For Chinese President Xi Jinping, the stakes are high. Jinping is a man of many hats. For starters, he’s the president of China. This is a direct consequence of the fact that he is the general secretary of the powerful and authoritarian Chinese Communist Party, which is in fact the Chinese regime unto itself. Jinping is a strongman who oversaw the persecution of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, in addition to stripping Hong Kong of all autonomy. Over the past two years, the man has waged an unprecedented campaign to kill private enterprise in China – best exemplified by the crackdown on the country’s tech sector.
Clearly, Xi Jinping has been toying with the Chinese economy at full throttle. To add to all this, China has opposed the United States and the West in general. A key factor that led to such antagonism has been Beijing’s relentless desire to engage in what has come to be known as “wolf-warrior diplomacy”.
Heralded by Xi Jinping’s regime, wolf warrior diplomacy includes Chinese diplomats defending their country’s “national interests” with aggression and with the intent to intimidate and even coerce entire countries.
China recalibrates its foreign policy
This fall, Xi Jinping’s fate will be decided by the CCP’s National Congress. It is during this session of the Chinese Communist Party that Xi Jinping hopes to secure an extension as general secretary of the party as well as president of the country. Will the CCP grant him these coveted titles again? In all likelihood, it will. However, Jinping is willing to take no risks.
Some issues could spoil Xi Jinping’s party. Chief among them is the fact that many diplomats and prominent figures in China view the rivalry between Washington and Beijing as overblown and totally avoidable. That such a rivalry got out of hand after Jinping’s rise to power was not missed by important people in the CCP.
These people see China’s growing bonhomie with Russia as problematic, especially in the current scenario – when Moscow is waging all-out war against Ukraine. China is more tainted than it already is by mere association with Russia.
So, to calm things down in Beijing, Xi Jinping took a rather dramatic and unexpected step. Recently, the most vocal pro-Russian diplomat in China was demoted.
According to Nikkei Asia, the demotion of Le Yucheng, China’s first vice foreign minister, is seen as a step in the direction that China will temporarily recalibrate its ties with Russia and the United States. Had he not been demoted, or rather fired, from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the man was poised to become the country’s next foreign minister. The dramatic demotion therefore gave the impression that Xi Jinping wants to renew ties with Washington, even if it comes at the cost of opposition to Moscow.
The Yucheng was no ordinary vice foreign minister. He was one of the most important Chinese diplomats, who has now been appointed deputy director of the obscure “National Administration of Radio and Television” of China. As vice foreign minister, Yucheng practically framed China’s foreign policy toward Russia. How China should respond to the war in Ukraine and how the ties between Moscow and Beijing should be managed so that they thrive in difficult times like these is within the sole jurisdiction of Le Yucheng.
Wolf-Warrior diplomacy paused
Le Yucheng’s demotion should not be viewed in isolation. This has been accompanied by concerted efforts by China to engage in extensive damage control exercises in Europe, and even admit to the European political and business class that Beijing has repeatedly been wrong. Xi Jinping recently deployed Wu Hongbo, the Chinese government’s special representative for European affairs to Europe for a three-week tour.
Hongbo on his tour was neither aggressive nor offensive. Instead, the Chinese diplomat delivered some unexpected sweet talk that surprised Europeans.
It seems that China has suspended its wolf-warrior style of diplomacy with countries for the time being. China’s international image taking a hit has a lot to do with its diplomats pursuing an aggressive line. As Xi Jinping approaches fall and the CCP’s scrutiny of his actions and policies intensifies, the Chinese president is taking preemptive steps to secure a third term as general secretary.
Pakistan – always the collateral victim
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which prides itself on being Beijing’s “everlasting ally”, has recently been snubbed by China. Here’s how.
Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted the High Level Global Development Dialogue (HLDGD) in Beijing on June 24. Guests included India, Russia, Iran, Egypt, Fiji, Algeria, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Guess who wasn’t there? Pakistan and its Prime Minister, Shahbaz Sharif. It turns out Pakistan’s invitation was blocked at India’s request.
Pakistan has been continuously snubbed by China for some time now. In fact, even as Imran Khan was prime minister in February and Beijing hosted a handful of ‘world leaders’ for the opening of the Winter Olympics, Islamabad was told to trim its entourage. ministerial. China offered no loans or bailouts to Pakistan, and all Imran Khan got was a short, inconsequential meeting with Xi Jinping.
These are all measures that have been taken to soften the blow that Xi Jinping’s image has suffered both in China and around the world. Simultaneously, China has put its wolf-warrior diplomacy on hold – for now at least. This pause is expected to last until Xi Jinping secures a third term as president, after which his regime will return to normal. Amid an extremely painful economic downturn and the barrage of sanctions against Russia, China has few options and is making overtures to the United States, India and others. .
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