China is living in a hostile external environment – mostly of its own making.
Recent aggressive rhetoric plus trade restrictions on Australia and border battles with India are leading examples of how China is projecting itself and the world is worried.
But China also means to become moderately prosperous by 2035. It will need to overcome global misgivings if this is to be achieved.
Andrew K.P. Leung is an independent China strategist and has written about this for the South China Morning Post.
Here are 10 steps China should take, according to Leung
First, get the message firmly across that China is neither able nor willing to unseat the US as the global superpower. China cannot compete with America, which has a military presence in 80 countries and whose military expenditure is 38 per cent of the global total – more than the next 10 countries’ combined.
Second, cut out the wolf warrior rhetoric, whether in diplomacy or on social media.
Third, work with the US and the World Health Organization to end the global pandemic.
Fourth, actively cooperate with the Biden administration on climate change.
Fifth, conduct regular joint naval patrols with the US forces in wider waters of the South China Sea.
Sixth, set aside territorial disputes and work with neighbouring countries in the South China Sea on the joint management and exploration of natural resources, including fisheries, habitats and deep-sea energy resources.
Seventh, embrace free and fair trade. For starters, seek to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which a Biden presidency may wish to join too.
Eighth, China should help North Korea become a rising economic powerhouse like Vietnam.
Ninth, reform the Belt and Road Initiative. Make it more transparent and include more participants.
Tenth, meet more milestones on the path to reform and opening up, whether or not they have been set in the 14th five-year plan – including issues like market reciprocity, state-owned enterprise subsidies, transparency, rule of law, human rights and goals including technological self-reliance and quality growth.
Leung writes that China has vowed to double the size of its economy and become moderately prosperous by 2035.
China is unlikely to act on Leung’s 10 suggestions – but to move on some would send positive signals to the world.
Andrew K.P. Leung is an independent China strategist.