China: Expert discusses Xi Jinping's 'world domination' plan
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President Xi Jinping alarmed global leaders in his speech to mark his country’s ruling Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 100th anniversary. In an impassioned and inflamed address, he said: “Only socialism can save China, and only socialism with Chinese characteristics can develop China.” What really captured the attention of foreign powers, however, was his next line: “The Chinese people will absolutely not allow any foreign force to bully, oppress or enslave us and anyone who attempts to do so will face broken heads and bloodshed in front of the iron Great Wall of the 1.4 billion Chinese people.”
It marks a break from the usually inward-looking, economically-minded China that the world has grown used to in recent decades.
Now, President Xi looks to be moving towards developing a new element to his vision for the country: Chinese nationalism.
It is something commentators and analysts have documented as a burgeoning trend in recent years, and an issue that could lead to a China vs the World scenario.
Brian Wong, a researcher originally from Hong Kong currently based in Oxford, last year suggested that the coronavirus pandemic has acted as the ignition for this new nationalistic fervour.
A critical component of the Chinese response to the COVID-19 outbreak is the “promulgation of state-sanctioned nationalism, and tacit endorsement of grassroots-initiated nationalism”.
This point is important, argued Mr Wong in The Diplomat, because it marks a shift in the nationalism pushed in the past; the outward nationalism aimed at foreign nations but without much support from the people.
Now, the CCP is actively galvanising national sentiment among the “domestic consumers,” who, amid times of turbulence, “are in search of impassioned, at times zealous, speech in defence of the Chinese nation”.
Mr Wong wrote: “Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’ previously championed establishing sociocultural ties and seemingly respectful relations with the country’s neighbouring states; that has been set aside in favour of visceral displays of loyalty and devotion to the Chinese state.
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“A confident, potentially even ‘combat-ready’ collective of diplomats is precisely what is needed, from Beijing’s point of view, to assuage public uneasiness about the country’s international standing.”
The state has also taken the xenophobia and racism aimed at Chinese nationals abroad seen during the COVID-19 outbreak.
This, Mr Wong said, is intended to conjure up a nationalism that not only Chinese expatriates are being targeted but China as a whole.
He continued: “It is no coincidence that the nascent brand of Chinese nationalism has sought to incorporate the experiences of Chinese diaspora across the world into an expanded, Sinocentric imagined community.
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“Recent addresses given by officials such as the Foreign Ministry spokespersons have consistently framed the backlash toward Chinese overseas citizens and migrants as an attack on the entirety of the Chinese population.”
According to Tom Cheshire, Sky News’ Asia correspondent who witnessed the speech in Tiananmen Square, the crowd loved it when President Xi made the “broken heads and bloodshed” comment.
He added: “And playing those nationalist credentials will be crucial to the Party’s future success.”
In his address, Mr Xi used historical events to outline China’s strength in reaching the point it has today.
He said: “The Chinese nation is a great nation.
‘With a history of more than 5,000 years, China has made indelible contributions to the progress of human civilisation.
“After the Opium War of 1840, however, China was gradually reduced to a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society and suffered greater ravages than ever before.
“The country endured intense humiliation, the people were subjected to great pain, and the Chinese civilisation was plunged into darkness.
“Since that time, national rejuvenation has been the greatest dream of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation.”
While many note China’s ambitions might not be set on world domination, in the short-term, the country has its eyes on the island of Taiwan.
It claims the nation – officially the Republic of China – as its own, with its main goal to reunify it with the mainland by 2030.
Marking the CCP’s anniversary, Naval and Merchant Ships, a magazine published by the Chinese Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, published an 11-minute video simulating a military attack on Taiwan, according to The Times.
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