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Behind China's growing belligerence

By Arthur Thomas - posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The Chinese Communist Party appears to see the world revolving around China and its needs, rather than China being part of a global community with differing needs, priorities, protocols, and working relationships with one another.

Since mid 2009, the body language has changed and Beijing has become increasingly intolerant of and aggressive to domestic and international comment that does not comply with, or contradicts, the edicts of “the world according to Beijing”, where compromise is not an acceptable option.

This period also corresponds with Beijing's realisation that recovery from the global financial crisis will be long-term, and China's stimulus strategy is failing to achieve many key objectives, and inflation is on the rise.


The anticipated leap in domestic consumer demand did not translate across China. Despite massive infrastructure projects and record steel output, unemployment and civil unrest continues to grow. Before the end of the first half of 2010 about 20 million new workers, plus 6 million graduates, will join a workforce growing faster than job opportunities. A substantial residual army of existing unemployed exacerbates the situation for 2010 and 2011.

The primarily hard line CCP finds itself in the unfamiliar territory of an increasingly more complex global economy where nations are turning inwards and focusing on solving their own domestic economic problems, relying less and less on China's consumer exports, and ignoring Beijing's demands to comply with China's wishes.

The increasing surge of nationalistic rhetoric in the media is also an indicator of new moves to implement the tried and proven CCP tactic of diverting the population's attention away from growing socio-economic problems. The dummy spits and rising rhetoric appears more like growing paranoia as nations and individuals ignore Beijing's edicts, demands and threats.

Global media is painting a picture that questions Beijing's influence on the domestic stage and a decline in China's global relations and influence.

The CCP and state media appear oblivious to the decline in China's global reputation. The true extent of the CCP's acknowledgment of its declining global influence and respect for its leadership however, was highlighted by the launch of China's version of CNN with a US$6.6 billion 24/7, multi lingual global multimedia facility promoted as "a respected global media giant to improve China's image worldwide".

Promoting its growing economic, industrial and military power and international influence via state media and censorship, Beijing has placed itself on a pedestal that appears to be on a weakening foundation.


State media has been successful in promoting the reach and influence of China in global affairs domestically. A recent Chinese poll showed that 41 per cent see China as the world's leading economic power. Not revealed to those polled was the US GDP of US$14.2 trillion for a population of 308 million, against China's GDP of $4.6 trillion for a population of 1.3 billion.

2009 and 2010 has not been kind for mianzi (face saving) for the CCP. Intense state and global media coverage of Beijing's demands and grandstanding backfired as nations ignored the demands and threats; and complaints against China's dangerous exports and unacceptable trade practices continued to mount, and are now likely to include solar power.

The CCP relies on harsh strong military and police response to maintain control and suppress civil unrest. Throughout China's history, peasant revolts have brought down dynasties and kingdoms up to and including 1949.

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About the Author

Arthur Thomas is retired. He has extensive experience in the old Soviet, the new Russia, China, Central Asia and South East Asia.

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