Human rights issues in Xinjiang and Hong Kong are often emphasised by western democracies
China’s President Xi Jinping has just stepped into an unprecedented third term as chairman of the party as well as President and head of the high command of the Chinese military. A belligerent speech to the PLA ahead of the investiture ceremony last week may have led to heightening of tensions in a distinctly bipolar world that has sprung up more than three decades after the dismantling of the Soviet Union.
Far from any immediate signs that Mr Xi would be asserting China’s economic, political, or territorial claims surrounding Taiwan, parts of India and the Indo-Pacific, the Chinese President was busy achieving what seemed an impossible dream of getting Saudi Arabia and Iran on a common page of peaceful diplomatic relations.
Such a positive move in this era of a second Cold War should have helped shed at least some light on the fact that treating China as an intimidating rival power may be a counterproductive simplification of global geopolitics. But there was only more of bellicose power bloc politics in viewing its role as more of China relentlessly seeking to spread its influence and impose its priorities on other nations. But then the USA has refused to abandon its thinking that engagement with China is a policy failure.
Flying spy balloons as part of an elaborate espionage exercise against the rest of the world may not have helped China’s image as it came on top of sustained cyber espionage and general disregard for international rules-based order in supporting Russia’s acquisitive moves on Ukraine. Human rights issues in Xinjiang and Hong Kong are often emphasised by western democracies.
So long as territorial ambitions are not further fuelled by China’s economic ascendancy — which is still a fact of life as seen in trade imbalance, including between India and China — there may be a reason to give Mr Xi some rope while recognising the need to understand that the world may be better off in competing with China economically while minimising confrontation.
The economic prosperity of the world, with its benefits trickling down to the bottom of the pyramid, must be given a chance while hoping that conflicts, including the one in Ukraine created by Putin’s revanchist misadventure, could be solved if they can be addressed much as the Sunni-Shia conflicts clouding Saudi Arabia-Iran ties has been.