onsdag 14. april 2021

Chinese leaders boast about China’s rising power. The real story is different.

Is China confident about its future trajectory? In some ways, yes — “the East is rising and the West is declining” became the center of geopolitical attention last month during China’s annual legislative sessions. Western mediaquoted the phrase widely, calling it a sign of Beijing’s confidence — some say hubris — about the inevitability of China’s rise and that of Western demise.

In remarks this year, President Xi Jinping declared, “Time and momentum are on our side.” Chinese media and netizens heaped praise on the Chinese diplomatic team for speaking assertively to — and even pointing fingers at — Biden administration official during the recent Alaska talks.

But the reality in China often is more than meets the eye. Xi’s regime appears triumphant after controlling the pandemic within China, pulling off an economic recovery and scoring a “complete victory” of eliminating absolute poverty despite the crisis. This confidence, however, is moderated by words of caution and deep insecurity that we did not see expressed earlier in Xi’s reign.