Across the world it is seeking to sway tomorrow’s leaders
In early december Xi Jinping, China’s leader, declared that the Communist Party had met a self-imposed deadline. Extreme poverty (defined as earning a bit more than $1 a day) has been eradicated from China. Naturally, the party is keen to tell others about its success in fighting penury. In October it hosted a mostly-virtual two-day seminar on the subject for nearly 400 people from more than 100 countries. Participants quoted by official media gushed praise for China’s progress. But the gathering was not just about uplifting the needy. It was also aimed at showing off China’s political model.
In the West, recent coverage of China’s diplomacy has been dominated by talk of how aggressive it has become. Some of its diplomats have been dubbed “wolf warriors” because of their habit of snarling at foreign critics (the label refers to the title of a jingoistic Chinese film). To non-Western audiences, by contrast, Chinese officials are speaking more softly. They preach the virtues of a form of governance that they believe is making China rich and can help other countries, too. Some welcome this message, even in multiparty democracies. At the poverty-alleviation forum, the secretary-general of Kenya’s ruling Jubilee Party, Raphael Tuju, was quoted as saying that China’s Communist Party should be an example for his own.
In 2017 Mr Xi caused a stir in the West by suggesting that China’s development model offered “a new option” for other countries, and that a “Chinese approach” could help solve humanity’s problems.