XI JINPING’S FOREIGN POLICY
Xi Jinping officially became the leader of China in 2013 after being chosen in November 2012. Alice Su wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Xi's ambitions abroad have been...grand. He has expanded China's global power through multibillion-dollar development projects like the Belt and Road initiative and by gaining more influence in institutions like the United Nations. He has capitalized on an America that has turned isolationist under President Trump, dispatching China's corporations, diplomats and spies everywhere from Nairobi, Kenya, to Brussels in what is becoming a new world order. Xi often says that this era is one of "great change unseen in a hundred years," namely that the world's top superpower is in decline, and that this is China's moment to rise. “Systemic advantages are a nation’s greatest advantages, and systemic competition is the most fundamental competition between nations,” Xi was recently quoted saying in the People’s Daily. [Source: Alice Su, Los Angeles Times, October 22, 2020]
“Xi's militant nationalism has also provoked backlash. The Chinese military has carried out aggressive maneuvers in the South China Sea and rattled Taiwan by sending fighter planes into its airspace. Chinese troops have had deadly clashes in recent months with Indian soldiers along a disputed border. Xi's reorganized security forces have increased arbitrary detention of foreigners including citizens of the U.S., Canada, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Belize, Turkey and Kazakhstan." A Pew Research Center survey in 2020 "found that unfavorable views of China have reached historical highs in 14 advanced world economies, with a median of 78% of respondents saying they have "no confidence" in Xi's handling of world affairs — though the ratings on Trump are even worse.
Some have called Xi’s foreign policy as “wolf warrior” diplomacy, named after a pair of jingoistic action films from 2015 and 2017. China scholar Willy Wo-Lap Lam told the New York Times: Xi might be overreaching in being too adventurous, particularly regarding Japan and the U.S. A case in point is the reclamation works on several South China Sea islets. This reinforces the impression of China’s nervous neighbors about Beijing’s disregard for international law. The “China threat” theory will spread further. And as the U.S. dispatches more frigates and spy planes close to the disputed rocks, tension in the Spratlys will be exacerbated. Xi’s aggressive power projection could threaten peace in the Asia-Pacific region, without which China cannot achieve sustainable economic growth. Instead of tackling intractable domestic problems, Xi might spend more time on foreign policy, partly to divert the attention of the disgruntled lower classes in China. Beijing has a big war chest to underwrite initiatives such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road superprojects. These are policies where results can be seen over the short haul. [Source: Ian Johnson, New York Times, June 2, 2015]
Damien Ma described what perhaps Xi Jinping aimed to learn from other countries in “the Four Avoids and Three Imitates”: 1) Avoid the Soviet Union’s political sclerosis and collapse. 2) Avoid India’s raucous and unbridled democracy. 3) Avoid Japan’s economic bust and subsequent stagnation. 4) Avoid Latin American-style urbanization and shock therapy. At the same time: 1) Imitate American economic dynamism and military might. 2) Imitate elements of the European social welfare state. 3) Imitate Singapore’s competent authoritarian governance. [Source: Sup China, October 12, 2017]
Evan Osnos wrote in The New Yorker, ““As for a broad diplomatic vision, Chinese leaders since Deng Xiaoping have adhered to a principle known as “Hide your strength, bide your time.” Xi has effectively replaced that concept with declarations of China’s arrival. In Paris" in 2014 "he invoked Napoleon’s remark that China was “a sleeping lion,” and said that the lion “has already awakened, but this is a peaceful, pleasant, and civilized lion.” He told the Politburo in December that he intends to “make China’s voice heard, and inject more Chinese elements into international rules.” As alternatives to the Washington-based World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Xi’s government has established the New Development Bank, the Silk Road infrastructure fund, and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, which, together, intend to amass two hundred and forty billion dollars in capital. [Source: Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, April 6, 2015 ^^^]
“Xi has been far bolder than his predecessors in asserting Chinese control over airspace and land, sending an oil rig into contested waters, and erecting buildings, helipads, and other facilities on reefs that are claimed by multiple nations. He has also taken advantage of Putin’s growing economic isolation; Xi has met with Putin more than with any other foreign leader, and, last May, as Russia faced new sanctions over the annexation of Crimea, Xi and Putin agreed on a four-hundred-billion-dollar deal to supply gas to China at rates that favor Beijing. According to the prominent editor, Xi has told people that he was impressed by Putin’s seizure of Crimea—“He got a large piece of land and resources” and boosted his poll numbers at home. But, as war in Ukraine has dragged on, Xi has become less complimentary of Putin.” ^^^
