Rising tension in bilateral relations between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seems to have found no ceiling on a wide range of issues. In the eyes of several analysts, the harsh and inflexible stance of the Trump administration in the face of the abuses and authoritarianism of the CCP seems to have disconcerted Beijing and even threatened its very existence.
One of the voices that reaffirm this hypothesis is that of the renowned Chinese American academic Minxin Pei, who argued that, for example, the advance of the CCP over Hong Kong will bring “dire” consequences to China.
“Hong Kong’s future as an international financial center is now in peril,” Pei said. He referred to the controversial national security law imposed by the CCP’s National People’s Congress, which puts an end to the “one country, two systems” model that had prevailed since 1997 when the city was returned from British to CCP rule.
In a July 12 column in the South China Morning Post, Pei noted that such an encroachment on the freedoms of the Hong Kong people will only strengthen residents’ resistance determined to defend their freedom. That will end up making the autonomous city even less stable.
Moreover, Pei points out, the CCP’s unilateral advance will help Washington “persuade wavering European allies to join its nascent anti-China coalition.”
“The long-term consequences for China [the CCP] are therefore likely to be dire,” he summed up.
However, the German Marshall Fund, a nonpartisan American public policy think tank, pointed out that such a “miscalculation” is not typical of Xi Jinping, but merely reflects the very essence of the CCP.
The violent, cunning and greedy nature of the Chinese regime
“The Party sees the world as, first and foremost, a jungle,” Pei explained. He said that the great “miscalculations” of Chinese [CCP] politics might be the work of Xi, but the truth is that the most important reason for “the Chinese government’s [the CCP’s] self-destructive policies” is the CCP’s own “mentality.”
“The Party is convinced that its long-term survival depends solely on raw power,” Pei, pointing out that the CCP’s 28 years of violent struggle until it usurped power proves this.
In addition to violence, according to Pei, the CCP is characterized by cunning. It is capable of deceiving the international community when “the balance of power is against it.”
Again, following Hong Kong’s example, when the CCP committed itself in the 1984 Joint Declaration with Great Britain to maintaining Hong Kong’s autonomy for 50 years after the 1997 handover, “it was acting out of weakness rather than a belief in international law,” Pei maintains.
“As the balance of power has since shifted in its favor, China has consistently been willing to break its earlier commitments when doing so serves its interests,” citing the end of the so-called “one country, two systems” as a case in point.
The third feature that always characterizes the CCP, in Pei’s words, is greed. The party believes that, besides it, all the nations of the world are governed by this desire.
“Although Western countries might profess fealty to human rights and democracy, the Communist Party believed that they could not afford to lose access to the Chinese market,” he points out.
“Such cynicism now permeates China’s strategy of asserting control over Hong Kong,” said Pei. He explianed, “Chinese [CCP] leaders expect the West’s anger at their actions to fade quickly, calculating that Western firms are too heavily vested in the city to let the perils of China’s police state be a deal-breaker.”
An unexpected adversary
Until recently, the West’s permissive stance in the face of the advance of CCP authoritarianism in the international community “appeared to have vindicated the Communist Party’s Hobbesian world view,” said Pei, contrasting the fact that everything changed with the arrival of President Donald Trump at the White House.
“Unfortunately for the Communist Party, therefore, it now has to contend with a far more determined adversary.” Pei pointed out and added, “Worse still, America’s willingness to absorb enormous short-term economic pain to gain a long-term strategic edge over China [the CCP] indicates that greed has lost its primacy.”
In particular, Pei stressed that President Trump’s “decoupling” strategy, which threatens to break the close economic ties between the two nations, “has caught China [the CCP] by surprise.”
According to Pei, “no party leader ever imagined” that Washington would be willing to relegate the Chinese market in pursuit of broader geopolitical objectives.
How will this work continue in the future? Pei predicts a dark future for the CCP since the “series of strategic errors” that Beijing has made have left it on the verge of dissolution.
“For the first time since the end of the Cultural Revolution, the Party faces a genuine existential threat,” he said.