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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The CCP's land grab attempts reflect its flawed Marxist roots

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The CCP's land grab attempts reflect its flawed Marxist roots

On April 10 this year, four Tibetans were arrested, detained, and supposedly beaten up by Chinese police while in detention as they had protested the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s land grab in Markham county in Chamdo, or Changdu in Chinese, located in the Tibet Autonomous Region, based on a report by Radio Free Asia (RFA).

 

Although the Chinese authorities released all four protesters on April 16, “they were beaten and tortured during detention, and one of them even has a swollen cheek,” a Tibetan source told RFA.

Moreover, since the protest, the Chinese authorities dispatched about 10 policemen to patrol the area day and night, and keep tabs on people’s activities, sources added.

This aforementioned incident is one of many face-offs Tibetans have had with the communist authorities in China, as the latter have regularly seized land owned by Tibetans for various purposes, including state-sanctioned farming and mining.

A January article by Foreign Policy revealed that the past few years have seen China constructing huge infrastructure with “hundreds of concrete structures, military posts, and administrative centers in the region of Beyul Khenpajong, some 12,000 feet in the northern Himalayan mountains”.

Apart from taking over land from Tibetans, the CCP has had its eyes fixed on disputed lands with neighboring countries, such as the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

A January article by Foreign Policy revealed that the past few years have seen China constructing huge infrastructure with “hundreds of concrete structures, military posts, and administrative centers in the region of Beyul Khenpajong, some 12,000 feet in the northern Himalayan mountains”.

Likewise, a 2024 NDTV report mentioned how recent satellite images have disclosed the “staggering pace at which China continues to illegally carve into northeast Bhutan by constructing townships along a river valley in Beyul Khenpajong”. Notably, satellite imagery specialists told NDTV that these satellite images disclosed that the CCP’s construction activities were “large format settlements capable of housing hundreds”.

“This case represents China making a very recent, doubtful claim about an area that is of great cultural significance to a far less powerful neighbor, knowing that the neighbor has few if any options as to its response,” opined professor Robert Barnett, a Tibetan history specialist at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, as cited by NDTV.

Cartologically, the CCP has also been relentless in its desire to stake claims on as much land as possible.

Much to the chagrin of India and Malaysia, China’s Ministry of Natural Resources in 2023 published a version of a map that stipulated contested territories, including Arunachal Pradesh, over which New Delhi and Beijing have contested, as well as disputed maritime areas near Borneo island, the latter which Malaysia also claims as its own.

To boot, a brief look at recent escalating tensions between Beijing and Manila involving even water cannons in the disputed South China Sea waters would also suffice to see how the CCP has been flexing its military muscles to stake claims over regions already ruled by international courts as belonging to other countries.

Across the Pacific, the CCP has also been assiduous in buying over US farmland, sparking fears over compromised American national security, according to a report by The Heritage Foundation published in May 2024.

However, in response to Communist bashings of existing economic orders the great American bishop, Venerable Fulton Sheen, wrote in his famous book, “Communism and the Conscience of the West”, that while “the protests of Communism are often right” against the capitalistic economic order, the reforms proposed by Communism “are wrong”.

In its report, The Heritage Foundation report contended:

“Given that Chinese companies have spent well over $100 billion acquiring U.S. companies since 2010, many of which will have owned real estate holdings, it seems certain that Chinese companies control significant amounts of U.S. real estate. The National Association of Realtors, for example, reported that during 2020, ‘Chinese buyers were the top foreign buyers of U.S. commercial real estate.’”

As the CCP can trace its origins to radical Marxist and anarchist ideologies, it is no wonder why the Party seems to be adamant about seizing land owned by those not under its control. After all, Karl Marx characterized communism as the abolition of “bourgeois property” or private property.

An excerpt from Chapter 2 of the Communist Manifesto reads:

“The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. But modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products, that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few. In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.”

In other words, Communism suggests that there shall be “no right of property in land or houses or ships or stores of food or machinery of any kind, when those things are used for producing further wealth”, as such a situation could give rise to “poor men working the advantage of rich men”, as The Distributist Review puts it.

However, in response to Communist bashings of existing economic orders the great American bishop, Venerable Fulton Sheen, wrote in his famous book, “Communism and the Conscience of the West”, that while “the protests of Communism are often right” against the capitalistic economic order, the reforms proposed by Communism “are wrong”[1].

The Catholic Church has long taught that “the right to property is personal”, but “the use is social”[2], as Venerable Sheen stated. While the Church “agrees with communism in its protest against the injustice of the economic order”, it “parts with it in the collectivity being made the sole employer, for this reduces the individual to the status of a serf or a slave of the state”[3].

This is because Communism, being a materialistic and godless ideology, “begins with the liberal and capitalistic error that man is economic, and, instead of correcting it, merely intensifies it until man becomes a robot in a vast economic machine”[4], as Venerable Sheen continued.

