Given the amount of anti-China rhetoric in global media, most consumers of English language media and many in the European Union can be forgiven for thinking that the “international community” fears China’s rise and that China is becoming increasingly isolated on the world stage. However, recent and upcoming events indicate otherwise.
Secretary of State Blinken visited China, it was uncertain if that meeting would even go ahead and it wasn’t certain how he would be received. But he came and was treated with all the correct diplomatic protocols. He didn’t achieve everything he wanted though; high level military dialogue will not restart just yet. This is hardly surprising as the chief of China’s defence forces is still subject to US sanctions imposed in 2018. But Blinken did achieve his other main goal which was to open high-level discussions so that Treasury Secretary Yellen can come and ask for China’s help. With their debt problem.
Evidence that all roads no longer lead to Rome but are being diverted to Beijing comes from the other high-level and State visits which are anticipated or have recently taken place.
First of all, in March 2023 we saw the China Development Forum in which 40 multinational corporation leaders went to Beijing to discuss shared opportunities for future economic development.
Also in march 2023, the Boao Forum took place on China’s (other) island province of Hainan. Prime Ministers, economic leaders and senior officials as well as business leaders from 28 countries attended the meeting, including 5 Prime Ministers and the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, was made particularly welcome as Spain takes up the role of rotating Presidency of the EU. This may be why he also received an invitation to travel to Beijing to meet with Xi Jinping. Clearly, China’s goal is to work alongside and not in competition with the European Union. China has recently overtaken the USA as EU’s largest trading partner and the EU is now China’s second largest trading partner.
The largest trading partner for China, in terms of both imports and exports is ASEAN and two of their most significant members, Malaysia and Singapore were represented in Boao by their Prime Ministers, indicating the degree of importance they place on regional cooperation, evidenced in the day’s following the Boao Forum when Singapore and China issued a Joint Declaration on the establishment of an All-Round High-Quality Future-Oriented Partnership.
The messages coming from Boao this year, a conference so important that it’s been nicknamed the Davos of Asia, are clear: China is an anchor for world peace; a more resilient economic future is sought without succumbing to great power competition; and conflict in the region should be avoided at all costs. It was also stated that the Forum supports a “People-Centered-Recovery” post Covid.
In May, Xi Jinping presided over the China-Central Asian Summit in Xi’an where solid steps were taken to consolidate trade, common development, mutual assistance, community relations and to deepen cooperation with enhanced regional stability in this incredibly important, resource rich region to the West of China and across Asia into Europe.
Compare these messages to those coming out of G7 meetings which, in June 2021, were all about countering China, in June 2022, were still very much about Countering China despite a war going on in Ukraine and, in May 2023, unsurprisingly, even though the war continued in Ukraine, the G7 was still focused on how to counter China!
China’s moves are all about peace and less about confrontation; the recently negotiated agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Beijing, has helped bring about some degree of stability and normality in the Middle East, with most analysts agreeing the prospects for peace in Yemen and other Arab countries are a direct positive consequence of this deal.
China invited President Abbas of Palestine to visit and meet with Xi Jinping, which he did in mid-June. Many questioned the reasoning for this or suggested it was more about “global grandstanding” than about diplomacy but seemingly out of the blue, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu announced a trip to China. Some see this as a poke in the eye to the USA but whatever the reasons, it’s the second time a major Middle Eastern ally of the USA has visited China against the wishes and in spite of the concerns of the current Administration.
The USA has been courting Vietnam recently but, seemingly, to little avail. Recent visits by the Prime Ministers of Barbados, Mongolia and New Zealand have been topped off with Vietnam’s PM, Pham Minh Chinh has also coming to China for the 14th annual meeting of the New Champions of the World Economic Forum. Another Chinese hosted event held in June, with over 1,500 business leaders, academics and international organisations meeting in Tianjin. Prime Minister Pham Minh Chin’s visit, and meeting with Xi Jinping, follows and consolidates a meeting between the leader of the Vietnamese Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong and Xi Jinping, in late 2022.
As well as cementing relations regionally with ASEAN, China is showing diplomatic and economic success globally; from the South Pacific, where academics report that China’s influence is growing with no strings attached, to the Caribbean where leaders are looking for alternatives to US and UK dominance, and in Africa with visits from Tanzania’s president late last year and so far this year, the Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister, the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Felix Shisekedi, the Eritrean President, Isaias Afwerki and the President of the Gabonese Republic, Ali Bongo Ondimba all visiting China.
China, it seems, is nowhere near as isolated or feared as Western mainstream media would have us believe.
The views and informations expressed in the article are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect the views of The International. We believe in providing a platform for a range of viewpoints from the left.
Photo Credit: CGTN