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China's New Red Emperor
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Will China’s paramount leader Xi Jinping disprove Lord Acton’s famous maxim that all power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely?

Are we entering an era where many of the world’s great nations are ruled by strongmen, despots or modern monarchs? Look at America’s would-be king, Donald Trump; Russia’s Vlad Putin; and India’s Narendra Modi.

China’s party congress appears about to change its established rules by removing the rule that party leaders may serve no more than two 5-year terms. This will open the way to life-long rule for General Secretary Xi. This would be the third time China has granted leadership for life after Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

Deng created the 5-year term limits in 1987 in an effort to prevent any future Chinese leader becoming another Mao, whose rule ended in civil war, famine and political chaos. Interestingly, China’s paramount ruler, Deng, whom this writer considers China’s greatest leader, held only one official title: Chairman of the Chinese Bridge Association. No need for titles. Everyone knew who the boss was.

Xi Jinping has made himself into the most powerful leader since Deng by relentlessly accumulating power during his last five years of rule by marginalizing or jailing opponents and democratic critics.

But who can argue with Xi’s success? China is at peace and militarily secure. Over the past five years, China’s economy has expanded 50% to $13.1 trillion, making it the world’s second biggest economy. While the US has spent over $2 trillion waging war in Afghanistan and the Mideast, China has been pouring the profits it has made into developing its worldwide trade and delivery systems.

In just over a generation, China went from third world status to joining the modern world – and may well soon lead it. Sixty-eight million people have been raised from abject poverty; whole new cities created from rice paddies.

When China’s ruler is strong, China is strong. Non-Chinese have a hard time understanding how humiliated China was in the 19th and early 20th centuries by the rapacious western colonial powers and Japan.

Xi Jinping has vowed to keep building China’s military and economic strength so that it can never again be dominated by foreign powers – namely the United States and Japan. In 5-7 years, China and the US will likely wage a sharp, violent air and naval war in the Pacific along China’s coasts. China and India may go to war over the Himalayas and Burma (see my book ‘War at the Top of the World’). Preparations are already underway for both conflicts. I bet my money on China.

Secretary Xi has also made clear he intends to dominate most of Asia through trade and soft power in much the same way that the US dominates Europe and Latin America. Uprisings and independence movements in Tibet and Xinjiang will be crushed whenever they appear. Taiwan will be kept on a very short leash; if it resists, invasion is the clear alternative.


Will Xi’s rule for life be good for China? The answer is very likely no. China has had over 400 emperors in its 5,000 years of usually turbulent history. Some, like western monarchs, have been successful, others disasters. As rulers age, they become paranoid, angry, vengeful and increasingly cruel. Stalin and Mao offer grim examples. Many go mad, as Shakespeare portrayed. But today, thanks to modern medicine, rulers and despots live much longer than in the past.

History teaches that Lord Acton’s maxim is correct.

Fallible humans must not remain in power for too long. Lower-ranking officials must be allowed the chance to rise in the ranks and elderly ones replaced. For every splendid, sagacious, just ruler, there are at least three really bad ones.

China’s Communists have done a brilliant job – in good part by junking orthodox communism and adopting traditional Chinese ways. Our current democratic western leaders are hardly role models for successful or enlightened leadership. It will be hard to convince the Chinese to re-invent the wheel. Secretary Xi will have a lot of time to think about this.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: China 
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  1. Eric’s fast on his way to becoming the leading intellectual for Confucio-fascism. Amazing the respect leftists have for what they would consider in their native context ‘far right’ ideas so long as the practitioners aren’t white.

    One way or another, the liberal word order (in both the ‘classical’ and progressive sense) will come to an end.

  2. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Even if Xi rules for longer, he wont’ be a Mao. I think he’s looking to emulate Lee Kwan Yu.

    Chiang Kai-Shek ruled for life but he wasn’t crazy like Mao.

    Mao was really an anomaly. He rose to power through sheer struggle, violence, chance, and chaos.
    No stable order would have allowed such a turbulent personality to rise to the top. He fed on the chaos all around him.