Strikingly, Pope Leo XIII, in the 19th century, already decried the practice of the State seizing the possessions of one man and passing them to another, in his encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris:

“But Catholic wisdom, sustained by the precepts of natural and divine law, provides with especial care for public and private tranquility in its doctrines and teachings regarding the duty of government and the distribution of the goods which are necessary for life and use. For, while the socialists would destroy the "right" of property, alleging it to be a human invention altogether opposed to the inborn equality of man, and, claiming a community of goods, argue that poverty should not be peaceably endured, and that the property and privileges of the rich may be rightly invaded, the Church, with much greater wisdom and good sense, recognizes the inequality among men, who are born with different powers of body and mind, inequality in actual possession, also, and holds that the right of property and of ownership, which springs from nature itself, must not be touched and stands inviolate. For she knows that stealing and robbery were forbidden in so special a manner by God, the Author and Defender of right, that He would not allow man even to desire what belonged to another, and that thieves and despoilers, no less than adulterers and idolaters, are shut out from the Kingdom of Heaven.

Likewise, in his 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, Pope Pius XI proclaimed:

“Moreover, Leo XIII wisely taught ‘that God has left the limits of private possessions to be fixed by the industry of men and institutions of peoples.’ That history proves ownership, like other elements of social life, to be not absolutely unchanging, We once declared as follows: ‘What divers forms has property had, from that primitive form among rude and savage peoples, which may be observed in some places even in our time, to the form of possession in the patriarchal age; and so further to the various forms under tyranny (We are using the word tyranny in its classical sense); and then through the feudal and monarchical forms down to the various types which are to be found in more recent times.’ That the State is not permitted to discharge its duty arbitrarily is, however, clear. The natural right itself both of owning goods privately and of passing them on by inheritance ought always to remain intact and inviolate, since this indeed is a right that the State cannot take away: ‘For man is older than the State,’ and also ‘domestic living together is prior both in thought and in fact to uniting into a polity.’”

In another part of Quadragesimo Anno, Pope Pius XI acknowledges that while there is a right to private property, the State can regulate its use in line with the public good:

“Yet when the State brings private ownership into harmony with the needs of the common good, it does not commit a hostile act against private owners but rather does them a friendly service; for it thereby effectively prevents the private possession of goods, which the Author of nature in His most wise providence ordained for the support of human life, from causing intolerable evils and thus rushing to its own destruction; it does not destroy private possessions, but safeguards them; and it does not weaken private property rights, but strengthens them.”

It is Catholicism, and not vindictive proletariat revolutions or forced property seizures, that can truly reform greedy men and their insatiable appetites for money, status and power. After all, “violence never leads to freedom” and “hatred never leads to brotherhood.”

Also, in Divini Redemptoris, the papal encyclical denouncing Communism, Pope Pius XI said:

“By pretending to desire only the betterment of the condition of the working classes, by urging the removal of the very real abuses chargeable to the liberalistic economic order, and by demanding a more equitable distribution of this world’s goods (objectives entirely and undoubtedly legitimate), the Communist takes advantage of the present world-wide economic crisis to draw into the sphere of his influence, even those sections of the populace which on principle reject all forms of materialism and terrorism.”

Adding, the pontiff explained the evils of Communism in dehumanizing human beings:

“Communism, moreover, strips man of his liberty, robs human personality of all its dignity, and removes all the moral restraints that check the eruptions of blind impulse. There is no recognition of any right of the individual in his relations to the collectivity; no natural right is accorded to human personality, which is a mere cog-wheel in the Communist system. In man's relations with other individuals, Communists hold the principle of absolute equality, rejecting all hierarchy and divinely-constituted authority, including the authority of parents. What men call authority and subordination is derived from the community as its first and only font. Nor is the individual granted any property rights over material goods or the means of production, for inasmuch as these are the source of further wealth, their possession would give one man power over another. Precisely on this score, all forms of private property must be eradicated, for they are at the origin of all economic enslavement.”

In another part of “Communism and the Conscience of the West”, Venerable Sheen posited that Communism is flawed and superficial because it is “concerned only with externals, not with the soul of man”. Hence, while Communism may attempt to transfer “booty and loot from one man’s pocket to another’s”, it does not eradicate the “desire for personal property, as “pride, miserliness and acquisitiveness still exist”[5].

Rather, Venerable Sheen maintains that it is Christianity (specifically, the one, true Catholic religion) with its focus on man’s supernatural (and not materialistic) end, that can “uproot the selfishness”[6] and covetousness of men, in order for men to be transformed from inside to be charitable towards others. In other words, it is Catholicism, and not vindictive proletariat revolutions or forced property seizures, that can truly reform greedy men and their insatiable appetites for money, status and power. After all, “violence never leads to freedom” and “hatred never leads to brotherhood.”[7]

Needless to say, Venerable Sheen is right. Thanks be to the infinite mercy of God, men broken from the effects of original sin who embrace the Catholic Faith and leverage its divinely instituted Sacraments, especially by assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and being devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, can readily find grace to combat selfishness and greed, as well as to “put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth” (Ephesians 4:24).

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[1] Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Communism and the Conscience of the West (Tan Books, 2022), 73

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Communism and the Conscience of the West (Tan Books, 2022), 74.

[5]Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Communism and the Conscience of the West (Tan Books, 2022),  86.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Nicholas Berdyaev, Slavery and Freedom (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1941), 191.

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Angeline Tan | Remnant Columnist, Singapore

Angeline is a Catholic writer who enjoys Catholic history and architecture. Her favorite saints include Saint Joseph, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, Saint Philomena and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of all Saints.