A study found that China and the US are still on a collision course, despite cooling the heat
The United States of America: A Strategy to Create a Secure, Open, Secure World from the Early Stages of Global Economic Uncertainty
The US goal is to keep China down so we can contain it. And the US believes China’s goal is to make the world safer for authoritarian states, push the US out of Asia and weaken its alliance system,” said Scott Kennedy, senior adviser in Chinese business and economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington.
The document, required by Congress, comes 21 months into Biden’s term. The broad contours of the strategy have been in evidence over the course of the President’s tenure, including a focus on rebuilding global partnerships and countering China and Russia.
“Around the world, the need for American leadership is as great as it has ever been. In the introduction to the strategy, Biden writes that the international order is being shaped by a strategic competition.
He continued, “we will not leave our future vulnerable to the whim of those who do not agree with our vision for a world that is open, prosperous, and secure.” “As the world continues to navigate the lingering impacts of the pandemic and global economic uncertainty, there is no nation better positioned to lead with strength and purpose than the United States of America.”
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Putin might have expected that his friendship with Xi would go well. Publicly, China still refuses to call the Russian military campaign an invasion – and Beijing has never condemned Russia’s unprovoked attack of its neighbor. But China has not armed Russian forces, and has at times issued veiled warnings against Russia’s threat of using nuclear weapons.
The time this decade is important for defining the terms of competition, particularly with the People’s Republic of China, and for getting ahead of massive challenges that if we lose the time this decade we will not be able to keep pace with.
Xi Jinping defended his hard-line reign on Sunday, presenting himself to a congress of China’s ruling elite as the leader whose tough policies had saved the nation from the ravages of the pandemic and was now focused on securing China’s rise amid multiplying global threats.
Mr. Xi, who is expected to win a third term as leader at the end of this week’s congress, used the opening report to argue that his decade in power had brought historic gains. He pointed to the party’s campaign against corrupt officials, its cleanup of the environment and its crackdown on antigovernment protesters in Hong Kong as key victories. He described Chinese foreign policy as a success in repelling Western “bully” and “pitiful”, apparently referring to the disputes over human rights, technology and Beijing’s claim on Taiwan.
But his praise was coupled with a somber warning that the nation must stand united behind the party to cope with a world he depicted as increasingly turbulent — and hostile. He did not mention the US by name but his distrust of the world’s other great power was clear in his call to action.
“Be mindful of dangers in the midst of peace,” Mr. Xi said. Prepare for the major tests of high winds and waves, and even dangerous storms by getting the house in good repair before the rain comes.
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But while having the ability to take Taiwan has long been a driver of Xi’s modernization of the PLA, actually doing so is a gargantuan and bloody task – arguably even more so than Russia’s attempted invasion of its neighbor.
China nowboasts the largest navy in the world with some of the most powerful warships afloat; an air force with stealth fighter jets and a stealth bomber expected soon; as well as a rocket force bristling with new missiles that gives it a reach that is unparalleled in Asia.
From Russia to China: The Status of the Xi-Ming Treaty in the 20th Congress of the Communist Party and the Republic of China
Doing so is not easy, as Russia’s experience in Ukraine shows. There have been numerous accounts throughout the war of Russian troops lacking air cover, or the proper supplies, or deploying the right units in the right places to block a Ukrainian offensive.
Even as he gets ready to be reelected as the leader of the Chinese Communist Party and the supreme commander of the Chinese military at this week’s 20th Party congress, analysts see parallels between the problems in Russia and the weak spots in China.
History is moving towards the reunification of China and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The Congress was applauded by Xi, who told them to complete reunification of the country.
Taiwan is located less than 100 miles off the coast of China. For more than 70 years the two sides have been governed separately, but that hasn’t stopped China’s ruling Communist Party from claiming the island as its own – despite having never controlled it.
Analysts estimate that an amphibious operation would need hundreds of thousands of soldiers.
The PLA Navy, which has a new aircraft carrier in the works, and many other warships that are of superior power, has racked up costs.
And as Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, points out, Taiwan has a relatively cheap way of countering them – by investing in the sort of small, land-based anti-ship missiles that Ukraine has been using to great success against Russia.
