- The China-US conflict has increased sharply in the past few months, with experts saying there is a risk of an all-out war. What is behind this hostility, and what kind of world order is Beijing aiming for?
At the 19th convention of the Communist Party in October 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that a “new era” had dawned for China and that the People’s Republic was “getting closer to the center of the world every day.” But how does China imagine a world order in which it is at the center-stage?
“My understanding is that the political forces in Beijing do not know exactly what they want. They’re experimenting with Deng Xiaoping,” Gu Xuewu, a Bonn-based political scientist, told DW, referring to the Chinese politician who initiated economic reforms in the 1980s. Deng’s famous motto was “crossing the river by feeling the stones.”
China’s indecision is also reflected in complex debates about its role in the world, according to Volker Stanzel, a China expert and former German ambassador to Beijing. The debates deal as much with Beijing’s acceptance of the prevailing global order as with the idea that China – chosen by fate – must lead the world.
As varied and complex these discussions appear to be, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has the final say in all matters, which are not necessarily about world order, according to Stanzel. “It is only a question about China being able to function in a way that the ideas of the CPC can be implemented, and which can help it stay in power.”