Xi Jinping Experience Overseas and How It Shaped Him
Evan Osnos wrote in The New Yorker, “Xi’s wariness of Western influence is reflected in his foreign policy. On a personal level, he expresses warm memories of Iowa, and he sent his daughter. But Xi has also expressed an essentialist view of national characteristics such that, in his telling, China’s history and social makeup render it unfit for multiparty democracy or a monarchy or any other non-Communist system. “We considered them, tried them, but none worked,” he told an audience at the College of Europe, in Bruges, last spring. Adopting an alternative, he said, “might even lead to catastrophic consequences.” On his watch, state-run media have accentuated the threat of “peaceful evolution,” and have accused American companies, including Microsoft, Cisco, and Intel, of being “warriors” for the U.S. government. [Source: Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, April 6, 2015 ^^^]
“Though Xi Jinping has travelled widely, he has never lived abroad; unlike his predecessors Jiang Zemin (who studied at the Stalin Automobile Works, in Moscow) and Deng Xiaoping (who lived in France for five years, and studied in the Soviet Union), Xi made a decision to not live outside China. His first wife wanted to settle in Britain, and Xi did not; they divorced. As he rose through the ranks, Xi had frequent dealings with Westerners, but his government has recently taken a harder line against ideas from abroad. His education minister, Yuan Guiren, said recently, “We must, by no means, allow into our classrooms material that propagates Western values.” ^^^
Foreign Powers That Bully China Will See Their “Heads Bashed and Bloodied”
In July 2021, during a landmark speech to celebrate the Chinese Communist Party’s centenary, Xi Jinping said: “Any attempt to divide the Chinese people from the party is bound to fail' Foreign countries that dare to “bully” China will see “their heads bashed bloody against the Great Wall of Steel forged by over 1.4 billion people,”. “We will never allow any foreign power to bully, oppress or subjugate us.” Cheers erupted from the audience when he said it. The party’s “glorious journey” over a century means “any attempt to divide the Chinese people from the party is bound to fail.”[Source: Sophia Yan, The Telegraph, July 1, 2021]
Sophia Yan wrote in The Telegraph: “Xi, 68, spoke of how “national rejuvenation” had always been the party’s priority and would continue to remain so, using the term at least 25 times in a speech lasting 66 minutes. Festivities kicked off with helicopters roaring overhead in formation displaying “100,” followed by fighter jets streaming coloured smoke, while a 100-gun salute echoed across Tiananmen Square.
“For Mr Xi – China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong after he abolished term limits – the celebration is designed to burnish his credentials at a time when China is facing challenges on the world stage. “Global criticism is growing over China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and concerns abound about the health of its economy, the world’s second-largest. “Still, Mr Xi’s remarks were defiant, even foreboding, saying “China’s complete reunification is a historic mission and an unshakable commitment of the Communist Party.”
“He extended “sincere greetings to compatriots in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan special administrative regions,” a departure from how Taiwan is usually referenced, in a translation of his remarks. “Taiwan, an island with its own democratic government, military, currency and foreign policy, No one should underestimate the resolve, the will and ability of the Chinese people to define their national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said, flanked by China’s most powerful men.
Xi Wants China to Be ‘Lovable’ After China Accuses the U.S. of Hypocrisy
In June 2020, a few weeks before the “bash their heads” statement, Xi Jinping said that China needed to be a more “lovable and respectable”. In March 2020, soon after Joe Biden became the 46th U.S. President, at the first high level meeting between top U.S. and Chinese diplomats, the Chinese diplomats accused the their U.S. counterparts of hypocrisy, [Source:Steven Lee Myers and Keith Bradsher, New York Times, June 8, 2021]
Steven Lee Myers and Keith Bradsher wrote in the New York Times: Xi Jinping’s remarks to top Communist Party leaders suggest Beijing will focus on courting allies rather than easing its rhetoric against the U.S. and Europe. China’s top diplomats have castigated their American counterparts for hypocrisy and condescension. They icily reminded Europeans of the continent’s experience with genocide. They just accused New Zealand, a country that had been careful not to cause offense, of “gross interference” in China’s affairs.
“So when China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, told senior Communist Party officials that they should improve their communications with the rest of the world, some analysts and news reports suggested he was acknowledging that China’s increasingly pugnacious approach to diplomacy in recent months had not been warmly received. “We must focus on setting the tone right, be open and confident but also modest and humble, and strive to create a credible, lovable and respectable image of China,” Mr. Xi said, according to an account by Xinhua, the state-run news service, of a collective study session at the party’s compound in Beijing.
