Diplomacy took on new characteristics in the past decade with the rise of Xi Jinping, the tone of Donald Trump, and the uncertainty of Joe Biden amidst China’s Wolf Warrior attacks. Nevertheless, diplomacy is now a mix of Orwellian doublespeak, groupthink, and Newspeak. In a battle between communism and democracy where Chinese President Xi calls for his comrades to be “unyielding Marxist Atheists,” America struggles to determine its direction.
China has its own directional challenges, though its bold Made in China 2025, where global products are manufactured by millions of incarcerated or semi-incarcerated workers at almost no pay, is coming along well. Similarly, Beijing’s audacious vision for 2049, its one-hundredth anniversary to be the global leader, took long strides during the pandemic as other countries locked down, new laws were imposed in the South China Sea, an aggressive clampdown was brought down on Hong Kong, and the digital yuan made its debut.
China’s aggressive approach to international politics, discourse, and military incursions has been nothing short of intimidation and outright bullying. The South China Sea, East China Sea, and the Indo-Pacific have been flashpoints for conflict. The looming threat to Taiwan is a tinderbox waiting to explode. Beijing’s muscle-flexing in Australia swirled into a blinding trade storm, and incursions in India, Bhutan, Nepal, and elsewhere are just part of China’s brand of diplomacy. With dozens of countries trapped in debt and now beholden to China, the future will be determined by China’s next steps in Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics.