China

[Edgewise] Xi Jinping wants his ‘diplomatic iron army’ to win people’s hearts

Rene Ciria Cruz

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

[Edgewise] Xi Jinping wants his ‘diplomatic iron army’ to win people’s hearts

Marian Hukom/Rappler

'Just as Mao Zedong instigated the Cultural Revolution to cover up the disastrous failure of his Great Leap Forward, the neo-Maoist Xi is whipping up big power nationalism to mask what already may be shaping up as a Great Leap Backward'

How dare a China foreign ministry deputy insult President Bongbong, telling him to “read more books?” 

Oy, Deputy Mao Ning, only we the sovereign Filipino people can insult our presidents, granted most of them have been eminently deserving. You have no right. Our presidents may bungle, but they’re our bunglers. 

And, Deputy Mao Ning, since I’m not the Philippines’ head of state or the ambassador to China, I can insult your Great, Glorious, and Correct Leader back without sparking a diplomatic brouhaha like you did. 

Here it goes: perhaps General Secretary Xi Jinping should review the history of the Communist Party of China. If you denounce me, Deputy Mao Ning, I will double down: General Secretary Xi Jinping should review the CPC’s history twice. 

“Chairman of Everything” Xi should be reminded that the late Deng Xiaoping, whose strategy yielded the economic weight he’s now haughtily throwing around, promised that his nation would never seek to bully others. 

“If one day, China should change color and turn into a superpower,” Deng said, “if it should play the tyrant in the world, subject others to its bullying, aggression, and exploitation, the people of the world should identify it as social-imperialism, expose it, oppose it, overthrow it together (Special Session of the UN General Assembly, April 10, 1974). 

Ouch! So, repurposing Mao Zedong’s famed Cultural Revolution big character poster attack on the then-unloved “capitalist roader” Deng Xiaoping (Peking Review, No. 33, 11-3-1967), I hereby say, “Bombard the headquarters of the social imperialist Xi Jinping clique!” 

Gone is China’s “friendship first, competition second” ping-pong diplomacy of the Deng era, when it courted international sympathy and investments. Now, head swollen with superpower hubris, China has replaced goodwill with the combative “Wolf Warrior Diplomacy,” which paints every external criticism as a component of imperialist containment.  

Filipinos have been enduring Wolf Warrior aggression, bullying, deviousness, and gaslighting in the West Philippine Sea with China imposing its way or the highway; and things will get worse. Beijing is quick to take offense at perceived slights from other governments and is as quick on the trigger with abrasive pushbacks, including punitive trade reprisals. 

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It banned Australian wine, beef, and barley after that country’s prime minister called for an international probe of COVID’s source; ditto for Canadian canola oil and meats after the arrest in Vancouver of a Huawei heiress-executive on violation of an embargo against Iran; same for Norwegian salmon after the Nobel Prize was awarded to imprisoned human rights activist Liu Xiaobo; similar actions against other trading partners that have displeased Beijing for one reason or another.

Expect more of the same swagger because Xi has just ordered his foreign affairs officials to “create a diplomatic iron army that is loyal to the Party…dares to struggle…(and) observes strict discipline.” 

But, he also wants his envoys to “make deep friendships…fight to win people’s hearts…create a trustworthy, lovable, and respectable image of China.” Diplomatic-iron-lovable-army. There must be a growing market for oxymorons in Xi’s China. 

For Filipinos, that only spells more coercion and indignities in the West Philippine Sea, most likely involving Chinese Coast Guard water-cannon salvos at Filipino fishing boats and naval vessels, with “Have a nice day!” greetings blaring from loudspeakers. 

Despite Beijing’s imperiousness, however, the world’s second biggest economy is starting to look like a paper tiger. It’s stalling – with a disastrous real estate meltdown, deflation, sky-high debt, high youth joblessness, plunging birth rates, timid consumer spending, and stock market losses amounting to $7 trillion since 2021. 

Putting the brakes on Deng’s pragmatic legacy, the Xi regime has mismanaged the economy, rashly favoring the state sector at the expense of private enterprises, hence scaring off foreign investments, neglecting the social safety net, imposing extreme zero-COVID lockdowns, and relying on ideological propellant to coax economic mileage. 

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Combine material decline with toughening state restrictions on personal freedoms, and no wonder thousands of Chinese citizens are voting with their feet. Last year, US border authorities apprehended more than 31,000 Chinese citizens entering illegally from Mexico, up from 1,500 annual average over the last ten years.

Xi’s answer to domestic setbacks is to stir up more ideological zeal, including enacting a new Patriotic Education Law, disseminating “Xi Jinping Thought” throughout civil society, exhorting citizens to “seek hardship” and sacrifice in the “spirit of struggle,” and a Mao-style cult of personality idolizing “Grandpa Xi” or “Uncle Xi” as the generational case may be.

Just as Mao Zedong instigated the Cultural Revolution to cover up the disastrous failure of his Great Leap Forward, the neo-Maoist Xi is whipping up big power nationalism to mask what already may be shaping up as a Great Leap Backward. 

His call for more iron to stiffen the spine of his already pugnacious diplomatic army is vital to that scheme. Filipinos can only expect even more insulting hardball from Beijing over the West Philippine Sea. 

Have a nice day to you, too, Comrade Deputy Mao Ning. – Rappler.com

1 comment

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  1. ET

    So, in the end, CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping “should review the CPC’s history twice.” Just as “the neo-Maoist Xi is whipping up big power nationalism to mask what already may be shaping up as a Great Leap Backward,” our very own PBBM is subtly whipping up “Bagong Pilipinas” as a way of transforming our society back to his father’s “Bagong Lipunan.” Hence, both leaders need some books to read to help them fully realize their similar goals and actions.

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