“Mr. Xi’s remarks followed a series of diplomatic setbacks that diplomats and analysts said had seized the leadership’s attention. China is engaged in a “public opinion struggle,” Mr. Xi told members of the party’s governing Politburo, who studiously took notes as he spoke. His prescription, however, may intensify, not ease, the rising tensions that have increasingly spilled into diplomatic confrontations. His use (twice) of the word “struggle” carries echoes of the Mao era. One of his instructions was to do a better job of explaining “why Marxism works.”
“He also did not signal any change in the policies that have contributed to a growing backlash against China’s behavior. Instead, he outlined an ideological contest for global public opinion, with two blocs competing to win followers and many countries caught in between. China does not appear to be chastened by its recent diplomatic setbacks as much as concerned that its message has not broken through. “He is actually facing troubles at home and abroad,” Wu Qiang, an independent political analyst in Beijing, said, citing the demographic worries that led Beijing last week to further ease its restrictions on the size of families. “So, in this case he made a strategic adjustment, and this strategic adjustment can only be done by him.”
“China’s tough stance toward diplomacy has had consequences. An investment agreement with the European Union, completed in December after seven years of talks, went on ice last month after China imposed sanctions on dozens of members of the union’s elected Parliament. The foreign minister of the Philippines recently posted an expletive-laced demand that China stop occupying the country’s territorial waters in the South China Sea. New Zealand, a country that Chinese official media had praised for its “responsible” policies, joined Australia last week in criticizing the ongoing crackdowns in Hong Kong and in Xinjiang, the predominately Muslim region in the country’s northwest.
“One new red line involves an issue that appears to have angered China’s leaders: investigations into the origins of the coronavirus.China’s heavy-handed influence over the World Health Organization’s inquiry — which in March dismissed as unlikely the possibility of a leak from a laboratory in Wuhan — has sharpened questions about how the government handled the outbreak when it first appeared and whether it has since suppressed evidence of its origin. Rather than offer reassurances or pledges to cooperate with an investigation, though, China has lashed out. A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanded that the United States open its own biolabs for inspection.
Xi Jinping Shows Hawkish Sentiments Soon After Taking Power
Barbara Demick wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Although advance billing pegged Xi Jinping as a pragmatist and reformer, his early speeches have had a nationalistic edge that is causing anxiety. He's spoken frequently of "renewal" and "rejuvenation," unlike the outgoing president, Hu Jintao, whose favorite catchword has been "harmony." Some analysts interpret Xi's words as a call for the recovery of territory ceded during China's years of weakness and humiliation in the 19th and early 20th centuries. "That term 'harmonious society' is finished," said Jin Canrong, a political scientist at People's University in Beijing speaking at the conference in Seoul. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, December 23, 2012 ==]
“Ten days after Xi replaced Hu as party secretary, as well as commander of the military, China announced its first successful landing on its new aircraft carrier. Xi also made one of his first visits to a key military base in Huizhou, in the southern province of Guangdong, telling soldiers that China must "ensure there is unison between a prosperous country and a strong military." Xi's involvement in the disputed seas began well before moving up to the leadership. Over the summer, he joined a high-level maritime commission and, according to a former military officer, is close to Liu Cigui, the head of the oceanic administration, an agency at the forefront of the disputes. ==
“The Chinese oceanic administration's ships in April closed off a lagoon near the disputed Scarborough Shoal, 140 miles off the coast of the Philippines' Subic Bay, and have refused to leave, taking "de facto" control, according to Philippine officials. Chinese vessels — and a surveillance plane — have also become a presence in Japanese waters near the contested islands called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China. ==
"The Chinese have concluded that everything short of the military use of force is acceptable," said Bonnie Glaser of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, who says the Chinese have used their marine and fishing vessels as paramilitary in the dispute. "China wants to protect their interests and they have developed a much bigger toolbox to do so." Teng Jianqun, a military analyst with the China Institute of International Studies, points to a speech Xi gave in July 2012 in which he referred to foreign policy being designed to uphold sovereignty as well as stability. "It is only a slight adjustment to restore balance in foreign policy.... There will be more emphasis on sovereignty," said Teng. ==
Xi Jinping and Soft Power
