After Canada arrested Huawei’s CFO on suspicion of violating trade sanctions against Iran, China went on to arrest three Canadian nationals on flimsy grounds. With China now a major superpower under President Xi Jinping, the government seems to believe that they no longer need to care what the rest of the world thinks about them and can do whatever they want.
No place for criticism
China’s belligerent attitude toward foreign criticism has ballooned over the past few years. When questioned about the horrible mistreatment of the Uyghur community at various international forums, China repeatedly calls it an internal issue and asks other nations to stay away from interfering in their affairs.
The same is the case with the persecution of Tibetan Buddhists, Christians, and Falun Gong practitioners. Millions of followers of these faiths have been abused and tortured for not following guidelines set by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
When human rights organizations ask the Chinese government to end censorship and guarantee freedom of speech, the government brushes it aside. When protestors demand implementation of an electoral system, the authorities crush their voices.
And when the West criticizes China’s gross violation of basic human rights and ethics, the CCP merely declares that it is the “Chinese way” of managing society. Political experts feel that the new, emerging China under Xi is too confident for its own good.
Strength vs acceptance
Despite China’s drive to project its power to the rest of the world, it is also driven by a need for acceptance. This is very clear with Beijing’s attempt at expanding its soft power.
The CCP has initiated several hundred Confucius Institutes around the world to attract people to Chinese philosophy. It is also spreading the usage of Mandarin. And by investing in Hollywood, China now attempts to make its culture prominent through one of the world’s biggest pop culture mediums.
“You can look at contemporary Chinese history as a struggle between evincing displays of strength and trying to win the acceptance of the established powers… This complex dance has not been easy for a one-party Leninist state that has very little soft power advantage, but that does not mean that they do not yearn for acceptance,” Orville Schell, director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society, said in a statement (The New York Times).
A threat to democracy
The CCP is also posing a real challenge to democratic values. The success of America had positioned democracy as the ultimate governance system to implement. But China’s disdain for democracy is threatening to overturn such perceptions.
“Its [China’s] growing power and bellicose behavior have surprised most political leaders and policy specialists in the West, who have assumed that economic growth and integration into the global economy would promote China’s liberalization, as happened in South Korea and Taiwan. In fact, though, China’s growth has reinforced the Beijing regime’s belief in the legitimacy and superiority of its own state-driven economic model. And the wealth it has amassed as a result of the growth has enabled it to play a much more assertive role internationally,” Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy, said in a statement (NED).
What makes China a dangerous enemy of democracy is that the CCP is deeply committed to exporting its brand of authoritarian government to other nations. Its mass surveillance and censorship technologies are reportedly being implemented in certain developing countries.