A New World Order, II: Xi Jinping’s Goal Of World Supremacy

Sep 10th, 2022 | By | Category: Featured Issues, Politics & Current Events

The mission of Issues in Perspective is to provide thoughtful, historical and biblically-centered perspectives on current ethical and cultural issues.

With the end of World War II in 1945 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, America emerged as the first and only global superpower.  America therefore championed the values of democracy, open markets, human rights and the rule of law—and it had the clout of both military and financial power to impose this moral code on terrorists and tyrants.  The result was a period of peace, prosperity and progress.  That world order championed by the US is breaking down.  What are the elements of the new world order now emerging?  Who are the primary players in this new order?  What will the future look like as the new order unfolds?  With this edition of Issues in Perspective, I continue with my three-part analysis of this emerging world order.  In the last edition of Issues, we focused on Russia and Vladimir Putin.  With this edition, we focus on Xi Jinping and China.  Both are challenging what Anne Applebaum calls the “Never Agains” of Western civilization:  “Never again would there be genocide.  Never again would large nations erase smaller nations from the map.  Never again would we be taken in by dictators who used the language of mass murder.”

First of all, Xi envisions his nation as destined for supremacy.  What are his assumptions?  One will never understand his vision if one does not understand his assumptions.

  1. Xi seeks the destruction of the American-led, West-dominated global hegemony.  In the words of Walter Russell Mead, he believes “that despite its imposing strengths (G-7 countries account for 45% of global gross domestic product and 52% of global military spending), this order is decadent and vulnerable.”  Why this belief in decline and decadence? One “trend is toward protectionism in Europe and the US, which reduces the economic attraction of the Western system for developing countries.  The others involve values.  While Western conventional wisdom believes that the ‘values-based’ element of American and European foreign policy is a vital source of strength around the world, [Xi] believes that Western narcissism and blindness led the Western powers into a trap . . . Many values dear to the hearts of Western cultural leaders (LGBTQ rights, abortion on demand, freedom of speech understood as allowing unchecked Internet pornography) puzzle and offend billions of people round the world who haven’t kept up with the latest hot trend on American campuses . . . Moreover, the liberal West’s new, post-Christian values agenda divides the West. Culture wars at home don’t promote unity overseas. . . The moral and political confusion of the contemporary West is the secret weapon that the leaders of Russia and China believe will bring the American world order to its knees.”
  2. Like Vladimir Putin, Xi rejects democracy as a form of government for his nation.  Authoritarian governments like China, in his opinion, are freed from short-term thinking imposed by elections.  Democratic governments are inefficient and time-consuming.  Authoritarian governments work better, are more efficient and serve people better.  He believes strongly that people in China are willing to surrender some of their rights in exchange for efficiency, prosperity and order.  As The Economist argues, “For over 40 years successive leaders have tolerated only as much economic and social openness as is compatible with unchallenged party authority.  President Xi Jinping, the party chief since 2012, has broken even more decisively with norms that hold sway in much of the rich world.  He has explicitly condemned the separation of powers and an independent judiciary as unwelcome Western notions.  His China is proud to offer not the rule of law but ‘law-based governance’ via party-controlled courts.”
  3. In terms of Asia, Xi is calling for “an indivisible security community” in Asia.  This is China’s latest “bid to delegitimize the American-led defense alliances and treaties that have guaranteed [Asia’s] security for decades.  Much of Mr. Xi’s new initiative builds on ‘Asia for the Asians’ arguments that China has promoted in its home region for years . . . Eight years ago Mr. Xi called for Asian countries to shun defense alliances that include some countries but exclude others . . . and to handle disputes by dialogue . . . .”    Xi has declared:  “It is for the people of Asia to run the affairs of Asia, solve the problems of Asia and uphold the security of Asia.”   In short, it is time for America to leave Asia!

Second, Xi has made China a global power not only economically but also militarily.  Hal Brands of Johns Hopkins University and Michael Beckley of Tufts University demonstrate that “Thanks to decades of rapid growth, China boasts the world’s largest economy (measured by purchasing power parity), navy by numbers of ships and conventional missile forces.  Chinese investments span the globe, and Beijing is pushing for primacy in crucial technologies.  Chinese leaders are dreaming some very big dreams:  They want to absorb Taiwan, make the Western Pacific  a Chinese lake and carve out a vast economic empire across the global south—all part of the ‘national rejuvenation’ that will return China to its former place as the most powerful country on Earth.  In the West, pundits breathlessly warn that Beijing will soon be number one.” Furthermore, “China is rapidly deploying missiles, aircraft, warships and rocket launchers that can pummel Taiwan; it is assiduously rehearsing large-scale amphibious assaults.”  What we see now is a more dangerous China, one that “gambles big to reshape the balance of power” in Asia and indeed in the world.

Finally, mention of the infamous Belt and Road Intuitive (BRI) of China launched in 2013 must be made.  Gerald F. Seib of the Wall Street Journal summarizes the dimensions of the BRI: “. . . China is investing in trade infrastructure tying 71 countries across Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.  Together, those countries represent more than a third of the world’s economic output and two-thirds of its population.  Beyond that, more than 10,000 Chinese-owned companies now are operating in Africa, a study by the Foreign Policy Research institute shows.  Between 2001 and 2018, China lent approximately $126 billion to African countries and invested directly some $41 billion.  Greater investment has brought greater geopolitical cooperation.  The FPRI study found ‘economic engagement with China yields greater political alignment between China and African countries,’ as measured by votes at the UN.  China has also built its first-ever overseas military base in Djibouti, in Africa. Similarly, Chinese trade with Latin American has exploded since 2000.  It now totals $450 billion annually and could exceed $700 billion by 2035.  China is now South America’s top trading partner and the second-largest partner for Latin America overall, after the US.”

In conclusion, let’s me cite one example of China’s new belligerence and exercise of its considerable power on a small country—Lithuania.  China is pushing back at Lithuania, which in late 2021 allowed Taiwan to open a representative office in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.  China is holding up not only Lithuanian imports, but all imports that include Lithuania parts; therefore, upsetting global supply chains.    In 2021 Lithuania exported goods worth $350 million to China.  Lithuania has long imported far more from China.  China withdrew its ambassador from Lithuania and Lithuania withdrew its ambassador.  China’s punishment of Lithuania is a wake-up call for companies and countries alike.  It is, in the words of one diplomat, a “new stage for China’s coercion of the world.”

Xi Jinping, like Vladimir Putin, has delusions of grandeur when it comes to his country.  The difference, however, is that, unlike Russia, China is economically, financially and militarily quite powerful.  It is a rising superpower challenging American democracy, American power and American influence.  It will be the key player in this emerging new old order.

See Walter Russell Mead in the Wall Street Journal (12 July 2022); Anne Applebaum in the Atlantic (May 2022), pp. 9-12; The Economist (14 May 2022), p. 42, (7 May 2022), p. 38 and (5 March 2022), p. 37-38; Hal Brands and Michael Beckley in the Wall Street Journal (6-7 August 2022); and Gerald F. Seib in the Wall Street Journal (16-17 June 2022).

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