Written by Vladimir Moss



     Mao died in 1976. “There was one problem with Mao as a living god,” writes Frank Dikötter: “he died. When that happened, in 1976, the country went into shock. Some people were thrilled – finally, the tyrant was gone – but many were crushed. Tears flowed, and the country ground to a halt. With traditional religion decimated and Mao dead, people were unsure how to channel their hopes and fears.


     “Even before he died, large parts of the countryside had already abandoned the planned economy. It was to be one of the most enduring legacies of a decade of chaos and entrenched fear. No communist party would have tolerated organised confrontation, but cadres in the countryside were defenceless against a myriad of daily acts of quiet defiance and endless subterfuge, as people tried to sap the economic dominance of the state and replace it with their own initiative and ingenuity.


     “Deng Xiaoping, assuming the reins of power a few years after the death of Mao, briefly tried to resurrect the planned economy. In April 1979 he even demanded that the villagers who had left the collectives rejoin the people’s communes. But soon he realised that he had little choice but to go with the flow. By 1980, tens of thousands of local decisions had placed 40 percent of Anhui production teams, 50 percent of Guizhou teams and 60 percent of Gansu teams under household contracts. The people’s communes, backbone of the collectivised economy, were dissolved in 1982.


     “Not only did the vast majority of people in the countryside push for greater economic opportunities, but they also escaped from the ideological shackles imposed by decades of Maoism. Endless campaigns of thought reform during the Mao era produced widespread scepticism even among party members themselves. The very ideology of the party was gone and its legitimacy lay in tatters. But political freedoms were not to follow. The leaders now lived in fear of their own people, terrified of allowing them to speak again, determined to suppress their political aspirations…”[1]


     In December 1978, at the Third Plenum of the 11th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, the decision was taken, at Deng’s instigation, to orientate China’s economy towards the market. “Getting rich is glorious!” Deng is reported to have said… 


     “Mao’s Great Leap Forward by means of state-led industrialization had been a Great Leap Backward that had as many as thirty million lives. Deng’s strategy for a real leap forward was to break up communal control of agriculture and encourage the development of Township and Village Enterprises. Within a few years such rural businesses accounted for nearly a third of total industrial production. The other vital ingredient was a Chinese diaspora that had continued to operate within the capitalist system even as the mainland languished under Mao’s tyranny. From Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur, from Singapore to San Francisco, an experienced and wealthy capitalist elite was ready to be wooed…”[2]


     So was America. In 1979 Deng was invited to Washington, ensuring that “as China industrialized, its exports would have access to the vast American market. It also ensured that, when Deng created free-trading Special Economic Zones along the Chinese coast, American firms would be first in line to invest directly there, bringing with them vital technological know-how. For their part, American companies saw Chinese liberalization as a perfect opportunity to ‘out-source’ production of goods for American consumers.” 


     Deng’s visit to America was successful. In 1980, China was granted “most favoured status”, an enormous concession. Thus was laid the foundation of the vast growth in Chinese exports to the US and the West, and the extraordinary “Chimerican” trade relationship, in which the two countries became economically dependent on each other.[3]

     According to Antony Sutton, some in the American secret establishment (specifically, the Skull and Bones Society, of which President George W. Bush was an enthusiastic member) hoped to build up China in this way against the Soviet Union. “By about the year 2000 Communist China will be a ‘superpower’ built by American technology and skill. It is presumably the intention of the Order to place this power in a conflict mode with the Soviet Union…”[4]

     However, whatever hopes may have been entertained in this regard, they were crushed in 2000, when Putin came to power in Russia and immediately signed a comprehensive alliance with the Chinese known as “the Beijing Declaration”…


     From 1981 to 1986 China’s GNP grew at the astonishing annual rate of about 10%.[5] It did not need a prophet to foresee that at this rate, provided no wars or revolutions took place, China was destined to become in the not-so-distant future, not merely a superpower, but the world’s hegemon in the place of the existing superpowers…


