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China’s Lust for Power is Only Just Beginning to Unfold
China stands at a definitive fork in the road – one that will determine the future of the world for generations to come. Xi Jinping, China’s President, has made no secret about his dream to rule the world. He dreams of fulfilling the ancient vision of the ‘middle kingdom,’ which was the Chinese view of the world with China in the center. And Xi dreams that he will be the leader. He views a world with China at its center, with himself at its helm of the most powerful nation in the world. And he pays little attention to the historical precedents that his vision ignores.
In order to fulfill his vision, China has initiated modernization at a dizzying pace, borrowing, copying, and stealing technologies in order to achieve rapid progress. The New Silk Road, for example, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative, is an ambitious project which Xi announced in 2013 that reinvents the old lost Silk Road, an extensive maritime and land passageway that connected China with the markets in Europe. To China, the Silk Road was the highly profitable symbol of power and economic control of Europe. Xi wants his new Silk Road, for which he has earmarked $900 billion, to do no less, because he believes it will strengthen China’s trade with – and strategic access to – at least 40 other countries. He predicts it will generate a staggering $2.5 trillion in trade and is one more brick in the wall of world dominance that he is intent on building.
But this is just the beginning. China has also moved forward with its global initiatives in the South Pacific ocean, in the Arctic Circle, in Africa, and Asia, taking massive harvests of endangered fish from sensitive ecosystems, and stripping huge amounts of natural resources from African countries, leaving behind the wreckage of their mining activities.
China is also reaching out to acquire the rights to rare earth minerals and metals, and, with the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, has now acquired the rights to that country’s vast reserves.
And China has undertaken a program to establish a firm presence in maritime ports of the world. Chinese companies, all associated with the governing Chinese Communist Party (CCP), have already taken over at least 93 ports in 63 countries around the world, including the U.S., giving it access to those nations’ critical entry points, and positioning it to deploy intelligence agents into these countries.
China’s motive in acquiring and managing these ports is clearly not simply commercial, based on the pure economical principles of just doing business. They are part of a strategic program to provide China with leverage on nations with critical assets that it seeks to acquire. The CCP, which is deeply involved in all these ventures, accomplishes this through spycraft, as well as simply stealing the technology to which its presence gives it access.
The strategic and economic cost of such activities can impact such things as the potential ownership of new technology, the disruption of supply and delivery chain systems, and the compromising of military intelligence, to mention just a few.
And now the CCP is rattling its saber at Taiwan, and threatens to attack it with the intention of conquering it and bringing it into the Chinese Communist fold.
The Other Side of China
But there is another side to this coin, and it is one that China seems to be ignoring. China is in a world of hurt at home. Massive floods have turned deserts into oceans and destroyed millions of acres of crops and millions of swine and poultry that are essential to the country’s food supply. The COVID-19 virus and its variants are spreading wildly throughout China. Whole provinces are now locked down, and soldiers prevent citizens from leaving their homes, not even to shop for food or medicine. There is word that some provinces are even in rebellion against the CCP’s cruel lockdowns, and refuse to carry out lockdown orders. The real estate market, which has been wildly overbuilt, is now imploding. The Chinese economy is in deep trouble.
The world is waking up to the barbarous human rights abuses, forced organ harvesting, and genocide that the CCP is carrying out against the Uyghur and the Falun Gong, and the world is beginning to demand answers. In short, China is in deep domestic trouble. Yet the ruling CCP continues to ignore it, moving forward with its ambitious efforts to dominate the world.
Xi Jinping Could Learn from History
The leader of the CCP would do well to look back on recent world history and try to learn from it. It was less than 76 years ago when Hitler’s arrogance and apparent belief in Nazi invincibility were so overwhelming that he lost his war against the Allies definitively. He aimed to conquer the world, and ended up hiding in a bunker where it is said he took his own life.
The war could have ended differently. Hitler had the technology, and the manpower, but the mistakes he made – sending his troops into battle without the supply chain to feed and support them; refusing to allow his troops to withdraw, even when the reality of the situation demanded it; undervaluing the advanced technology that he had in favor of even more advanced technology, which led to incompatible systems that, once broken, couldn’t be fixed; and finally, declaring war on the United States four days after the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor, and setting his military machine up for massive failure.
Hitler’s overreach and his blinding arrogance, which led him to overestimate his power and underestimate that of the enemy, was his downfall. Xi take note.
Xi Could Also Learn from Napoleon
Napoleon, whose arrogance and lust for power was his ultimate undoing. He might also teach Xi something. After years of being hailed as Europes greatest military leader, and after being crowned Emperor at Notre-Dame Cathedral in 1804 by Pope Pius VII, his fortunes fell before his hubris. It was only a few years later that his arrogance undid all of his efforts and destroyed his empire. “In five years,” he said, “I shall be master of the world. There only remains Russia, but I shall crush her.”
Only it was his own army that was crushed. Although he raised an immense army of more than 600,000 men, he was roundly defeated when he marched them into Russia in June 1812. By November, some 400,000 of his men had died from starvation, a freezing Russian winter, and a Russian resistance that would not give up. In 1814, Napoleon was forced to abdicate.
History is a wise teacher.
The world now looks at Xi and the CCP and wonders if they will dare to attack Taiwan, in order to absorb that tiny island into mainland China, as it did with Hong Kong. But Taiwan is a democracy and considers itself an independent state. And it has the support of Japan and Australia, and, perhaps, the United States. An attack on Taiwan could initiate an international conflict that China may not be able to end. And, depending on how the sides shape up, the outcome is uncertain.
We can all learn from the mistakes and successes that others had before us. Xi Jinping would be foolish to ignore the lessons of Napoleon and Adolf Hitler, who wanted to conquer the world but ended up in isolation and disgrace.
This is a defining moment for China. In his quest for global dominance, Is Xi Jinping overreaching so far that he is likely to fall just as his historical predecessors did?
This is a defining moment for China. Is Xi Jinping overreaching so far that he is likely to fall just as his historical predecessors did? As Santayana famously wrote, “Those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it.” But the possibility that Xi Jinping will give a second thought to historical lessons is hardly likely. His arrogance and megalomaniacal ambitions are more likely to throw the world into turmoil, and although he will no doubt be taken down in the end, as many tyrants before him have fallen, millions will suffer before that happens.
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