The China Committee must emphasize political warfare to defeat the CCP
The House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party led by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) deserves great praise for describing the Sino-American rivalry as an existential threat. Given the size and scope of the threat, Gallagher has stated that the Committee will examine trade, national security, culture, and human rights issues. Importantly, it must devote the necessary time to analyze political warfare and, in particular, ideology as the main pillar of the Sino-American clash.
Ideology is particularly important to the Chinese regime, the United States, and for providing a U.S. victory in the current Cold War. This is for three reasons.
First, of all political parties the world has witnessed, the Chinese regime is at the forefront of understanding the role ideology plays in gaining and sustaining power, in grasping the relationship between ideology and material power, in legitimizing political power, and as a front in warfare: ideological warfare is to be waged against the enemy as surely as industry or the military are.
The unholy trinity of Marxism–Leninism–Maoism has long been enshrined as the official guiding ideology for the CCP, one of the largest and most powerful political parties in the world with about 96 million members. For the Communist Party, ideology is significant for six reasons. First, ideology provides the formal rationalization of the Chinese regime. It is a totalitarian party, ruling in the name of a worker–peasant alliance, which provides it with self-justified authority to rule over 1.4 billion people. Second, the ideology of the Chinese regime provides the Party’s justification for why the Chinese people are compelled to support the CCP—it mobilizes the masses, rules in their name—and so the Chinese people should sacrifice for it. Third, ideology explicates which states are allies and which are foes, and thus the ultimate reason for the struggle with other states: for the Chinese regime, communism is superior to democracy or other forms of government and must be defended against its inevitable class enemies at home and abroad. Thus, the Chinese regime’s ideology explains why it started the Cold War with the United States and its allies and why the regime seeks to defeat the United States. Fourth, ideology is the force that unifies and provides cohesion for the Party and like-minded people around the world. Fifth, ideology is also a weapon to be used to expand the influence of the Chinese regime as well as to challenge the legitimacy of liberal democracy and traditional imperial rule in the minds of the Chinese people, their allies, and worldwide. Sixth, Xi uses ideology as leverage to continue consolidating power within the Party and to ensure and legitimize his rule over the Chinese people.
Under Xi Jinping (2012-), ideology has returned to prominence and with a bite not seen since Mao. Xi clearly intends to stay in power until he dies, is incapacitated, or is overthrown, as Mao and Deng did. Xi has moved the pendulum from the leadership’s rules of the road of the last two decades to increasingly totalitarian rule by a great leader, using Mao’s experience as a model.
Second, for the United States, ideology is essential for how it defines and contrasts itself with the Chinese regime. The ideology of political liberalism has provided the principles of American governance, institutions, political culture, and inspired the American people and freedom-loving people around the world to create the best polity the world has known. Second, although the Chinese regime started the fight with the United States, liberalism explains why the United States must win it and defeat the Chinese regime. Liberalism is superior to communism. Hands down. Everyone, in the United States or in the world, should say so and never be reticent about so doing. It is better for the American people, the Chinese people, and the world. The world it created is unmatched for freedom and stability, and the world it wants to sustain is far superior to the Chinese regime’s vision. The 21st Century is already defined by the battle between the Chinese regime and the United States, and the century’s dispositive question is which will be victorious. That is a point well worth emphasizing by the Committee, the whole of the U.S. government, and the American people and society.
Third, when the Sino-American Cold War is seen through the lens of political warfare, the profound vulnerabilities of the Chinese regime are revealed. Xi has stated that ideology decides the party’s future and existence, as well as long-term stability of the country and national cohesiveness. Thus, he has challenged the Party to be indefatigable and steadfast in its ideological focus. Upon coming to power, Xi immediately tightened his grip on the Party’s ideology, which is a major pillar supporting his leadership. Providentially, that pillar is rotten. The Chinese regime has imposed a failed ideology, Marxism-Leninism, on the Chinese people for almost three-quarters of a century. The artificial nature of the ideology could only have been imposed by force, and sustained by brutal, dehumanizing coercive measures. The Chinese regime knows its ideology is illegitimate and perforces its rule. It is past time for U.S. decisionmakers to refuse to accept this illegitimate regime and reject its abuse of the Chinese people.
The responsibilities of the Committee are herculean, but providing the necessary emphasis on political warfare will contribute mightily to the CCP’s defeat and provide avenues short of kinetic war for victory over the Chinese regime.
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