     There was also some liberalization in the religious and cultural spheres. “In 1982, as part of a more general accounting of the destruction wrought by the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese Communist Party issued a 20-page paper entitled ‘The Basic Viewpoint and Policy on the Religious Question During Our Country’s Socialist Period’. Better known as Document 19, it featured an astoundingly candid analysis of China’s religious crisis – and provided the legal basis for the religious revival now under way. The document stated that for 19 of Mao’s 27 years in power, ‘leftist errors’ took hold – a surprising admission of how badly the party had fumbled religious policy during its first three decades in power. It conceded that Maoist radicals had ‘forbade [sic] normal religious activities’, ‘fabricated a host of wrongs and injustices against religion that forced religious movements underground’. The document went on to described religion in sympathetic language, arguing forcefully that it would disappear – but only very gradually. In the meantime, the party’s policy would be ‘respect for and protection of the freedom of religious belief’. Places of worship could reopen, and a new generation of clergy could receive training.”[6]


     Deng also faced the major problem of an impending population explosion. In Moscow in 1957 Mao had declared that he was not afraid of nuclear war because China had such a large population that the loss of several hundred millions in a war would be quite tolerable. “I’m not afraid of nuclear war,” he said. “There are 2.7 billion people in the world; it doesn’t matter if some are killed. China has a population of 600 million; even if half of them are killed, there are still 300 million people left. I’m not afraid of anyone.” 


     However, “by 1976,” as Isobel Hilton writes, Mao was dead and China’s population had leapt from just over 500 million in 1949 to 970 million. In 1979, concerned that population expansion might outpace economic development, the Party swung rapidly in the other direction, introducing a coercive ‘one child’ policy,”[7] - a policy that was terminated only in 2015. The leaders called it a population war: in fact, it was a war against the Chinese people, costing hundreds of millions of lives by abandonment and abortion… It was a long time since St. John Maximovich, Russian Bishop of Shanghai, would collect abandoned babies from the slums and put them in his own orphanage… Such a drastic solution to the problem was bound to create another, no less serious one in later years: a drastic imbalance in the proportion of males to females.


     Another problem concerned the political effects of Friedmanism. As Klein writes, the government “was obsessed with avoiding a repeat of what had just happened in Poland, where workers had been allowed to form an independent movement that challenged the party’s monopoly hold on power. It was not that China’s leaders were committed to protecting the state-owned factories and farm communes that formed the foundation of the Communist state. In fact, Deng was enthusiastically committed to a corporate-based economy – so committed that, in 1980, his government invited Milton Friedman to come to China and tutor hundreds of top-level civil servants, professors and party economists in the fundamentals of free-market theory. ‘All were invited guests, who had to show a ticket of invitation to attend,’ Friedman recalled of his audiences in Beijing and Shanghai. His central message was ‘how much better ordinary people lived in capitalist than in communist countries’. The example he held up was Hong Kong, a zeon of pure capitalism that Friedman had long admired for its ‘dynamic, innovative character that has been produced by personal liberty, free trade, low taxes, and minimal government intervention.’ He claimed that Hong Kong, despite having no democracy, was freer than the United States, since its government participated less in the economy.


     “Friedman’s definition of freedom, in which political freedoms were incidental, even unnecessary, compared with the freedom of unrestricted commerce, conformed nicely with the vision taking shape in the Chinese Politburo. The party wanted to open the economy to private ownership and consumerism while maintaining its own grip on power – a plan that ensured that once the assets of the state were auctioned off, party officials and their relatives would snap up the best deals and be first in line for the biggest profits. According to this version of ‘transition’, the same people who controlled the state under Communism would control it under capitalism, while enjoying a substantial upgrade in lifestyle. The model the Chinese government intended to emulate was not the United States but something much closer to Chile under Pinochet: free markets combined with authoritarian political control, enforced by iron-fisted repression.


     “From the start Deng clearly understood that repression would be crucial. Under Mao, the Chinese state had exerted brutal control over the people, dispensing with opponents and sending dissidents for re-education. But Mao’s repression took place in the name of the workers and against the bourgeoisie; now the party was going to launch its own counterrevolution and ask workers to give up many of their benefits and security so that a minority could collect huge profits. It was not going to be an easy task. So, in 1983, as Deng opened up the country to foreign investment and reduced protections for workers, he also ordered the creation of the 400,000-strong People’s Armed Police, a new, roving riot squad charged with quashing all signs of ‘economic crimes’ (i.e., strikes and protests). According to the China historian Maurice Meisner, ‘The People’s Armed Police kept American helicopters and electric cattle prods in its arsenal.’ And ‘several units were sent to Poland for anti-riot training’ – where they studied the tactics that had been used against Solidarity during Poland’s period of martial law.


