“The Xi Jinping era is that of an expansionist China, sure of itself and displaying more and more crudely its will to dominate”

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“The Xi Jinping era is that of an expansionist China, sure of itself and displaying more and more crudely its will to dominate”

Good leaves. China is watching. In Peking, as elsewhere, people gamble on the slow decadence of the West; we speculate greedily on the rapid sinicization of the globalized world. The official speech celebrates the country’s return to its traditional status as a great power. Economic emergence repairs the humiliations that Americans, Europeans and Japanese inflicted on the Chinese from 1850 to 1949. This “century of misfortunes” will not happen again: the newfound military power is there to guarantee it. It was because it was weak at home, politically divided, miserable and badly governed that China paved the way for foreign exploiters – those barbarians. Historic Catechism Imposed on Hundreds of Millions of Young Chinese: The CCP [Parti communiste chinois] saved China from disunity and alienation.

Thanks to the domination it wants to acquire in the key sectors of high technologies, the country will unite two objectives: to become an economy of relative opulence; to be independent in mastering high-tech, the instrument of tomorrow’s power. The gigantism of its domestic market and the performance of its industrial fabric will enable it to continue to attract consumers and foreign investors.

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Optimistic interpretation of these ambitions: the Middle Kingdom wants, on the international scene, to have a capacity of influence at the height of its economic weight. Nothing special. In short, a great power legitimately intends to take its rightful place. But to what end? Eliminate everything that the Chinese perceive as an obstacle to their rise to power? Dominate the world like the United States after 1945, by becoming in turn the great prescriber of standards? Going to the end of the shift of power in progress to deprive America of the world leadership it has exercised, good or bad will, for seventy years?

Conflicting coexistence

[Le sinologue] François Godement outlines an answer: “The debate remains open on whether China wants to be at the forefront of the world to lead it or to let others fend for themselves, including on many aspects of the international order. It doesn’t seem obvious to me that China wants to take on the burden of empire, to paraphrase Kipling and his “white man’s burden”. »

One of the most listened to China specialists in the United States, Rush Doshi, responds differently. “We are dealing with a country that is perhaps less interested in a form of coexistence with us and more in a form of domination over us”, he said. In 2021, Doshi publishes a book with the unambiguous title: The Long Game : China’s Grand Strategy to Displace American Order (“China’s strategy to oust the American order”, OUP USA, untranslated).

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