In January 2014, Julie Makinen wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “China, Xi said needs to “increase the creativity, appeal and credibility of China's publicity” and better use new media to boost China’s “soft power.”Such efforts already appear to be underway. In October, a cartoon explaining how the U.S., Britain and China pick their leaders (and implying that China’s system was superior) went viral. “Many roads lead to national leadership and each country has one for itself,” the video said, “whether by a single ballot that gets the whole nation out to vote or a meritocratic screening that requires years of hard work like the making of a kung fu master.” [Source: Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times, January 2, 2014 \^/]
“Exactly who made the video was unclear, but many online observers believe there was some official hand involved. Then this week, another slick video promoting the Communist Party appeared in English, touting the catchphrase, “The Communist Party of China is with you along the way.” China’s 1.3 billion people "all have their own dreams. … Our people’s dreams are our goals. The 80 million CPC members are working for everyone’s dream,” the narrator says. Li Jie, a vice director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Beijing Youth Daily this week that he took along both videos on a recent tour of Laos and Cambodia, where he met with academics and representatives of think tanks. The videos, he said, were well-received, recalling that one young member of the Cambodian People’s Party called them “fascinating.” \^/
Xi Jinping’s Name-Dropping on Foreign Trips
Shannon Tiezzi and Jeffrey Wasserstrom wrote in Slate: China’s leader is a promiscuous name-dropper wherever he goes. When he was interviewed in Sochi during the 2014 Winter Olympics, he provided a laundry list of Russian authors he admired: “Krylov, Pushkin, Gogol, Lermontov, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Nekrasov, Chernyshevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, [and] Sholokhov.” In France a month later, Xi had a similar list handy of French figures: Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Saint-Simon, Fourier, Sartre, Montaigne, La Fontaine, Molière, Stendhal, Balzac, Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, George Sand, Flaubert, Alexandre Dumas fils, Maupassant, Romain Rolland, and Jules Verne. In Germany he noted his fondness for GoetheSchiller, Heine, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach, Heidegger, and Marcuse and spoke of the “enchanting melodies by Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, and Brahms.” In Mexico he paid tribute to “Diego Rivera, the master of contemporary art, and … Octavio Paz, the towering figure in literature.” And so on. [Source: Shannon Tiezzi and Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Slate, September 24, 2015]
“His opening remarks” on a trip to the U.S. in September 2015 “were replete with American cultural references. Besides nodding to Frank Underwood’s machinations, Xi offered a (somewhat dated) shout-out to Sleepless in Seattle before checking off a long list of American literary luminaries he claims to enjoy, including Twain, Thoreau, Whitman, Jack London, and especially Hemingway, whose fondness for mojitos, he claims, led him to try one in Cuba. He also claims to take inspiration from the lives and ideas of American statesmen like Lincoln, Washington, and Franklin Roosevelt.
“So we probably shouldn’t make too much of Xi professing a deep appreciation of The Federalist Papers or Common Sense, let alone think that he actually admires their subversive implications for his political system. Xi could not possibly have been deeply affected by (or even read) all the authors he mentions. Those references simply function, as does his saying he is a fan of the Lakers and The Old Man and the Sea as proof of his cultural cachet in the host country du jour.”
Xi Jinping Visits Russia on First Foreign Trip
In March 2013, Thomas Grove of Reuters wrote: “Chinese leader Xi Jinping sent a signal to the United States and Europe by visiting Russia on his first foreign trip as president, underlining the importance of Beijing's growing alliance with Moscow. The world's largest energy producer, Russia, and its biggest consumer, China, want particularly to bolster their clout as a financial and geopolitical counterweight to Washington, whose "Asia pivot" regional strategy worries Beijing. [Source: Thomas Grove, Reuters, March 22, 2013]
Just before Xi arrived with first lady Peng Liyuan, a $2 billion deal was announced by Russian and Chinese companies to develop coal resources in eastern Siberia, which underlined the countries' intentions.Putin has said he wants to "catch the Chinese wind in our economic sail" and that desire will grow stronger if China overtakes the United States as the world's largest economy during Xi's 10-year term. Perhaps symbolically, Xi's visit overshadowed a meeting between leaders of the Russian government and the European Union's Commission that was also taking place in Moscow.
Putin and Xi, less than a year apart in age, echoed one another in interviews before the visit, each saying the Chinese leader's choice of Moscow as his first destination was evidence of the "strategic partnership" between the nations. A smiling Xi, 59, recalled that he read Russian literature in his younger days. Putin, 60, said Russian-Chinese relations were at "the best in their centuries-long history".
