How Xi Jinping is Ruining China's Dream of a Century of Dominance

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When Xi Jinping came to power in China in 2013, there was no doubt that this century would be China's century. The country was an undisputed economic heavyweight on a historically unprecedented upward trend. And the rest of the world especially welcomed the steady and peaceful shift in world power from west to east. But all of that has changed now, and almost everything can be traced back to Xi himself.
The problem with Xi and his entourage is that they see China's history and future development from a Han nationalist perspective. In this context, China's rise since Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms is not only a triumph of reforms and governance that has served the Chinese people well, but also a revenge. Success is a "repayment" for the two centuries of "humiliation" that China, the world's rightful leader, and the Han people have suffered from the West.
It is therefore not enough for China to win the global geopolitical game within the global rule-based system, as China has done so successfully in the three decades before Xi joined the presidency. Rather, China now had to "assert itself".
It started out benign: The belt-and-road initiative, with which China would build the trade infrastructure for the next century of Eurasian trade, is in principle a good idea and could have been a great blessing for many developing countries on the routes between China and Western Europe. But within a few years, this degenerated into a crude mechanism of "debt diplomacy", reminiscent of European imperial practice in the 19th century and demanding territorial concessions.
Meanwhile, more than 1 million Uyghur citizens are still detained in Xinjiang brainwashing camps because they are not Han. In addition, Hong Kong is put down because it maintains the idea of ​​"two systems" in the "One Country, Two Systems" agreement after which Great Britain ceded the island to Beijing in 1997. Eventually, Taiwan threatens to be invaded because of the boldness of Taiwan. Add to that the relentless censorship of all companies operating in China, including the largest western multinationals. Beijing continues its violent military expansion in the South China Sea and the trade wars continue. These are just a few of the many other aspects of the unwanted Chinese "assertiveness".
The most important thing about all of these is that they are rooted in this peculiar Han supremacism of Xi himself and all interfere with and even prevent China's inevitable rise to global hegemon.
In 2013, it was really just the die-hard Atlanteans who were hostile to the historical trends that showed the rise of China. Many Europeans were relaxed about this, East and Southeast Asia were restless but reconciled, and even the Obama administration in the United States understood and accepted this future and was primarily concerned with keeping this shift in power peaceful while protecting American interests therein expected reality.
Nowadays, almost everyone who has had to do business with China, from local and distant governments to companies to NGOs and even ordinary citizens of the rest of the world, is extremely concerned - and hostile to - other Chinese interventions and "assertiveness". ”All of this because Beijing was grossly premature in terms of its place in the world and because Xi himself, both personally and in leadership, that he gives to the rest of the Communist Party (eg through" Xi Jinping Thoughts ") , an approach of "Power does right" and "the strong do what they want, the weak suffer as they have to" on international issues without diplomatic sensitivity or foresight.
And then the coronavirus pandemic started. And while the original SARS epidemic, which came from China in 2002, was badly maltreated by the authorities at the time, this pandemic never reached the global ramifications of our current one because Beijing has been able to work successfully with the WHO and the rest of the world they nip it in the bud and limit its spread. In contrast, the Xi Jinping government is now heavily responsible for the global spread of this pandemic, as it has tried to cover up the development of the virus in the first few weeks of its spread, as it is more concerned with optics and PR than with it Health of their citizens.
It is too early to say whether all of this will be enough to completely derail the rise of China to global importance in this century, but it is fair to say that the rest of the world is certainly no longer looking forward to what makes the impetus strong slows down such a development. And all because of Xi's misjudgment and mismanagement. For this reason, it is much more likely that the story will not remember Xi as the man who made China as big as he seems to want it to be, but as a kind of Kaiser Wilhelm II, who is not patient waiting for the inevitable triumph of his own country, he felt compelled to aggressively press that triumph into everyone else's throat, bringing ruin to his country.
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim is a director at the Center for Global Policy in Washington, DC.
Image: Reuters
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