The 13th Report on the Social Doctrine of the Church in the World of the Cardinal Van Thuân Observatory has just been published [Cantagalli, Siena 2021, pgs. 222, euro 16]. This year it is dedicated to the “Chinese Model”, a model of capital-socialism of social control crafted in China but being exported all over the world. In many ways the Chinese Model is already here, even in the West, even in Italy: the new financial socialism, the Great Reset of Davos, the attacks on private property, the control of population mobility with health-related excuses, the freezing of democracy, the overcoming of religions into a single religion.

Once again, the Observatory’s report hits the nail on the head: the Chinese model is highly topical and seems to attract considerable interest. African countries import it with the illusion of reducing poverty, western governments in order to move towards a strict ‘oversight’ democracy, western entrepreneurs because they need the Chinese market which seems to work so well without democracy, and, in the meantime, the Vatican refrains from even mentioning the issue of human rights in China so as not to rock its boat. Latin American socialist governments are selling off to China key positions they hold in the energy and research fields. While China has built a large database to monitor the faithful of the various religions, homilies in France and Denmark are subject to government scrutiny, and liturgy in Italy is decided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The Chinese model aims to be a sort of coexistence between capitalism and socialism, centralization and autonomy, order and freedom, atheism and religious traditions. The economy is not run by the state, but is nonetheless centralist. The control of people–mobility and the very life of citizens is total. Order is considered the end that justifies the suspension of human rights and individual freedoms. Traditional religions are tolerated, but only if they accept atheistic “Sinization” (i.e. the transformation of the religions of the world into specifically Chinese variations). China says it is communist but does business by using all the ways and means available on worldwide economic and financial markets. It calls itself atheist but signs secret agreements with the Vatican. It can control what is done in public, and pretend to tolerate what is done in private. It can claim to be revolutionary and conservative at the same time: it can continue the cultural revolution and put a stop to any and all demonstrations in the streets.

The Report, which also features input from Cardinal Zen, contains eight essays on the Chinese Model and eight chronicles from five continents reporting on its exportation outside China. The Report illustrates grounds for asserting that China is now a great military power (Gianandrea Gaiani), has a massive presence at the top of international organizations (Luca Pingani), is conducting a tangible occupation of the African continent, and has transformed Hong Kong from an island of freedom into a province of communist China (Stefano Magni). Moreover, it also cites the weaknesses of the Chinese model, and even says it is on the verge of collapsing, as reported in the Report of Steven Mosher, the American journalist who in the 1980s was the first to inform the West of the aberrations of the one-child policy. It also goes so far as to foreshadow the next geo-strategic developments with Gianfranco Battisti’s essay. Above all, however, it illustrates the strange appeal that the Chinese model is exercising in the world, and in particular in Western countries. Daniel Martins highlights this phenomenon in Latin America, Silvio Brachetta in European democracies, Paolo Gulisano in anti-pandemic policies, Anna Bono in Africa, and Andrea Mariotto in Italy. China wants to be the world, and the Chinese Model is the “way of China”, as the co-editors Riccardo Cascioli and Stefano Fontana write in the introductory Synthesis to the Report. The Chinese Model is a political artifice China uses to export itself without clearly declaring so. Except for China itself, no country wants China to become the world, yet, within their own borders, many are the countries that want to imitate the Chinese Model, which is still the way for China to become the world.

The Chinese Model is communism, atheism, materialism, and iron clad ideology, but China is intelligently crafty in pursuing its goals, and this explains how it can penetrate Western and European culture, whose democracy is deep in the throes of an identity crisis, and where policy features of the Chinese Model are already evident. RAI journalist Giovanna Botteri, who spared Trump no quarter, says nothing about the laogai now that she is a correspondent in Beijing, the oceanic demonstrations by the inhabitants of Hong Kong have found no support in the West, not even in the Vatican, and when the city of Rijeka in Croatia blocked Chinese control of the port, it caused a stir precisely because it was the only one to do so, yet it is known that there is a Chinese plan to occupy commercial ports.

The previous Report – the 12th – of the Cardinal Van Thuân Observatory was dedicated to environmentalism and globalism, and was widely circulated. This one – the 13th – is dedicated to the Chinese Model and deserves due attention because, after all, this is the main global political issue in the world today.

Stefano Fontana


The Report is published exclusively in Italian.

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Stefano Fontana

Direttore dell'Osservatorio Card. Van Thuận