Xi Jinping Leads Nanjing Massacre Commemoration
In December 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping has presided over his country's first state commemoration of the Nanjing massacre. The BBC reported: “President Xi told survivors that to deny a crime was to repeat it but insisted the ceremony was to promote peace, not prolong hatred. The ceremony, which came on the 77th anniversary of the massacre, is part of three new public holidays intended to mark the conflict between the two countries. A crowd of about 10,000 people attended the event in Nanjing, taking part in a minute's silence to honour those killed. They included survivors of the massacre, as well as soldiers and students. [Source: BBC, December 13, 2014]
"Anyone who tries to deny the massacre will not be allowed by history, the souls of the 300,000 deceased victims, 1.3 billion Chinese people and all people loving peace and justice in the world," Mr Xi said. But he added that China should not "bear hatred against an entire nation just because a small minority of militarists launched aggressive wars," according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Also in December 2014, The first volume of an encyclopedia detailing the Nanking Massacre was released in Nanjing. The encyclopedia, composed of four volumes of over 8,000 entries, exposes the crimes of Japanese troops in Nanjing in over 40 days from late 1937 to early 1938. The China Daily reported: Historians from some 10 countries, including China, Japan, the United States, Russia and Germany have contributed to the compendium. Zhu Chengshan, curator of the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, believes that publication of the book will promote historical truth and refute some right-wing Japanese slander. Qi Houjie, one of the compilers and a former researcher with the Second Historical Archives of China, describes the work as mainly about the invaders’ slaughter and sexual violence.” The first volume deals mainly with the eve of the massacre. The other three volumes will be published by the end of 2015.[Source: China Daily, December 8, 2014]
Xi Jinping and the United States
Evan Osnos wrote in The New Yorker, “No diplomatic relationship matters more to China’s future than its dealings with the United States, and Xi has urged the U.S. to adopt a “new type of great-power relationship”—to regard China as an equal and to acknowledge its claims to contested islands and other interests. (The Obama Administration has declined to adopt the phrase.) Xi and Obama have met, at length, five times. American officials describe the relationship as occasionally candid but not close. They have “brutally frank exchanges on difficult issues, and it doesn’t upset the apple cart,” a senior Administration official told me. “So it’s different from the era of Hu Jintao, where there was very little exchange.” Hu almost never departed from his notes, and American counterparts wondered how much he believed his talking points. “Xi is reading what I’m confident Xi believes,” the official said, though their engagements remain stilted: “There’s still a cadence that is very difficult to extract yourself from in these exchanges. . . . We want to have a conversation.” [Source: Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, April 6, 2015 ^^^]
“For years, American military leaders worried that there was a growing risk of an accidental clash between China and the U.S., in part because Beijing protested U.S. policies by declining meetings between senior commanders. In 2011, Mike Mullen, then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, visited Xi in Beijing, and appealed to his military experience, telling him, as he recalled to me, “I just need you to stop cutting off military relationships as step one, every time you get ticked off.” That has improved. In Beijing last November, Xi and Obama spent five hours at dinner and meetings and announced coöperation on climate change, a high-tech free-trade deal that China had previously resisted, and two military agreements to encourage communication between forces operating near each other in the South China and East China Seas. Mullen, who has met Xi again since their initial encounter, is encouraged: “They still get ticked off, they take steps, but they don’t cut it off.” ^^^
Xi Jinping Meets with Obama in Palm Springs in 2013
In June 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with U.S. President Barrack Obama amid the olive trees and artificial lakes of a 200-acre estate in Palm Spring, California. Julie Pace of Associated Press wrote: “It may not have been Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev's Cold War walk by a frozen lake in Switzerland. But President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping's 50-minute stroll through an estate in the California desert could mark a notable moment in the relationship between the heads of the world's two largest economies. At the very least, it was a rare opportunity for the presidents to dispense with their advisers – and coats and ties in the scorching heat – for extended one-on-one talks. Tom Donilon, Obama's national security adviser who helped orchestrate the two-day summit, said the walk was an important moment "to establish and deepen their personal relationship" and address "the range of issues that we have to address." It's a big list that includes cyberspying and intellectual property theft and North Korea's nuclear provocations, as well as economic competition and climate change. [Source: Julie Pace, Associated Press, June 9, 2013 :::]
“There were no policy breakthroughs as Obama and Xi sauntered across the manicured lawns of the Sunnylands estate or when they sat on the California redwood bench that Obama had custom-made as a gift for his Chinese counterpart. But both countries appeared to leave California pleased that the issues were addressed candidly and the groundwork was laid for future talks. The leaders "did not shy away from differences," said Yang Jiechi, Xi's senior foreign policy adviser, adding that Obama and Xi "blazed a new trail" in the relationship between their countries. :::
“Obama and Xi held more than eight hours of talks over the course of the two-day summit. The leaders found common ground in their frustrations over North Korea's provocations and on climate change, agreeing to work together to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons, a potent greenhouse gas used in refrigerators, air conditioners and industrial applications. But there was no accord over cybersecurity, which U.S. officials see as perhaps the most pressing issue facing the two nations. Obama confronted Xi with specific evidence of intellectual property theft the U.S. says is emanating from China. Xi said China was also a victim of cyberattacks but did not publicly acknowledge his own country's alleged activities. :::
“For Obama, the meetings with Xi at the 200-acre estate on the edge of the Mojave Desert were an opportunity to test the kind of personal diplomacy his advisers say he craves. The president and his team have long grumbled privately about the constraints of large, highly scripted international summits, with schedules packed down to the minute with plenary sessions and group photos. Policy outcomes at those meetings are often predetermined during earlier rounds of talks with lower level officials. "You're not really having an actual exchange," Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser, said of the larger summits. "You can only really work through a small number of agenda items, and you don't get to really dig in with another leader on a bigger range of subjects." Still, for all the talk of informality, Obama and Xi's "shirt sleeves" summit was hardly unscripted. A pair of bilateral meetings looked and felt similar to most diplomatic gatherings, with Obama and Xi seated at the center of long tables, each flanked by several aides. And Saturday's morning walk was originally scheduled as a photo opportunity for the U.S. and Chinese press corps.
