tirsdag 21. juli 2020

China Is Done Biding Its Time: The End of Beijing’s Foreign Policy Restraint?

Over the course of the novel coronavirus crisis, analysts have watched relations between the United States and China spiral to a historic nadir, with scant hope of recovery. There are many reasons for the slide, but Beijing, in a striking departure from its own diplomatic track record, has been taking a much harder line than usual on the international stage—so much so, that even the most seasoned observers are wondering whether China’s foreign policy has fundamentally changed.

China’s approach to the world was, of course, never ironclad. Many factors determine a country’s diplomatic strategy, from its history, culture, and geography to the nature of its regime and its relative global power. If a government perceives one or more of these factors to have changed, so, too, may its diplomacy. But as COVID-19 has ravaged the globe, Chinese President Xi Jinping has appeared to defy many of his country’s long-held foreign policy principles all at once. It is too early to tell with certainty, but China—imbued with crisis-stoked nationalism, confident in its continued rise, and willing to court far more risk than in the past—may well be in the middle of a foreign policy.