Friday, October 20, 2017

Enter the dragon: With the coronation of Xi at China’s 19th Party Congress, a Leviathan is born Times of India. PSALM 74: It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert.


Psalm 74: It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert.

Isaiah 27:1, he is called the "tortuous serpent" who will be killed at the end of time.[7]

Enter the dragon: With the coronation of Xi at China’s 19th Party Congress, a Leviathan is born

Times of India
October 21, 2017, 2:00 AM IST  in TOI Edit Page |  Edit PageIndia  | TOI
In the run-up to China’s 19th Party Congress, media was full of speculation that Secretary General Xi Jinping will emerge even stronger and perpetuate himself in power.  Such analyses miss the bigger picture. Whatever the outcome in terms of Xi’s personal power, the real winner will be the system of state control that he has helped cement: an all-knowing all-seeing Leviathan, a digitally empowered nuclear super state that supervises the lives of 1.3 billion people, influences the lives of its neighbours, and even tries to dictate how distant powers should conduct their affairs.  Whatever the Congress may consider about personnel changes, it will not alter, much less soften, the nature of the Chinese state.
The Congress follows massive changes that Xi has already brought about in China.  For the first time since the Cultural Revolution, the Party’s Central Committee will see a turnover of 70%. Of those, some 10% of Central Committee members have been purged on corruption charges. Already as many as one million party members and officials have been purged for corruption or for being considered as political opponents of Xi. The secretary general (who is concurrently commander in chief of the armed forces) has introduced reforms to make the PLA a better fighting force, equipped with increasingly more powerful weapons systems. Xi has taken over control of all levers of policymaking power by setting up “leading groups” under his chairmanship.
Under Xi’s assertive leadership, China’s military has expanded its global reach – exercising near US shores and setting up its first military base in East Africa. Thanks to breakneck construction, the South China Sea has been turned into a virtual Chinese lake dotted with air and naval installations. Southeast Asian neighbors like Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar have moved closer to tributary relations with Beijing. China’s multi-continent infrastructure project “One Belt, One Road” has drawn a record number of countries as has its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Armed with its bulging foreign reserves and a growing list of international friends and supporters, China has pushed to extend its control over influential international organisations – from Interpol to Internet governance. China has interfered with increasing brazenness in other countries’ internal affairs, drawing red lines to ensure their internal policies conform to Chinese interests. The rise of China to unprecedented global power and influence, though, has not resulted in greater freedom or openness for its citizens.
In fact, under Xi China has emerged as one of the most repressive states with unprecedented control over lives of its citizens. Astonishingly, Chinese leaders are so proud of owning the world’s largest surveillance network that the party has even produced a six-part television documentary titled ‘Amazing China’ to crow about it. Equipped with 20 million (and growing) surveillance cameras and facial recognition technology, the eyes and ears of the state are reportedly set to cover 95% of public area by 2020.
Having snuffed out all dissidence, jailed journalists, activists and most human rights lawyers Beijing has thumbed its nose at international criticism by letting its Nobel Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo die in prison. The fact that half of the Chinese population – some 730 million people – are online has handed the government a powerful tool of control. China is experimenting with digital control of its citizens by developing a system of “social credit” based on behaviours tracked, monitored and recorded from their online conduct. Critical attitudes towards the government might result in users being blocked from travelling abroad, or even prevented from buying a train ticket. Once rolled out in full, the system could surpass even the wildest dreams of Orwell’s Big Brother.
All this insecurity is puzzling. What is the leader of a prosperous and powerful China so afraid of?  Maybe Xi knows something about the brittleness of the mighty system that outsiders do not.  Meanwhile the world had better get ready to deal with a mighty  dragon.

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