Xi Jinping 2015 Visit to the United States
When Xi Jinping visited the U.S. in September 2015, Ben Blanchard and David Brunnstrom of Reuters reported: “China's tightly controlled state media has focused heavily on the pomp, ceremony and shows of respect Xi has been treated to in Seattle and then Washington. The adoring domestic coverage is important for Xi, who is grappling with Chinese market instability and a flagging economy....On a visit to a high school in Tacoma, near Seattle, where Xi and his singer wife Peng Liyuan were serenaded by the school choir, state television showed children screaming their appreciation. A day earlier, Xi had quoted Martin Luther King and sprinkled references to U.S. pop culture into his speech to tech executives. China has also stressed Xi's personal connection to the United States, with the Xinhua news agency carrying a video on its Facebook page - not mentioning that Facebook is blocked in China - showing him putting on a friendly face for Americans. [Source: Ben Blanchard and David Brunnstrom, Reuters, September 28, 2015]
“Chinese officials have kept security around Xi's visit particularly tight, limiting his ability to go off script and interact with the public. He left his wife Peng to fill that role in Washington, where she accompanied First Lady Michelle Obama to name a new-born panda at the Smithsonian National Zoo. Officials in Tacoma said the security preparations had been grueling. "We met with advance teams six or eight times over the summer," Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland said of Xi's visit to the high school.”
Shannon Tiezzi and Jeffrey Wasserstrom wrote in Slate: When Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Seattle for his U.S. visit and joked that his anti-corruption drive was no House of Cards power play, he wasn’t just showing his familiarity with American pop culture: He was adding a page in a PR playbook that goes all the way back to Deng Xiaoping. Xi seems to be even more determined to show how much he “gets” America.His opening remarks were replete with American cultural references. Besides nodding to Frank Underwood’s machinations, Xi offered a (somewhat dated) shout-out to Sleepless in Seattle before checking off a long list of American literary luminaries he claims to enjoy, including Twain, Thoreau, Whitman, Jack London, and especially Hemingway, whose fondness for mojitos, he claims, led him to try one in Cuba. He also claims to take inspiration from the lives and ideas of American statesmen like Lincoln, Washington, and Franklin Roosevelt. [Source: Shannon Tiezzi and Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Slate, September 24, 2015]
Michelle Toh wrote in the Christian Science Monitor: “While the Chinese media cheered the cooperative spirit adopted by President Xi Jinping on his first state visit to America, Western media remained skeptical about the leader’s pledges for reform, suggesting a cloud of secrecy still hovers over President Xi’s agenda. The Sino-American relationship is “more dysfunctional than ever,” wrote Michael Auslin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, in a Fox News op-ed. “All the right things were said,” Mr. Auslin wrote, “but leaving the biggest impression, was the unavoidable fact that US-China relations are locked into their current pattern of competition and distrust.” [Source: Michelle Toh, Christian Science Monitor, September 26, 2015 |:|]
“Chinese media took a decidedly more optimistic stance. “Mutual trust is still lacking to a certain extent due to a power relationship change,” reported state-run outlet Xinhua the day before the president’s visit. “But the gap between China and the US has narrowed.” China’s state-run network CCTV described President Xi’s visit as having delivered “a trove of important results.” An article laying out the “outcomes” of his trip read much like the laundry list of achievements posted by the White House. |:|
The Wall Street Journal commented that the leader’s use of personal anecdotes struck “a humble tone” and “showed rare flashes of humor.” Xi was careful in this first address to emphasize the importance of communication between the two governments. “We must read each other's strategic intentions correctly,” he said. But critics say the Chinese leader’s own intentions are still largely masked, and some question whether he plans on keeping his promises, particularly as they relate to economic reform. “We are at a time of real ambivalence in terms of our attitude towards China,” Jacques deLisle, director of the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, told The South China Morning Post. This shift can partly be explained by the recent stock market crisis, said Mr. deLisle. “There is concern that the only thing worse than China doing too well is China not doing well enough.” |:|
Xi Jinping vs the Pope in the U.S.
