While Trump avoids US multilateralism, China increases diplomatic commitment
GENEVA: Chinese leaders have long been sensitive about the international image of their communist country. Now, they are fighting back, investing in diplomacy and a courtship of hearts and minds, just as the United States delves into the America First mentality of the Trump administration.
A trade war and other frictions between the world's most important economic power and the rapidly growing number 2 have exposed Washington's fears about technology, security and influence. U.S. political leaders UU. They have made fun of the Chinese government for policies in Hong Kong plagued by protests, in the detention centers of most of the Muslim region of Xinjiang, and for commercial tactics allegedly undervalued by the tech titan Huawei.
But increasingly, China is trying to recover the narrative, with a new assertiveness under the president and head of the Communist Party, Xi Jinping, the most powerful leader in China in decades.
Almost overnight, we have awakened to the reality that while the United States was sleeping, the Chinese Communist Party has become an immediate and growing threat to our prosperity, our freedoms and our security, said Senator Marco Rubio, ( R-Fla). He said in a speech to the National Defense University last week.
Now the Chinese even have the largest diplomatic arsenal in the world to take advantage of. China's diplomatic network, which includes embassies, consulates and other posts, has surpassed that of the United States, according to the Lowy Institute, a group of experts based in Sydney. Beijing has 276 diplomatic positions worldwide, overcoming the decline in Washington's deployment in three positions, according to the institute.
The growing diplomatic presence of China occurs when Beijing is trying to expand its international footprint in places like Africa, rich in resources or strategic, and compete economically with Western countries, even with its Strip and Road Initiative that seeks to expand Chinese economic influence. in places like Africa and Asia.
China's campaign to increase its influence on the global stage comes when the Trump administration withdraws from multilateral diplomacy. Trump withdrew the United States from the educational, scientific and cultural organization of the United Nations and the Human Rights Council supported by the UN, and this month the United States eliminated the action of the appeals court of the World Trade Organization. His administration has announced a withdrawal from the United States of the Paris climate agreement and has crushed multilateral trade agreements.
It is part of a broader diplomatic reduction that has led to the loss of almost 200 foreign service positions in US embassies and consulates abroad.
We have entered an era in which diplomacy is more important than ever, in an intensely competitive international landscape, said William Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former undersecretary of state who has been very critical of Trump's outside . politics. China realizes that and is rapidly expanding its diplomatic capacity. The United States, by contrast, seems determined to unilateral diplomatic disarmament.
The US recoil UU. It has been felt particularly in Geneva, a center of multilateralism backed by the UN: more than 2 and a half years after the tenure of Trump, USA. UU. Finally, he brought a new ambassador to the UN institutions in Geneva last month. Meanwhile, China's deployment has grown, completing with a month renewal at its WTO offices in the bucolic Lake Geneva.
The Trump administration has initiated the reduction of personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq in particular, withdrawing diplomats from those countries to Washington but not sending them to other missions abroad, according to the American Foreign Service Association, the union that represents the American diplomats
This is the first time that a country has more global presence
that the United States and is a concern, said union president Eric Rubin. If we are going to face the challenge of a rising China, we must represent ourselves aggressively and with resources abroad.
In African nations such as Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda, US diplomats report that their Chinese counterparts outnumbered them by five to one, according to a union presentation to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Since Trump took office in 2017, at least five small nations in Latin America and the Pacific: Panama, the Dominican Republic , El Salvador, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands - have rejected the intense lobbying of the United States and severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan to recognize China, which often promises them large investments of the kind against which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned.
And countries in Europe and elsewhere have been reluctant to heed the warnings of the United States to eliminate the Chinese giant of telecommunications Huawei from its advanced communications networks. The United States says that Huawei's team is suspicious, subject to the intrusion of the Chinese Communist Party, and has warned nations, including NATO allies, that they could be stripped of intelligence cooperation with the United States if they grant the Company a role in its national networks. Huawei denies the accusations of the United States.
There was a time when China was considered a potentially benevolent rising power. Almost a generation ago, the communist country was received in the WTO dominated by the capitalists in Geneva. Now US officials complain that China has taken advantage of the commercial agency and is not complying with its rules. That adds to the suspicion, even when Beijing insists that it respects and respects the international standards-based system.
In 2019, we have seen a change in the way the rest of the world sees China, said Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London. From Xinjiang to Huawei so far Hong Kong: China is no longer seen as the rising benign giant, but it is seen as, 'Wow, we have to worry about that.'
But in some areas, such as its efforts to combat climate change, China is scoring political points abroad, while Trump's policies on the environment have caused widespread contempt.
The Communist Party of China has always believed in its monopoly on truth, history and narrative at home, Tsang said. Now, with fake news as a buzzword, that belief may be ripe for export.
Chinese diplomats have claimed that China has no political prisoners and insist that the Xinjiang centers, which have been widely criticized for locking up Uighur Muslims and others, were only there to provide vocational training and save them from religious radicalism.
Yes Donald Trump You can say what you want, whatever it is, regardless of whether it is correct or not, why would the Communist Party of China not feel that it has been claimed? , said. Therefore, Xi Jinping's idea of taking advantage of the narrative is the right thing: you don't have to worry about the facts.
The Chinese authorities have used advertising releases, press conferences, radio and television interviews, social networks, including the new Twitter account of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, and other messages to promote Beijing's positions and reject criticism.
Hardly a day goes by without Chinese officials speaking anywhere in the world: the website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry lists 67 pages in Chinese of statements, speeches, newspaper columns and other communications from diplomats and other Chinese officials since May . They combine hard talk, self defense and self gratification.
The Chinese ambassador to Poland denounced the unilateralist trade protection measures of the United States; his ambassador to South Africa claimed a hidden political agenda of the United States with his criticisms of the Xinjiang centers, calling them innovative. A Chinese diplomat reprimanded the UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, for a recent column she wrote expressing concerns about Hong Kong's protests and the government's response.
Chinese ambassadors in Britain and Sweden have been particularly frank.
China is not a country where it can be kicked, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming told the BBC's Hardtalk program last month, part of his media bombing in London in recent weeks. He insisted there are no political prisoners detained in China, and criticized U.S. Vice President Mike Pence by name as an attacker to China determined to demonize the country.
China's envoy in Stockholm, Gui Congyou, told the Swedish newspaper Expressen that China will blacklist the Swedish culture minister for attending an awards ceremony for Gui Minhai, a Hong Kong-based Swedish editor based in China which was jailed by China after printing critical books of the Chinese Government.
The sensationalist newspaper quoted the ambassador as saying that China offers good wine for its friends, but shotguns for its enemies.