    In contrast, Xi rose by doing hard within the system. And I think his aim is to strengthen the system, not just himself.

    Still, I agree it is worrying. Two term idea was pretty sound.

    • Replies: @Thegenius
  3. Realist says:

    “Our current democratic western leaders are hardly role models for successful or enlightened leadership.”

    That is true. The current action of western governments is a piss poor example of democracy.
    It is no concern of the US how China is ruled.

    • Agree: Giuseppe, jimbojones
    • Replies: @Astuteobservor II
  4. DB Cooper says:

    “When China’s ruler is strong, China is strong.”

    And when China is strong, its neighbors are secure.

    Exhibit one, the Ryukyu Kingdom
    When China was strong, the Ryukyu Kingdom maintain its independence until its was subsequently invaded and annexed by Japan to become Okinawa when China became weak.

    Exhibit two, the Kingdom of Sikkim
    The kingdom of Sikkim was briefly overran by the Nepalese during the 18th century and the exiled Sikkimese king appeal to China for help. The Qianlong emperor sent in troops to expel the Nepalese and restore the sovereignty of Sikkim. The kingdom was threatened again after India was created. The kingdom was subsequently invaded and annexed by India in 1975 when China became weak and was unable to lead its hand to help Sikkim even though the Sikkimese King appealed to China for help.

    Exhibit three, the Maldives
    Recently Maldives was threatened by India of imminent invasion (under the excuse of restoring democracy, what else?). Maldives responded by sending envoys to China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for help. This time China is strong and is able to mobilize its fleet in the Indian ocean to handle the situation. India got the signal and back off.

    • Replies: @TT
  5. Ronana says:

    Funny how he doesn’t mention Obama when talking about potential rulers for life. I seem to remember a lot of talk from Democrats a few years ago about trying to change the constitution to allow an Obama 3rd term.

    Of course, if Obama had tried to get in the way of Hillary, he might have ended up on the Clinton Body Count list.

    But, its become almost standard in American politics that if a President makes it through two terms unimpeached and with popularity almost intact, then the partisans of that party immediately start talking about changing the constitution and getting them a 3rd term.

  6. Jason Liu says:

    Even if Xi goes south in his old age, even if there is a bloody transition, it’s still another step towards ending the liberal democratic nightmare. Autocracy, for all its risks, is still the best form of governance ever tried. Including all the other ones.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  7. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Jason Liu

    The best form if governance is a Republic which America had in the beginning but lost it to a liberal Democracy.

    A Republic combines the best features of a democracy with a autocracy like China has.

  8. TT says:

    China and India may go to war over the Himalayas and Burma (see my book ‘War at the Top of the World’).

    Eric, why would China & India go to war over Burma? China border can be understood as potential conflict zone.

    India is only capable in swallowing up small countries at its border, like 50+ princely states since its independent, Sikkim, and Bhutan(under total control), 7sisters like naga land. Even Sri Lanka was under India LTTE Tamil Tiger decades of terrorists war, Rajapradesh gov was toppled with CIA & India, still India couldn’t control SL.

    Bangladesh PM is currently under India control, but its subtly move towards China. Similarly India tried to control Nepal many times including had its entire Royal family massacre, illegally sending millions of Indian over to form swinging vote, & oil embargo, but still fail to control under China assistant. So is Mauritius Maldive now.

    Myanmar is large & strong enough to resist India invasion, and with China backing, even US Nato dare not try invade for last 50yrs. Vietnam & Korean wars had taught Uncle Scam the painful lesson. India is trying to sabotage China BRI by taking Swiite ports in Rakkhaine, but China don’t give a damn as it can easily build another one for its own BRI shipment, while India only continue to bleed without cargo to ship.

    Pakistan is the possible one hot spot, consider India is still trying to take Kashmir & having its RAW to disrupt China BRI in Pak.

  9. TT says:
    @DB Cooper

    You forgot to mention:

    Korea & Taiwan were colonized by Jp when China failed to defense it.

