Interview

by Malcolm Riddell

'Regime change in China is not only possible, it is imperative.'

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

Malcolm Riddell
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Founder of CHINADebate

&

China Coup: The Great Leap to Freedom

by
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Roger Garside
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former British diplomat in Beijing, development banker, & capital
&
May 15, 2021
'Regime change in China is not only possible, it is imperative.'
'Regime change in China is not only possible, it is imperative.'
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BIG IDEA | ‘We must make regime change in China the highest goal of our strategy towards that country.’
‘The US and its allies cannot dictate to China the political system by which it is governed. But they can and must engineer conditions which embolden and enable those in China who also want regime change to achieve it.’

I just finished reading China Coup by Roger Garside.

  • Its premise is a coup that replaces Xi Jinping as China’s leader and introduces democracy, transparency, and human rights.
  • Unlikely? Sure. But by posing a provocative ‘what if,’ Mr. Garside expands the terms of our debate on China.

In the same way the ‘Longer Telegram’ suggested that the U.S. and its allies should encourage the replacement of General Secretary Xi, Mr. Garside, in the remarks below, calls for encouraging a complete regime change.

  • His assumption is that the change will be liberal, but looking at modern Chinese history such a change could also engender, for example, a breakup of China ala the Warlord Period.

Regardless, it difficult to argue that whenever Chinese elites aspire to the country’s becoming, in Robert Zeollick’s words, a ‘responsible stakeholder,’ we should support them.

‘For over 30 years, as China’s Communist Party pursued a strategy of transition to a market economy, with spectacular results, it was reasonable to suppose that in China, as in many countries, economic liberalization and the growth of property ownership would bring political change.’

  • ‘But the regime stopped the transition to the free market half-way for political reasons’.

‘The result was partial economic liberalization without any political reform.’

  • ‘This was done precisely because the party feared that further economic liberalization would bring political change, by undermining its political monopoly.’

‘Economic change without political change has created deep-seated problems—'

  • ‘A sclerotic public sector, a vulnerable financial system, all-pervasive corruption, social inequality, a deep moral crisis, intellectual and cultural stagnation, and distrust between rulers and ruled and between China and the world.’

‘The damaging consequences of the lack of political reform are increasingly evident in China’s international relations.’

  • ‘Under Mr. Xi, the regime has pursued strategies, such as massive cybertheft of industrial property, disregard for international law and the flouting of its international treaty commitments that have caused a sea-change in attitudes toward it.’
  • ‘The most damaging example of this for the Chinese Communists is the way they have turned the world’s strongest country, the U.S., from benign partner into suspicious opponent.’

‘Therefore, we must make regime change in China the highest goal of our strategy towards that country.’

  • ‘That is not a goal that governments can openly declare, but it is one they must actively pursue.’

‘The US and its allies cannot dictate to China the political system by which it is governed.’

  • ‘But they can and must engineer conditions which embolden and enable those in China who also want regime change to achieve it.’

‘Many readers will recoil in disbelief at the aim of regime change.’

  • ‘What right have we to dictate to China how it should be governed?’

‘Such a reaction is based on a misunderstanding.’

  • ‘Our goal should not be to dictate to China how it is governed, but to embolden and enable those Chinese who want change to achieve it.’

‘In Party and government documents, and social media, there is strong evidence that many members of the educated and powerful elite understand these problems and recognise that they cannot be resolved without a change of political system, and that paradoxically their best hope of defending their own wealth and power, and those of the nation, lies in that systemic change.’

  • ‘For example, in 2011-12, Li Keqiang, then Vice-Premier, now Premier, played a decisive role in the biggest-ever collaborative project between the Chinese government and the World Bank.’
  • ‘This resulted in China 2030, a wide-ranging, far-reaching report that indicated, in suitably veiled language, that the regime would have to embrace pluralism and relax its suffocating grip on society if China was to avoid the “middle-income trap” that had ensnared Latin America and North Africa.’

‘The stakes in this contest go even beyond the defence of our values, our political systems and the rules-based order which we have built for the world since 1945.’

  • ‘We cannot risk allowing the powerful technologies of the future to be wielded by a totalitarian regime which has no higher aim, internally, than prolonging its monopoly of power and, externally, than driving for global dominance.’

‘In January 2013, Xi Jinping defined his Party’s goal as “a future where we will win the initiative and have the dominant position”.’

  • ‘He was serious. So must we be.’
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