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Cai Xia – Ideologist and Defector

It is certainly not a congratulatory letter that Cai Xia has formulated for the 100th birthday of the Chinese Communist Party. On the contrary, the retired lecturer at the Central Party University in Beijing has recently switched sides, spatially and ideologically, and is lashing out against the leadership of the People’s Republic of China in a 28-page paper for the Hoover Institute, a conservative US think tank at Stanford University.

Cai explicitly warns the Americans, and thus also their allies in Europe, against “wishful thinking” that today’s China is to be integrated into the global community in an obligatory manner. Four decades of diplomatic bridge-building have “merely entrenched a Chinese leadership that is inherently hostile to the US”. Under President Xi Jinping, China no longer sees integration as meaningful,” Cai writes in the paper, titled “Insider’s Perspective,” which was first quoted by The Wall Street Journal.

“Wishful thinking about incorporating (China) must be replaced by clear defenses to protect the United States from CCP aggression,” writes the jurist, who recommends greater pressure on China “because the Chinese Communist Party is much more fragile than the U.S. assumes.” The CP would certainly fear US power. The Party maintains a powerful appearance to the outside world but is ruptured by contradictions and self-doubt. “The CCP has the ambition of a hungry dragon, but within it hides paper tiger,” Cai writes.

False hope in Xi Jinping as a reformer

Her statements are of special significance because Cai herself trained the country’s best cadres at the party school for 15 years before retiring in 2012. Cai graduated from the institution in 1988 with a law degree. The party school is also known as the brain of the CP. For Cai Xia, the fact that she is now emerging as a dissident is the temporary end of a development she has taken during Xi Jinping’s tenure so far. As a member of the 2nd Red Generation of those sons and daughters of the country’s revolutionaries, she was regarded throughout her professional life as a committed and convinced ideologist in the spirit of the party.

But the increasingly totalitarian traits China has taken on, as well as its growing aggression as an economic power has made Cai lose faith that her homeland remains on the right track. In early 2020, she traveled to the U.S. and never returned. Partly because Covid made it difficult for her to return to China, and partly because she began to publicly express her criticism of the party and Xi. In June 2020, she referred to Xi Jinping as a mafia boss. A short time later, Cai was expelled from the party.

She had high hopes for Xi. In an article published in the political magazine Foreign Affairs a few months ago, she wrote: “When Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, I was full of hope for China.” She said she had enough historical understanding “to conclude that it was time for China to open up its political system.” The country was in dire need of reform after a decade of stagnation. And she believed Xi to be the right man for the job. But she was wrong, as she says today. grz

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