“History is a good place to visit, but a hard place to stay.” Pastor Foster of the New Life Assembly of God in Ohio often said this to us during his services. In this blog, I would like to visit briefly the Third Reich of the Nazi Germany and look at the potential danger of Xi Jinping’s Third Term. The purpose of putting these two together is not to try to answer any questions about what will happen next, but try to show some similar patterns and pray that history will never repeat itself.
“The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”
“Why had Germany, one of the most ostensibly civilized and highly educated societies on earth, transformed itself into an instrument that turned a continent into a charnel house? Why did the world allow a “tramp,” a Chaplinesque figure whose 1923 beer hall putsch was a comic fiasco, to become a genocidal Führer whose rule spanned a continent and threatened to last a thousand years?” (Rosenbaum, 2012). So far, historians don’t seem to have a definitive answer.
In 1960, American journalist William L. Shirer published a book: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. While there is no answer to those whys, the book reminds the world of “what”: what happened to civilization and humanity in those years. Shirer did not title his book The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler, but the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
Reich means empire. “Third Reich” was not a term of Hitler’s invention; it was concocted in a book written in 1922 by a German nationalist crank named Arthur Moeller van den Bruck. Moeller believed in the divine destiny of a German history that could be divided into three momentous acts. According to Britannica, “Although Moeller had coined the name of one of the most feared and reviled regimes in human history, he did not live to see its creation.”
Moeller committed suicide in 1925. He predicted, “The thought of a Third Empire might well be the most fatal of all the illusions to which they have ever yielded; it would be thoroughly German if they contented themselves with day-dreaming about it. Germany might perish of her Third Empire dream.” During Hitler’s Third Reich, the entire nation was driven by ideology and the darkest elements of German history. To reach his evil goal, Hitler brewed a culture of hatred.
According to Rosenbaum (2012), in the book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, the author tried to search for a deeper “why”: Was the Third Reich a unique, one-time phenomenon, or do humans possess some ever-present receptivity to the appeal of primal, herd-like hatred?
Sadly, the Third Reich was not a unique, one-time phenomenon. Hatred as a result of herd mentality does exist. Humans are often easily lost in some sort of propaganda and brainwash. Karl Marx, the founder of communism, expected oppressed factory workers to seize power in the wealthiest, most industrialized capitalist societies. His doctrines were used time and again by Communist Party dictators like Stalin and Mao to brew hatred among people.
In 1937, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin led a brutal political campaign – the Great Terror, which started around 1936 and ended in 1938 – to eliminate dissenting members of the Communist Party and anyone else he considered a threat. Most experts believe at least 750,000 people were executed during the Great Terror, and more than a million survivors were sent to forced labor camps, known as Gulags.
In 1966, the Chinese Communist dictator Mao Zedong launched a 10-year Cultural Revolution to reassert his authority over the Chinese government. Mao called on the nation’s youth to purge the “impure” elements of the Chinese society and revive the revolutionary spirit that had led to victory in the civil war 20 years earlier.
As a child who was born during the Cultural Revolution, I clearly remember a song we were taught from kindergarten to high school. “When your friends come to your house, you treat them with a feast; when your enemies come, you kill them.” The hatred brewed by Mao killed about 1.5 million people during the Cultural Revolution; millions more suffered imprisonment, seizure of property, torture or general humiliation.
Four decades ago, President Reagan delivered a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals. In that speech, President Reagan referred to the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” and as “the focus of evil in the modern world”. Mao’s regime was certainly qualified for an evil empire.
“China’s Xi Jinping Unanimously Elected to Serve Third Term as President”
In March 2023, U.S. news media reported “China’s Xi Jinping unanimously elected to serve third term as president: The National People’s Congress voted 2,952 to 0 in favor of Xi.” Many western newspapers commented that the voting process for Xi’s third term was just a political show. Instead of watching China’s political theatre, we probably should start asking questions such as: Why did a country with the largest population in the world allow a dictator to exist in the 21st century? Why did the world see the uprising of evil empires but acted too weak to stop those tragedies?
Five years ago, in March 2018, I wrote a blog titled “Ending Presidential Term Limits: 1.3 Billion Chinese “Unanimously Agree.” During China’s annual meetings to select its top legislature, the National People’s Congress “voted” to overturn a 35-year-old constitutional rule that had limited presidents to two five-year terms and gave Xi Jinping the right to remain in office indefinitely. “Ostensibly, the gathering of the Communist Party in Beijing is a show. The aura of conformity is merely a smokescreen to pave the way for Xi to become president for life.”
Persecution and Genocide During Xi’s First Decade
Today, when Xi took the oath of his third term for his next decade, he put his hand on a fake constitution and swore that he would defend the Chinese constitution. It became a joke, a bad, sad joke. To get a “legitimate” third term, Xi has put millions of people in prison during the last 10 years for dissenting from his power grab.
