NEW DELHI: The Xi Jinping-led Chinese state has bitten off more than it can chew in its overreach in trying to redo the world order, especially in lashing out in the South China Sea and around India, says Daniel Blumenthal, the author of ‘The China Nightmare: The Grand Ambitions of a Decaying State’. Beijing uses the strategy of “fighting and talking” but this time has “failed” in using “fighting to win the talking”, former Chinese 1989 Democracy Movement leader Chen Pokong added in our weekly discussion show ‘Talking Point’ with StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi. In his opinion “India’s defeat of the People’s Liberation Army(PLA) will accelerate the downfall of Xi Jinping”. Noting that Xi took “India as weak”, Chen warned that the leader feels he “must attack, attack, attack,” both internally and internationally and is “using talks as a smokescreen,” so Delhi must be “careful of sudden attacks”.
Adding to the democracy activist’s opinion of “power struggles and political fractures in the CCP(Communist Party of China),” Blumenthal, the Director, Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC pointed to a stagnating economy, an ageing population and Xi’s reversing market reform as signs of a “decaying state”. His projection is that it is an “unsustainable basis for legitimacy.” Chen also said the CCP is now referring to Xi as General Secretary instead of an all powerful President for life. Xi’s “personal ambition” is a “symptom of the problem,” Blumenthal said of a “China that started to be more assertive and aggressive under Hu Jintao in 2007.” Blumenthal, who has served in and advised the U.S. government on China issues for over a decade, said the short answer to the West creating the China Frankenstein is yes but went to analyse the more complicated reasons. He also feels partnership building like in the Quad (Japan, Australia, India and the U.S.) will be “long-lasting.” China’s “overreach is driving India into a sustained pushback” that is “counterproductive to Beijing’s geopolitical strategy,” he said, adding, “unmet Chinese ambitions are a nightmare as it’s going to keep lashing out and creating provocations and problems.”
China was “unfortunate” in not going down the ‘democratic’ path over 30 years ago, before the ex-Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, said Chen, the author of ‘The End of China’s Prosperity, the Curse of the Tiananmen Massacre’. Jailed for over four years before leaving for the U.S., he said the “movement will never give up.” Blumenthal agrees with the idea that democracy is not “far-fetched.” He added that “it’s not implausible that Xi Jinping causes an (internal) political crisis,” and the world “must be ready for all possible outcomes—whether in liberal or illiberal directions.”