China also faces a significant challenge in making sure all the different parts of its now formidable fighting forces pull in the same direction – another issue that has dogged Russia in Ukraine.
The creation of a unified command structure is still in the early stages, which means that naval, air, army and rocket units can work together to execute a battle plan.
The command system for joint operations needs to be improved, and the PLA needs to have better systems and capacity for early warnings and strikes, according to the Sunday work report.
The air force flew jets repeatedly into the Air Defense Identification Zone and the rocket force sent missiles over the main island in the days after the visit.
Bringing China’s military presence out to the world: a response to Putin’s invasion of Taiwan as a smokescreen for a non-war operation
The four current top officers of the China’s Central Military Commission have reached their normal retirement ages, which means they are being replaced in order to help out Xi when he begins his third term in office.
What’s more, the four departing officers were in charge of the PLA’s actual fighting forces, while the two remaining ones come from the military’s political ranks, Wuthnow wrote for the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief last month.
Analysts said the language could be a smokescreen for something more sinister, just like how Putin referred to his invasion of Ukraine as a special military operation.
A missile launched by the rocket force of theeastern theater command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army flew over designated maritime areas in the east of Taiwan on August 4, 2022.
However, Chinese state media have done their best to play the order down, saying it could cover actions such as participating in international peacekeeping operations or providing disaster relief.
“The outlines aim to prevent and neutralize risks and challenges, handle emergencies, protect people and property, and safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, and world peace and regional stability,” the Xinhua news service reported.
He wrote in July that the new guidelines on non-war operations would be a way of bringing China’s military presence out into the world, and possibly another step away from the peaceful rise it once promised to the global community.
The United States once judged that the world would be safer with China inside rather than outside the international system. The betting paid off and it’s still better than the alternative. The United States and China should use bilateral and multilateral forums to discuss steps they can take to move away from the brink.
Competition will fuel over expansion abroad and make it difficult to focus resources and attention on achieving positive priorities and outcomes. In the United States, escalated competition could exacerbate domestic divisions and undermine democracy. More than 60 percent of Chinese scientists working in the US consider leaving the country due to increased anti-Asian violence, as well as increased efforts to protect research security.
China is watching closely, too. Xi recently appointed a new slate of top military leaders from China’s Eastern Theater Command, which encompasses Taiwan, indicating that going forward, the island is a priority for China’s fighting forces. Last week, he urged his military to “focus all its energy on fighting.”
Friday’s one-day trip to Beijing is Scholz’s first as Germany’s chancellor. The Chinese leader had not met with a head of state since the 20th Chinese Communist Party Congress delivered him a third term as party secretary. Western European countries and Beijing have had strained ties since Russia invaded Ukraine and Scholz’s visit is the first by a European leader.
During their meeting, Xi and Biden agreed “that a nuclear war should never be fought and can never be won and underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” according to the White House statement. The Chinese readout included no mention of nuclear weapons.
According to a survey by Deutschland Trend, more than half of Germans think the decision to approve a 24.9% stake in the port of HAMBURG by the Chinese state-run shipping company COSCO was a bad one. The U.S. also voiced misgivings about the deal.
Scholz was in the press conference with Li after he met with the Chinese premier. Scholz warned China against military intervention in Taiwan and called for the protection of human rights in the Chinese region of Xinjiang, stressing that all United Nations members have agreed to protect the rights of ethnic minorities and so calling for those protections now is not an interference in China’s internal affairs.
The world can’t afford another escalation inUkraine, Li said. Both China and Germany support multipolar solutions to international problems, and that’s why China is an attractive place for investment.
With democracy suddenly looking like it is on a stronger footing and important autocracies facing serious problems, it was an ideal time for Biden to speak frankly to Xi about areas of disagreement between the two superpower, trying to build safeguards to prevent the rivalry from becoming more serious than it is.
There will be a meeting between the two leaders at the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit on Monday. But the mood in the room is unlikely to be as balmy as the surrounding location.
Biden, meanwhile, arrived in Asia following a better-than-expected performance by his party in the US midterm elections – with the Democrats projected to keep the Senate in a major victory. Asked Sunday whether the results allowed him to go into Monday’s face-to-face with a stronger hand, Biden voiced confidence. He told reporters that he was coming in stronger.
