My conclusions from a recent visit to the People’s Republic of China will probably be a big surprise to the average American. Based on first-hand observations, I predict that China is about to experience a major political upheaval as the demand for reforms that is taking place in Hong Kong spreads to the mainland.
The Chinese are experiencing material wealth and personal freedom that exceeds anything they have ever known. As I crossed over from Hong Kong to the city of Shenzhen, I expected to see hordes of peasants dressed in gray uniforms watched over by armed police with tanks and machine guns. Instead, I found throngs of happy consumers behaving much the same as their American counterparts. They love spending time with their families, they have a penchant for shopping, and enjoy eating out with friends. The government may be our economic and military enemy, but the people are not. The Chinese appear to have a favorable attitude toward Americans. They want to be more like us.
Even in a smaller city like Guilin, the atmosphere was pleasing to the eye. I never sensed a hint of police surveillance anywhere. Civilian mobility has improved dramatically with impressive air, rail, and bus transportation. Shanghai, the most populous city on the globe, compares favorably in many ways to New York. Nanjing Road, Shanghai’s answer to Fifth Avenue, boasts miles of exclusive shopping. Well-dressed people are happily spending money in the high-end stores and restaurants. Mercedes and Lexus cars seem to predominate. The Porsche showroom opposite People’s Square is the finest I have seen. (I was so impressed, I bought one when I returned home.)
Despite what I saw, China’s economy has hit the brakes. The world’s second-largest economy is expanding at its slowest pace since the early 1990s. “With no resolution in sight for the U.S.-China trade war,” says Bloomberg News, “things will probably get worse before they get better.” President Xi Jinping’s hardball policies don’t seem to be paying off. “Ordinary Chinese are suffering and trade tariffs are hitting China harder than reciprocal measures are hurting US businesses,” says cnn.com. “Rising food prices and potential shortages will soon have people asking why the government isn’t doing more to alleviate their misery.”
My guess is that Xi, compared by political pundit Mark Levin to tyrants like Mao and Stalin, is overreacting to improved conditions for the average Chinese by imposing tighter controls on personal freedom. The Chinese are now required to study Xi’s thoughts and speeches—a good indication that Xi aspires to become the new Mao. Too late, Mr. Xi. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is impossible to force him back in. The residents of Hong Kong are standing up for their rights and privileges. A billion and a half of their mainland cousins are paying close attention. They like owning cars and refrigerators. Don’t expect them to relinquish their freedoms without a fight.
We saw what happened to the repressive regimes in Russia, Poland, and the Czech Republic as their respective populations reached the boiling point. The same reaction is inevitable in the People’s Republic of China, especially as the economic slowdown makes the government more unpopular. Chinese political analyst Minxin Pei has argued that at 70 years, China may be nearing the “longevity frontier for one-party regimes.” Pei emphasized that no one-party regime has held power beyond 74 years. In five years, I hope to be able to point to this article when I say, “Told you so.”
I have one more prediction to make about China. As much of Europe and other parts of the world come under Muslim influence, I anticipate a collaboration by the US, China, and Japan against the expansion of Islam.
The American-European alliance that has endured since World War II is breaking down as countries like Germany under Angela Merkel import significant numbers of Muslim “refugees” who will, sooner rather than later, demand political and social control. China and Japan, historically opposed to foreign interference, are potential allies against Islamic political jihad. The Chinese government fears that “adherence to the Muslim faith could turn into religious extremism and open defiance of its rule,” says the New York Times. Across China, the party’s new restrictions on Islamic customs and practices seem to have broad public support, according to the Times.
Hopefully the US will wake up to the threat posed by a totalitarian political ideology that advocates murder, intolerance, and misogyny. The triumvirate of America, China, and Japan would stand as a bulwark against Islamic repression. In turn, this collaboration would further cooperation between the world’s two mega-powers—especially if I am right about China’s political future.
Ed Brodow is a political commentator, negotiation expert, and author of seven books including his latest, Tyranny of the Minority: How the Left is Destroying America. His articles appear regularly in Newsmax, Daily Caller, American Thinker, Townhall, LifeZette, Media Equalizer, and other online news magazines.