Uncertainty has a tendency of discouraging investment and driving away business. Where government failing to properly address national interests creates untold and long-term uncertainly, erratic governance is the greatest and most apparent source of uncertainty. Through China’s renewed effort to protect what it calls “national security interests,” which essentially means the West, its neighbors, and its own People, Beijing reveals it is scared and the irrational nature of this fear is certain to cause uncertainty and even greater security threats.
The passage of an ambiguous and sweeping national security law days before America’s 229th Birthday outlaws threats to China’s government, sovereignty, cyber interests, space interests, economy, national unity, and society. By framing national unity and characteristics of the Chinese society as national security concerns, the Chinese power elite have both declared war on individuality and undermined the legitimacy of its legal system in a counterproductive attempt to legitimize its own power.
In other words, the political leadership has transferred much of its power to the national security apparatus by giving these officials a free pass to do as they please in order to crackdown on political dissent. Quite frankly, all stable and strong governments rely on well-defined legal rights and consistent enforcement of laws. Self-serving government fail because they do not. They only serve the interests of the elites while provoking civil unrest and coups d'état. By empowering national security officials with such a broad mandate, Beijing seeks to secure itself from the population, yet motivates people to rebel against the Communist Party.
Not only does the new law move China far away from the more open society the Communist Party promised in the run up to the 2008 Olympics, it seeks to leverage China’s growing power to impose the leadership’s will onto a democratizing, Westernizing, and globalization population. In short, the Chinese leadership wants to isolate the Chinese People from the outside world and scare away the outside world, because it cannot control the world. What this recent example suggests is the Communist leadership feels increasingly insecure, which means it is increasingly compelled to consolidate and solidify its power.
Although explained by events, such as territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and the Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution, among others, this policy course is very different from what was expected when the current leadership came to power in 2013. Raised as privileged capitalists, the priority of these elites should not be on national security. On the other hand, their background explains why they are focusing on nontraditional national security interests. It can also be argued that the Chinese leadership runs the country more like a corporation than a nation. Consequently, they can only be expected to respond to issues that threatened their elite status in the same manner a corporation would.
The pursuit of a business plan can leave management hypersensitive to issues that might derail their business objectives. The pressure to perform can also push leaders to address any “roadblocks” in an aggressive and domineering manner without regard to the harm their actions cause. In the case of China Corp, the need to secure the natural resources it requires to support the Chinese population, its economic infrastructure, and its military buildup appears to be the focus of the Communist Party’s business plan. Clearly, growing civil unrest undermines their efforts and powerful while external disputes over territory and natural resources only impedes their progress.
Faced with an increasingly assertive population, i.e. civil discontent in the eyes of the government, pushback from neighboring countries against Chinese aggression, and Western allies resisting the rise of China as a global power, simply issuing orders in the form of laws is only going to lead to backlash, i.e. the government cannot simply boss the world around. In June, the Chinese leadership announced it was recalling retired national security analysts to prepare for various contingencies. Unfortunately, the current Chinese political leadership is too inexperienced when it comes to dealing with political threats and conflicts with foreign powers. Consequently, these businessmen are forced to consult national security experts and yield to their expertise.
What makes the corporate politics of these elites under the influence of the military mindset particularly potent, and troublesome, is the lack of consideration when it comes to the human factor. Where the capitalist elites focus too heavily on economic interests, the national security officials tend narrowly focus on security at the expense of diplomacy, civil liberties, and healthy economic freedom. Truth be told, all politicians have a tendency to see their constituents as poll numbers and statistics to be used in their pursuit of their goals, i.e. power, but corporate capitalists see people as obstacles to their goals. National security mindset, in turn, tends to place what they believe is the “country’s security” above the interests of individuals.
Although weak turnout at protests over the anniversary of Hong Kong’s transfer from Britain back to China may help ease concerns among the elites, efforts to focus on “national security” suggest China will grow increasing aggressive as it pursues a more defensive posture against the world. The kind of politics being embraced by the China leadership is that of a dictatorship, which places a higher priority on its own power, wealth, and influence over the interests of its People. Instead of seeking compromise and resolving grievances against them, the Communist elites will seek to suppress internal and external dissent. If they can disarm criticism with rhetoric, they will. If not, they will engage in cost-benefit analyses. If those analyses reveal aggression is the best scenario, they will be an increasing threat to their own People and the world.
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