What is the political philosophy of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s administration, i.e., Xi Jinping Thought?
The overarching purpose of Xi Jinping Thought, or Xi’ism, is “upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics to realize socialist modernization and national rejuvenation.” Xi’ism promotes 14 fundamental principles, which include “a people-centered approach,” “law-based governance,” “upholding core socialist values,” “ensuring harmony between humans and nature,” “upholding absolute Party leadership over the people’s forces,” and “promoting the building of a community with a shared future for humanity” amongst others.
While most of these principles seem worth pursuing, their implementation results in stringent restrictions on individual freedoms.
China’s ethnic policy
Western governments and media have extensively criticized President Xi and the Communist Party of China (CPC) for their forceful assimilation of ethnic Uyghurs, Tibetans and Mongolians into China’s majority Han culture. In recent years, Beijing has indeed intensified the pressure on Chinese ethnic minorities not just to integrate, but to fully assimilate into the Han culture. Those who resist are forcefully assimilated using any means deemed necessary by the CPC.
The West’s central contention is that ethnic minorities should be granted the right to preserve their distinct cultural, religious and social identities. They should be also allowed to manage their own regions as real autonomies, with only limited intervention from the central government in Beijing. While these ethnic and political rights are enshrined in the Constitution of China, the fact is that Beijing has ignored them for the sake of engineering a new Chinese nation.
What is less well-known in the in the West is that one central objective of Xi’ism is to assimilate the approximately 1.2 billion culturally eclectic ethnic Hans into a new Chinese national identity. The values, objectives and structure of this new nation are meticulously defined by Xi’ism and implemented in a country-wide social engineering program supervised of the CPC. By implementing this social engineering program, Beijing intends to strengthen the social cohesion of the 1.4 billion Chinese to ensure that the country will continue prospering as a nation-state. In turn, this prosperity should safeguard the legitimacy of the CPC’s absolute leadership in the eyes of the Chinese people.
Xi’ism has had its share of success
So far, the CPC leadership has been successful in turning a failed country into a prosperous one. As per the World Bank’s assessment, “Since China began to open up and reform its economy in 1978, GDP growth has averaged almost 10 percent a year, and more than 800 million people have been lifted out of poverty.” This growth continued under Xi’s tenure, which began in 2013. From 2013 until the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese economic growth averaged around 7%.
Without question, Xi’s program has restricted numerous individual and social rights, such as freedom of expression and assembly. Nevertheless, the CPC’s success in providing a prosperous life for most of the 1.4 billion Chinese cannot be denied.
It is Xi’s belief that one of the cornerstones on which to build this success is China’s social cohesion To achieve this, Beijing is implementing a social engineering program. Every society, in reality, is a construct. Still, the idea of socially engineering a society is not welcomed in Western societies. This is because of deep-rooted Western beliefs and values such as the assumption that each individual should be allowed to freely define his identity and choose his way of life. Still, much like any structure, every society has to be engineered.
Western societies are engineered, too. Otherwise, they would not be societies at all. An obvious fact showing that this is the case is the public education systems that for 15 years brainwash — benignly or not — our younger generations with homogeneous values, objectives and ways of thinking. Additionally, the fact that Western national or regional societies gravitate around common ideologies, values and objectives indicates that they have been engineered. So, the question is not whether it is necessary to social engineer a society, but how to do it to maximize its prosperity.
How can the West approach social engineering consciously and productively?
There are numerous problems with the current Western social engineering paradigm. Among them is the fact that Western political elites do not explicitly acknowledge the use of social engineering, making it difficult to engage in public and academic debates to analyze and improve it. Another problem results from some of the deeply rooted values and beliefs common in the West that grant almost unrestricted individual freedoms and the right to everyone to have a say in almost everything. Yet another problem is the common fallacy of attributing most of Western prosperity to freedom and democracy, rather than to scientific and technological development, discipline and commitment. These beliefs and values are not only weakening Western societies’ social cohesion and robustness, but are also masking the need for a fundamental change in the current social paradigm.
Guided by Xi’ism, the CPC is socially engineering a new Chinese national identity by forcefully assimilating ethnic minorities and homogenizing the eclectic Hans. This does not mean, of course, that the West should follow China’s lead and attempt to stamp out ethnic diversity. What it does mean is that the West needs to be open about the need to be proactive in socially engineering its own societies based on values and objectives that are not always popular.
It is time for the West to take a honest look at its current social engineering paradigm and fundamentally redesign it to build a society that will be in a strong position to overcome the challenges of this century and ensure the future prosperity of its peoples.
[Anton Schauble edited this piece.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
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