BEIJING — As the leader of the world’s most populous country and biggest communist party, China’s president, Xi Jinping, has plenty to worry about, and a new book sheds light on what probably keeps him up at night.
The recently released 272-page book of Mr. Xi’s remarks on “national security” includes previously unreleased comments that give a starker view of the president’s motivations than found in most Communist Party propaganda. Here is a selection.
Winning the Technology Race
The recent trade dispute between China and the United States has brought new attention to China’s zeal to become technologically self-reliant. The book shows that Mr. Xi was determined that China master its own microchips, operating systems and other core technologies well before this recent quarrel. In two speeches — in July and August 2013 — Mr. Xi pointedly said that Western domination came thanks to technology.
“Advanced technology is the sharp weapon of the modern state. An important reason that Western countries were able to hold sway over the world in modern times was that they held the advanced technology. You cannot buy the truly core technologies. It’s been aptly put that ‘The sharpest weapon of a state should not be revealed.’”
“Our technology still generally lags that of developed countries, and we must adopt an asymmetrical strategy of catching up and overtaking, bringing our own advantages to bear. In core technological fields where it would be impossible for us to catch up by 2050, we must research asymmetrical steps to catch up and overtake. Internationally, if you don’t have the advantage of core technologies, you don’t have the political momentum. We must make a big effort in key fields and areas where there is a stranglehold. The same applies to the military.”
Taming the Internet
Since the introduction of the internet, Chinese Communist Party leaders have worried about its deployment as a means of subversion and spying. A speech on propaganda that Mr. Xi gave in August 2013 suggested he was alarmed by the United States’ surveillance capabilities that were exposed by Edward Snowden.
“The internet has become the main battleground of struggle over public opinion. Some comrades have said that the internet is the ‘biggest variable’ confronting us, and if it’s mishandled it will become a ‘peril weighing on our minds.’ Western anti-China forces have constantly and vainly tried to exploit the internet to ‘topple China,’ and years ago some Western politicians declared that ‘with the internet,