‘Authoritarianism we’ve never seen’

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‘Authoritarianism we’ve never seen’

The author is a Beijing correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

“The Chinese Communist Party is shaping a new vision of authoritarianism, one the world has not seen for an awfully long time,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Nov. 8, fiercely criticizing China’s communist system at the ceremony for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. He warned “we are in a competition of values with unfree nations,” and said “The wall is no more.”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pompeo attacked the new Great Wall of China. When he spoke at the Wilson Center on Oct. 24, he said, “From the Party’s great firewall in cyberspace or to that great wall of sand in the South China Sea, from their distrust of Hong Kong’s autonomy, or their repression of people of faith all demonstrate that it’s the Chinese Communist Party that has been “de-coupling” from the wider world for decades.” He claimed that China’s opening was a mere declaration, and China still has built a wall against the world.

China is responding to attacks from the United States by reinforcing its system. The so-called “China solutions” were passed at the Fourth Plenum. A total of 55 items in 13 areas covering politics, law, administration, economy, culture, military, unification, foreign policy and surveillance were proposed. The core ideas are one-party governance, the people’s democracy and co-ownership.

Pro-government scholars are speaking up freely. I met Jin Canrong, a professor and associate dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China, at an open seminar on Oct. 31. He said that America’s “Taiwan card” has crossed the Maginot line, and if a military clash occurs in Taiwan, China has the upper hand in the first island chain of Okinawa, Japan, Taiwan and the South China Sea. He argued that China would pay a price, but it would be China’s victory in the end. If the clash happens, he warned, the United States would fall from being a global superpower to a regional power in the Americas overnight due to credit bankruptcy.

His based his argument on the DF-17 and DF-100 missiles presented at the military parade on China’s National Day last month. “It means that China is getting ready to use regular missiles included in strategic strikes” and “any hostile power against China is in danger within the first island chain.” He sounded as if he was ready to push the launch button.

American academia is just as aggressive. Last month, Kurt Campbell, former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Ely Ratner, executive vice president and director of studies at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), published “China Reckoning” on foreign affairs last year. The subtitle was “How Beijing Defied American Expectations.” They argued that the U.S. policy on China for the Chinese Civil War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War was a series of misjudgment, and urged for a more vigorous offensive.

The news about an imminent U.S.-China trade deal after their first-round negotiations and the news about their fierce hegemony rivalry coexist today. While Korean diplomacy focuses on North Korea, a new normal in world order is shaping.

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