The day after Christmas, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dictator Xi Jinping gave an address in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing at a symposium honoring the 130th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birth. Xi praised Mao for forging the CCP and laying the foundation for the CCP’s efforts today to realize Mao’s Olympian ambitions of domination. PRC media reported that over a hundred thousand tourists visited Mao’s birthplace in Shaoshan, Hunan province, to commemorate his birth. Moreover, also in his address on December 26th, Xi stated his intent to conquer Taiwan by stating that "no one will split Taiwan from China.” That is another immediate warning of aggression against Taiwan and a clear signal to influence the January 2024 Taiwanese elections.
These events were little noted in Western media, and not only because of the Christmas holiday, but also because few in American media take the CCP’s ideology or Xi’s threats seriously. But it matters. Honoring Mao’s birth and touting his Communist ideology is telling and alarming. Xi is a communist—and proudly so. To understand Xi’s behavior, worldview, and the motivations for his hyper-aggression, the rest of the world needs to understand Communism and be able to think like one.
The Cold War between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the United States has many dimensions, but it is fundamentally an ideological one. This is because the cause of the Cold War with the PRC is the CCP’s communist ideology. Communism is innately illegitimate as it has no mandate from the people, and so the CCP is hyper-aggressive against the Chinese people and against other states. It must destroy Western political ideologies, polities, and societies which offer superior forms of government. Its brutal suppression of human freedoms and liberties occurs because the CCP itself knows that it is an illegitimate political system. It only stays in power through the coercion and suppression of the Chinese people.
Communists do have advantages as they are, first, acutely sensitive to the battle of ideas and the importance of political warfare, which they employ against their enemies with the PRC, but also external enemies like the U.S. Second, their objectives are clearly defined. They know what they want. As Xi told Biden at their meeting in November, the CCP will conquer Taiwan, and as Xi repeated on December 26th that no one will "split Taiwan from China.”
A major failing in the U.S. national security community is that they have not taken Communism and its hyper-aggression seriously. This must change immediately. To defeat Communism, U.S. leadership and the American people must understand the CCP’s ideology and why it is illegitimate and hostile to the U.S. Xi and the CCP seek confrontation with the U.S. to achieve their conception of victory—the fulfilment of their ideological goals and the replacement of the U.S. by the PRC as the dominant power in international politics. These objectives have been boldly and transparently advanced by Xi in his conception of a hegemonic PRC. His crushing of democracy in Hong Kong, sustained aggression against the Philippines, and his remarks on Taiwan this week are the latest iteration.
The PRC is at war with the U.S. and is fighting that war through all means short of kinetic war—that is, economic, diplomatic, technological, lawfare, political—because the U.S. is the single major impediment to Beijing’s strategic objectives. The U.S. model of political liberalism, capitalism, and a society defined by freedom, so it remains the most significant threat to the CCP’s own existence. The United States is the only state that can prevent the realization of the PRC’s ambitions and so the U.S. is the CCP’s sworn enemy and will remain the focus of the PRC’s enmity until either the U.S. is defeated or the CCP is. Stalin was once described as "the breaker of nations,” but Xi is too. Xi is commit genocide against Muslims, Hong Kong was destroyed by Xi as a functioning democracy and Taiwan must be destroyed because Hong Kong represented and Taiwan still represents what China should be, a thriving democracy, but is not because of the CCP.
Taiwan is a thorn in Xi’s side. He wants it eliminated soon. Accordingly, Xi’s recent remarks on Taiwan when he met with Biden in November as well as his comment on December 26th are important. But Americans should recall that Xi’s plan was openly presented to the world in his most important address in this decade: his October 2022 address to the CCP’s 20th Party Congress. The speech was momentous and provided key insights into Xi’s leadership, impact on the Party, and call for war against Taiwan and the U.S. In historical perspective, Xi’s address to the 20th Party Congress will be seen as a significant development with lasting implications for the CCP, the PRC, and for the risk of war in international politics.
In essence, Xi’s address to the 20th Party Congress was important for three reasons. First, Xi proclaimed that the CCP has achieved its first centenary goal, that is, building a moderately prosperous society, and has now moved on to achieving the second centenary goal of building the PRC into a modern socialist country in all respects and advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. This should be interpreted by Americans as an indication that the PRC now perceives itself as capable of achieving its aim of supplanting the United States. The "modern socialist country,” that is, the PRC, gets to set the rules for everyone else.
Second, since he came to power in 2012, Xi was steadfast that the ideology of the CCP remains firmly anchored in Communism. Honoring Mao is not boilerplate. Xi believes in Communism. Xi seeks to strengthen the ideological purity of the CCP while strengthening its control over the PRC and influence in the world.
Third, belligerence was the order of the day in Xi’s speech and Xi’s hyper-aggressive intent has been expressed many times thereafter. For example, in March 2023, Xi gave a series of major speeches and pronouncements. These were directed against the U.S., with Xi’s denunciations of hegemonism, and implicitly its allies, like Japan, and partners, like India. Yet, most explicitly, Xi aggressive intent was directed against Taiwan and also the U.S. Thus, Xi’s remarks to Biden and his December 26th remarks threatening Taiwan are more data that continue to reveal the slope of the curve: Xi is driving the world to war.
The world must grasp that the threat to peace is immediate. This so because Xi is a fervent believer in Marxism-Leninism and address the implications. His image of the PRC—that the PRC is now able to lead the world—his ideology—as a true believer in communism—and its consequence—his belligerence expressed against the U.S., its allies, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, mean that Xi and the CCP will force the change they want unless they are stopped by the U.S.
As dictators go, Communist dictators are rather open about their bellicose intents. In February 1946, at the outset of the Cold War, Stalin gave his famous address openly declaring war on the West. Similarly, Xi has provided the world with his vision for the CCP, the PRC, and international politics. His remarks at the symposium honoring Mao and threats against Taiwan are just the latest example of his hyper-aggressive vision. He has explained his reasoning of why the CCP is at war with the U.S. and its allies and partners. The U.S. needs to recognize the gravity of the threat and respond with far greater alacrity than it has under the Biden administration.
The struggle with the PRC will define the 21st Century and will compel the U.S. to employ every tool at its disposal. A U.S. victory will require many steps, but the most important is the most fundamental: to motivate the American people, the Chinese people, and their allies to understand, enjoin, and sustain the fight. This requires understanding the ideology of Communism and thus to be able to think like a Communist. But also compels Americans to understand the ideas that the American Founders created, and that generations of Americans sustained, so that the U.S. once again triumphs over a tyrannical foe.
Fundamentally, Xi’s hyper-aggression is a product of the CCP’s weakness. The PRC is belligerent and ruthless because the CCP knows they are illegitimate and adherents to a base, odious, and failed ideology. While they should never be underestimated—indeed, the 20th Century was defined by this struggle—they are vulnerable because their ideology, in theory and in its application, is inhuman and dehumanizing. Communism has inflicted a horrific blood price on great peoples and civilizations from China to Cambodia, Angola to East Germany, Cuba to North Korea, and from Russia to Spain. Given this history of hyper-aggression, it is past time for Americans to understand its threat, and once again defeat Communism in the 21st Century, as Americans did in the last.
Bradley A. Thayer is a Contributing Columnist for Warroom and is @bradleythayer on Gettr and Truth, and @bradthayer at X.