China under its new Emperor Xi Jingping is in dramatic change.
He is now the most powerful Chinese in the world as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, the president of the People’s Republic of China, and the chairman of the Central Military Commission
Up until now the communist party could assuage 1,3 billion Chinese, and especially the ambotious rising middle class with the promise of an ever growing economy. But that credibility-motor is in trouble now, like the diesel of Volkswagen.
The world’s second-largest economy has suffered a third-quarter slowdown, with growth at just 6.9 percent. The rate is the lowest Beijing has seen since 2009, and failed to meet the targeted 7 percent mark. The service sector helped cushion the blow, while manufacturing dipped more than expected.
The annual growthrate of 7 percent that had long been regarded the golden formula for stability. Gone.
In November 2012 the newly elected leader announced a clear reform program. But after three year, it did not reach its goals.
The communist ideology is dead. Consumption is the new golden calf.
And now? What is next? Dictatorship or more freedom?
0,4 percent of the households in China control 70 percent of the wealth. In communist China richness is twice as concentrated at the very top of the income ladder, than it is in the capitalist United States of America. In total, China counts more than 1,1 million millionaires.
The rich and the elites are leaving the country to look for homes in Canada, the U.S., or London. The next generation of movers and shakers is already enrolled mainly in American schools and universities. Why go home? Better stay abroad and travel to China. This brain-drain is one of the most dangerous results of an ossified political structure in China. The country needs innovation and creativity, but treats the 1 to 3 of of 1000 talented elite Chinese badly. No freedom of speech, no oxygen to breath and live freely. No vision for a dynamic future – besides the mantra of ever more growth.
The environmental problems are plain to see on a daily basis. Air polluted, as well as water or even baby milk.
The fight against corruption makes the headlines each day. This is a major difference to other authoritarian countries, like Russia. But if you look closer, it is mainly used against inner-party rivals. The campaign has eroded the trust of the people in the political class step by step during the last years.
President Xi therefore has already stopped the opening-process to the West. In an U-turn he is pushing anti-Western-issues in the media.
Part of this nationalistic policy is the aggressiv push for control in the South China Sea, against China’s neighbors, and the U.S..
When the USS Lassen, a guided missile destroyer of the United States Navy, conducted a transit within 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) of the Subi and Mischiefs reefs of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea early morning of October 26th, 2015, Beijing’s reaction was aggressive.
These islands are being claimed by Beijing as part of a larger push to cement China’s presence in the region.
Only 24 hours later, the Global Times accused the United States of provoking China.
“In the face of the US harassment, Beijing should deal with Washington tactfully and prepare for the worst.This can convince the White House that China, despite its unwillingness, is not frightened to fight a war with the US in the region, and is determined to safeguard its national interests and dignity”, the newspaper wrote.
The People’s Liberation Army Daily argued in a comment:
“Cast-iron facts show that time and again the United States recklessly uses force and starts wars, stirring things up where once there was stability, causing the bitterest of harm to those countries directly involved.”
Nationalism is on the rise. The push to unite China behind the strong man on top using cheap populist rethoric is getting stronger – a dangerous power-play indeed.
Interesting enough, the influential Central Party School of the Communist Party of China is looking for innovative ways to reform politics.
But only behind closed doors. As a senior member of a working group told Globalo, this school has orders from the top to analyze the very successful social market economy of the Federal Republic of Germany, and to assess which parts of it China could copy at home. At the same time, the party is looking into the history and structure of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.
The Chinese love to copy good concepts.
What does the future hold?
A re-designed social market economy or maybe even a Social Democratic Party of China?
Or confrontation with the U.S. in the South China Sea?
In China nothing seems impossible now.
In a good or a bad way.
Picture: Globalo Founder Dr Hubertus Hoffmann visits the Snow Festival in Harbin in China (minus 32 celsius).