China’s Xi expands powers, promotes allies and tightens control
China’s president, Xi Jinping, made a long-awaited state visit to Japan this week, in which it was his first to the country after six years of self-imposed inactivity. This marked the first time that China and Japan have had bilateral leaders in the same room during the same year.
The trip was also notable for being the first time that the two countries had had the opportunity to directly address one another’s problems without their leaders having to interact with each other as equals. This was something that had not been seen for decades. In fact, it was China that had been the cause of most of the conflicts with Japan over the last hundred years. (I’m going to be using the word “conflict” advisedly, as it’s not always so serious as far as geopolitics is concerned.)
In his talk with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Xi told Japan that he wanted to become a “major power in Asia” and “become a key country in international affairs,” and that his top priority would be to resolve “the issue of the Korean Peninsula.” (Xi’s speech is embedded below, in video form:)
Xi’s visit may have been more significant than it may have seemed at the time: it brought the Chinese leader one step closer to the one thing he’s always lacked: a serious ally in the region outside of China. In short, China’s leaders have two choices as far as dealing with Japan are concerned: agree with Abe’s demands, or find some way to create a new balance of power in the area. The first option is risky, but the second is even more so.
What Xi said
China’s leaders have never seen a serious threat to their regional hegemony like America’s potential resurgence as a global power (that possibility was never truly explored by the Chinese communists, of course, at least not in any serious way…). For China, America is a real and present danger.
Here was a man who might be able to help