Hong Kong, from an Open City to a City of Fear. In 2019, hundreds and thousands of HongKongers took to the streets protesting an extradition bill that would have allowed authorities to transfer criminal defendants to mainland China. In response, the Chinese government, acting through the Hong Kong authorities, pursued actions and policies that smothered Hong Kong’s once autonomous and influential civil society organizations. More than 10,000 people, including civil society leaders, community organizers, and professionals, were arrested by the police (Congressional-Executive Commission on China, 2022).
Uyghur Genocide. In 2013, the Chinese regime under Xi’s first term adopted the Belt and Road Initiative, an enormous infrastructure project aimed at connecting East Asia and Europe. For the project to be successful, Xi and his cabinets believed, the westernmost province of Xinjiang had to be under tight control. Between 2015 and 2018, more than two million new Han residents moved to the province to reduce the Uyghur population by forcing intermarriage between Han Chinese and Uyghur people. At the same time, the government subjected hundreds of thousands of Turkic Muslim women to forcible intrauterine device (IUD) insertions, sterilizations, and abortions.
“In 2017, China began building massive detention centers described by government officials as reeducation camps. The men and women detained in these camps are brought in for seemingly innocuous behavior: praying, attending religious weddings, visiting a mosque. Totaling more than 380 at their peak, the centers have held between one and three million Uyghurs in total, making them the largest mass internment of an ethnic-religious minority since World War II.” (Smithsonian, 2022)
Between 2017 and 2019, more than 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred from Xinjiang to factories across China as forced labor. Xi and his regime not only have committed genocide as defined by the United Nations, but also are committing cultural genocide that deprived the Uyghur people from the freedom to speak their language, practice their religion, and pass on their heritage to their children.
As of October 2018, the Political Prisoner Database (PPD) of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) contained information on a total of 9,419 cases of political or religious imprisonment in China.
- In 2015, the police in Shanghai arrested artist and photographer Dai Jianyong, for creating and posting online a satirical cartoon of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary and President Xi Jinping showing Xi with a puckered face and wearing a mustache.
- In 2018, the police in Shanghai arrested author and illustrator Tang Yantao (online name: Tang Tang), simply because Tang created and posted online an illustration criticizing the Chinese government’s criminalization of online freedom of speech. The illustration depicted a clenched fist reaching through prison bars, topped by fountain pen nibs, that cover a computer monitor.
- In 2018, the police in Beijing arrested lawyer Yu Wensheng, because of his Twitter post of January 17 advocating a constitutional reform.
In mainland China, openly supporting the freedom of Uyghurs, HongKongers, Tibetans, and Taiwanese is a crime. The CCP regime uses all propaganda tools to push the idea that individuals who advocate for human rights for those peoples can be convicted of treason, and should be shamed, abhorred, and condemned. In January 2023, four young women who had no activism background were arrested for speaking up for the Uyghur people during the November 2022 memorial in Beijing to commemorate the victims of a fire in Urumqi in the Uyghur region.
Brewing Herd-like Hatred in China
During Mao’s time, families that had overseas relatives were often ostracized, discriminated against, and even persecuted, as the regime baselessly accused them of being spies and foreign agents. Currently, the Chinese authorities are yet again attempting to brew anti-America sentiments and hatred among Chinese. A narrative created by the Xi regime often is that human rights movements in China are the results of foreign influences and the manipulation of foreign powers like the United States.
The current CCP regime demonizes Chinese who speak up for the oppressed people in China and report truth to the world. In September 2020, Dr. Li-Meng Yan, a Chinese virologist who escaped from the Communist-ruled Hong Kong, said on an American TV station that the Chinese government intentionally manufactured and released the COVID-19 virus, leading to nationwide shutdowns and deaths. In March 2023, Dr. Yan tweeted, “Today, all the 1.4 billion Chinese received the article from multi-Chinese state-run media, to deny the CCP-lab-origin of COVID-19, and called for all the Chinese to hate me for revealing the truth with Tucker Carlson on Fox News! Xi and CCP are scary! And they want to eliminate me!”
In the 20th century, approximately 6 million European Jews lost their lives during Nazi Germany’s deliberate, organized, state-sponsored persecution and machinelike murder (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2020). In the 21st century, more than 10,000 Hong Kong people had been put in jail and persecuted for demanding that their city continue to be a free and civil society, and more than a million Uyghurs have been put in CCP concentration camps, experiencing ethnic genocide, even before Xi started his third term.
In his Evil Empire speech, President Reagan said “America is good. And if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” Two weeks after the speech, President Reagan proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative, often dubbed “Star Wars,” which ratcheted up pressure on Soviet economic and military infrastructure. In 1987 when speaking in the shadows of the Berlin Wall, President Reagan boldly urged the Soviet premier to “tear down this wall.” Two years later, the Berlin Wall was toppled.
Again, neither I nor anyone, for that matter, can answer any question about what will happen in Xi’s third term. What can assuredly be said, however, is that Evil Empires may last long but will eventually fall, and therefore are always afraid of people determined to be free.