     “Many of Deng’s reforms were successful and popular – farmers had more control over their lives[8], and commerce returned to the cities. But in the late eighties, Deng began introducing measures that were distinctly unpopular, particularly among workers in the cities – price controls were lifted, sending prices soaring; job security was eliminated, creating waves of unemployment; and deep inequalities were opening up between the winners and losers in the new China. By 1988, the party was confronting a powerful backlash and was forced to reverse some of its price deregulation. Outrage was also mounting in the face of the party’s defiant corruption and nepotism. Many Chinese citizens wanted more freedom in the market, but ‘reform’ increasingly looked like code for party officials turning into business tycoons, as many illegally took possession of the assets they had previously managed as bureaucrats.


     “With the free-market experiment in peril, Milton Friedman was once again invited to pay a visit to China – much as the Chicago Boys and the piranhas had enlisted his help in 1973, when their program had sparked an internal revolt in Chile. A high-profile visit from the world-famous guru of capitalism was just the boost China’s ‘reformers’ needed.


     “When Friedman and his wife, Rose, arrived in Shanghai in September 1988, they were dazzled by how quickly mainland China was beginning to look and feel like Hong Kong. Despite the rage simmering at the grass roots, everything they saw served to confirm ‘our faith in the power of free markets’. Friedman described this moment as ‘the most hopeful period of the Chinese experiment’.


     “In the presence of official state media, Friedman met for two hours with Zhao Ziyang, general secretary of the Communist Party, as well as with Jiang Zemin, then party secretary of the Shanghai Committee and the future Chinese president. Friedman’s message to Jiang echoed the advice he had given to Pinochet when the Chilean project was on the skids: don’t bow to the pressure and don’t blink. ‘I emphasized the importance of privatization and free markets, and of liberalizing at one fell stroke,’ Friedman recalled. In a memo to the general secretary of the Communist Party, Friedman stressed that more, not less, shock therapy was needed. ‘China’s initial steps of reform have been dramatically successful. China can make further dramatic progress by placing still further reliance on free private markets.’…


     “Friedman’s trip did not have the desired results. The pictures in the official papers of the professor offering his blessing to party bureaucrats did not succeed in bringing the public onside. In subsequent months, protests grew more determined and radical. The most visible symbols of the opposition were the demonstrations by student strikers in Tiananmen Square. Thse historic protests were almost universally portrayed in the international media as a clash between modern, idealistic students who wanted Western-style democratic freedoms and old-guard authoritarians who wanted to protect the Communist state. Recently, another analysis of the meaning of Tiananmen has emerged, one that challenges the mainstream version while putting Friedmanism at the heart of the story. This alternative narrative is being advanced by, among others, Wang Hui, one of the organizers of the 1989 protests, and now a leading Chinese intellectual of what is known as China’s ‘New Left’. In his 2003 book, China’s New Order, Wang explains that the protesters spanned a huge range of Chinese society – not just elite university students by also factory workers, small entrepreneurs and teachers. What ignited the protests, he recalls, was popular discontent in the face of Deng’s ‘revolutionary’ economic changes which were lowering wages, raising prices and causing ‘a crisis of layoffs and unemployment’. According to Wang, ‘These changes were the catalyst for the 1989 social mobilization’. 


