Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
December 29, 2023
US-China bilateral relation is the most critical global relation in the foreseeable future. It is a comprehensive, competitive, and tenuous relation. A major reason for this tough situation is that the US and China lack broad based mutual understanding, thus lack of trust.
So, it is useful to read and have some understanding of China’s latest foreign policy objectives with an open mind. The following report is about “The Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs” which was held in Beijing from Wednesday to Thursday December 27-28, 2024. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Chinese president, and chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivered an important speech at the conference.
It is notable that China’s official position does not explicitly mention the United States. This is in contrast to the US political dynamics while the Congress has established quite a few prominent committees focused on defending the US against China or the Chinese Communist Party, (CCP.) Sure, China is seeking to “raise her global clout to a new level,” but there is no statement that China is destined to replace the US as the most powerful nation.
The US has locked in a global leading position with chartered military organizations including NATO, QUAD, and AUKUS, along with many bilateral military treaty partners including Japan, ROK, and the Philippines etc. China does not, or intention to, organize military alliances. The US essentially has effectively contained China’s military influences within the Indo-Pacific sphere. Does China have the ambition to challenge the US military globally? It is doubtful! Rather, China is focused on expanding commerce, trade, and R&D, the so called soft power.
China’s “modernization” is an on-going project, Xi has the responsibility of feeding 14 billion people and keep them happy. That is a monumental task and President Biden surely has no intention to switch his office with Xi!
The US should not be paranoid about China’s rise. Rather, the US should focus on uniting her people and improving her global competitiveness. A major power’s downfall mostly has been caused by domestic challenges, while too occupied by defeating a foreign power won’t help.
China’s Leaders Seek to Raise Global Clout to ‘A New Level’
Fri, December 29, 2023 at 5:20 AM PST
(Bloomberg) — China will escalate its challenge to the US-led world order, using a rare Communist Party conference this week to map out a strategy to raise its profile and power on the global stage.
“We must reject all acts of power politics and bullying, and vigorously defend our national interests and dignity,” it said, an allusion to what it sees as the US’ anti-China lobbying.
Xi has presided over an aggressive foreign policy agenda designed to bolster China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests — and to position itself as an alternative to the US and other Western democracies, using aid, trade and foreign direct investment to build goodwill and expand its political clout.
“We must take a clear and firm position, hold the international moral high ground, and unite and rally the overwhelming majority in our world,” according to the statement.
Underscoring Xi’s determination to challenge the US, he used a speech on Tuesday intended to remember the nation’s founder, Mao Zedong, to instead laud “Chinese modernization.” Xi has promoted that vaguely defined concept since 2021, adding this week that is now “the solemn historical responsibility of today’s Chinese Communists.”
Since Xi started abandoning his stringent approach to curbing Covid-19 in late 2022 — one that cut his nation off from the rest of the world for some three years — he has made a flurry of diplomatic efforts aimed at building China’s global standing.
A special feature of that has been portraying his nation as the champion of emerging economies known as the Global South, mostly through groups in which Beijing has a big say. In August, he called for the BRICS bloc to fast track a plan to expand its members, a move that would give his policies and ideas a bigger audience.
Then in October he hosted the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing — an event for his signature infrastructure initiative that has become a club for Global South nations as Europe largely opts out.
Xi has also been building up the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as more important regional security grouping. That group helps China forge closer ties with Russia and Iran, two major foes of the US.
And he’s seeking to deepen Beijing’s influence in Central Asia, as Russia focuses on its war in Ukraine. In May, Xi hosted a summit with leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to discuss closer trade and security links.
Xi’s vision of a more influential China even includes the southern Pacific. In a sign of Beijing’s greater interest in the region, this year it appointed its inaugural special envoy for the Pacific islands.
There are indications Beijing is trying to revamp international organizations like the United Nations to better suit its view of the world. It is also stepping up efforts to have a bigger voice on bodies around the world that set technical standards, both to move its manufacturing up the global value chain and grow its influence.
China says the moves are necessary because it deserves a voice to match its economic clout, though critics say it is undermining the bodies, for example by shifting the UN’s focus away from human rights that protect the individual.
The diplomacy meeting Xi attended this week signaled China intends to forge ahead with these projects in the coming years. The nation “faces new strategic opportunities in its development,” the statement said, adding that the country will “foster new dynamics in the relations between China and the world.”
–With assistance from Josh Xiao, Ocean Hou, Evelyn Yu and Janet Paskin.