Vijay Keshav Gokhale, foreign secretary of India from 2018 to 2020 and Indian ambassador to China from 2016 to 2017, in The Indian Express (July 19, 2021)
Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: CompleteCommunicationsSwe/Pixabay)
Two high priests of the Chinese foreign policy community, Yan Xuetong and Wang Jisi, have written recent pieces in Foreign Affairs. Their task is to interpret for the outside world what China’s leader Xi Jinping means when he says that “the Chinese people have stood up and the era of suffering bullying has gone, never to return.”
Wang and Yan start by acknowledging that recent changes in US policy mean that relations are unlikely to grow any less tense or competitive. Wang holds America responsible for this adversarial environment. China, according to both, is not to blame in any way, and is simply responding to American provocation.
Both scholars wish to persuade readers (and nations) that unbridled competition can only end one way – badly for America. America is plagued by political dysfunction, socio-economic inequality, ethnic and racial divisions, and economic stagnation. Wang says that Washington must accept that “CPC enjoys immense popularity among the Chinese people; its grip on power is unshakeable.”
Their main message to the Americans is to give up on pressuring China to change its political system as this will be futile, and to return to accommodating the Chinese Communist Party as a legitimate global player. The Chinese message to the rest is to bend to China’s inevitable hegemony.
From India’s perspective, three points might deserve attention. First, the statement that there is a paradigm shift in post-Covid Chinese foreign policy. Second, Yan’s forthright statement that Beijing views America’s so-called “issue-based coalitions” (he presumably includes the Quad, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue that includes Australia, India, Japan and the US) as the most serious external threat to its political security and the biggest obstacle to national rejuvenation. Finally, that China is still offering accommodation if Washington just respects Beijing’s internal order and acknowledges China’s regional dominance.