One conversation on the sidelines of a summit is not sufficient to fully discuss all the key issues of the countries. And so hopefully, the two sides will facilitate a greater discussion on these issues by many parts of the two governments.”
There isn’t much possibility to anticipate that the major issues will be clarified given the state of rivalry between China and the US.
A senior White House official said Thursday Biden wants to use the talks to “build a floor” for the relationship – in other words, to prevent it from free falling into open conflict. The main objective of the sit-down is not about reaching agreements or deliverables – the two leaders will not release any joint statement afterward – but about gaining a better understanding of each other’s priorities and reducing misconceptions, according to the US official.
Jake Sullivan reinforced the message to reporters Saturday on Air Force One, noting that the meeting is unlikely to result in any major breakthrough in the relationship.
U.S. officials share this relative optimism. A senior administration official told reporters before the meeting that the space in the Chinese system had been created because of the leaders’ meeting.
Each side blames the other entirely for the state of the relationship and each believes they are faring better than the other in the situation, said Kennedy, who has recently returned from a weeks-long visit to China – a rare opportunity in recent years due to China’s zero-Covid border restrictions.
“The Chinese think they’re winning, the Americans think they’re winning, and so they’re willing to bear these costs. Kennedy said that the other side is likely to make no significant changes. All of those things help decrease the chance of significant adjustments.
The fact that the two leaders are talking to each other is a positive development. Keeping dialogue open is crucial for reducing risks of misunderstanding and miscalculations, especially when suspicions run deep and tensions run high.
Direct communication is all the more important given Xi has just secured a norm-shattering third term with a tighter grip on power than ever – and a possibility to rule for life. Sullivan said that there was no one else in the system who could really communicate authoritatively than President Hu Jintao.
When Biden sits down with XI, he wants to lay out what each of the red lines are, but that may not be as simple as it sounds.
“I would love to be a fly on the wall to see that conversation because I don’t think that the US or China has been very precise about what its red lines are. And I also don’t think either has been very clear about what positive rewards the other side would reap from staying within those red lines,” said Kennedy, of CSIS.
China has repeatedly accused the US of “playing with fire” and hollowing out the “one China” policy. Beijing’s anger reached a boiling point in August, when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brushed aside its stern warnings and landed in Taipei for a high-profile visit.
The two leaders are in the same room, which has been the result of weeks of intensive discussions, and Taiwan is expected to top their agenda. Barbs have already been traded in a sign of the dispute.
And for Xi, Yu says his further consolidation of power in the Chinese system may leave him more space for conducting diplomacy. “Xi is keen to resume a routinized mechanism and dialogue to steady the bilateral ties with Biden,” she says.
The US is ready to rejoin the climate talks at an opportune time for the summit in Egypt. The White House said the two leaders agreed to empower key senior officials to maintain communication and deepen constructive efforts on Climate change, global macroeconomic stability, health security, and global food security.
Some progress in communication and access between the US and China will be viewed very positively by experts in both countries, including restoring suspended climate and military talks.
The summit in Indonesia yielded two important outcomes, according to the US: A joint position that Russia must not use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine and an expected resumption of talks on climate between American and Chinese negotiators, a boost for the COP 27 global climate conference in Egypt.
Biden, meanwhile, reported that he stressed to Xi that Beijing also has an obligation to temper North Korea’s destabilizing missile and nuclear activity that has the Pacific region on edge.
Leon Panetta, who was the White House’schief of staff, defense secretary and CIA chief for decades, was cautiously positive after talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit.
“If the result of this meeting is to put the relationship back on a more diplomatic plane, in which instead of beating each other up they can begin a dialogue on the kind of issues that need to be dealt with, I think this meeting could very well be pivotal,” Panetta told CNN’s John King on “Inside Politics.”
First face-to-face exchange between the US and China since Richard Nixon’s visit to the Cold War: Comment on a baby step towards improving relations
“Neither side should try to remold the other in one’s own image or seek to change or even subvert the other’s system,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
So, Washington’s foreign policy has come full circle, since part of Richard Nixon’s motivation in engaging China during the 1970s Cold War deep freeze was to open strategic gaps between Beijing and Moscow.
