The biggest backdrop to this year’s US election is China

Against the backdrop of deteriorating U.S.-China relations, Washington has again approved an arms sale to Taiwan despite Beijing’s strong opposition. The arms sale, approved by the U.S. State Department, is worth up to $1.8 billion and includes missile launch systems and fighter jet equipment. It is the eighth US arms sale to Taiwan in just four years since Trump took office. Beijing has reacted strongly to the sale.

Chinese President Xi Jinping made a strongly worded speech in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of the anti-U.S. war against North Korea. In fact, in recent years, with Trump’s pro-Taiwan stance after his election and the US Congress’ support for Taiwan, China seems to have become more determined to “resolve” Taiwan by force.

How do you view the current situation between China, the United States and Taiwan? We asked Mr. Chen Bukong, a political commentator in the United States, to elaborate on his views.

Will the election result bring fundamental changes to the tripartite relationship between China, the United States and Taiwan? Also tell us, how strong is the China factor in this election?

CHEN BREAKING: This U.S. presidential election, in fact, the biggest factor, the biggest variable is the China factor. First of all, there was the Great Plague, which came from China and hit the U.S. economy hard. Because before this great plague, the U.S. economy had a strong recovery and strong growth, which is something that has only been seen in decades. In other words, without this great plague, the current President Trump would have won the election lying down. But with the Great Plague, it added uncertainty to the election. And Trump is stuck in a bitter fight, so from that perspective, the China factor is the biggest factor in this election.

Also, like the Democratic candidate this time, there are some more secret stories or scandals coming out of the former Vice President Biden family, and all of them are related to China. It is also a reason why the Chinese factor is trying to dominate and influence the US election. Because the Chinese Communist Party tries to dominate American politics by controlling the Biden family. So this US election is crucial to the political direction of China, that is, the direction of Communist China is at stake. It may even affect the top policies of the Chinese Communist Party.

In addition, of course, it will affect the U.S.-China-Taiwan triangular relationship. Because right at the time of the U.S. election, the CCP strengthened its threats and bullying of Taiwan, then the U.S. also tit-for-tat strengthened its countermeasures. So the CCP’s military planes and ships routinely and normally patrol the island of Taiwan, and the U.S. military planes and ships also routinely patrol the South China Sea. So the outcome of this election, whether Biden Democrats win or Trump Republicans win, will change the status quo of the U.S.-China-Taiwan triangle to a considerable extent.

FAREWELL: In recent months, PLA military aircraft have repeatedly crossed the centerline of the Taiwan Strait, and China’s National People’s Congress has announced a draft amendment to its national defense law. At the same time, Beijing held a high-profile celebration of the 70th anniversary of the resistance against the U.S. and aid to the North, while Chinese President Xi Jinping made tough statements in his speech. All of this seems to be a demonstration against the United States and Taiwan, and can it be considered a signal of war from Beijing?

CHEN BREAKING: Yes, Beijing is indeed sending out war signals, creating a war atmosphere, even making war calls, demonstrating against the U.S. and against Taiwan. It is doing this because the CCP wants to influence the U.S. election and has three major tactics. The first tactic is the Great Plague, and the second tactic is trying to control the Biden family to control American politics. The third tactic is the atmosphere of war and the threat of war. Especially in mid-October, after the Biden family’s secrets were exposed, the CCP used the anti-American aid to strengthen the threat to the United States. Around the anti-American aid, the CCP has made four big moves, as well as commemorative conferences. And it also produced some movies: like Vajrachuan.

The threat has also intensified in the Taiwan Sea, and this threat is not just military planes and warships disturbing Taiwan, but even forming a siege of Nangan Island in Matsu, Taiwan. Using a large number of ships, falsely claiming to be sand extractors and sand pumpers, to form a siege of Taiwan’s Nangan Island. This is the highest intensity and greatest degree of provocation that has not been seen in decades. These are all demonstrations by the CCP to the U.S., then the U.S. takes firm countermeasures. This includes every time the CCP introduces a move, the U.S. approves stronger arms sales to Taiwan. These arms sales are weapons that Taiwan can use not only for defense, but even for offense. Like air-to-surface missiles, or hidden arrows, concealed missiles, and so on. In other words, if a war is fought in the Taiwan Strait, the war will by no means be limited to Taiwan or the Taiwan Strait, it will definitely pull China, China.

