The twentieth National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is a weeklong event that opened yesterday in Beijing, China. Beijing is 6,980 miles from Dallas, Texas, where I live. Why should I care what happens there?
Why should you?
According to the US Department of State, the Chinese Communist Party seeks to set up “a new international order dominated by the CCP.” It therefore “threatens the world’s economy and public health by unsustainably exploiting natural resources and exporting its reckless disregard for the environment.”
Meanwhile, the CCP “silences dissent and restricts the rights and freedoms of Chinese citizens to include forced population control, arbitrary detention, censorship, forced labor, violations of religious freedom, and pervasive media and internet censorship,” all while it “manipulates international organizations, democratically elected governments, and companies to mask its human rights abuses at home and abroad.”
The FBI says confronting the economic espionage threats emanating from the CCP is its “top counterintelligence priority.” It warns that “the Chinese government is seeking to become the world’s greatest superpower through predatory lending and business practices, systematic theft of intellectual property, and brazen cyber intrusions.”
And our Christian brothers and sisters in China face some of the most oppressive and sophisticated surveillance and persecution in the world. It is illegal for those under eighteen years of age even to attend church. Christian leaders who are seen as threats to the government have been abducted.
Why we are the enemy
When I was growing up, the Soviet Union was the major threat to the West and to global stability. Now, despite Russia’s horrific crimes against Ukraine, China has risen to become our greatest threat. Why?
The foundational answer consists of two names: Karl Marx and Xi Jinping.
Xi is expected to be reelected this week to an unprecedented third term as China’s leader. He more than any other individual or factor has led China to threaten the West as it does.
The reason is simple: he is following the ideology of Karl Marx. Often called the Father of Communism, Marx emphasized the importance of class struggle in every historical society. He sought to foment working-class revolutions throughout the capitalist world that would lead, he claimed, to a classless society and a socialist utopia.
In Marx’s view, the individual is a means to the advancement of society, which in turn (he claimed) will benefit the individual. He wanted the state to govern every dimension of life as a means to this end and saw Western capitalism, with its emphasis on the value and rights of the individual, as the enemy of such “progress.”
Chinese Marxism and American materialism
Kevin Rudd is president of the Asia Society in New York and a former prime minister and foreign minister of Australia. Writing for Foreign Affairs, he notes that Marxism has been China’s official ideology since 1949. However, he states, Xi Jinping “has developed a new form of Marxist nationalism that now shapes the presentation and substance of China’s politics, economy, and foreign policy.”
As a result, he has “reasserted the influence and control the CCP exerts over all domains of public policy and private life” and “stoked nationalism by pursuing an increasingly assertive foreign policy, turbocharged by a Marxist-inspired belief that history is irreversibly on China’s side and that a world anchored in Chinese power would produce a more just international order.”
In direct contrast to Xi Jinping’s ideology that makes the individual the servant of the state, the United States stands on the declaration that “all men are created equal” and a consequent belief in “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” as Abraham Lincoln stated so eloquently.
However, as Anglican priest Tish Harrison Warren notes in yesterday’s New York Times, Americans are increasingly experiencing life as “machines” who exist as a means to materialistic ends.
Digital productivity monitoring has resulted in hyper-controlled work environments. Omnipresent technology means work is no longer confined to the office: nearly 40 percent of workers said they check email outside of regular hours every day. Remote work means we can work anywhere at any time. A majority of workers say it is more difficult to “unplug” from work than when the pandemic began.
A third ideology
As a result, whether we are discussing China’s oppressive Marxism or America’s oppressive materialism, we need to remember a third ideology: the biblical claim that each of us is created uniquely in the likeness of God (Genesis 1:26–27). As “image bearers” of the divine, we are people of intrinsic value and worth.
However, sin marred this image and separated us from our holy Creator, so he sent his Son to die on our cross, pay our debt, and purchase our salvation. When we trust Christ as our Savior and Lord, he makes us the children of God and gives us “abundant” life on earth and in eternity (John 1:12; 10:10).
This is the gospel, literally the “good news.” It is the only ideology that restores fallen humans to the transforming intimacy with our Maker for which we are intended. It is the only worldview that empowers us to love our Father and each other unconditionally (Matthew 22:37–39).
But our world will not adopt our worldview unless we do. Secularists will not love our Father more than we do. Skeptics will not believe we love our neighbor unless we love them.
St. Augustine observed, “Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.”
How beautiful will your soul be today?