While world leaders Donald Trump of the United States, Angela Merkel of Germany, Theresa May of the United Kingdom and Vladimir Putin of Russia face rising conflict and resistance in their own country, Chinese President Xi Jingping has been bestowed an honour previously granted to only two other leaders.
“Xi Jinping Thought” the manifesto or ideology of President Xi was officially enshrined in China’s constitution in the same manner as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping’s are. What this means is that anyone who questions the ideas of President Xi would be accused of ideological heresy.
China under the administration of President Xi has certainly taken a more visible role in global politics.
Australia’s Lowy Institute released a report that shares the opinion that China saw an opportunity to grab the reins of global superpower from the United States given the Obama Administration’s cautious foreign policies and discord within the Trump Administration.
“Xi has exploited a strategic opportunity in Asia opened by the Obama Administration’s caution and now the instability and disorder of the Trump Administration.”
Political commentator Frank Ching believes that as the United States under President Donald Trump is relinquishing its role as the primary leader of the free world, China surreptitiously is assuming the mantle:
“China is now present all over the world; and as the U.S. recedes, China is going to move in.”
Perhaps the most glaring representation of President Xi’s drive toward world domination is his ambitious economic and trade initiative, “One Belt, One Road” or the “New Silk Road Project”.
At least on paper with its plan to open trading routes and ocean ports that would traverse Asia, the Pacific, Europe and Africa, China appears to be assuming the role as figure head of globalisation and environmentalism.
68 countries have signed on for the initiative which was rejected by Australia for strategic reasons.
But is China breaking down barriers or simply creating new ones?
The Lowy Institute report continues that China has maintained its belligerent attitude on territorial claims over disputed islands in the China Sea:
“More than his predecessors, Xi has tried to leverage China’s diplomatic and military strength to press Beijing’s territorial claims in the East China and South China Seas and lock in the country’s interests on its western flank.”
In July 2016, the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal decided in favour of the Philippines on its claim of having territorial rights over islands located on the Western Philippine Sea.
Beijing rejected the ruling and continued to pursue its claim on the islands. Under the administration of Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines set aside the arbitration ruling and allowed China to set up military structures on the disputed islands.
Despite objections from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and other claimants in the sea, China remains defiant largely because Trump does not consider the issue a primary interest of his administration.
Of particular interest to the Trump Administration would be China’s position regarding its long-standing ally North Korea. Washington has repeatedly voiced its concern that Beijing has not done enough to discourage Pyongyang from pursuing its nuclear agenda.
While Beijing has insisted it has done its best to contain North Korea, it believes Washington’s idea of a complete denuclearization of Pyongyang was not realistic.
When Trump and Xi meet in China in November, the United States will no longer be acknowledged as the world’s premiere superpower. It seems that by relinquishing its role as leader, the United States has been reduced as a follower to China as have other nations.