While Americans embrace their reinstated confidence in both economics and international affairs, China seems to be going the opposite direction.
Deng probably hoped future Chinese leaders would be humble and restrained, keep a low profile, and instead of broadcasting China’s ambitions or showing off China’s economic or military muscles, quietly focus on overcoming China’s weaknesses, such as economic development. In international affairs, Deng probably would have liked to see China avoid acting like an aggressor. Instead, he would have preferred China shun either causing any international conflict or serving as a leader of any faction within an international conflict.
When Deng passed away in 1997, China was still in its first decade of economic reform and its per-capita gross domestic product was less than $800, so the kind of restrained policy approach he advocated made perfect sense. No one knows how long Deng intended for this policy guidance to last. But Deng’s successors, from Hu Yaobang to Hu Jingtao (they aren’t related), pretty much followed Deng’s policy guidelines until President Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012.
No More Humility and Restraint
It seems President Xi has abandoned Deng’s strategic policy guidelines. On the domestic front, he focused on ensuring his power by purging many political rivals through the anti-graft movement. In October, he was declared the “core” leader of the Chinese Communist Party, a title last used by Chairman Mao.
He coined the term “China dream” to counter “American dream.” While “American dream” is about any hard-working individual living to his or her full capacity in a free society, “China dream” means Chinese people can only live a better life by subjecting themselves to the Communist Party’s absolute rule. Under President Xi, the Chinese government has ruthlessly cracked down on dissidents, including Chinese nationals and foreigners, and China has become a much less friendly place to foreign investors and companies.
On the foreign policy front, China doesn’t lay low any longer. President Xi has been very vocal about China’s ambitions. He seems to believe that China’s rise to replace the United States as the next superpower is unstoppable and the time is now.
He sees at least two trends in his favor. First, there’s a consensus within the Chinese leadership and public opinion that the 2008 economic crisis has produced long-lasting devastating effects to the West: most countries in Europe are still struggling economically while the United States has experienced a very timid recovery. Since China emerged from the 2008 economic crisis relatively unscathed, many people, including Xi, believed that free market economics have reached their end and it’s time to adopt the Chinese-style authoritarian mercantile economic model. Thus, China should replace the United States to set a new economic order.
Second, based on a misguided belief that the world is a better place when the United States gives up its power and authority in a global system established since World War II, President Obama has been ready and willing to acquiesce America’s leadership in international affairs in the last eight years. President Xi quickly sized up president Obama as a weak leader, and sought to expand China’s influence and challenge America wherever opportunities rise. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael Clauss hits out at lack of progress in market reforms and a reality that contradicts Beijing’s declared intentions.
Wendy Wu reports: China isn’t following through on its market reform pledges as quickly as desired, German ambassador to China Michael Clauss said in an interview.
“I regret to note that the reform initiatives taken at the third plenum apparently have lost momentum,” Clauss told the South China Morning Post in Beijing.
The Communist Party, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, pledged three years ago that China would allow the market to play a “decisive” role in resources allocation. But the promises of adopting more market-oriented changes have mostly been shelved as Beijing beefs up intervention in economic activities, from coal mine operations to capital account controls.
“It seems that preserving social stability and discipline are the order of the day much more than implementing the necessary economic reforms,” Clauss said.
“Officially, China propagates a policy of open markets and unfettered access for foreign trade and investment. However, we note that very often [the] reality on the ground does not correspond to the declared intention of the Chinese government to facilitate foreign direct investment.
“On a long-term perspective, we sense a growing tendency in China towards market closure and favouring of indigenous production,” he said.
At a key policy meeting that ended on Friday, the leadership again highlighted “stability” and “financial risk prevention” as priorities for the coming year, sending a clear message that bold moves in market opening or liberalisation were off the table, observers said.
They are worried that Beijing is also unlikely to make painful cuts in the bloated state sector, for fear of possible social unrest, before the top leadership reshuffle at 19th party congress in the autumn.
Survey results of commerce chambers of China’s major trading partners have underscored the increasing difficulties of doing business in China, including ambiguous security laws, limited market access and an official favouring of domestic technology.
Last year Beijing launched “Made in China 2025” – a campaign to revamp its manufacturing sector, and establish a home-grown hi-tech powerhouse.
“We wonder whether this is what in the end China 2025 is all about: a future Chinese economy relying on its own, leaving no room for exchanges with its partners,” Clauss said, adding that plans for German companies to expand investment in China had fallen to a three-year low.
Since late last year, Beijing has strengthened controls on individuals and companies transferring funds overseas to stem capital outflows and defend the yuan’s exchange rate. Read the rest of this entry »
Kissinger himself negotiated the One China policy, which recognizes the Chinese government in Beijing, as opposed to Taiwan.
Addy Baird reports: Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger dismissed concerns Wednesday about President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has been criticized for his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I hope and I am optimistic that the cooperative way will prevail… Keep in mind that if China and America are in conflict, then the whole world will be divided.”
“I pay no attention to this argument that he is too friendly with Russia,” Kissinger said at an event in Manhattan. “He would be useless at the head of Exxon if he was not friendly with Russia… I don’t hear those concerns at all.”
Kissinger was asked about Tillerson at an event put on by the Committee of 100, an organization that works to advance Chinese-American relations, where the former secretary talked about the future of U.S.-Chinese relations under Trump.
“I pay no attention to this argument that he is too friendly with Russia. He would be useless at the head of Exxon if he was not friendly with Russia… I don’t hear those concerns at all.”
But Kissinger walked a fine line in talking about Tillerson, joking when he was asked about the appointment that he didn’t “come to commit suicide,” but that he “sympathized” with Trump’s decision.
“Nobody can meet every single qualification for secretary of state,” Kissinger said. “I think it’s a good appointment.”
Reflecting on Trump’s developing relationship with China, Kissinger said he is optimistic about the coming administration.
“[We have to decide] whether to attempt to deal cooperatively or confrontationally” with China, Kissinger said. “I hope and I am optimistic that the cooperative way will prevail… Keep in mind that if China and America are in conflict, then the whole world will be divided.”
Earlier this month, Trump became the first U.S. president or president-elect to speak with the leader of Taiwan since 1979. And he suggested this past weekend that the U.S. shouldn’t have to be “bound” by the “One China” policy that American leaders have stood by for decades. Those comments “seriously concerned” China’s Foreign Ministry, its spokesperson said Monday. Read the rest of this entry »
Chinese Media Taunt Outgoing U.S. Envoy Gary Locke with Bizarre Racial Insults: ‘Yellow-Skinned, White-Hearted Banana Man’Posted: March 3, 2014
Gary Locke may have won over ordinary Chinese with his conduct in the country, but not everyone was impressed with the first Chinese-American to serve as the U.S. envoy to China.
“And it’s all because of a coffee break…”
NPR’s Anthony Kuhn reported Friday for our Newscast unit about an opinion piece in China News, a Chinese state media outlet, that called Locke, the outgoing U.S. ambassador, a “‘yellow-skinned, white-hearted banana man,’ whose Chinese ancestors would have kicked him out of the house, had they known about his future career.”
“The piece lambasted him for carrying his own backpack and buying his own coffee in what it described as a ploy to embarrass less frugal Chinese officials.
“It also called him the ‘guide dog’ of Chinese blind activist Chen Guangchen, whose exodus to the U.S. was a sensitive episode in Locke’s tenure.