Mao Tse-tung
Mao Tse-tung

On October 1, 1949 Mao Tse-tung proclaimed the People’s Republic of China. Mao was born on December 26, 1893 in The Year of the Snake, the sixth cycle of the Chinese lunar calendar.

According to the Chinese horoscope, people born in The Year of the Snake are mysterious, enigmatic, deep thinkers, soft-spoken, like the good things in life, and ruthless in attaining an important objective. It is not wise to draw a line in the sand and predict how far a Snake will go because he is unrelenting and never stops plotting. The Snake is possessive, demanding and one of the most tenacious signs of the Chinese zodiac. He is always on guard, evasive, plans his moves well in advance, has the willpower to maintain his position and negotiates to his own advantage. The Snake is most compatible with those born in the year of the Ox, Rooster and the Dragon, but stays clear of the fearless Tiger and an aggressive Dog born at night.

Some other people born in The Year of the Snake were: Abraham Lincoln, Ferdinand Marcos, John F Kennedy, Indira Gandhi and Xi Jinping, President of China and leader of the Chinese Communist Party since 2012. Xi, assertive on the world stage and ruthless internally, is the most authoritarian Chinese leader since Mao Tse-tung. He has further developed the concept of socialism with Chinese characteristics introduced by Deng Xiaoping and is a good partner for Vladimir Putin, both of whom were born in The Year of the Dragon.

Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping

Deng Xiaoping was the defacto leader of China following Mao’s death in 1976 and the purge of the Gang of Four. He ended the Cultural Revolution and was the architect of China’s economic reform and modernization. Deng was a more conservative reformer than Mao but he was behind the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, the cover up of the atrocities, and the end of British control of Hong Kong where he was the architect of the one country two systems idea.

According to the Chinese horoscope, people born in the year of the Dragon are full of vitality and strength, eccentric, direct and very demanding. He sets high standards for others and himself. In China, the Dragon is regarded as the guardian of wealth and power. He may talk about the virtues of free speech and democracy but does not believe in either one, as shown in Deng’s reaction to the demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. The Chinese horoscope says people born in the years of the Snake and Dragon make a good match and that can be seen in Xi Jinping’s adoption of the ideologies of Mao and Deng and the increasingly authoritarian government in Beijing. The suits may have changed but not the ideology.

Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping’s ideology is outlined in his version of the Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung (“The Little Red Book”). It is a Smartphone app called Studying Great Nation, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, more commonly known as “The Little Red App”. Reading of “The Little Red Book” by all Chinese was mandatory under Chairman Mao. Reading of “The Little Red App” is “voluntary” under Xi’s authoritarian government.

Communism is based on different ideologies that share the ideal of “common ownership of wealth and property” and the ideals of Karl Marx and Friederich Engels. It became widely accepted in under developed countries governed by authoritarian leaders supported by a strong and ruthless military. The Communist Party seized control of Russia in 1917 and China thirty- two years later. The new leaders of both countries welcomed the benefits of being a supreme leader and recognised the need to have the backing of a strong and ruthless military. The ideals of common ownership of wealth and property were forgotten, replaced by strong authoritarian governments with wealth and property shared among the few at the top of the ladder and token benefits (housing, education and health care) provided to the masses assembled at the bottom.

Guangzhou 1972
Guangzhou 1972

The collapse of the Communist Governments in parts of Russia, Eastern Europe and the former Yugoslavia in the 1980’s and 1990’s sent a strong message to the Communist leaders of China who brutally suppressed the demonstrators in Tianamen Square before their protests spread to other parts of the country.

Xi has been more cautious in suppressing the pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong because of the large number of foreigners living there, the presence of the western media and the importance of Hong Kong as a financial center. That is changing. Like others born in The Year of the Snake he has planned his moves well in advance and will be unrelenting, tenacious and ruthless in gaining complete control of Hong Kong. He will do this through the implementation of the new national security legislation rubber stamped by the government in Beijing. The new law will make an act of secession, subversion, terrorism and interference in Hong Kong by foreign forces a criminal offense – interpreted by the Chinese courts. Implementation of the law will require the establishment of “special offices” (read PRC military presence) in Hong Kong to oversee its national security and implement the new laws. Criticism of the PRC government by Honk Kong residents will be classified as “subversion”, peaceful demonstrations that become “violent” (regardless of who provoked it) will become “terrorism”, foreign media and other comments will become “interference in Hong Kong by foreign forces,” pro-democracy demonstrations will become “threatened secession from China” and “theft of state secrets” will cover everything else the Beijing government doesn’t like. All of these charges are currently in use in China to jail opponents of the authoritarian government.

Hong Kong will no longer be considered a viable financial hub for foreign companies, a safe gateway into China for investors and buyers of China’s manufactured products, or a vital part of China’s export trade. Goods will no longer be shipped from China to Hong Kong for “Made in Hong Kong” labels to be attached before being exported to western countries under special trade agreements. Expatriate workers will return home or relocate to more friendly countries in the region. There will be a huge transfer of money from Hong Kong to safer havens and an increase in migration by Hong Kong (and Taiwan) citizens to other countries. Participation in China’s Belt and Road initiative will be less attractive to developed countries and Hong Kong will no longer be the “fragrant harbor” (its Chinese name) as a lasting unpleasant smell descends over the city. Xi believes the benefits to China will outweigh the losses.

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Image Credits: photos of the Chinese junks arriving in Hong Kong from China, the Beware of Snakes sign, and Guangzhou 1972 were taken by the author, © Ken Peacock; photos of Mao Tse-tung and Deng Xiaoping are from party posters and assume fair use; the photo of Xi Jinping is from Wikipedia.org by Palácio do Planalto and used under a Creative Commons license.

Ken Peacock

Ken Peacock

Ken Peacock, a former senior Australian executive of a mining company, first visited China in 1972 at the end of the Cultural Revolution and before diplomatic recognition by the Australian and US Governments. This was the first of many visits to China during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1978, he traveled throughout China with a trade delegation and revisited Shanghai where he stayed at the Shanghai Mansions Hotel and discovered the “Last Bottle of Gin in China”.