China has Donald Trump just where it wants him

Roger Cohen writes: Xi’s speech to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China marked his apotheosis. He has joined the pantheon along with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. His thought is now dogma. His China has entered a different phase. Having grown independent and then rich, it is now “becoming strong.”

To what end will the strength be used? China, Xi said, “offers a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence.” A new era has begun “that sees China moving closer to center stage.”

There could scarcely be a more explicit offer of China as an alternative, single-party, authoritarian model to the liberal democratic system of the United States (of which Trump has been such a feeble advocate). China is now “actively pursuing almost an ideological competition with the United States,” said Yun Sun, a senior associate at the Stimson Center. Xi’s speech was “a declaration of the Chinese saying that we have won this game, we are winning this game.”

They are, for now. The Chinese gambit — in the past, China has been reticent about offering itself as a global paradigm — comes at a moment of American democratic fracture. It’s a good moment for Beijing to talk of arriving “center stage.” Trump does not really have ideas. He has impulses (like his dangerous infatuation with Saudi Arabia). [Continue reading…]

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