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Xi's China
China Is Making Western Diplomats Very Anxious

With all the crises in the Middle East and Europe these days, it’s easy to miss that things aren’t going very well in Asia either. Tensions between Japan and China have been rising, and Beijing has become more aggressive in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, as China’s economy has slowed, its internal politics have become more authoritarian. Diplomats from several countries are more worried about China’s direction than they have been in decades, according to the Washington Post:

“Western nations are more united,” said one diplomat, who declined to be identified to talk freely about sensitive matters. “We are worried China is taking a wrong turn.”

Under Xi, China has tightened the screws of repression and censorship, the nations complain. Security concerns are trumping business interests, while market-opening reforms aren’t happening fast enough. At the same time, China’s assertive actions in the South China Sea have not just spooked its Asian neighbors but sparked concerns from Washington to Brussels.

In a strongly worded letter sent Feb. 25, the ambassadors of the United States, the European Union, Canada, Japan and other nations expressed “growing concerns over the Chinese government’s commitment to the rule of law and basic human rights.”

The previously unreported letter, seen by The Washington Post, was addressed to the minister of public security, Guo Shengkun. It complained about the arrests of civil-society actors, human rights defenders, lawyers and labor rights activists, and about a series of televised “confessions” that “make an unbiased trial impossible.” It has yet to elicit a formal response, diplomats say.

For decades, the Communist Party derived its legitimacy from its ability to deliver reliable, stable growth to hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens. With that growth slowing, the Party feels it needs a new grip on power. To be sure, Beijing was getting more assertive on the geopolitical stage even before its economy started to falter. In fact, the collapse of Lehman Brothers signaled to many Chinese that the era of American hegemony was ending, and that it was time for Beijing to grow its regional influence. But then, China was behaving in ways which were, although complicated, within the realm of normalcy. Now, something seems to have changed and Beijing isn’t playing by the same playbook. This isn’t just our opinion: it’s quickly becoming the consensus among the people who know China best. If it worries them, then it should worry everyone else too.

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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    China’s economic numbers are being pencil whipped, and they have been for many years. You don’t fire 1.8 million coal and steel workers in one region, or cut imports of raw materials by 40%, when your economy grew at 6.9% in 2015 and is projected to grow 6.5% in 2016. The fact is China’s economy has been in free fall for over a year.

    China’s communist party leadership is terrified; they have been taking credit for the so called “Chinese Economic Miracle” when they were in no way responsible for it. What really happened was the “Water Buffalo” level economy of the communist party ended with the fall of the “Iron Curtain”, as foreign investors came in and built state of the art factories in order to take advantage of the cheap Chinese labor and potential 1 billion new consumers. But, with the withdrawal of $1+ Trillion in foreign currency (subtract -5.55% from an already bogus GDP) from China in 2015 alone, the smart money has already left, and the stupid money is desperately trying to get out. Without the foreign investors and their “Feedback of Competition” informed expertise and Brand captive foreign markets, China’s growth is over. Not only is 1/2 of China’s economy owned by the Government (the most inefficient, wasteful, and corrupt 1/2), but in the 40 years since the fall of the “Iron Curtain” China hasn’t produced a single world recognized brand name like, Sony, Samsung, Toyota, Kia, Intel, Microsoft, Apple, etc., which indicates a stagnate culture without a shred of Creativity. The Chinese leadership now knows that the middle class that has developed over the last 40 years, isn’t going to forgive them when it becomes obvious that they have nothing to offer but the “Water Buffalo” level economy of 40 years ago.

    The Party is looking for a foreign war to blame everything on and generate patriotic support. They see the “South China Sea” as the way to save their skins. A war with their Asian neighbors there, will result in a strategic blockade of all Chinese ports, and an end to their export driven economy. This would make the failed economy the Foreigners fault, and blaming foreigners could potentially save them. Otherwise, the Chinese have a history of bloody revolutions of which Mao’s is only the most recent.

    • Fat_Man

      My brother does a lot of business in China. He tells me that every business in China has three or four sets of books, and none of the ones that outsiders can see are at all meaningful.

    • Kevin

      The junta in Argentina thought the same thing in 1982. It’s dangerous for countries to weak and/or irresolute even if they will push back in a crisis.

  • Kevin

    “This isn’t just our opinion: it’s quickly becoming the consensus among the people who know China best. If it worries them, then it should worry everyone else too.”

    Considering that these “people who know China best” have generally been apologists for the CCP that’s saying quite a lot!

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