IYV: It’s too late to block China’s global influence

IYV: It's too late to block China's global influence

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Media caption“I can give up everything … people are dying, or passing by”

Leading Chinese rebel artist and filmmaker I Weiwei says China’s influence has grown so large that it cannot be effectively prevented now.

“Decades ago, Westerners must have been really worried about China. Now it’s already a little too late, because it’s very painful to build a strong system in West China and cut it down.

I Wywi never shortened his words about China. “This is a police state,” he says.

Although the artist designed the Birds Nest Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he got into serious trouble after speaking out against the Chinese government. Finally, in 2015, he left China and moved to the West. He first lived in Berlin and last year in Cambridge.

  • Profile: Ai Weiwei
  • I YV: The changed man

Mr. I believe that China today is using its immense economic power to exert political influence.

It is certainly true that China has become more assertive in recent times.

Growing influence

Until a decade ago, China gave the world a modest face. The official motto of the government was: “Hide your light and hide your time”. The ministers wished that China is still a developing country that learns a lot from the West.

Then Xi Jinping came to power. He became secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012 and president the following year. He introduced a new voice. The old modesty faded and there was another slogan: “Strive for achievement”.

In some ways China is still a developing country, with 250 million people living below the poverty line.

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Yet it is already the second largest economy in the world and will overtake the US in the next decade or so. China’s influence in the world is becoming more and more apparent at a time when US power is visibly declining.

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Global Times editor Hu Jijin rejects the notion that China is an international threat

I saw for myself clear signs of China’s political power and involvement around the world, from Greenland, the Caribbean, Peru, Argentina, South Africa, Zimbabwe to Pakistan and Mongolia.

Tom Tugenhaut, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British Parliament, recently accused China of pressuring Barbados to make the Queen head of state.

Today, China has a significant presence around the world. Any country that challenges basic interests will suffer for it.

Anglo-Chinese relations were deeply frozen when the Dalai Lama visited Dominion Street. Recently, during a visit to Taiwan by the Speaker of the Czech Republic’s Parliament, a senior diplomat warned: “The Chinese government and people will not sit idly by and face public outcry from the Czech Senate Speaker and anti-Chinese forces.

Multiple stand-offs

Yet Hu Jijin, a prominent and influential figure in China’s Global Times newspaper, rejects the notion that China is an international threat.

“I have to ask you, has China ever pressured any country to do anything against their will? The United States continues to impose sanctions on the world, especially in many countries. Do you know which country China is?

“Have we ever allowed a whole country? We have only expressed dissatisfaction with certain issues, and as a reaction when our country is publicly disturbed.”

Yet China is currently outraged with various countries: Taiwan, Australia, Japan, Canada, India (China recently fought a violent border war), Britain, and of course the US.

The language sometimes used by the Global Times may seem like the worst rhetoric of the old Mao Zedong era.

Hu himself recently wrote an editorial describing Australia as “chewing gum under the boot of China”. When I asked him about this, he said that the current Australian government has repeatedly attacked and harassed China.

“I feel like they’m sticking to the bottom of my shoe. I can not shake it. It’s not a good feeling. I said it as a phrase, it’s my right to comment.”

In Hong Kong

Hu is close to President FC, and we can assume he would not have said this if he had not known that he had the support of China’s top leadership. When I asked him his views on Hong Kong, he did not back down.

The Chinese government does not oppose Hong Kong’s democracy and freedom, including the right of the Hong Kong people to protest peacefully on the streets.

“But the important thing is that they are peaceful.” We support the Hong Kong police’s determination to use force against violent protests.

“I believe that if violent protesters endanger the lives of the police, if they launch very sharp projects and throw petrol bombs or Molotov cocktails at the police, the police should be allowed to use guns and they should shoot.”

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Media captionI Wy: “Today is a dark day in Hong Kong”

Strong things, if the police in Hong Kong really start firing on protesters it will cause a huge international reaction.

Most foreign observers believe that China’s aggressive behavior actually hides a disturbance.

The Communist Party is not elected, so there is no way to know how much real support China has. Not sure if it will survive a serious crisis – for example a major financial collapse.

President Xi and his cohorts are haunted by the memory of how the former Soviet empire disappeared between 1989 and 1991 because it lacked the support of ordinary citizens.

Hu does not accept that a new Cold War has begun. He says China’s dispute is fundamentally with the US. He points out that President Donald Trump’s attacks on China are closely linked to the November 3 presidential election and his efforts to achieve it.

The atmosphere is likely to improve after the election – whoever wins.

China, too, is too big, too participatory in everyone’s lives, to remain in a permanent state of absolute hostility against the US and its allies.

But it does strengthen I’s warning: it’s too late for the West to protect itself from Chinese influence.

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