In China, Xi Runs the Risk of Overconfidence, Increasing Tensions with Taiwan

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In China, Xi Runs the Risk of Overconfidence, Increasing Tensions with Taiwan

Source: AUN News

Xi Jinping has instilled confidence in the Chinese people throughout his ten years in power by reassuring them that their nation is faring better than the disorganized West.

The younger generation has heard him say that China may now consider the rest of the world an equal. He said last year that it wasn’t as retrograde.

At a period when the United States and other Western nations appeared to be bogged down in high Covid infection rates, racial conflicts, and other issues, he declared that “the East is growing and the West is sinking.”

Confidence Doctrine

The 1.4 billion people of China should be proud of their culture, political system, and destiny as a superpower, according to Mr. Xi. His political ideology is known as the “confidence doctrine” at times.

Although a lot of that pride is well-deserved, it also encourages cockiness. It provides Mr. Xi with a rationale for rolling back the openness measures that assisted China in escaping Mao-era poverty and isolation from the rest of the world. Extreme nationalists who proclaim Chinese dominance have gained support as a result, and after Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit, they are now calling for military conflict with Taiwan.

Their vehement language reveals how little they value American might and how easily they believe China would defeat the United States in a contest of significant powers. It is unsettling more moderate nationalists and arousing concerns that Beijing would feel pressured to adopt a harsh stance.

With China establishing a new status quo with Taiwan and saying on Tuesday that it would resume air and sea maneuvers around the island democracy, such posturing and patriotic fervor increase the likelihood of war.

Furthermore, Beijing’s propensity for overconfidence in the context of the rivalry between the United States and China could prove to be a weakness by making Beijing unaware of its problems. It might be a godsend if the United States can get its act together.

The Chinese people, not the government, have every right to be pleased and assured with what they have accomplished over the previous forty years.

They emerged from poverty and founded some of the world’s most prosperous businesses. Turned their nation into the largest consumer market for luxury goods, smartphones, and automobiles. They constructed some of the best high-speed railroads, skyscrapers, subways, and roads worldwide.

The United States, on the other hand, has appeared to be mired in its numerous domestic challenges and frequently too paralyzed to resolve them.

Before the pandemic, I had grown accustomed to Chinese visitors to the United States complaining to me about how outdated, run-down, and unimpressive everything was.

Some argued that the New York subway system was filthy, offensive, and rife with service interruptions and refused to ride it. They were horrified by the awful state of the highways in Silicon Valley and the lack of public transportation in Los Angeles. They were baffled as to why affluent San Francisco had such a high rate of homelessness. The use of guns in violence and the ineffectiveness of legislation to curb it deeply worried them.

The majority of them weren’t nationalists. They were well-educated elites who had experienced hardship as children, benefited from China’s opening, and held the United States up as the gold standard. They were simultaneously in awe of and dissatisfied with the United States.

Developing East and a Deteriorating West

But other Chinese people widely recognize the notion of a developing East and a deteriorating West, particularly younger people. Such orthodoxy is prevalent in news programming and social media and is taught in political science schools at Mr. Xi’s request.

At a symposium in Beijing in January, Yan Xuetong, a patriotic professor of international studies at Tsinghua University, stated that Chinese college students need to understand more about the rest of the world. The belief that “only China is just an innocent while all other countries, especially the Western countries, are “evil” and that Westerners are destined to detest China” is a typical binary viewpoint they held.

He claimed that when it comes to international relations, students “often have a powerful sense of superiority and confidence” and frequently “treat the other countries with a condescending mindset.”

They engage in what Professor Yan called “wishful thinking” in international affairs, expecting China to find it simple to pursue its foreign policy goals. They also frequently accept conspiracy theories and other unsupported online viewpoints, he continued.

He was chastised by a lot of young people who called him condescending.

“Socialism is Good. Capitalism is Bad”

The goal of Chinese propaganda has always been to emphasize China’s successes and the West’s shortcomings. On December 30, 1958, as China was about to enter the Great Famine, which would cause millions of people to die of famine, the People’s Daily’s front page declared that the nation was succeeding in industrial and agricultural production. Stories about socialist countries like North Korea and Vietnam were happy in the international news section, while those about the capitalist West were about their economic and political problems.

I read a newspaper column titled “Socialism is Good. Capitalism is Bad” as a child. Millions of young readers, including me, would read skewed weekly articles about a North Korean youngster having a good life or an American girl going hungry. Until China opened up and we discovered how poor our socialist nation was, we believed them.

This changed in the 1990s and 2000s when the Chinese Communist Party permitted some investigative reporting and open online criticism. However, under Mr. Xi, everything about China radiates “positive energy,” even economic projections, whereas the West, particularly the United States, is increasingly painted as wicked or in decline.

To credit the party for the nation’s achievements, the state broadcaster Chinese Central Television produced a documentary in 2018 titled “Amazing China.” The movie showed Mr. Xi sitting alongside farmers and discussing how their income had improved twentyfold in 20 years in a portion about achievements in eradicating poverty.

He rhetorically asked, “Who else could have done this?” The Communist Party could have only accomplished this. This was only possible under our socialist system. It was impossible to perform somewhere else.

However, capitalist nations like Japan and South Korea have undergone comparable economic changes decades before.

“Messy West,” “copy China’s homework.”

The “messy West” has been compared to China’s orderly government in several state news broadcasts and theoretical essays over the past two years, citing the United State’s handling of the epidemic, massive anti-racism protests, and numerous mass shootings. State media and multiple Chinese social media influencers pushed the United States and a few other Western nations to “copy China’s homework” when they were having trouble with their Covid submissions.

At a peace seminar in July, Wang Jisi, a professor of international studies at Peking University and a leading authority on U.S.-China relations, expressed his displeasure over the fact that the major news program on C.C.T.V. featured at least two unfavorable items about the United States every evening. He said they were either concerned about another mass shooting in the United States, an increase in racial tensions, or the country’s clumsy response to the virus. Why are we only allowed to discuss adverse events in the United States and not what is occurring in Latin America or Africa?

This year, Mr. Wang attempted to refute the notion that the United States is deteriorating in an interview with a scholarly publication. Despite a relative loss in America’s status abroad between 1995 and 2011, he contended, its proportion of global output increased in the decade following 2011. He accepted that American soft power had decreased but argued there was insufficient data to conclude that the country’s economy was in an unstoppable fall.

Propaganda Kool-Aid

If China indulges in its own propaganda Kool-Aid, it runs the risk of failing to address its issues while magnifying those of the United States.

The Communist Party’s hatred of the truth and fixation with power has the opposite effect. The zero-Covid policy of Mr. Xi, which relies on lockdowns and mass testing, is severely harming the Chinese economy. However, since there is no room for dissent, the nation is mainly abiding by the stringent regulations while a significant portion of the world is returning to normal.

Despite all of its flaws, the American democratic system still appears to be functioning, thanks to its checks and balances that allow opposing viewpoints to prevail and fresh tactical ideas to emerge. A good example is the 2020 presidential election, in which the Democrats are expected to win. The same goes for Kansas’ decision to keep abortion rights protected by the state constitution after the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade.

Congress recently passed the CHIPS and Science Act to assist international semiconductor firms in setting up operations in the nation to more effectively compete with China. And compared to his predecessor, President Biden’s administration is more adept at cooperating with allies.

The professor, Mr. Wang, asserted that the United States would be in decline when people cease lining up to apply for visas in front of American consulates.

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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