April 18th 2020

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Justice at last: Cardinal Pell set free

EDITORIAL Australia needs an economic reset after covid19 crisis

CANBERRA OBSERVED The very young can still be 'taken care of' during the covid19 outbreak

RURAL AFFAIRS A national disgrace: Our great land sale

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Use detention centres to help deal with covid19

GENDER POLITICS Do we really need to ask, what is a woman?

REFLECTION A chance for a change of heart: Covid19 as Memento mori

FAMILY Who let the kids out? The stay-at-home parent and covid19

ECONOMICS The oil cartel: The lesson for other industries from OEC

HEALTH Lessons from the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic

CULTURE AND SOCIETY There is a war: The battle in and for hearts

ASIAN AFFAIRS What makes China different is not the Chinese but the CCP

HUMOUR Locked down in Covi Town

MUSIC Great, er, swan songs

CINEMA+TV Staying in; staying sane

BOOK REVIEW Not our Robin Hood

BOOK REVIEW At home among others




CARDINAL GEORGE PELL FREE: The commentary file

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What makes China different is not the Chinese but the CCP

by Jeffry Babb

News Weekly, April 18, 2020

Many people are puzzled about why the People’s Republic of China (PRC) acts the way it does. It derives from the establishment of modern China and the nature of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The CCP is a revolutionary party; its strategies and tactics are the CCP’s inheritance as a conspiratorial organisation. The legal system, for example, exists to enforce the policies of the CCP. Few people who encounter the PRC legal system emerge unscathed.

That is why the people of Hong Kong, who respect and value the rule of law, took to the streets to prevent extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China. The PRC is not ruled by law; it is ruled by the Communist Party.

The very first thing to understand about Chinese governance is that the state exists to serve the Party. There is only one governing Party: the CCP. The equivalent would be to say that the Australian government, from every municipal council, every state government, every instrumentality and up to the federal government exists to serve the Liberal Party.

The PRC acts on the principle of “democratic centralism”: that is, the Party Centre lays down the party line and all levels of government and instrumentalities follow it. Television in China, for example, exists to serve the Party.

Some blessed relief is provided by the Lunar New Year’s Eve Gala variety show on television, which is televised all over the world. It is certainly an entertaining show. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the New Year’s Eva Gala is watched by over one billion viewers, making it the world’s most popular TV event.

The CCP is a Marxist-Leninist party. It is, by its nature, conspiratorial and subversive. From its first congress in Shanghai in 1921, the CCP was secretive and revolutionary. The aim of the CCP was to transform man and society, and free China from the oppression of foreign powers. It wished to avenge the “century of humiliation” by the imperial powers.

One point, which is blindingly obvious but rarely remarked on, is that China remained intact and independent while India was dominated and dismembered by Britain. That is because China always had a central government in Beijing. Although the emperor was weak, he had status as the head of government and could play one predatory power off against another. Thus, in China the foreign powers had “concessions”, not colonies.

In India, the nation was fragmented and the British could play one princely state off against another, or turn others into virtual colonies. For centuries the British ruled India from Bengal. Other important centres of British power included Madras (now Chennai) in the East and Bombay (now Mumbai) in the West, the financial centre of India. Even today, India has no nationally accepted language and is politically fragmented.

In China, on the other hand, almost anyone under the age of 60 can speak putong hua – “common speech”; what we call Mandarin. Indeed, the determination of the Party Centre to impose Mandarin on Hong Kong helped provoke the recent disturbances. The people of Hong Kong speak Cantonese; Hong Kong is the world’s center of Cantonese culture. Mandarin has only ever been seen in Hong Kong as an instrument of oppression by the northern Chinese elite.

The way the CCP relates to the world is determined by its origins as a Marxist-Leninist party tutored by the agents of the Soviet Union. The CCP is not paranoid; it is by its own standards highly rational. But its attitudes are molded by its foundational myths.

Some of these are well known: the Long March, for example, which saved the CCP from extermination at the hands the Kuomintang (KMT). What is not known is that the CCP leadership did not actually walk. Leaders such as Deng Xiaoping and Mao Zedong were carried by bearers, many of whom died from exhaustion. Deng and Mao slept all day and planned the route and organisational tactics at night.

Some pregnant women had their babies and then handed them to peasants, promising to return to collect their child later. They were on the march again within an hour of giving birth.

Their destination, Yenan, was relatively secure. The “united front” tactics the CCP perfected in the Yenan period form the blueprint for relations with outside forces to this day. The most notorious product of this tactic was Edgar Snow’s hagiography, Red Star Over China (Gollancz, 1937).

Another foundational myth is that of Lei Feng. Lei Feng was a young soldier who loved his comrades and loved the Party. He was born in Hunan, the same province as Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi. Lei Feng died in his early 20s but he made an enduring impression on China.

The Lei Feng story is surrounded by controversy. A great deal of his “life” was manufactured by propagandists. He did not actually wash the socks of his comrades, as some people claim. On the other hand, it is fairly certain that he did mend the inner soles of the boots worn in the bitter winter in Liaoning Province, part of China’s “dong-bei,” (east-north), what we call Manchuria.

The Lei Feng legend is intended to encourage young people to love the Party. If you ask a university student these days what he thinks of Lei Feng, he is likely to say, “he’s a dag”.

It is not surprising that China uses conspiratorial and united front tactics to pursue its political aims in Australia. The CCP is conducting an operation it understands against a temporarily superior enemy. But the PRC does not plan to be the inferior party forever.

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Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm