Free Trade Zones

Few takers for Xi’s message that China is a well-meaning global entity

There are still few takers to President Xi Jinping’s latest message that China is a well-meaning and friendly global entity. Peace, openness and friendship are going to be the cornerstones of Beijing’s foreign policy, he said during his coronation as undisputed leader of the Middle Kingdom at the 20th Party Congress which just ended. The world does not bite with Sinologists of all hues who brand Xi’s political concepts as nothing more than a rhetorical flourish before the faithful. Because the Xi language was laced with nationalist fervor and warmongering in equal measure.

While sounding the pacifist bugle, President Xi, who filled the political bureau and the Central Committee with loyalists, was belligerent from the start. “Faced with drastic changes in the international landscape, especially external attempts to blackmail, contain, blockade and exert maximum pressure on China, we have put our national interests first, focused on internal political concerns and maintained a strong strategic resolve,” he said. to thunderous applause: “We have shown a fighting spirit and a firm determination never to give in to coercive power. Clearly, Xi emphasizes an inward-looking policy that aims to protect what China thinks it provides and possesses rather than what it sets out to project and influence. “Throughout these efforts, we have safeguarded China’s dignity and fundamental interests and remained well positioned to pursue development and ensure security,” he said, leaving no doubt about the makes his foreign policy activities, like the one he has talked about a lot, about the Belt and Road Initiative, BRI, a poorly lit one-way street.

On the issue of openness, which is absolutely necessary for the corona-battered economy, Xi-Speak was neither here nor there, albeit at decibel level. His commitment to “a more proactive outreach strategy” was shrouded in enigmatic mystery. “We have worked to build a world-oriented network of high-level free trade zones and accelerated the development of pilot free trade zones and the Hainan Free Trade Port. As a collaborative effort, the Belt and Road Initiative” has been welcomed by the international community both as a public good and a platform for cooperation. Through these efforts, we have advanced a broader agenda of opening up in more areas and in more depth,” he said without too much detail, probably aware of the reality on the ground that the country’s third-quarter growth rate was only 3.9 percent and that it caused the collapse of markets in the region.

It is for nothing that Beijing has perfected the “PSP” – spread, sell and promulgate narrative, which often degenerates into slogans and propaganda mingled with the sound of war drums to the concern of Taipei and other neighbors across the hills. and the high seas. Consider this excerpt from President Xi’s speech, which will dispel any lingering doubt. “We will accelerate the development of China’s discourse and narrative systems, better tell China’s stories, make China’s voice heard, and present a credible, attractive and respectable China.”

His military strategy for managing clashes between China’s neighbors fits the image of a cultured nationalist. “We will establish a strong strategic deterrent system, increase the proportion of forces from new areas with new combat capabilities, accelerate the development of intelligent and unmanned combat capabilities, and promote the coordinated development and application of the information system network,” he said. the faithful, who, as the Washington Post puts it, have “handed Xi endless rule to flex power.” The Chinese president sees the big picture but is reluctant to tell the world how he will lead his country down the path of internationalization, if at all. His references to China’s commitment to “its fundamental national outward-looking policy” are conditional, subject to “the good course of economic globalization”.

Having benefited from the global village that has made China the manufacturing hub and fountain of the supply chain, he is bowled over by the obstacles Dragonomics has been facing lately. In fact, he does not hide his frustration at all. “China opposes protectionism, erection of ‘fences and barriers’, decoupling, disruption of industrial and supply chains, unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure tactics.” From this lament stems the commitment to work with other countries to “foster an international environment conducive to development and create new engines of global growth”. But there is a caveat – the United States, the faded El Dorado, should back out of its obstructive trade policies.

However, Xi Jinping, now backed by the power of his third term, is quick to tell the world of his willingness to influence the international community through his organizations. “China is working for multilateral institutions such as the WTO and APEC to play their role better, for cooperation mechanisms such as the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to exert greater influence, and that emerging markets and developing countries are better represented and have a greater say in global affairs.” Although several countries have been skeptical of China’s attempts to address its security and other concerns, Xi Jinping continues to harbor such goals. “China actively participates in establishing global security rules, works to promote international security cooperation, and takes an active part in UN peacekeeping operations. China plays a constructive role in the safeguarding world peace and regional stability”.

Sinologists are not impressed. Xi-Speak is nothing but slogans, notes Professor Jinghan Zeng. He is the author of a volume entitled “Slogan Politics: Understanding Chinese Foreign Policy Concepts”. To drive the point home, Zeng said, “China has put forward a series of foreign policy concepts such as ‘New Type of Great Power Relations’, ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ and ‘Community of Shared Future for Europe’. ‘humanity’. All of these concepts represent China’s visions for China.”

According to Professor Zeng, these Chinese foreign policy concepts should be understood as political slogans rather than concrete strategic plans. He defines Chinese slogans as short, punchy political phrases used “as a means of attracting attention and urging action.” Western analysts have a different opinion. Beijing is taking calibrated strategic steps to build a China-centric world order, they say. So much so that to Western eggheads, Chinese foreign policy concepts that Professor Zeng calls slogans appear as “coherent and consistent strategic plans, reflecting Xi Jinping’s concrete geopolitical visions”.

Chinese scholars and media analysts do not share this perception per se. Being close to the ground, they see Xi’s concepts as “part of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) strategy to lead China’s national rejuvenation.” Hard to disagree with this view because despite the absolute power he has come to enjoy, President Xi has very little to show for his accomplishments during his two terms. His Zero covid policy has ruined the economy with lockdowns while his much-talked-about crusade against corruption ended in a zero-sum game with no big fish in the net.

Slogan politics in a communist regime is part of an endless test of loyalty in factional and elite politics. President Xi is following the tried and tested practice to cement his national grip. Theoretically, its foreign policy slogans such as “New Kind of Great Power Relations” and “Community of Shared Future for Humanity” have an external side. But have become relevant in distracting attention from Xi’s national failures. Simply put, political actors are expected to repeat these slogans in written and spoken form to signal their loyalty to the “owner” of the slogans themselves, i.e. Xi Jinping, to quote Professor Jinghan Zeng, China’s “sloganization” authority. . (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)