Both leaders have been courting autocratic regimes. Russia is seeking armaments for its floundering war in Ukraine, and China is hard at work trying to become the center of a new alliance to counter the West. The project has failed, and it is not a resounding success. It is still a work in progress.
Today’s meeting was the first face-to-face exchange between the two since Biden became president. It took place after both leaders had just strengthened their respective political positions at home, analysts say.
Yu Jie, a senior research fellow on China at the London-based think tank Chatham House, says that given Biden’s “reasonable success” in the midterms, he is in a stronger position to steer Washington’s relationship with Beijing.
However, Yu warns that Monday’s meeting is just “a baby step” towards improving relations: “It will not resolve any substantial grievances both sides have had against each other, but only slowing down the deterioration of their relations.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Chinese Foreign Minister, Nancy Pelosi, during a visit to the U.S. during the 2016 Taiwan-China War
State Department said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit China early next year to follow up on the meeting between Xi and Biden.
Last month, the U.S. imposed dramatic export bans on certain advanced semiconductor technology — trade sanctions explicitly designed to hobble critical technology sectors like military modernization and artificial intelligence that are important to China.
The world is big enough for the two countries to prosper together, according to a foreign ministry spokeswoman who was with Xi in his meeting with Biden.
On Taiwan, despite intense media speculation over Beijing’s intention, Biden said he did “not think there’s any imminent attempt on the part of China to invade Taiwan.”
According to the White House, the president objected to Beijing’s “coercive and increasingly aggressive” Chinese actions in the waters around Taiwan.
Analysts think that China was unaware that Russia was about to invade Ukraine in February. Beijing has called repeatedly for a peaceful, negotiated end to the war.
Last year, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi put out three core demands — “bottom lines” — that China wanted the U.S. to agree to in order for relations to improve: to not get in the way in the country’s development, to respect China’s claims over places like Taiwan and to respect Beijing’s Communist Party rule.
Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan since August, a sign of increased ties between the United States and the island. Congress is considering drawing on the U.S. weapons stockpile to arm the island at American expense. Biden stressed in the press conference after meeting Xi that U.S. policy on Taiwan remains unchanged.
Mapping China and Hong Kong stock markets with the Xi-Peng-Sham meeting at the G20 in Beijing, Washington, and Singapore
Biden’s position at the G20 was strengthened because of the Democrats victory in the Senate, but he will be up for reelection in two years.
The meeting could lay the groundwork for stronger ties in the future. Stock markets in mainland China and Hong Kong were buoyed as a result, with technology giants such as Alibaba
(BABA) and Tencent (TCEHY) soaring on Tuesday.
Xi said in a statement the two countries should prevent “confrontation and conflict.” Both sides would continue discussions on the basis of common understandings already in place and “strive for early agreement,” he added.
Neil Thomas, a senior analyst for China and Northeast Asia at the Eurasia Group, stated that the goal of the meeting was to build a floor in the relationship between Beijing and Washington.
He said that the meeting was positive as it indicated that both sides were interested in finding common ground.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 4% to be on track to record a third straight day of gains. Since last Thursday, the index has increased by more than 15% thanks to China’s latest policy shift towards a gradual reopening of borders and the rescue package for the ailing property sector.
Chinese technology shares, which had been hammered by a regulatory crackdown at home and rising geopolitical tension abroad, led markets higher on Tuesday. Hong Kong-based shares of Chinese companies, such asAlibaba andTencent, shot up by more than 10%.
Xi and Albanese met in Brussels on Tuesday for a two-day summit summit to resolve the tension between Australia, France, China and South Korea
Biden’s reiteration of the US position on Taiwan and its “One China” policy was helpful, they said, as was Xi speaking out against the use of nuclear weapons by Russia.
The analysts at ING said that this was more progress than they had expected, and dominated what may otherwise be a fairly irrelevant G20 summit.
Following a three-hour meeting on Monday with US President Joe Biden in an attempt to prevent their rivalry from spilling into open conflict, Xi is talking on Tuesday with the leaders of Australia, France, the Netherlands and South Korea.
The French and Chinese presidents squeezed in a meeting early on Tuesday before they both showed up at the opening of the G20 summit.
The talks, which lasted for 43 minutes according to the French Presidency, saw Xi reiterate his support for a ceasefire and peace talks to end the war in Ukraine.
