Hidden Hand 1 – What Does the Chinese Communist Party Hope to Achieve?
Hidden Hand – Exposing How the Chinese Communist Party is Reshaping the World, by Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg is a revealing and stunning book – one which every politician, journalist, church leader and businessperson should read. It is such an important book but not everyone has the time to read it. Because the issues it raises are vital to understand and discuss –rather than write a lengthy review I thought that over the next few weeks I will go through it chapter by chapter. I hope this will prove helpful.
Chapter 1 – An Overview of the CCP’S Ambitions.
“The Chinese Communist Party is determined to transform the international order, to shape the world in its own image, without a shot being fired. Rather than challenging from the outside, it has been eroding resistance to it from within by winning supporters, silencing critics and subverting institutions.” (p1).
Here is a list of ‘facts’ from this first chapter. All of them are the foundation for the rest of the book.
- It is vital to understand that the CCP is not just interested in China – it is a Leninist party which seeks a rearrangement of the world order. One that fits in with its own image.
- The CCP does not seek nor need to conquer by a military war. They can and do use other means – economic, cyber, social and media.
- The CCP is not starting a new Cold War – it is continuing one that has been going on for decades. The defeat of the Soviet Union was seen by the West as the end of communism – one which would soon be followed by the opening up of China and the fall of communism there as well. The CCP have been fighting – successfully – against that ever since and have been using the West’s over optimistic delusions against itself.
- The strategy of the CCP is not secret. It has been revealed in numerous party strategy speeches and documents (which Hamilton and Ohlberg analyse throughout the book).
- The main strategy is to target elites in the West so that they welcome China’s dominance or regard it as inevitable. Using diplomatic pressure, ‘friendship ‘work, the manipulation of the media, financial pressure, academia, ‘think tanks’ and the wealth and political influence of the Chinese diaspora, the CCP have been remarkably effective in this.
- The primary weapon is economic. China is the world’s largest factory economy – and the second biggest overall in the world. As such it is considered essential for the big Western corporations. “If you don’t do what Beijing’s political leaders want, they will punish you economically”. Hamilton lists some examples of how this is. One example is that of Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets basketball team, tweeted his supportof Hong Kong protesters late in 2019. Beijing went to war. There was enormous criticism on social media (largely coming from trolls and fake accounts in China). The televising of Rockets games to their large fan base in China was suspended. Sponsors withdrew. Beijing complained that Morey had ‘hurt the feelings of the Chinese people’ .(Note how authoritarian governments always claim to speak for the people). The state broadcaster China Central Television then redefined ‘freedom of speech’ to exclude ‘challenging national sovereignty and social stability’. So, the US National Basketball Association caved and issued a fawning apology which could have been written by the CCP’s Central Propaganda Department.
- China does not need to issue lots of punishments like this – because the threat and uncertainty is sufficient. The above example shows how money, politics, sport, media and fear combine to give the CCP what it wants.
- Donald Trump was right to launch a trade war against China in 2018 – because China has been systematically violating the principles of international economic engagement and getting away with it. Dislike for Donald Trump should not blind us to this.
- The Belt and Road Initiative is China’s biggest infrastructure overseas investment. It is used for economic bribery because it supplies the investments needs and low interest loans, with no environmental or other conditions. It provides an outlet for surplus Chinese capital – but also does a lot more. Xi Jinping calls it ‘a community of common destiny for all mankind’. PLA major-general Qiao Liang said that the BRI is purely a means for China to gain dominance over the USA.
- The CCP seeks to split the US from its allies – such as the EU. Europe is seen as the great prize. The CCP always seeks to break up existing alliances wherever they are in the world.
- The CCP is fully aware of the danger of ‘ideological infiltration’ – that is any way of thinking which is different from approved Party doctrine. So it has gone on the attack. The CCP talks of being more ‘democratic’ , ‘open’ and ‘diverse’ but just as ‘progressives’ in the West have re-written language so that words mean the opposite of what they normally do – so the CCP mean the opposite. It’s code for ‘authoritarian systems and values have global status equal to liberal democratic ones”. This is why the CCP has blocked Western Internet with the Great Firewall.
- Not content with censoring in China – the CCP seeks to censor throughout the world. For example, with Taiwan.
- The CCP is succeeding in persuading Western commentators, politicians, academics and corporations that the its system is superior to Western democracy and liberal-capitalism. After decades of anti-Western propaganda within the Western academy, it seems as though they have an open market of ready listeners – who on the one hand campaign against the wrongs within the Western system, but conveniently ignore the much greater human rights abuses within China.
- The decline of appreciation for democracy in the West (largely by the elites and the corporations who have snide, barely concealed contempt for the ‘great unwashed’ populace) means that many of our own elites look upon China with a degree of admiration. “If only we could control our populations and economy as well as the CCP!”
- Hamilton/Ohlberg make this key point – “Others still, including squads of Western journalists on all -expenses-paid tours, are awed by China’s high-speed growth and technological progress, forgetting that other countries grew just as fast during during their economic catch-op phases, and ignoring the fact that it was the CCP itself that prevented China from progressing at all for several decades”. I was someone who admire the CCP for lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty, but Hamilton/Ohlberg points out that the CCP, since 1949, kept hundreds of millions in poverty and it was only when they granted basic freedoms – the right to own property, start a business, change jobs and move one’s place of residence – that the Chinese people lifted themselves out of poverty.
Observers of Western culture, and regular readers of this blog, will see how the CCP strategy can be remarkably effective. It pinpoints our major weaknesses. Having lost our love for democracy; destroyed a sense of meaning by demeaning language; lost our Christianity as the basis for our society and replaced it with a post-modern progressivism which is as immoral as it is irrational; decided that Mammon is our god; the West now has little to offer in terms of resistance to the Leninist assault on our values and freedoms.
More next week…
Why the Chinese Communist Party is a threat to the West