     “The demonstrations were not against economic reform per se; they were against the specific Friedmanite nature of the reforms – their speed, ruthlessness and the fact that the process was highly antidemocratic. Wang says that the protesters’ call for elections and free speech were intimately connected to this economic dissent. What drove the demand for democracy was the fact that the party was pushing through changes that were revolutionary in scope, entirely without popular consent. There was, he writes, ‘a general request for democratic means to supervise the fairness of the reform process and the reorganization of social benefits.’”[9]


     J.M. Roberts takes up the story again: “Posters and rallies began to champion calls for greater ‘democracy’. The regime’s leadership was alarmed, refusing to recognize the [newly formed and unofficial Student] Union which, it was feared, might be the harbinger of a new Red Guards movement. There were demonstrations in many cities and as the seventieth anniversary of the May 4th Movement approached the student activists invoked its memory so as to give a broad patriotic colour to their campaign. They were not able to arouse much support in the countryside, or in the southern cities, but, encouraged by the obviously sympathetic attitude of the general secretary of the CCP, Zhao Ziyang, began a mass hunger strike. It won widespread popular sympathy and support in Peking. It started only shortly before Mr. Gorbachev arrived in the capital; his state visit, instead of providing further reassuring evidence of China’s international standing, only served to remind people of what was going on in the USSR as a result of policies of liberalization. This cut both ways, encouraging the would-be reformers and frightening the conservatives. By this time the most senior members of the government, including Deng Xiaoping, seem to have been thoroughly alarmed. Widespread disorder might be in the offing; they believed China faced a major crisis. Some feared a new cultural revolution if things got out of control (and Deng Xiaoping’s own son, they could have remarked, was still a cripple as a result of the injuries inflicted on him by Red Guards). On 20 May martial law was declared.


     “There were signs for a moment that the government might not be able to impose its will, but the army’s reliability was soon assured. The repression which followed was ruthless. The student leaders had move the focus of their efforts to an encampment in Peking in Tiananmen Square, where, thirty years before, Mao had proclaimed the foundation of the People’s Republic. From one of the gates of the old Forbidden City a huge portrait of him looked down on the symbol of the protesters: a plastic figure of a ‘Goddess of Democracy’, deliberately evocative of New York’s Statue of Liberty. On 2 June the first military units entered the suburbs of Peking on their way to the square. There was resistance with extemporized weapons and barricades. They forced their way through. On 4 June the students and a few sympathizers were overcome by rifle-fire, teargas, and a brutal crushing of the encampment under the treads of tanks which swept into the square. Killing went on for some days, mass arrests followed (perhaps as many as ten thousand in all). Much of what happened took place before the eyes of the world, thanks to the presence of film-crews in Peking which had for days familiarized television audiences with the demonstrators’ encampment. Foreign disapproval was almost universal…”[10]


     “For Deng and the rest of the Politburo, the free-market possibilities were now limitless. Just as Pinochet’s terror had cleared the streets for revolutionary change, so Tiananmen paved the way for a radical transformation free from fear of rebellion. If life grew harder for peasants and workers, they would either have to accept it quietly or face the wrath of the army and the secret police. And so, with the public in a state of raw terror, Deng rammed through his most sweeping reforms yet.


     “Before Tiananmen, he had been forced to ease off some of the more painful measures: three months after the massacre, he brought them back; and he implemented several of Friedman’s other recommendations, including price deregulation. For Wang Hui, there is an obvious reason why ‘market reforms that had failed to be implemented in the late 1980s just happened to have been completed in the post-1989 environment’; the reason, he writes, ‘is that the violence of 1989 served to check the social upheaval brought about by this process, and the new pricing system finally took shape.’ The shock of the massacre, in other words, made shock therapy possible.


     “In the three years immediately following the bloodbath, China was cracked open to foreign investment, with special export zones constructed throughout the country. As he announced these new initiatives, Deng reminded the country that ‘if necessary, every possible means will be adopted to eliminate any turmoil in the future as soon as it has appeared. Martial law, or even more severe methods, may be introduced.’


     “It was the wave of reforms that turned China into the sweatshop of the world, the preferred location for contract factories for virtually every multinational on the planet. No country offered more lucrative conditions than China: low taxes and tariffs, corruptible officials and, most of all, a plentiful low-wage workforce that, for many years, would be unwilling to risk demanding decent salaries or the most basic workplace protections for fear of the most violent reprisals.