France, like other European countries, has hardened its position on China in recent years, increasingly viewing the country as a competitor and security concern.
Most of the time, it was just a virtual summit or video conference that Xi traveled to, instead of going to other countries.
As the case with the meeting between Xi and Biden, few in Australia expect the meeting between Xi and Albanese can completely reset the two countries’ strained relations.
The two countries have been locked in a bruising trade dispute and diplomatic freeze since early 2020, when China slapped tariffs on Australia following its call for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.
Announcing his meeting with Xi after arriving in Bali on Monday, Albanese said having the meeting alone is a “successful outcome,” pointing to the lack of dialogue at the top level for years.
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He told reporters that it was not in Australia’s interests to not have dialogue with major trading partners.
“Core Chinese objectives such as its South China Sea, Taiwan and South Pacific policies are fundamentally at odds with Australia’s core interests,” said Australian policy expert John Lee, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute think tank in Washington and former national security adviser to the Australian government.
A former CNN producer and correspondent, Frida Ghitis, is a world affairs columnist. She is a weekly opinion contributor to CNN, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post and a columnist for World Politics Review. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. There are more opinions on CNN.
The year begins with the forces of democracy, of liberal democracy, ascendant. The far right in the US is disorganized. And the world’s leading autocracies, China and Russia, are on the back foot.
In a major victory for the Ukrainians, Russian forces abandoned Kherson. Zelensky described it as the beginning of the end of the war. The Western-backed Ukrainians continue their successful push against the invasion that Russian President Vladimir Putin launched in February just days after meeting with Xi in Beijing.
Russian President Putin stood with his Chinese counterpart at a Beijing ceremony in February of last year. Putin was still denying plans to invade Ukraine, which he would do just after the end of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
After a poor showing for election deniers in the US, an exodus of Russians from an autocratic country, and an increasing support for the struggling Ukraine, democratic leaders need to show they can navigate the economic challenges of the coming months. All the while, they will face the continuing efforts of ambitious autocrats such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping to regain the upper hand.
Putin, in particular, poses a grave threat. He’s all in, having painted himself into a corner. He is not planning on surrendering to the Ukranians. Biden and NATO have been careful to support Ukraine while avoiding a direct clash with Putin, but a drastic escalation by Russia remains one of the greatest dangers in the year ahead.
Tellingly, Putin chose not to attend the G20 summit in Bali, avoiding confrontations with world leaders as he increasingly becomes a pariah on the global stage.
Vladimir Putin’s December 25 statement on the crisis in China: “It’s not all about diplomacy,” says the Russian prime minister
There are a lot of leaders with a strong hand, like Biden. Xi has just secured an unprecedented third term as China’s leader, and he can now effectively rule for as long as he wants. He doesn’t have to worry about election, press, or opposition party. He is the absolute ruler of a large country for many years to come.
His New Year speech comes as China’s lockdown-battered economy faces more immediate strain from a spiraling outbreak that has hit factories and businesses, ahead of what is likely to be a long and complicated road to economic recovery.
It is crucial for the two systems to have a good showing of democracy and showing that wars of aggression such as those that took place in the Middle East won’t hurt the system.
Days after saying he wanted an end to his war, the Russian President on Sunday repeated his claim that he was ready to “negotiate with everyone involved in this process about acceptable solutions,” the state news agency TASS reported.
The simple thought remains the same; the conflict has evolved into a battle that Ukraine may be able to win and any deal that undermines the country’s borders or represents victory for Putin would not be accepted by Kyiv.
While seemingly indicating a willingness to negotiate, the Russian leader refused to mention Ukraine as a relevant party, and continued to couch his offer in the false belief that Moscow is defending itself with a special military operation.
As has often been the case throughout the conflict, the vaguely conciliatory tone from Putin was quickly contradicted by a heavy-handed message from one of his key officials.
The Russian military had been warned to take action against any threats to the Russian security from the occupied regions of Ukraine.
“There is just one thing left to do: to fulfill them before it’s too late. Otherwise the Russian army will take matters into its own hands,” Lavrov said. “With regard to the duration of the conflict, the ball is now in the court of Washington and its regime,” he added, again referring to Ukraine as a puppet of the US.
