mandag 13. mars 2023

How to break the Xi-Putin axis? Biden must engage with Beijing

Is there a school for autocrats? As if by rote, authoritarian leaders around the world trot out remarkably similar justifications for their repressive actions, democratic deficits and policy failures. These typically include scary claims that their country is under attack by foreign forces and saboteurs or is the victim of a global conspiracy.

Perhaps they have all taken an online correspondence course for aspiring dictators. China produced classic examples of the genre last week. Accepting a third term, President Xi Jinping urged the country to unite behind him. “In the coming period, the risks and challenges we’re facing will only become more and more numerous and grim,” Xi warned. The US and its allies were trying to “encircle, suppress and contain” China.

Only he, Xi, could ensure victory in the coming “struggle”. “Après moi, le déluge,” as King Louis XV supposedly said.

Qin Gang, China’s hawkish new foreign minister, hammered home the aggressively paranoid message of his all-powerful patron. He accused the Biden administration of orchestrating “hysterical neo-McCarthyism” with the furore over last month’s shooting down of a Chinese balloon and accusations that Beijing is about to supply arms to Russia for its war in Ukraine.