     “For foreign investors and the party, it has been a win-win arrangement. According to a 2006 study, 80 percent of China’s billionaires (calculated in Chinese yuan) are the children of Communist Party officials. Roughly twenty-nine hundred of these party scions – known as ‘the princelings’ – control $260 billion. It is a mirror of the corporatist state first pioneered in Chile under Pinochet: a revolving door between corporate and political elites who combine their power to eliminate workers as an organised political force. Today, the collaborative arrangement can be seen in the way that foreign multinational media and technology companies help the Chinese state to spy on its citizens, and to make sure that when students do Web searches or phrases like ‘Tiananmen Square Massacre’, or even ‘democracy’, no documents turn up. ‘The creation of today’s market society was not the result of a sequence of spontaneous events,’ writes Wang Hui, ‘but rather of state interference and violence’.”[11]  




     In the early 1990s Deng Xiaoping revealed that the purpose of China’s economic liberalization begun after Mao’s death in 1976 was not purely economic but mainly political – to make China strong enough to defeat and occupy (!) the United States and thereby achieve that global domination which Chinese emperors have regarded as their right for over 2000 years. But China, he said, wasn’t strong enough yet to achieve that purpose. It had to “hide and bide” – that is, hide its true intentions and bide its time until it was strong enough.


     About a decade later, “then Defense Minister Chi Haotian, a general in the People’s Liberation Army, delivered a secret speech to an elite group of CCP cadres. In the course of his remarks, Chi laid out the problems that his country would face due to overpopulation and pollution, observing that ‘China’s great economic expansion will inevitably lead to the shrinkage of per-capita living space for Chinese people, and this will encourage China to turn outwards in search for new living space.’ Even worse for China, he declared, ‘Economic development in the last twenty-five years has had a negative impact… Our resources are in short supply. The environment is severely polluted, especially that of soil, water, and air. Not only our ability to sustain and develop our race, but even its survival is gravely threatened…’.    “


     “To solve these problems, the Defense Minister said, the Chinese people must be taught to ‘go out’. China’s goal, he said, must be to conquer and colonize the lower 48 states of America following a surprise biological attack.


     “Was this speech, with its genocidal focus, all that incredible? Experts who know the Chinese Communist regime best, say China’s leaders are not psychologically normal. As Chinese expatriate scholar and dissident Harry Wu stated in an interview 24 years ago, the leaders of the CCP are ‘murderers’. This characterization, Wu insisted, is supported by the inhumanity of the Chinese labor camp system.


     “What we find in the People’s Republic of China, in fact, are institutions animated by a genocidal mindset. The ruling Chinese Communist Party has never adhered to moral norms. Power is what Mao and his followers were after. They have shown themselves ready to use any means to enlarge their power. And according to the Chi Haotian speech, that power has been built up with a future genocidal war in mind.     


     “Indeed, Chi explained, China’s economy has not been built to raise the living standard of the Chinese people. This economy was built for the purpose of waging a future war against America. Once America is defeated in a biological attack, he said, ‘The western countries  of Europe would bow to us, not to mention Taiwan, Japan and other small countries.’


     “According to the text of the speech, the Defense Minister emphasized to his audience of trusted CCP elites that discretion in their genocidal course was mandatory; the Chinese need for living space’ could not be publicly acknowledged. ‘The reasons we don’t want to discuss this too openly,’ Chi explained, ‘is to avoid the West’s association of us with Nazi Germany which could in turn reinforce the view that China is a threat.’


     “Harking back to the Deng Xiaoping ‘hide and bide’ strategy, Chi emphasized the need to wait before taking action. ‘Right now’, he said, ‘it is not time to openly break with [America]… Our reform and opening to the outside world still rely on their capital and technology. We still need America. Therefore, we must do everything to promote our relationship with America, learn from America in all aspects and use America as an example to reconstruct our country.’


     “In other words, if you are preparing a surprise biological attack on America, deception becomes mandatory. You must use the enemy’s institution and personnel to advance your plan. At this point, Chi quotes Deng Xiaoping himself: ‘Refrain from revealing ambitions and put others off the track.’ Showing his hand still further, Chi added, ‘We must put up with America; we must conceal our ultimate goals, hide out capabilities, and await the opportunity.’


