Xi’s new moves but China Dream crashes

Discussion in 'China' started by Ray, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Xi’s new moves

    But the US is underwhelmed by his call for a new great power relationship

    As the Communist Party of China holds its central committee plenum meeting to unveil an economic reform package, the attention of the international community is focused on the domestic agenda of China's new leader, Xi Jinping, who ascended to the top spot a year ago. Obviously, Xi's political fortunes will be largely determined by whether his administration can revamp the Chinese economy through market-oriented reforms. For him, the ongoing plenum meeting is a make-or-break moment.

    Less noticed by the international community, however, is Xi's foreign policy strategy. In the year since he assumed office, Xi has been seen as more assertive on foreign policy than his predecessor. Rhetorically, he seems to have embraced a more nationalist tone. His rallying cry for the average Chinese is the "revival of the great Chinese nation" — the "China Dream", in short. He has maintained a hard line on the territorial disputes with Japan, even though Beijing recently started to repair relations with Southeast Asian countries. Ties had been strained over maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

    Of Xi's foreign policy moves, most notable is his attempt to redefine US-China relations. Given the importance of the US to China's security and economic well-being, Xi's focus on Sino-American ties is evidently sensible. However, his initiative to construct what he calls a "new great power relationship" with the US seems to have got off to a slow, even unpromising, start.

    Xi has personally offered three principles for a new Sino-American relationship — "no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect, and cooperation for mutual benefits". His chief foreign policy advisor, the state councillor in charge of external affairs, Yang Jiechi, has elaborated Xi's three principles in writing. According to Yang, "no conflict or confrontation" means that both sides must "objectively and rationally see each other's strategic intentions and properly handle their disagreements through dialogue and cooperation". As for "mutual respect", it implies respect for the social (political) system and the development path each side has chosen, and for each other's core interests and critical concerns". "Cooperation for mutual benefits" demands "rejection of the zero-sum mindset."

    At first glance, such principles, as stated, may appear quite attractive. Unfortunately for Xi, this trial balloon did not fly when he attempted to convince American President Barack Obama to share his vision for a new US-China relationship during their first summit in California, early June this year. According to Chinese sources, Xi mentioned the phrase "a new great power relationship" six or seven times in their conversation, but got no response from Obama.

    One might blame Obama's failure to embrace this new concept as a logistical oversight. There was a slight chance that his foreign policy advisors did not forewarn him that his Chinese guest was going to surprise him with a bold new vision for US-China relations. But to the extent that summits are highly scripted affairs, this oversight is unlikely. In any case, in the five months since the US-China summit, Washington has not picked up the ball, even as Beijing continues to insist that it is hoping to building a "new great power relationship" with the US. This fact can only mean one thing: the US has not been moved by Xi's call for such a relationship.

    There are good reasons for Washington to be cautious about Xi's grand vision. Generally speaking, the Americans, unlike the Chinese, are deeply averse to high-sounding principles that are poorly defined and can prove to be traps. In this case, the "mutual respect" principle raises a bright red flag. What does "respecting each other's social/political system" mean? Does it mean that the US will implicitly acknowledge the legitimacy of one-party rule in China? Will accepting such a principle curtail American criticisms of human rights abuses in China? "Respecting each other's core interests" is even more worrying. How are such core interests defined? If China's ever-expanding list of core interests should include areas involving American security commitments to its allies, will accepting this principle imply American abandonment of its allies?

    Although Xi did not frame his new vision as a G-2 arrangement, it looks suspiciously like one. He told Obama that "the Pacific is big enough for both China and the US". This statement, instead of reassuring the Americans, raised further concerns. Its implication was clear: China sees only the US and itself as great powers capable of sharing the responsibility of maintaining peace and stability in the Pacific. This perspective obviously clashes with America's current security architecture in the region, based on a dense network of alliances. Should Washington embrace a Chinese version of the G-2 for the Pacific, what about its long-time allies, particularly Japan?

    For these obvious reasons, the Obama administration has been cool to Xi's vision. The Chinese are said to be pragmatic people, but the Americans are no less pragmatic. Washington wants to see actions on China's part before committing itself to high-sounding principles.

    If this is the case, Xi is likely to wait a long time before getting any positive feedback from Obama regarding his proposal to reconstruct Sino-American relations. He can certainly help make his case by proving that he is a true reformer. The ongoing plenum may give the Americans some clues to whether Xi is committed to economic reforms. Even if he passes this critical test, scepticism about his leadership will persist until he demonstrates that he is also politically progressive.

    The writer is a professor of government and non-resident senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the US

    XiÂ’s new moves - Indian Express
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    When Xi assumed the top post in China, he had an aggressive foreign policy veering on nationalist jingoism exhorting the Chinese people to ‘revive the Chinese Nation’ which was the ‘Chinese Dream’!

    He embarked on militarily acquiring the South China Sea as if it was China’s God given preserve, but stopped short when it came to Japan, reminiscing the 100 Years of National Shame and Japan’s no nonsense attitude.

    Xi realised that unless he 'disarmed' the US with charm, euphemistically the "new great power relationship", couched with the usual Chinese claptrap, "no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect, and cooperation for mutual benefits", he would go nowhere.

    Unfortunately for Xi, Obama cold shouldered all the garbage of "a new great power relationship" six or seven times that Xi wanted to soft soap Obama with and continues to do so even though its five months since the US-China summit happened.

    It seems to have failed to hit the Chinese radar that the Americans, unlike the Chinese, are deeply averse to high-sounding principles that are poorly defined and can prove to be traps. which indeed they are. India bears witness to have fallen in the trap by these Chinese high sounding shenanigans.

    China's Dream with US in tow seems to have crashed!
     
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