to profoundly influence Chinese foreign policy. As the fog of uncertainty begins to lift, these conjectures, provided by our AI model, offer a springboard for deeper analysis of the unfolding political scenario in China. However, our analysis will focus on the reason of consolidating of power, and why Xi needs to do so.
In analyzing the reasons behind Xi's consolidation of power, we refer to Fukuyama's governance equation (G = f(S, Z) + β). Here, 'S' represents a Strong State, 'Z' stands for the Rule of Law and Democratic Accountability, and 'β' signifies unquantifiable influences.
The 'S' or Strong State component of the equation is highly evident in Xi's governance approach. His push for centralization, along with actions like Qin Gang's dismissal, indicate an intent to strengthen state power and control. Xi's actions could be seen as attempts to reduce potential challenges to his leadership within the party and thereby enhance the strength and unity of the Chinese state.
The 'Z' component, the Rule of Law and Democratic Accountability, however, presents a more complex picture. While China has been working on enhancing its legal system, it's worth noting that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) holds ultimate authority. Hence, the rule of law could be interpreted more as a tool for the party to exercise control rather than a check on its powers. Democratic accountability, in the traditional Western sense, is also limited in China, with the public's decision-making power being restricted.
Regarding the 'β' factor, which includes unquantifiable influences, it is possible that various external and internal pressures are contributing to Xi's actions. Internally, Xi might be aiming to mitigate dissent or opposition within the party. Externally, geopolitical tensions, such as the ongoing trade wars and disputes with the United States and other nations, could be pushing Xi to consolidate his power to present a united front.
Thus, using Fukuyama's governance equation, we can deduce that Xi's drive for consolidation of power could be a strategic response to maintain a strong state, manage internal and external pressures, and control the narrative around the rule of law and democratic accountability.
However, these actions could also be seen as a departure from traditional Marxist-Leninist principles, reflecting a pragmatic adaptation to the current socio-political environment. The flirtation with capitalist tendencies, as indicated by market-oriented reforms, could be a strategic maneuver to spur economic growth and maintain social stability, while still retaining the CCP's grip on power.
What am I to You?
The Communist Party of China's relationship with Marxist-Leninist principles has seen a notable evolution. The Marxist-Leninist narrative suggests that a society must progress through various stages, from feudalism to capitalism, and finally to socialism. In this respect, Deng Xiaoping's "white cat, black cat" policy was a pragmatic departure from orthodox Marxism, pushing China towards market-oriented reforms and opening the doors to capitalism.
However, China's journey towards full-fledged capitalism appears to be carefully regulated, not entirely conforming to the Marxist theory of unfettered capitalism being a necessary precondition for socialism. Notably, we've seen an increasing state intervention in China's private sector. The recent regulatory actions targeting various industries, from tech giants to private education firms, signal the CCP's intent to rein in the excesses of capitalism and guide the market according to its political agenda.
China's designation in the Index of Economic Freedom as 'Not Free' is indicative of its economic system's current state, which can be characterized as 'a limbo state'. It is trapped within a structural division: on one hand, there's a nascent market economy demonstrating signs of dynamism and liberalization, while on the other, a heavily regulated centrally planned economy reminiscent of North Korea's model, still profoundly influenced by state control. A significant role in this state-controlled segment is played by Government Linked Corporations (GLCs), which wield substantial power and resources. This division is not the intended 'hybrid' design initially proposed by Deng Xiaoping. Instead, it is an unintended consequence of recent developments and phenomena in China's economic and political landscape.
This phenomenon underscores China's unique development path – a blend of capitalism with a strong state control – which deviates from both the free-market capitalism as we see it in the West and the Marxist-Leninist idea of a classless socialist society. Instead, China seems to be settling in a unique, "hybrid" state that combines elements of both systems.
This brings us to Fukuyama's governance equation. His model suggests that a fully developed society requires not only a strong state but also rule of law and democratic accountability. However, China's governance model doesn't fully embrace these concepts. The CCP retains a tight grip on political power, restricting political freedom, limiting the role of other political parties, and curbing public participation in decision-making processes. This, coupled with its control over the economy, seems to veer China towards a form of neo-authoritarianism.
Neo-authoritarianism is a concept well articulated by Wang Huning, considered the ideological mastermind behind President Xi Jinping's administration and often referred to as China's Kissinger. Wang's writings suggest that a strong, centralized authority is necessary for rapid economic development and social stability. He posits that a transitional society, like China, could be better served by a form of governance that blends autocratic control with limited market-oriented reforms. According to Wang, democratic reforms, if any, should follow economic development and must be in line with China's unique cultural and societal context.
This framework might explain China's current trajectory. It is maneuvering through a space that balances state control with market economics, creating a hybrid system that doesn't fully align with either capitalist or socialist models. As we analyze China's path, it becomes clear that it is carving out a unique route, combining aspects of Marxist-Leninist thought, capitalist economics, and neo-authoritarian governance. It's a complex, dynamic interplay of ideologies and practices, making China's future trajectory an intriguing puzzle for observers and analysts.
The Unpredictable Transitioning of Power
The CCP's delicate dance with capitalism, while continuing to amplify its authoritarian tendencies, is a fascinating paradox to observe. It doesn't fully align with the theories proposed by Wang Huning, but when evaluated from the lens of Fukuyama's governance model, certain patterns and potential consequences emerge more distinctly.
Fukuyama's model posits that for a robust and durable system, not only a strong state (S) is necessary but also the rule of law and democratic accountability (Z), as well as the capacity to adapt to a range of unquantifiable influences (β). However, China's present course seems to heavily emphasize the strength of the state while limiting the other elements.
China's economic system has been incrementally flirting with capitalism, creating a unique blend of state-controlled market economy. Simultaneously, its political system continues to tighten control, limiting free and fair elections, and curbing any substantial political opposition.
In this scenario, a lack of adequate checks and balances in the Chinese system, as predicted by Fukuyama, may render the post-Xi power transition problematic, perhaps even perilous. This was evident in the tumultuous transition following Mao's era, which gave rise to the Gang of Four and triggered the catastrophic Cultural Revolution.
Further, the purge of Bo Xilai, once a rising star in Chinese politics who championed a return to Mao-era principles, is an illustrative case. Bo's downfall, under charges of corruption, was a powerful reminder of the political fragility that can occur in a system without sufficient checks and balances.
Thus, while China continues its unique balancing act between capitalist economics and authoritarian governance, the inherent systemic vulnerabilities, as highlighted by Fukuyama's model, may cast a long shadow on its future trajectory. The balance between economic growth and political control, between preserving stability and enabling innovation, and between domestic agendas and global expectations, will continue to define China's journey in the times to come.
In essence, while China's current model of highly centralized power and control may seemingly work well for now - promoting economic growth, maintaining stability, and allowing the country to exercise significant global influence - it harbors significant risks that can't be ignored. The concentration of power in the hands of a few or even a single leader, as suggested by Fukuyama's model, lacks the necessary checks and balances essential for a robust governance structure. This deficiency becomes alarmingly clear during transitions of power.
History has shown us, most notably during the Cultural Revolution, how the absence of these checks and balances can lead to internal power struggles, social unrest, and even the risk of civil war. Therefore, while the current approach may deliver results in the short-term, the longer-term consequences could potentially destabilize the country's governance and society.