Read Editorial with D2G – Ep 507
For one and all: On China’s global leadership role
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Meanings are given in BOLD
In 2017, China’s President Xi Jinping became the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of China to attend the World Economic Forum at Davos, a gathering synonymous with global capitalism. He delivered a robust ( strong and healthy ) defence of globalisation, three days before newly elected U.S. President Donald Trump was set to be sworn in, and six months after the Brexit vote in the U.K.
On January 25, Mr. Xi returned to the Davos platform, albeit ( although ) virtually ( by the use of computer programs, etc. that make something appear to exist ). His speech carried many of the similar themes from four years ago, calling for global unity, closer coordination on macroeconomic policy, and more equitable ( fair and reasonable; treating everyone in an equal way ) growth.
It did also carry two messages that appeared to be aimed at Washington, a reflection of four turbulent ( in which there is a lot of change, disorder and disagreement, and sometimes violence ) years of a tariff ( a tax that has to be paid on goods coming into a country ) and technology war between the world’s two biggest economies. “Each country is unique with its own history, culture and social system, and none is superior to the other,” he said.
“Difference in itself is no cause for alarm. What does ring the alarm is arrogance, prejudice ( to have a harmful effect on somebody/something ) and hatred; it is the attempt to impose ( to make a law, rule, opinion, etc. be accepted by using your power or authority ) hierarchy ( a system or organization that has many levels from the lowest to the highest ) on human civilisation or to force one’s own history, culture and social system upon others.”
He also hit out at attempts “to build small circles or start a new Cold War, to reject, threaten or intimidate ( to frighten or threaten somebody, often in order to make him/her do something ) others, to wilfully ( with the intention of causing harm; deliberately ) impose decoupling ( separate, disengage, or dissociate (something) from something else ), supply disruption ( disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process ) or sanctions” and said a “misguided approach of antagonism ( active hostility or opposition ) and confrontation ( a hostile or argumentative situation or meeting between opposing parties ), be it in the form of cold war, hot war, trade war or tech war, would eventually hurt all countries’ interests.”
If Mr. Xi’s first Davos speech found a broadly receptive ( willing to consider or accept new suggestions and ideas ) audience amid a crisis ( a time of intense difficulty or danger ) in capitalism, with the rise of populism in the West creating the space for China to try and fill a void in global economic leadership, China will find a harder sell four years on.
His message “to stay committed to international law and international rules instead of seeking one’s own supremacy” and for “the strong [to] not bully ( very good; excellent ) the weak” will appear especially jarring ( causing a physical shock, jolt, or vibration ) to those in China’s neighbourhood. Indeed ( really; certainly ), only the day before the speech, military commanders from India and China spent over 16 hours in talks, the latest unsuccessful attempt to disengage ( separate or release (someone or something) from something to which they are attached or connected ) two forces that have been eyeball-to-eyeball for months, after China’s unprecedented ( never done or known before ) military mobilisation across the LAC starting in May.
It is not only India that is dealing with a harder Chinese military posture in the midst of a global pandemic. On January 23, eight bombers and four fighters from China entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, the latest warning to Taipei. One cannot find fault with Mr. Xi’s statement that “decisions should not be made by simply showing off strong muscles or waving a big fist”. Indeed, its importance is in its relevance to all the big, militarised ( equip or supply (a place, organization, etc.) with soldiers and other military resources ) powers. And, China is one of them.