So in this case, the CCP made the threat of war, basically a bluff, is trying to influence the U.S. election, it wants to create an atmosphere to say, if Trump or the Republican Party is in power, then China and the United States will have a possible showdown war. And the U.S. is a democratic country, peace-loving, and generally unwilling to move toward war. Then it implies that if Biden, or the Democrats are in office, because Biden has declared that China is not the biggest enemy, Russia is the biggest threat, China is just the biggest competitor. In that case, the Chinese Communist Party is betting on Biden and the Democrats. But it this threat of war, this signal of war is a smokescreen, a bluff. Because after the election on November 3, whether Trump wins or Biden wins, the CCP will converge: if Biden wins, it takes the opportunity to seek peace with Biden; if Trump wins, the CCP knows that Trump will be tit-for-tat against it, so it will ask for trouble. And the CCP has absolutely no power to fight the U.S. military now, so it’s just using the war against the U.S. to show that we started a war in Korea back then, because the CCP and North Korea started a war of aggression, which was later fought back by the U.S., South Korea, and the UN forces. So now it’s implying: it can start a war in the Taiwan Sea and drag the U.S. into another war. But if, say, Trump is re-elected, the Chinese Communist Party will automatically relent, so his war signals now are just an act.

FARGO: Specifically within China, Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled to Guangdong and Shenzhen in mid-October, followed by the Communist Party’s Fifth Plenum in Beijing. The main agenda of the meeting was the launch of the next five-year plan. Aside from economic issues, what do you think will be the main political point of the plenum?

Chen Bukong: Xi Jinping’s visit to Shenzhen has two main purposes: one is to emphasize economic topics instead of political ones, and the other is that he wants to replace Hong Kong with Shenzhen. Because he has already taken care of Hong Kong politically, he believes that using Hong Kong’s version of the National Security Law has suppressed Hong Kong’s demand for democracy. Then on the other hand, he wants to marginalize Hong Kong economically and trade wise. The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, with “Shenzhen as the core engine,” is proposed to dwarf Hong Kong. Xi Jinping sacrifices economic interests, Hong Kong, China’s economic locomotive and the world’s unique and special free trade port for the sake of political interests and the interests of the Communist Party’s one party. The other implication is that the economic topic was used to build momentum for the Fifth Plenum, so by the time the Fifth Plenum was held, Xi Jinping basically wanted to line up political topics, discussions like the topic of succession, or the distribution of power, or the discussion of the current political line by various factions. So he set the topic to discuss the 14th five-year plan, and the so-called 15-year plan, implying that he wants to rule for a long time. Of course this is Xi Jinping’s subjective intention to dominate the 5th Plenum with economic issues, like the 5-year plan or the 15-year plan.

But the Fifth Plenum met behind closed doors at the Beijing West Hotel, where more than 300 central committee members gathered, and among them were various factions: the Tuan faction, the Jiang faction, the princelings, the Xi faction, and so on. There is bound to be a line struggle and power struggle within it. Before the Fifth Plenum, Li Keqiang’s floor economy was resurgent, then the Xi’s now have to open up the floor economy in Beijing and in the first-tier cities. And four months ago, they resolutely resisted and opposed it. On the one hand, it means that the economy is not working, there is a problem and they have to use the floor economy; on the other hand, it also means that Li Keqiang has a slight upper hand on the economic line. So the Fifth Plenum is bound to have a struggle between the route and the power struggle, and the result of the struggle, who will win and who will lose, can be seen after the meeting.

France: Chinese President Xi Jinping seems to be gaining strength in his fight against the neo-crowning epidemic. How do you see Xi Jinping’s current position in the party?

CHEN BREAKING: It should be accurate to say that the Chinese Communist Party increased its strength in the great epidemic of the Xinguan epidemic, which hit the United States, European countries, and 188 countries around the world by concealing and spreading the epidemic. But the CCP controlled the epidemic relatively quickly, or superficially, by sacrificing Wuhan, Hubei, and one place to preserve the rest through a unique method of controlling, carding, and suppressing the one-party dictatorship. However, the people of Wuhan paid a significant price in lives. Under these circumstances, it was impossible for other countries, as democracies, to imitate the Chinese way. So other countries, from the United States to Europe, to New Zealand, to Taiwan, have had advantages and disadvantages, victories and defeats, in their models of dealing with the Great Plague. Like Taiwan and New Zealand, these are the more successful models. In the United States and Europe are still stuck in a bitter war, which is a result of their own democratic systems and their own social characteristics.