“Putin’s December 25 statement is a part of a deliberate information campaign aimed at misleading the West to push Ukraine into making preliminary concessions,” the ISW said, adding that Moscow has stepped up those efforts in December.
Alexander Rodnyansky, an economic adviser to President Zelensky, told CNN Tuesday that Putin’s comments were likely an effort to buy time in the conflict.
Through the first ten months of war, NATO has stayed largely united in supporting Ukraine’s resistance, with Western nations dispatching billions of dollars worth of weapons and other aid to Kyiv.
Putting a dent in that support remains a key aim for Putin, whose position would be strengthened if foreign leaders leaned on Zelensky to consider a deal with Russia.
Since the end of the summer, the ground war in eastern and southern Ukraine has been defined by a series of decisive counter- attacks that have pushed back Russian forces and raised Western optimism that Kyiv can win the war.
Zelensky’s War with the United Nations – A Rejoinder for the War on the Warsaw Process – Is the U.S. Ready for the New Year?
Zelensky and his officials have not raised any hopes of achieving an agreement, even though they have sounded out the possibility of negotiations.
Kuleba said that every war ends in a diplomatic way. “Every war ends as a result of the actions taken on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.”
The UN would be the main broker for those talks, according to the Foreign Minister. “The United Nations could be the best venue for holding this summit, because this is not about making a favor to a certain country,” he said. “This is really about bringing everyone on board.”
The steps include a path to nuclear safety, food security, and a final peace treaty with Moscow. He proposed that the G20 leaders implement a price cap on energy imported from Moscow and make Russia abandon nuclear threats.
A decisive swing on the battlefield in the New Year could force a change in the calculus, but both sides are dug into what will many observers believe could become a long and grinding conflict.
Zelensky is back in the US for the first time in a decade to show his support for the conflict and his intent to keep his allies focused.
Zelensky said that a just peace was no compromise for the sovereignty, freedom and territorial integrity of the country during his press conference with Biden at the White House.
“It can succeed in the battlefield with our help, and the help of our European allies and others, so that if and when President Zelensky is ready to talk to the Russians, he will be able to succeed as well, because he will have won on the battlefield.”
Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine: The Second Battlefield Between the Ukrain and China in the Context of Security and Security, and the Prospect for a Strategic Partnership
Analysts are watching for any sign that China will back down in their support of Putin, after a long conflict with Russia in which the Chinese leader has supported him.
The two leaders will primarily discuss bilateral relations between their countries, and exchange views on regional issues and their strategic partnership, Peskov spoke on Thursday.
Instead of an anticipated swift victory, Putin’s invasion has faltered with numerous setbacks on the battlefield, including a lack of basic equipment. Morale within parts of Russia is low, with many civilians facing economic hardship during the bitter winter.
On Thursday, Russia launched what Ukrainian officials described as one of the biggest missile barrages since the war began in February, with explosions rattling villages and cities across Ukraine, damaging civilian infrastructure and killing at least three people.
Ukrainian officials have been warned for days that Russia is about to launch an all-out assault on the power grid to close it in 2022, plunging the country into darkness as they celebrate the Christmas holidays.
AlfredWu said that China is becoming more isolated in its stance towards Russia.
Modi told Putin in September that this was not the time for war, and urged him to move toward peace.
“Now with domestic issues out of the way, Xi is in a better position to work on Russia,” said Stimson Center’s Sun, referring to his consolidation of power in October.
She said that high energy prices had increased trade this year, and that the two leaders could reaffirm their vows to cooperate economically.
The New Year: A New Phase of Covid Response in the United States, and Implications for Vaccine Safety, Immunity, and Health Services
Protests, the Covid outbreak, and the economic toll have put Xi in a more vulnerable position that could mean less public support for Russia.
The chaos unleashed by leader Xi Jinping’s abrupt and ill-prepared exit from zero-Covid is spilling over into the new year, as large swathes of the country face an unprecedented Covid wave.
Its tightly-sealed borders are gradually opening up, and Chinese tourists are eager to explore the world again, but some countries appear cautious to receive them, imposing new requirements for a negative Covid test before travel. And just how quickly – or keenly – global visitors will return to China is another question.