     “Chi then described China’s push for Taiwan as a diversion: ‘[You should] understand why we constantly talk loudly about the ‘Taiwan issue’ but not the ‘American issue’. We all know the principle of doing one thing under the cover of another. If ordinary people can see the island of Taiwan in their eyes, then you as the elite of our country should be able to see the whole picture of our cause.’


     “According to Chi’s speech, Taiwan is not China’s primary target. America is the target. The speech envisions a biological war. ‘If our biological weapons succeed in the surprise attack, the Chinese people will be able to keep their losses at a minimum in the fight against the United States. If, however, China would perhaps suffer a catastrophe in which more than half its population would perish. That is why we need to be ready with air defense systems for our big and medium-sized cities.’


     “According to Chi, the ruling Chinese Communist Party considers biological weapons to be the most important for accomplishing their goal of ‘cleaning up America’. It is noteworthy that Chi credits Deng Xiaoping with embracing this strategy. ‘When Comrade Xiaoping was still with us,’ said Chi, ‘the Party Central Committee had the perspicacity to make the right decision not to develop aircraft carrier groups and focus instead on developing lethal weapons that can eliminate mass populations of the enemy country.’


     “It may seem difficult to believe, but Chi considers himself to be a ‘humanitarian Communist’ and therefore admits to mixed personal  feelings about genocide against America: ‘I sometimes think how cruel it is for China and the United States to be enemies.’ After all, he noted, America helped China in World War II. But none of that matters now, said Chi. ‘In the long run the relationship of China and the United States to one of a life-and-death struggle.’ This tragic situation must be accepted, he said. ‘We must not forget that the history of our civilization repeatedly has taught us that one mountain does not allow two tigers to live together.’


     “In his speech Chi provided the key to understanding China’s economic development strategy. ‘Our economic development,’ he said, ‘is all about preparing for the needs of war!’ Clearly, then, it is not about improving the life of Chinese people in the short run. It is not about building a consumer-oriented capitalist society. ‘Publicly,’ said Chi, ‘we shall emphasize economic development as our center, but in reality, economic development has war as its center!’


     “Meanwhile, Russia’s mobilization against Ukraine has raised further concerns for the Wes, which fears similar moves from Russia’s ‘partner’, China. Perhaps Iran and North Korea have choreographed moves as well. In light of all this, the COVID-19 pandemic might prove to be a precursor event. Putting the Chi Haotian secret speech in context, nobody can safely rule out a worst-case scenario: namely, that a biological war has begun and the West is not even acknowledging it..”[12]  

[1] Dikötter, “The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History”, History Today, September, 2016, p. 19. (Italics mine – VM.)

[2] Ferguson, The War of the World, pp. 636-637.

[3] Ferguson, The War of the World, p. 657.

[4] Sutton, America’s Secret Establishment, Billings, Montana: Liberty House Press, 1986, p. 181

[5] Kennedy, op. cit., p. 584.

[6] Ian Johnson, “China’s Great Awakening”, Foreign Affairs, March / April, 2017, p. 89. 

[7] Hilton, “Will China’s Demography be its Downfall?”, Unherd, June 15, 2018. 

[8] According to J.M. Roberts, China’s rulers “were helped by the persistence of the old Chinese social disciplines, by the relief felt by millions that the cultural revolution had been left behind, and by the policy (contrary to that of Marxism as still expounded in Moscow until 1980) that economic rewards should flow through the system to the peasant. This built up rural purchasing power, and made for contentment in the countryside. There was a major swing of power away from the rural communes, which in many places practically ceased to be relevant, and by 1985 the family farm was back as the dominant form of rural production over much of China.” (History of the World, Oxford: Helicon, 1992, p. 911). (V.M.) 

[9] Klein, op. cit., pp. 184-188.

[10] Roberts, History of the World, Oxford: Helicon, 1992, pp. 911-912. About 2000 were killed in Peking, unknown numbers in other cities. 

[11] Klein, op. cit., pp. 189-190.

[12] The C.C.P. is at war with America, A Team B Report on the Covid-19 Biological Warfare Attack, Washington, D.C.: Center for Security Policy, 2022, pp. 35-38.

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