In Brief

The true face of the Chinese Communist Party: a totalitarian regime bent on global domination?

Don’t try to ‘bully’ China, or you’ll get a bloody nose, warned Xi Jinping on the centenary of the CCP’s founding

Don’t try to “bully” China, or you’ll get a bloody nose. That was the Chinese president Xi Jinping’s warning to the world on the centenary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), said William Yang in The Independent. Xi told a flag-waving crowd that anyone who tries to “oppress” China will “have their heads bashed bloody against a Great Wall of steel”.

The celebrations included a “dazzling” re-enactment of the CCP’s “early struggles” and its “recent achievements”. They glossed over the grim era between 1950 and 1970, when Chairman Mao Zedong’s policies killed millions and pushed China into “extreme poverty”.

Yet Xi seems increasingly to be a leader in Mao’s mould: in office since 2012, he has abolished the two-term limit on the presidency and tightened ideological control, using technology to monitor citizens. A government unit pushes a party-approved version of history, with contrary views demonised as “historical nihilism”. State media fosters a Mao-style personality cult around “Xi Dada” or “big daddy”, said Ian Williams in The Spectator. His approach, though, owes more to “strident ethnic nationalism” than communism.

Under Xi, China adopts two rather different tones abroad, said Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph. Claiming to pursue “dialogue” and harmony, it has infiltrated “hundreds of Western universities, businesses and other institutions”. The tone changes abruptly, though, if anyone raises questions about its theft of intellectual property; its treaty-breaking assault on the liberties of Hong Kong; or its “Belt and Road Initiative” – a “massive imperial project” giving it control of transport routes and natural resources around the world. Then, with angry threats and boycotts, the CCP’s true face is revealed: of a totalitarian regime bent on global domination.

Participants rehearse in Tiananmen Square before a parade marking the CCP’s 100th anniversary

Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

The West has misread the CCP for 50 years, said Matthew Syed in The Sunday Times. Ever since Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon first engaged with it, the “fantasy” was that if we traded with communist China and gave it a seat on the UN Security Council, it would “absorb our values”. It didn’t, as its rising militarism and “genocide” against the Muslim Uighur minority show.

China now feels strong enough to challenge the US economically, “and maybe even prevail”, said The Times. “But Party control will always be a brake.” A society without freedom of speech “cannot count on innovation”. A nation without internal criticism cannot correct mistakes or fight corruption. “China may be hailing the Party as the institution that has made it great.” But the CCP faces an uncertain future.

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