The "Negative Disruption: The Disruption of the World Order" was consolidated in 2022.
China's traditional strategy of using "old friends" to influence foreign policy is no longer as effective as it once was.
The article “Old Friends Aren’t What China Needs Right Now” by Minxin Pei, published in Bloomberg on July 23, 2023, discusses how China has traditionally used “old friends of China” - influential Westerners deemed knowledgeable and sympathetic to Beijing - to send messages and sway minds in foreign capitals. However, the author argues that this strategy is no longer as effective in geopolitics as it once was.
Pei's article is a timely and important contribution to the debate about China's foreign policy. It provides a clear and concise analysis of the challenges that China faces in using "old friends" to influence foreign policy, and it offers some valuable suggestions for how China can improve its approach.
Pei points to a number of factors that have contributed to this decline in effectiveness. First, China's own policies have alienated and frightened the West, bringing ties to a historic low. Second, even in Europe, where there is less concern about China's security threat, few business leaders now want to risk political blowback by openly advocating for China.
- Well-connected intermediaries can still usefully serve as messengers, especially when official channels are cut off. If Kissinger’s meeting with Li can help build bridges between the US and Chinese militaries, it will have served a worthwhile purpose.
- China’s real problem, however, isn’t that Western leaders don’t properly understand its perspectives, and require the help of experienced China hands to appreciate them.
- It’s that China’s own policies have alienated and frightened the West, bringing ties to a historic low.
- Until leaders in Beijing adjust that confrontational stance, their carefully nurtured connections aren’t likely to lead anywhere.
- Europe is mostly concerned with the economic challenge posed by China and its human rights abuses, rather than the security threat, thus making it less politically fraught for the continent’s corporate leaders to join debates about their countries’ policies toward China.
- In the US, however, few business leaders now want to risk political blowback by openly advocating for China, widely seen as America’s most dangerous geopolitical adversary.
- Even in Europe, China’s implicit support for Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has so alienated Brussels that pro-China voices have not prevented the EU from taking a harder line on Beijing. While Germany’s new China policy may be phrased delicately, it’s still far tougher than German executives would have preferred.
- By lavishing prominent Westerners with access and hospitality, China hopes also that they will feel some obligation to reciprocate by advocating more China-friendly policies.
- Chinese leaders have traditionally excelled at using “old friends of China” — influential Westerners deemed knowledgeable and sympathetic to Beijing — to send messages and sway minds in foreign capitals.
- Last week, officials including President Xi Jinping feted perhaps the most prominent such figure, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, for several days of talks in Beijing.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Minxin Pei is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist and professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.
Bing Chat's Summary of Minxin Pei
Minxin Pei is a Chinese-American political scientist and opinion columnist, who is the editor of the China Leadership Monitor. He was born on December 10, 1957, in Shanghai, China. Pei is a specialist on governance in China, U.S.–East Asia relations, as well as democratization in developing nations 1.
He is currently the Tom and Margot Pritzker '72 Professor of Government and George R. Roberts Fellow at Claremont McKenna College and is a non-resident senior fellow with the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. He was formerly a senior associate with the Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 1.
Pei earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Shanghai International Studies University, and a master’s degree and PhD in political science from Harvard University. In addition, he holds an M.F.A. from the University of Pittsburgh 1.
Pei has contributed to a number of newspapers and periodicals, including The New York Times, Foreign Policy, The Diplomat, Project Syndicate, Nikkei Asian Review, Fortune, and Foreign Affairs, and is an opinion columnist of Bloomberg. In 2008, he was listed as one of the top 100 public intellectuals by Prospect magazine 1.
g-f(2)1224: The Juice of Golden Knowledge
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- g-f(2)1224 The Lighthouse of World Order: Old Friends Aren’t What China Needs Right Now
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