In a nationally televised New Year’s Eve speech, the president said that they had entered a new phase of Covid response. “Everyone is holding on with great fortitude, and the light of hope is right in front of us. Perseverance and solidarity mean victory and should make for an extra effort.
There was little preparation in place to deal with the huge number of patients and deaths that followed the sudden lifting of restrictions.
The country’s fragile heath system is scrambling to cope: fever and cold medicines are hard to find, hospitals are overwhelmed, doctors and nurses are stretched to the limit, while crematoriums are struggling to keep up with an influx of bodies.
The experts predict the worst is yet to come. While some major metropolises like Beijing may have seen the peak of the outbreak, less-developed cities and the vast rural hinterland are still bracing for more infections.
There is a bad outlook. If China isn’t able to make enough of its booster shots and drugs fast enough, the death toll could go over a million.
The government has launched a booster campaign for the elderly, but many remain reluctant to take it due to concerns about side effects. Fighting vaccine hesitancy will require significant time and effort, when the country’s medical workers are already stretched thin.
The Unexpected Success of China During the December 26, 2023 Outbreak: Opening New Opportunities for Economic Development and Trade Relations with the 21st Century
Any uptick in China’s growth will provide a vital boost to economies that rely on Chinese demand. International travel and production will increase. But rising demand will also drive up prices of energy and raw materials, putting upward pressure on global inflation.
Other experts also expect the economy to recover after March. In a recent research report, HSBC economists projected a 0.5% contraction in the first quarter, but 5% growth for 2023.
Chinese citizens are happy because of the partial reopening of the border after the end of sterilization for international arrivals.
Though some residents voiced concern online about the rapid loosening of restrictions during the outbreak, many more are eagerly planning trips abroad – travel websites recorded massive spikes in traffic within minutes of the announcement on December 26.
Several Chinese nationals overseas told CNN that they have been unable or unwilling to return home for many years because the lengthy quarantine was still in place. That stretch meant major life moments missed and spent apart: graduations, weddings, childbirths, deaths.
Some countries have offered a warm welcome back, with foreign embassies and tourism departments posting invitations to Chinese travelers on Chinese social media sites. But others are more cautious, with many countries imposing new testing requirements for travelers coming from China and its territories.
Officials from these countries have pointed to the risk of new variants emerging from China’s outbreak – though numerous health experts have criticized the targeted travel restrictions as scientifically ineffective and alarmist, with the risk of inciting further racism and xenophobia.
With China emerging from a self imposed isolation, all eyes are on whether it will repair its damaged reputation and relations with its neighbors.
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The lack of top-level face-to-face diplomacy certainly didn’t help, neither did the freeze on in-person exchanges among policy advisers, business groups and the wider public.
Communication lines are back open and more high-level exchanges are in the pipeline – with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, French President Emmanuel Macron, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Italy’s newly elected Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni all expected to visit Beijing this year.
In the new year, tensions may again flare over Taiwan, technological containment, as well as China’s support for Russia – which Xi underlined during a virtual meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 30.
China and Russia can work together to fight power politics, hegemonism, and protectionist policies. Putin, meanwhile, invited Xi to visit Moscow in the spring of 2023.
The war has affected the interest of China in Europe according to the director of the China Program at the Washington-based think tank Stimson Center. China will not abandon Russia because of the damage.
For example, it was an open question. At the time, many believed that autocracy would not only win, but would prove to be the better system. How many believe that today?
How many believe Russia, China or Iran offer a better model than an open society with all its foibles and challenges? How many people think the US would benefit from a more authoritarian president?
The contest between democracy and autocracy is far from over, but autocracy’s appeal has diminished in the past 12 months due to the very public display of its fatal flaws. When you can’t tell leaders they’re wrong, they will make mistakes – even catastrophic ones. The more powerful and ruthless the ruler, the higher the likelihood that no one dares challenge his wisdom, even if he leads his nation toward a cliff.
The autocracy brothers want the world to think their system is better, a message that would quiet any doubts at home. For 16 consecutive years, according to the non-partisan democracy monitor Freedom House, democracy was losing ground. According to the organization’s research, only 20% of the world’s population live in “Free countries”.
