Last week, President Joe Biden wrapped up a whirlwind tour of Europe. He reached consensus with the G7 industrialized nations, the European Union and NATO on issues such as virus traceability and condemnation of human rights in China, and with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the stability and predictability of relations between the two countries. Biden’s “Dragon Slam” dazzled the world, but the target was clear.
China under Xi Jinping has clearly become the biggest loser of the moment. Looking around the world, China is isolated in a way it has not been since its reform and opening. Its war-wolf diplomacy, human rights issues and the new crown virus are some of the major reasons why China has become the world’s lone wolf. Xi Jinping cannot be blamed for China’s descent into this situation.
Regarding the war-wolf style of Chinese diplomacy, Xi clearly understands that the brutal behavior of Chinese diplomats in international affairs has provoked public outrage in the world. Therefore, in a recent speech at a Politburo collective study session, he asked China to “strive to build a credible, lovable and respectable image of China.” But China’s current image of war wolves was encouraged and instructed by Xi Jinping, and I believe it is difficult for war wolf diplomats, who have become accustomed to it, to accept the change from hateful to cute and credible. Thanks to Chinese war wolf diplomats, the world’s major Western countries, such as Australia, Canada, Britain, Germany, France and other EU countries, which had tried to maintain neutrality between the US and China in some international affairs, have all leaned toward the US during the European summit. Beijing thought it could take in the EU with money and brutality, but in fact it miscalculated. Xi Jinping’s foreign policy has been a serious mistake, leading China into an increasingly isolated situation.
In contrast to China’s war-wolf diplomacy, which has only emerged in recent years, human rights has been a long-standing issue between China and the West, but old issues have taken on new content under Xi’s administration. The human rights issue of the Uighurs in Xinjiang and the sudden change from “one country, two systems” to “one country, one system” in Hong Kong have allowed the United States and the EU-NATO countries to join forces in a concerted effort to condemn and isolate China. The EU’s allegations of abuse and cleansing of Uighurs in Xinjiang were a key factor in the EU’s break with the Chinese Communist Party, leading to the suspension of the seven-year-long Sino-European Investment Agreement. In addition, the European summit emphasized the need to maintain the G7’s technological lead over China, to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative with a global infrastructure plan, and to stress the particular importance of democratic values. All of this is intended to highlight the differences between the West and the Chinese Communist Party in terms of institutional competition.
China also loses a lot of points in its relationship with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO’s perception of China’s growing influence in the world and its threat to NATO’s security has changed significantly from the past in several ways: 1) China took on unprecedented weight in the NATO summit communiqué released last week; 2) NATO deliberately emphasized that China already poses a systemic threat to NATO security; and 3) NATO emphasized that its values are not the same as China’s. Yet only at the end of 2019, when NATO first mentioned China in a joint statement, it also said that China’s rise poses both challenges and opportunities for NATO. NATO’s balanced approach to China’s rise has clearly given way to concern about China’s rise.
In addition to China’s war-wolf diplomacy and human rights concerns, China is further isolating itself from the international community by not allowing an investigation into the source of the new crown virus so far. Biden national security adviser Jake Sullivan told Fox News on June 20 that China faces international isolation if it does not cooperate with a real investigation into the traceability of the virus. The United States will find out the origin of the new crown virus in two ways, one is the U.S. 90-day intelligence investigation, which will be reported in August, and the other is to promote the second phase of the WHO traceability investigation with allies.
China is most annoyed by the U.S. joint efforts with the EU, NATO and other countries to promote the second phase of the WHO traceability investigation. At the G7 summit, Canada, the UK and 13 other countries issued a joint statement expressing their attitude towards the traceability of the new coronavirus and their concerns about the previous findings of the WHO. The EU countries, out of their own national interests, do not necessarily agree with the U.S. demand for an anti-China alliance, but the G7 and the EU share the U.S. view on the traceability of the virus, calling for a timely, transparent, expert-led and science-based Phase II traceability investigation and study in China. As for Russia’s attitude toward the traceability of the new crown, even though Putin is not in a position to publicly express his displeasure with China, Russian society holds China responsible for the spread of the outbreak.
It can be expected that Xi Jinping, who has been “personally in charge and deployed” throughout the outbreak, will continue to resist and resist international calls for further investigation into the source of the virus. However, the already united international forces will not rest in peace. How this lone wolf of the world will respond is definitely worth watching closely.