Author: Davide Turrini (Il Fatto Quotidiano)
Time of Publication: 24 March 2021
Translator: Dandan ; Proofreader/Editor: Ana
In ‘The Hidden Hand – How the Chinese Communist Party is reshaping the world’ (Fazi Editor), Australian journalists Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg describe how Beijing points to the “sabotage” of Western democratic systems. An interpenetration that acts in parallel on several levels: diplomatic and political, but above all economic, financial, cultural and even academic.
“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is determined to reshape the world in its image and similarity. The CCP is not interested in democracy. It has only one goal: to win what it considers a ferocious ideological war against the West”. The book of ‘The Hidden Hand – How the Chinese Communist Party is reshaping the world’ is written by Australian journalists Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg, it will make a lot of discussion. A very rich and profound historical-cultural sounding of the greatest geopolitical contradiction of the new world order: the forced identification of an entire people in a single party in power without any contradictions since 1949, and the consequent attempt to impose itself on this party or state with its monumental economic power as a new hegemonic political paradigm around the world.
A strategy planned and assembled for decades that has blown up the most trendy prophecies of a Huntington or a Fukuyama. Yes, because according to Hamilton and Ohlberg, it is a real “sabotage” for the Western democratic systems. An interpenetration that acts in parallel on several levels: diplomatic and political, but above all economic, financial, cultural and even academic. An all-encompassing strategy, orchestrated to the millimeter, cleansed and censored of any possible protest or ideological alternative, or rather the unquestionable strategy of the single party. There is almost no information about it, and when it is played on generalist TV or big newspapers, the big “misunderstanding” of the knowledge that is at the basis of any erroneous information coming from the CCP is taken for granted: “confusing the CCP with the nation and the Chinese people”.
“The distinction between the CCP and Chinese people is essential to understand the ongoing conflict between the CCP and the West – the authors explained – it is not a clash of civilizations, we are not facing one of the Confucian types but an authoritarian regime, a party Leninist-oriented politician with a central committee, political office and general secretariat supported by enormous economic, technological and military resources”.
Hamilton and Ohlberg immediately show what it means to be the second largest economy in the world and to wave possible financial retaliation. Moreover, to three industrially most advanced countries in the world. After the arrest of the Huawei executive, Meng Wan-Zhou in Canada in 2018, exports of soy, canola and pork from overseas were blocked by the CCP. Again: in 2017 South Korea begins to install a US anti-ballistic missile system and Beijing (the CCP) immediately orders “43 retaliatory measures” against Seoul including the travel ban to Korea, the blocking of imports of household appliances and cosmetics, even censorship about a Korean pop band touring China.
Although the most sensational retaliation concerns the United States. In 2019, the general manager of the Houston Rockets basketball team tweeted his support for Hong Kong protesters. What is China doing? It no longer shows the Rockets games on TV. The sponsors withdraw and the manager is forced to take back every tweet because he “had hurt the feelings of the Chinese people”. At the heart of this imposing and timeless state machine there is (only) the Chinese Communist Party which, due to a Western “political illiteracy”, cannot be sufficiently recognized for its enlargement to every area of Chinese society.
“To understand how much the CCP dominates the other institutions, just think of the fact that the People’s Liberation Army (in China) is not the army of the country, but the armed arm of the party; state-owned company executives are appointed by the Party Organizational Department; the media are not owned by the state, but by the CCP ”. The authors do not skimp on examples of Chinese co-optation towards the industrialized western states (on the countries of the South of the world, they say, another volume would be needed) including the arrembante conquest, real sharp power, of the countries of Europe starting from Italy, the first and only of the three most economically advanced nations in Europe (with France and Germany) to have signed in May 2019 twenty-nine distinct agreements called Antica Via della Seta (international acronym: BRI) initiated by the finance professor Michele Geraci, a figure loved by Matteo Salvini, then deputy premier in the I Conte government.
In ‘The Hidden Hand’, the persuasive and blackmailing power of the CCP towards the world is declined in various active forms including the classic espionage that unfolds both on the military and the industrial front, but above all, on this Hamilton and Ohlberg break down one of the many Western taboos often dismissed as anti-Chinese racism, it is the international university system that is a quantity of resources and attention is poured that has no equal on the planet. Chapter twelve illustrates what apparently is defined as a soft power, but which in the case of the omnipresence of Confucius Institutes in universities around the world results in real lobbying and political pressure carried out behind the scenes where economic blackmail the withdrawal of masses of students (and related university fees, as well as substantial funding) intersects with the censorship of classic issues uncomfortable to the CCP such as cultural events concerning the history of Taiwan or the attendance in the universities of the Dalai Lama. Hamilton and Ohberg conclude their massive investigation with a sort of “what to do”, calling the political and business elites, but especially the academic ones, to maximum civil responsibility, and finally, recalling that the defense against “intimidation and interference by the CCP goes beyond the traditional political camps: “people on the right and on the left who have opened their eyes to the threat posed by the CCP, including those who have left China to escape it, are joining forces ”.