In 2022, while these global strongmen struggled, self-assured “geniuses” like Elon Musk – who more than once appeared to side with autocrats – revealed their own shortcomings, and oppressed populations fed up with decades of tyranny demanded change.
Some of the credit goes to Putin, whose imperialist ploy to conquer neighboring Ukraine struck like a thunderbolt. No longer was freedom a vague ideal. No longer was the battle for democracy a metaphor. This was a real war with missiles, carnage and death.
The invasion strengthened NATO, a democratic defense alliance, in a way nothing had in decades. Sweden and Finns that had long cherished their neutrality wanted to join.
The anti-democratic regime in Iran: protests, violence, censorship, and the world’s reaction on the protests against the regime
In Iran, women rose up against the theocracy, fed up with its repressive rules. The regime responded with violence killing hundreds according to human rights organizations.
No one expected that the activists would continue to defy the regime. How far will they go? How far will the regime go to snuff them out? The rest of the world will respond.
Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, Putin, Russia and the Crimes of Repression and Intifaence in the Cold War
Donald Trump is a candidate for president. It was called a lead balloon by the British. He’s becoming an increasingly isolated, rather pathetic figure after many of his top choices failed in the midterm elections and election deniers fared badly. He called for Republicans to unite behind Kevin McCarthy but that seemed to do little to quell the rebellion this week. And while the struggle over the speakership may have seemed dysfunctional, it was democracy, in all its messy wrangling, on display. It seems like Trump’s legal troubles are going on all the time.
Jair Bolsonaro, who looked a lot like Trump, lost his reelection bid. He refused to admit defeat or attend the inauguration of the man who defeated him. Bolsonaro had planned to decamp to Florida.
The populist Boris Johnson lost his job as premier and was replaced by the centrist, non-populist Rishi Sunak. Back when Johnson was leading his country out of the European Union, populists across Europe wanted their own versions of Brexit. We don’t hear that anymore. French President Emmanuel Macron defeated his populist opponent, Marine Le Pen who, like other European populists, had to run from her record of closeness to Putin.
President Joe Biden and his administration have done a lot in trying to fortify NATO and strengthen alliances, but they also need to try to prevent the creation of a unified force of antidemocratic regimes.
But the rule of the strongest doesn’t work when you can’t win, which is how Russia’s plans started to unravel, and China had to rethink its commitment.
Is he with Putin or not? He seems to want it both ways. He wants the relationship with a country that has invaded its neighbor without provocation, but he’s trying to present himself as a responsible global leader; an alternative to the democratic Western model for other countries to follow.
According to US intelligence, Russia has bought artillery shells from North Korea, another notorious dictatorship, which denies its involvement in a war whose morality is beyond the pale.
Iran denied it ever sold weapons to Ukraine but later claimed it did so before the war began. The documents show the drones in Ukraine are similar to the ones Tehran has used in the Middle East.
Iran, whose repressive, interventionist regime has also turned it, like Russia, into a pariah to much of the world, now finds itself being courted by both Moscow and Beijing.
This week, Ebrahim Raisi became the first Iranian president to visit China in 20 years. The trip was supposed to implement the 25-year strategic partnership pact the two reached at the meeting of the Singapore Cooperation Organization in 2021.
The Beijing-Tehran ties have raised alarms among both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, who fear China’s support could help Tehran evade sanctions related to its nuclear and conventional weapons programs, support for terrorism and human rights abuses.
Clearly, there’s an internal contradiction in Xi’s dual goals. If you want to elevate your standing to that of a respected global leader, it’s hard to create an alliance of rule-breaking autocrats and assorted dictators, and then expect other countries to join enthusiastically.
Beijing is ready to present its peace plan for Ukraine, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Saturday at the annual Security Conference in Germany, which referred to the conflict in Ukraine as a war.
Wang said that Beijing will continue to work for peace, even though it does not agree with some aspects of the proposal.
Some key context: Many European Union leaders in Munich remain wary of Beijing’s intentions, as Wang called on European countries to change their approach to the war.
The European Commission President told CNN on Saturday that they need more proof that China isn’t working with Russia.
Putin admitted Beijing had questions and concerns about the invasion in September of 2022, in what appeared to be a veiled admission of diverging views.
This month will be the first visit to Russia from a Chinese official in the role of top diplomat during the war, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.