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China: The problem is at home

From a mere 1.8% of world GDP in 1978 to today being the world’s number one economy in purchasing power parity, fear will only grow among those who defend and benefit most status quo China eventually imposed its mandate on a global scale. Long ago transformed into the world’s factory, with a decidedly authoritarian and militaristic streak, it appears determined to replace the United States as world leader, taking over an international order said to be based on values ​​and principles. Xi Jinping, since taking power in 2012, has been ridding would-be internal rivals with a campaign disguised as an anticorruption fight, an effort he has personalized with a power that has drawn him on a par with Mao Zedong himself.

According to this forward-looking scenario, China is determined not only to annex Hong Kong and Taiwan, but also to dominate the Indo-Pacific region (still under US rule today) and beyond, with the “Belt and Road” macro project as the main direction. . Be the first to gain leverage and interest among dozens of potential clients, partners and allies. He was counting on himself to his advantage, first of all because of the mistakes and carelessness of Washington et al, because he didn’t know how to keep people around him who were now unhappy with his former boss. And it also has strong commercial, investment and technological capabilities, making it very attractive for those who want to boost their own development or open the door to enter the sweet Chinese market. And all this without forgetting its increasingly impressive military capabilities—the Navy already outnumbers the U.S. in ships (348 by 293; though Washington still leads in tonnage and sea projection) and plans to To have a thousand nuclear warheads by the end of the decade – to deter or, if necessary, punish those who would not recognize their leadership.

All of this suggests that, with the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China giving Xi Jinping new powers, we are headed for an inevitable duel for world leadership at the summit. In fact, we have been involved for a long time, the Indo-Pacific region has become the center of gravity of world affairs, although many people’s eyes are now on Ukraine. And it can be assumed that Washington will not passively accept the replacement of these dimensions, and that Beijing will further intensify its offensive – peaceful at first, though increasingly intimidating – to accelerate changes in its favor. China is still behind the United States in the action and reaction game, which will certainly lead to increased tensions with Taiwan and within the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN, English acronym).

But without ignoring the fact that the U.S. is also accumulating major internal challenges, what’s happening at home may cause Mr. Xi the most headaches and force him to change his priorities. The data are confirming that the ceiling has been reached for the model that serves China’s status as a contender for world leadership. The combined impact of the 2008 economic crisis and the epidemic—Xi Jinping once again reiterated the zero-COVID policy that will not change in the short term—has seriously questioned the export-oriented production system of consumer goods at favorable prices, while domestic demand does not seem to be able to take over economic growth rate, and there are reasonable doubts about it (China’s GDP is now estimated to be $7 trillion lower than officially reported). Whilst external debt is already over 70% of GDP, there are worrying signs that are growing, a severe housing crisis and its aftermath are yet to be adjusted, the banking system serves a political agenda, unemployment among young graduates is rising, air pollution and energy plans will not Short-term stagnation and weak population growth cannot offset the impact of a significantly aging population.

Xi Jinping was chosen to face an increasingly dark situation at home and challenges abroad. In the first area, even he himself wanted to justify his 2018 decision to remove term limits for Chinese state leaders as a necessity at the helm in difficult times, working to refocus the role of the party and the state on an even more interventionist, reforming model And tame economic actors who want to fly freely (Alibaba and Tencent are good examples) and increasingly demanding citizens.Second, the agenda is to intensify increasingly assertive diplomacy (and its war Wolf Leading) as well as the military, Hong Kong and Taiwan are on the near-term agenda, with rivalry with Washington looming, pointing to 2049 as the moment to achieve dream goals. In short, it remains to be seen how much room the internal front leaves for him to advance externally.


IMAGE: China is marked with a red pin on a world map. Photography: Anankkml.

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