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China’s new age of uncertainty

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BERLIN - In a year marking the 70th anniversary of its founding, the People’s Republic of China appears to have entered a new era of uncertainty after more than a quarter century of phenomenal economic growth. China’s slowing economy, an international geopolitical pushback against its overweening ambitions, new trade disruptions and tariffs, and President Xi Jinping’s centralization of power, have created a jittery mood among the country’s elites.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. At least 10,000 people were killed in the tank and machine-gun assault ordered by Deng Xiaoping and his henchmen on pro-democracy demonstrators at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

The massacre happened because the Communist Party never abandoned its heavy reliance on raw power since the blood-soaked Mao Zedong era, during which tens of millions of Chinese died in the so-called Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution and other state-induced disasters.

Although China has come a long way since Tiananmen, with its citizens now more prosperous, mobile and digitally connected, the political system remains as repressive as ever. Indeed, today’s China is increasingly oriented to the primacy of a party responsible for the past pogroms and witch hunts and ongoing excesses.

Under Xi, the party has set out to systematically decimate Muslim, Tibetan and Mongol identities, expand China’s frontiers far out into international waters and turn the country into a digital totalitarian state.

The Soviet Communist Party that operated gulags was consigned to the dustbin of history. But now the Chinese Communist Party, running the world’s longest surviving and most powerful autocracy, has set up gulags that are far more high-tech and indiscriminate, with Islam as the target.

In modern-day “re-education” prisons, China is........

© The Japan Times