As America keeps slipping away, China aspires to lead the world27 January 2017 Editorial Desk
Barely a week after of Mr. Trump's taking office, many countries in the world is baffled to think - what awaits the future of those global issues, for instance climate change and immigration policies where America was visibly guiding the rest of the world? What future beholds for Palestine where many key states of the UN Security Council were optimistically heading towards the Two-State solution? However, the fact is, in the wake of such intense 'America -first' policies, it is China to be calmly mapping out global leadership aspirations from trade to climate change. Even on the thorny issue of the South China Sea, Beijing did not rise to the bait of White House remarks this week about 'defending international territories' in the disputed waters. In its place, China stressed its desire for peace and issued a restrained call for Washington to think and reflect on its remarks.
Notably it was the Chinese Premiere Xi's somewhat thinly veiled aspirations for leading the world, which could not have been missed. As the key-note speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, he robustly offered to vigorously defend globalisation while signalling Beijing's desire to play a bigger role on the world stage. Even the Retired Major-General Luo Yuan, the widely read Chinese military figure, best known for his usual hawkish remarks, wrote in his blog "You have your 'America first', we have our 'community of common destiny for mankind'.
Such noticeable ambition to lead the world was perhaps the last to have expected from a socialist republic country run by the single Communist Party. However, the Chinese aspirations are getting even stronger in the wake of America's formal withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, deliberately distancing itself from its Asian allies. Several remaining TPP members reportedly stated that they would now look to include China in a revised pact, or pursue Beijing's alternative free trade agreements. China's hosting of an international conference on its "One Belt, One Road" initiative just last May is one such unique opportunity for Beijing to showcase its leadership of global infrastructure and investment. Another area where China is keen to be seen as leading the way is climate change. Trump has in the past dismissed climate change as a prank of sorts and vowed during his presidential campaign to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Has the new American leader not been following these international developments? Most significantly, hasn't he already distanced and isolated America from the world stage enough?
In many ways Mr. Trump is racing too reckless, apparently signalling the 'beginning of America's end'. China also expects that under the Trump Administration it will be left alone on one essential topic with Washington - human rights. Reflecting back to Mr. Trump's inauguration speech, not even for once did he focus on vital topics like "democracy" or "human rights".
Concluding message however, if China is to seemingly play a leadership role in the world - it would, for many reasons become true for Mr. Trump's 'isolationist policies' - stepping back deliberately to offer that leadership position place to China. Is America realising it?