Then at this time, the Chinese Communist Party is strengthening its power, that is, when these countries suffer a heavy blow. Because over the past 40 years, Europe and the United States have placed 80% of their production lines and medical production lines in China, the CCP has used it to take control of production lines, medical production lines, and raided epidemic prevention and control supplies, making a fortune. On the one hand, it exported large quantities of epidemic prevention and control supplies to other countries; on the other hand, it also exported counterfeit and substandard products. So at this time it made a fortune. This fortune led to the U.S.-China trade war, and now the trade deficit between the U.S. and China is not down but up, and the Chinese Communist Party has expanded its trade surplus with the United States because of this great epidemic, this epidemic prevention and control, the need for these supplies. So from that point of view, the Chinese Communist Party has been strengthened instead. But Xi Jinping’s own power has not been strengthened. Because within the party, you could say he’s embroiled in all sorts of controversies, not just the Great Plague, but also the Hong Kong issue, the Xinjiang issue, as well as the economic slump, the withdrawal of foreign investment, the closure of factories, the unemployment of workers, and so on. I think Xi Jinping’s position within the party is actually, in general, showing a kind of downhill trend. It’s just that the CCP won’t be so overt about it for the sake of apparent unity.

Regarding Xi Jinping’s status within the party, the struggle against Xi forces is actually not over, as in the case of this Fifth Plenum, some anti-Xi figures have made appearances. For example, former Premier Zhu Rongji, and Vice President Wang Qishan. Vice President Wang Qishan was rumored before the meeting that he might be brought down by Xi Jinping, as Xi’s struggle with Wang Qishan has been a main line of struggle within the Communist Party this year. Xi has arrested and shut down people around Wang Qishan, like Jiang Chaoliang, secretary of the Hubei provincial party committee, and Ren Zhiqiang, a representative of the princely party, and finally even Dong Hong, Wang Qishan’s longtime chief executive and a senior vice minister, was suddenly arrested just before the Fifth Plenum. So it was originally speculated that Xi Jinping would take on Wang Qishan, but apparently before the Fifth Plenum, Xi suffered a setback and anti-Xi forces rallied and strengthened. A number of senior and former senior officials, including former Finance Minister Lou Jiwei, have come out bashing the far-left line and have publicly mentioned Zhao Ziyang’s name as a starting point and an accomplishment for the big-in, big-out trade that Zhao Ziyang led. So in such a situation it can be seen that the anti-Xi forces are gathering and uniting. So it poses a big hold on Xi Jinping. This can see why Xi Jinping urgently replaced the president of Xinhua News Agency and the president of People’s Daily before the Fifth Plenum, trying to escort him at the Fifth Plenum by controlling the mouthpiece and the media, the party media.

So the Fifth Plenum meets behind closed doors, and outwardly their documents and communiqués will deal with grandeur and will focus on economic issues. But what kind of struggle they will do behind closed doors, I am afraid, will be evenly matched, and it will be a fight to the death. Last year’s Fourth Plenum fought to the death. On the last day, it emerged that Ren Xuefeng, an alternate member of the Central Committee and deputy secretary of the Chongqing Municipal Party Committee, committed suicide by jumping from the seventh floor. Some say suicide, others say it was committed by suicide. So, what kind of fighting will take place at this year’s Fifth Plenum? Or what if we fought behind closed doors? Will this information be made public? All are still unknown.

Overall, it seems that the condensation and buildup of anti-Xi forces on all fronts over the past two years has constituted a major check on the Xi camp and the Xi army, which has been in constant trouble, including Shanghai and Chongqing, Li Qiang’s deputy, public security chief and deputy mayor, and Chen Min’er’s deputy, public security chief and deputy mayor, all of whom have been arrested and imprisoned. This is because Zhao Leji, now secretary of the CCDI, is also at odds with Xi Jinping and belongs to Xi’s rivalry. The CCDI is actually in the hands of the anti-Xi forces. Under such circumstances, I’m afraid that this peak era has already passed if Xi Jinping wants to take the high ground and make a single statement or take over the power. This peak era is when the 19th National Congress amended the constitution in 2017, or 2018, after which Xi Jinping’s power is on the decline.