Xi Jinping’s visit to the U.S. coincided with a visit to the States by Pope Francis. Ben Blanchard and David Brunnstrom of Reuters reported: President Xi Jinping enjoyed the symbolic high point of his first state visit to the United States - a 21-gun salute as he stood with President Barack Obama outside the White House. For most Americans, it was a sideshow: the main news networks were deep into their fourth straight day of blanket coverage of Pope Francis' historic U.S. visit. Xi's U.S. trip has - at least in terms of U.S. media coverage - been firmly overshadowed by the wildly popular pontiff, raising questions over its timing and contrasting sharply with the wall-to-wall coverage of Xi by Chinese media. [Source: Ben Blanchard and David Brunnstrom, Reuters, September 28, 2015]
“The pope's visit to the United States...has barely featured in the Chinese media. The Vatican has had no formal diplomatic ties to Beijing since shortly after the Communist Party took power in 1949. Francis, the most socially progressive pope in generations, has drawn large crowds and the kind of welcome normally reserved for rock stars during his first U.S. visit, which ends in Philadelphia on Sunday. U.S. live news networks have hung on his every word and step. Talk of the pope dwarfed any attention given Xi's visit, according to data provided by MediaMiser, which tracks news and media content online, on television and radio.From Aug. 26 to Sept. 25, tweets in the United States about Francis topped 765,000, compared to 107,000 for Xi, according to MediaMiser. Online articles from Sept. 20-24 mentioned the pope nearly four times more than Xi. On television, the pope was mentioned over 25 times more. Xi's mostly buttoned-down interactions with tech executives also contrasted with those of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who displayed an emotional side in a town hall forum with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Modi's voice broke as he described his humble beginnings.
“Chinese officials played down any suggestion that the pope's visit had eclipsed Xi. "The pope's visit, we noticed that and that... he is welcomed by the public. His visit has his own bearing here. President Xi's visit has its own bearing," said Chinese delegation spokesman Lu Kang. Xi slid further down the U.S. news agenda, when Republican House of Representative Speaker John Boehner announced his resignation. The big networks quickly cut off Xi speaking at a news conference with Obama to follow a briefing by Boehner. Ming Xia, a political science professor at New York's City University who traveled to take part in an anti-Xi protest outside the White House, said the pope's humility during his visit had highlighted what he called Xi's arrogance. "The pope was praying with the homeless and said we are all equal in the eyes of God, the real father. Xi thinks he's the father of the Chinese people - he has assumed the power of God."
Xi Jinping’s Visit to Britain in 2015
On Xi Jinping’s visit to the United Kingdom in 2015, Ma Jian wrote in The Guardian: “It will be no ordinary state visit. The leader of the world’s largest autocracy will enjoy a 103-gun royal salute and a sumptuous, white-tie state banquet attended by three generations of the royal family; he will address the houses of parliament and at night will sleep in the palace’s Belgian Suite, in the very same bed that Duke and Duchess of Cambridge used on their wedding night. [Source: Ma Jian, The Guardian, October 18, 2015 \~/]
“It will herald, George Osborne hopes, a “golden era” in Chinese-British relations. Britain will become China’s “best partner in the west”. They will “stick together”, creating a “win-win” situation for both countries. But who will be the real winners and losers of this ignoble friendship that puts trade above human rights? \~/
“For Xi the state visit is a huge propaganda coup. At home, the Chinese Communist party (CCP) considers western constitutional democracy the number one “peril in the ideological sphere”, according to a secret document circulated two years ago. Yet, sharing the contradictory mentality common to China’s dictators, Xi craves the approval of the western democracies he derides, hoping it will bolster his stature and lend an air of legitimacy to his despotic rule. \~/
“Images of Xi’s regal welcome will be plastered over Chinese state media. China’s public will be encouraged to swoon over the silver-gilt candelabra adorning the royal banquet table, the flower arrangements inspected personally by the Queen, the priceless gold vessels displayed as a sign of respect for the guest of honour’s exalted rank. Huge deals set to be sealed during the visit will allow the Chinese government to pour some of its vast stockpiles of cash into British energy and transport projects, such as Hinkley Point nuclear power station and the HS2 high-speed rail line. Few other western countries would so readily grant stakes in their key infrastructure to companies run by a totalitarian government with a shaky economy, uncertain future and abysmal human rights record.