    Under India threat
    Nepal, repeatedly under India subversion, including having its entire pro-China Royal family massacre. The last Nepalese gov was under siege by India illegal massive migrants sent into Nepal border as swing votes, and oil embargo that China help to ease. And now its free from India clutch with strong China.

    Sri Lanka
    Under decades of India LTTE terrorists(back by West) secession threat. Then toppled of Rajapradesh gov. Now new Nagasena gov is under threat by Tamil & Muslim riots(US India). China had help SL defeated LTTE, provided economic support.

    Constantly under West threat & subversion but under China protection.

    Myanmar, NK, Cambodia, Laos. But now Vietnam believe Uncle Scam has change to a good man so she should give him another try.

    China just help Philippine to took back a city taken by US controlled ISIS. Terrorists leader said they will be back soon.

    Indonesia( Sukarno time)
    China too weak too protect, 1M massacre by CIA instigated atrocity to purge communist & Chinese, repeatedly. Now Saudi-wahabhi Muslim terrorists party is brewing for another anti-Chinese riots.

    Countries still awaiting China to liberate:
    which under weak China, was totally subjugated by India, it still cannot has any foreign relationship with anyone without India’s permit. A large Indian army is stationed inside Bhutan.

    7 Sisters, the Nagaland still under India rape.

    Land China took back
    HK, Macau

    Land awaiting China to recover
    (Taiwan) – under Japan past colonization, US control now.

    South Tibet, still under India rape.

    Mongolia, forced independent by Soviet Union.

    Part of Xinjiang, Outer Manchuria, 1.5Mil sq Km? taken by Soviet when China Qing Dynasty was weak. Now under safekeeping by Russia to have a safe northern backyard from US.

    Russia officially received this territory by the unequal treaties of the Treaty of Aigun in 1858 and the Treaty of Peking in 1860. The northern part of the area was also in dispute between 1643 and 1689, with military conflicts between two empires.

    Outer Manchuria comprises the present-day Russian areas of Primorsky Krai, southern Khabarovsk Krai, the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, and Amur Oblast. Another Chinese claim adds the island of Sakhalin. Currently, the People’s Republic of China has no claim to the territory.

    • Replies: @Bliss
  10. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Best is a democracy that defends and represents its people.

    Worst is a dictatorship that represses and replaces its people.


    A dictatorship that defends and represents its people is better than a democracy that represses and replaces its people. Most Western Democracies are the latter.

  11. Bliss says:

    Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia and Manchuria lie on the other side of the Great Wall of China. They were not part of China. To the Han people they were a wild wasteland filled with uncivilized, dangerous Northern Barbarians who needed to be kept out of China. Hence the Great Wall.

    Of course the Wall did not stop the northern barbarians from eventually conquering and ruling the Han Chinese for many centuries.

    Btw, something similar happened in Europe between civilized Rome and their version of northern barbarians.

  12. Mulegino1 says:

    A massive quantity of rubbish has been written about government by those unable to distinguish the term “democratic” which is a method, and “democracy.” Today, spreading “democracy” has become an empty slogan used in order to facilitate transnational corporate oligarchy and the rule of international finance, usually under the threat of cruise missile strikes and economic sanctions.

    The authoritarian rule of a strong, benevolent and capable leader- elected “democratically” via plebiscite- beholden to no vested interest or elite and responsible only to his own people and their well being is better than any other form of government ever devised.

    However, since authoritarian rule obviously has many risks, the next best thing is a commonwealth or republic bound by inextricable ties to the rule of law and the traditions of the people.

  13. @Realist

    but it is good ammo for use in finger pointing and acting hoity toity.

    • Replies: @Realist
  14. Realist says:
    @Astuteobservor II

    Which the financiers and supporters of the Deep State do.

  15. Thegenius says:

    Xi rose because he is a princeling, he is backed by other powerful princes. This is the reassertion of power of the crown princes by purging the non-royal blooded enunchs: jiang zeming, zhou yongkang.

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