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In yesterday’s video message addressed to the UN General Assembly, China’s President Xi Jinping reminded us that democracy is a value shared around the globe. It is a classic example of how autocratic systems continually try to claim central concepts of the definition of liberal states for themselves. Their intent is to confuse us by blurring the lines of our perception.
Perhaps that is also why the German Left Party has a divided relationship with the People’s Republic of China. Some older members of its parliamentary group rejoice over the steep rise of a country that was once considered socialist at some point. Others, on the other hand, cannot stand the state-capitalist dictatorship. Under these conditions, the parliamentary group finds it difficult to formulate a common position, as its former foreign policy spokesman Stefan Liebich admits in an interview with Felix Lee.
We, as democratic states, are rightfully proud of our public diversity of opinion. Unfortunately, however, in our political dealings with the People’s Republic it poses a serious dilemma. Because one of the strengths of the Chinese regime is to use dissent in other nations to its advantage. Wherever the other side disagrees, the Chinese Communist Party pokes into these gaps to shape the perception of its own actions and the terms of cooperation. As long as two sides are at odds, the Chinese are happy. The EU can tell you a thing or two about it – or more.
Perhaps some leftists will change their negative attitude towards the People’s Republic again. After all, the second-largest economy is now trying to curb rents, as our Beijing authors report. And the leftists in Berlin, for their part, can tell a thing or two about it. Well, cry about.
Have a pleasant day
“Merkel’s course was not the worst”
Mr. Liebich, as Deputy Chairman of the German-Chinese Parliamentary Group, you have visited China on several occasions and were impressed by developments there. Did you expect China’s leadership to once again crackdown on civil liberties as rigorously as in Mao’s time?
Like many others, I was fascinated by the speed of economic development and the growing prosperity. I also thought it was to be expected that such a development would go hand in hand with a more self-confident role on the international stage. What I did not expect, however, was how much the authoritarian tendencies would intensify internally. I consider the lifting of the term limits of the head of state Xi Jinping to be an ominous development. After all, there were good reasons for introducing term limits after the experience with Mao.
China is more capitalist than Germany. Officially, the People’s Republic is still ruled by a party that calls itself communist. What is your view on the country?
In my opinion, state capitalism is a more fitting description of China’s system. In China, we see capitalism from its bad side, and at the same time, bourgeois democracy is missing – in other words, the worst of both worlds. Nevertheless, there are also communists in China in the positive sense, i.e. people who stand up for poverty reduction and justice. But I would not call the CCP in China communist. To me, it seems to be just a kind of brand.