Xi Jinping and the South China Sea
According to the Columbia Encyclopedia: In January 2014, Hainan province announced new fishing rules for the 60% of the South China Sea claimed by China (a claim not recognized by China's neighbors and other countries); the United States criticized the move as provocative, and other nations also denounced it. There were ongoing tensions in the South China Sea with the Philippines and Vietnam in 2014, and confrontations between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels over Chinese oil drilling the sea led to anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam. China also use dredging to convert reefs in the sea into islets capable of supporting military forces, a process that continued into 2015. The work led to criticism from, and further tensions with, a number of SE Asian nations. [Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., Columbia University Press]
Christopher Bodeen of Associated Press wrote: “Xi already enjoys special influence with the armed forces, largely because his muscular foreign policy is popular among Chinese nationalists and the defense establishment. That's especially true in the disputed South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety and where it has constructed airfields on former coral reefs and sought to limit the U.S. Navy's ability to operate in the area. [Source: Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press, April 21, 2016 ***]
Beijing is becoming increasingly bold in its territorial assertions, despite a growing pushback from Washington and others. Xi has remained resolute in that approach, although it has been blamed for raising tensions with China's Southeast Asian neighbors and has prompted the U.S. to devote more resources to Asia and strengthen its cooperation with traditional allies and even former foe Vietnam.
Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan
According to the Columbia Encyclopedia: “Chinese assertion (November 2013) of an air defense zone that encompassed the Senkakus and an area claimed by South Korea was criticized by the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. In Jan., 2014, Taiwan and China held their highest level talks since the Communists came to power. [Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., Columbia University Press]
Beijing’s imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in 2020 after mass demonstrations in 2019 — seen as a a public challenge to Mr Xi’s power. Authorities now frame 1997 as the date of the “establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,” rather than as the date of “handover” in sovereignty.
Chinese military incursions into Taiwanese airspace and waters ramped in the early 2020s, fuelling worries that China would pressure the island militarily or even invade it. According to The Telegraph Beijing’s imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong in 2020 has further added to concerns that a heavy-handed approach may be in store for Taiwan. “[Source: Sophia Yan, The Telegraph, July 1, 2021]
Xi Jinping’s Vows Not to Run a 'One-Man Show' in Asia
In a speech in July 2016 marking the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping said China will not seek to cast a long shadow over Asia but will also not succumb to threats of military force. The remarks were made on the eve of international tribunal ruling on the South China Sea. Shi Jiangtao wrote in the South China Morning Post: Xi said China had no intention of running a “one-man show” or “creating its own backyard” in the region, but it would not compromise on its national interests. “China does not covet any interests of other nations, but we’ll never waive our legitimate rights,” he said.“Other nations should not expect us to haggle about our core interests or swallow the bitter fruit of undermining our interests concerning sovereignty, security and development.” “In a veiled message apparently aimed at the United States, Xi criticised the flexing of military muscle near the disputed waters. “China will adhere to the military approach of active defence. We will not resort to threats of military force or shows of military strength at another’s doorstep,” he said, seemingly referring to frequent patrols by American warships. “Such muscle flexing does not reflect real strength and will not deter anyone.” [Source: Shi Jiangtao, South China Morning Post, July 2, 2016 \~]
“Analysts said the speech was a summary of Xi’s key foreign policies. “It is basically a hotchpotch of Xi’s doctrines on international affairs, containing some quite conflicting messages aimed at appeasing different factions of foreign policy thinking on the mainland,” said Renmin University professor Pang Zhongying. Pang said Xi first raised the idea of a “Chinese solution” in Germany two years ago when it was widely seen as a carefully crafted message for leftists at home opposed to Western-style democratic government. “Xi wants to reassure his audience both at home and abroad that China will not seek to challenge the existing international order dominated by the US-led coalition – at least for now,” he said. Former Taiwanese deputy defence minister Lin Chong-pin said that despite his often harsh rhetoric, Xi was not seeking a military solution to all of China’s problems. “He appears to believe instead in economic, diplomatic and cultural means as well as rhetoric and media campaigns,” Lin said.” \~\
In September 2014, Xi Jinping said China is not a warlike nation during a rare trip to India that was dominated by a standoff on the Himalayan border between soldiers from the world's two most populous nations. "A warlike state, however big it may be, will eventually perish," Xi said in a speech, adding that China believed its neighbors were key to its wellbeing. He said China was committed to the path of peaceful development, addressing concerns in Asia about Beijing's increasingly assertive territorial claims including in the South China Sea, a vital global trade route.[Source: Frank Jack Daniel and Manoj Kumar, Reuters, September 18, 2014]
Image Sources: China.org
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Chinese government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.
Last updated September 2021