Why is China so aggressive
It is the central narrative of the superiority of the Chinese one-party state over free societies - the Communist Party's Five-Year Plan. A seemingly long-term strategy, without annoying choices or contradictions. Soon it's time again. And if critics weren't locked away and dissent stifled, then the five-year plan would also be an occasion to take stock.
Aside from the big numbers, looking back is sobering. While reformer Deng Xiaoping once gave people back the freedom to make their own decisions, the party under Xi is everywhere again today. It is not about economic calculation or the modernization of the economy, but absolute political control. Economic reforms are being postponed, party cells are being strengthened. Politically, the balance looks even bleak.
Xi has further united power, lifted his term limits. In Xinjiang, the Communist Party is imprisoning hundreds of thousands in internment camps, has put tens of thousands into forced labor in Tibet, and effectively suspended Hong Kong's autonomy. Taiwan is openly threatened with war, and the cost of the initial cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan cannot yet be quantified.
Relations between Beijing and almost all partner countries have fallen to an all-time low. In neighboring Taiwan, people re-elected a president earlier this year whose core message was to stay as far away from China as possible. According to surveys, many people around the world are skeptical of the country at a record high. Everyone is staring at the US election, but it will not end distrust of China under Communist Party rule.
The CP presents itself as self-confident, China as strong. The government has only become more and more aggressive. Despite investing billions in propaganda and the media around the world, China's radiance extends just as far as its own wallet. And even massive investment promises are no longer enough in many places. The only successful cultural export in recent years has been the protest culture of the Hong Kong people in the fight against the hated one-party state.
The leadership explains the increasing isolation of the country to the people with an alleged distrust of the Chinese. It has made the story of constant humiliation from abroad the foundation of the nation, and draws its strength from the devaluation of other states and peoples. The ideological void is filled by an unleashed nationalism, which has long been directed against dissenters in the country. Angry mobs threaten and pursue critics online. The fact that any debate in the country today is perceived as unpatriotic may be a victory for the CP. It is a catastrophe for Chinese society. China wants to be a world power. In the face of global crises such as the coronavirus and the climate catastrophe, the involvement of China would be more important than ever. But Beijing does not divide or unite, it does not agitate or reconcile.
Part of the new five-year plan aims to reduce dependency on foreign countries and make the economy more self-sufficient. It is a reaction to the growing horror abroad, the increasing pressure on the regime. China's new grand plan is less a strategy than evidence of its own failure.
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