Xi is widely described in the West as a “leader for life,” but the party still needs to re-endorse him every five years.
No serious analyst suggests he will be dumped. His hold within the party is like iron. But even the dictator is feeling political pressure, with President Xi Jinping calling for a gradual lockdown on Chinese cities due to China’s zero-tolerance policy on COVID. continues to irritate millions of people. It’s also stalled economic growth and created a liquidity crisis in the real estate industry, leaving hundreds of thousands of homebuyers homeless and raging.
How did stressed Chinese politicians build their approval ratings? By “standing up to America,” especially over sensitive issues in Taiwan.
As such, President Xi has ordered a series of punishments against the United States and Taiwan. Beijing has closed communication channels with the United States on critical issues such as defense and climate change. An import ban was imposed on 100 items exported from Taiwan. They dispatched numerous warships and air force planes to intimidate Taipei and launched ballistic missiles across the island.
It then effectively put Taiwan under a three-day blockade by conducting live-fire military exercises at six locations along Taiwan’s coast. The Communist Party-owned media cheered at this display of Chinese power.
Xi didn’t have to do this. He may have dismissed Pelosi as a “lame duck” chairman, a term Republicans like to use against her, and played pathetic at the end for relevance. He could have treated her with sympathy instead of anger, but no. The Chinese president has set in motion the explosion machine of hypernationalist indignation.
In this way, Pelosi and Xi, America and China, fanned nationalist animosity towards each other. The two powers formed a mutually beneficial feedback loop, each seeking domestic points by hurting the other, with Taiwan suffering the most.
This is exactly the trap that President Xi has warned about in the past, the so-called Thucydides trap. He is named after Harvard Chinese scholar Graham Allison, who wrote ten years ago:
“The defining question for the world order in the coming decades will be whether China and the United States can escape Thucydides’ trap.” It’s time for the ruling and rising powers to go to war in a struggle for supremacy, much like Sparta and Athens did in the Peloponnesian War of the century.
“Most such challenges ended in war,” Allison wrote.
President Xi has discussed this idea publicly and on numerous occasions with then-Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. “If war breaks out not because of any particular event, but for the simple reason that a rising power creates enormous unrest in the current administration.
“If the trap was set by heightened anxiety, I have to say that Xi’s foreign policy was calculated to set the trap. The United States and China are “definitely in it.”
ANU National Security College Principal Rory Medcalf said: What has changed as a result of last week is that the level of risk has risen permanently.
“Paradoxically, it has revealed China’s hand – China has confirmed its military threat and willingness to move quickly to a blockade. China is providing us with a dataset to prepare for it. China clearly wants to use the embargo to cause enormous economic damage.
“This should be a wake-up call for business communities around the world, including in Europe and other countries deeply invested in the Indo-Pacific economic lifeline. Crisis like war kills business as usual. This will affect shipments, supply lines and insurance, which is why China will start preparing economic instruments to help deter this stupidity.”
The world needs sane politics, but right now it only gets politics.
Peter Hercher is the international editor.
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Can the US and China avoid a confrontation over Taiwan?
Source link Can the US and China avoid a confrontation over Taiwan?