Leading Chinese dissident, artist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei says that China’s influence has become so great that it can no longer be effectively stopped.
“The West should really be worried about China decades ago. Now it is already too late, because the West has built its strong system in China and just to cut it, it will hurt deeply. So China Very arrogant. ”
Ai Weiwei has never used his words about China. “It’s a police state,” he says.
The artist designed Bird’s Nest Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but ran into serious problems after speaking out against the Chinese government. Eventually, in 2015, he left China to emigrate to the West. He lived first in Berlin, and settled in Cambridge last year.
- Profile: Ai Weiwei
- Ai Weiwei: A Changed Man
Mr. AE believes that China today uses its immense economic power to exert its political influence.
It is certainly true that China has become more vocal in recent years.
Until about a decade ago, China offered the world a modest face. The official government slogan was: “Hide your light and spend your time”. Ministers stressed that China is still a developing country to learn from the West.
Then Xi Jinping came to power. He became general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012 and president the following year. He introduced a new tone. The old humility faded, and there was a different slogan: “strive for achievement”.
In some ways China is still a developing country, with 250 million people below the poverty line.
Yet it is already the second largest economy in the world, and is to surpass the US in the next decade. China’s influence in the world is becoming more apparent at a time when America’s authority has declined.
I have seen for myself clear signs of China’s growing political power and from Greenland and the Caribbean to Peru and Argentina and South Africa and Zimbabwe to Pakistan and Mongolia.
Tom Tugendat, chairman of the British Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, recently accused China of pressuring Barbados to make the queen its head of state.
Today, China has a significant presence everywhere in the world. Any country that challenges its basic interests is suffering for it.
When the Dalai Lama visited Downing Street, Anglo-Chinese relations were deeply freed. And recently, when the speaker of the Czech Republic’s parliament visited Taiwan, a top diplomat warned that “the Chinese government and people will not sit idle if the Czech Senate president and him face open provocations from anti-China forces” And let them go. There is a huge price to pay ”.
Yet Hu Jijin, the head of China’s Global Times newspaper and a highly influential editor-in-chief, rejected any suggestion that China is an international punk.
“I want to ask you, did China ever pressurize a country to do anything against its will? It is America that continues to impose sanctions in the world, especially economic sanctions on so many countries. You know what China Know from the country. Approved?
“Have we ever approved an entire country? Only on specific issues have we expressed our dissatisfaction, and only as a response when our country has been openly offended.”
Yet China at the moment stands at a rage with countries as a whole: Taiwan, Australia, Japan, Canada, India (with whom China recently fought on a violent border), Britain and of course the US.
The language that the Global Times sometimes uses may sound like the worst rhetoric of the old Maotse Tung days.
Mr Hu recently wrote an editorial describing Australia as “chewing gum under China’s boot”. When I asked him about this, he said that the current Australian government repeatedly attacked and angered China.
“I think they are like a piece of gum sticking under my shoe. I can’t shake it. It’s not a good feeling. I said it as an expression and it’s right to an opinion.”
On hong kong
Mr. Hu is close to President Xi, and we can assume that he would not say these things until he knew that he would not support China’s top leadership. When I asked him his thoughts about Hong Kong, he did not back down.
“The Chinese government has no objection to Hong Kong’s democracy and freedom, including the right of Hong Kong people to protest peacefully on the streets.
“But the key is, they have to be peaceful … We support the even more determined use of force by the Hong Kong police against violent protests.”
“If violent protesters threaten police life when they launch very sharp projectiles, and throw petrol-bombs or Molotov cocktails at the police, I believe the police should be allowed to use their guns , And they should open fire. “
Strong stuff, and if the police in Hong Kong actually started shooting protesters, it would result in a huge international backlash.
Most foreign observers find that China’s aggressive behavior actually hides an underlying nervousness.
The Communist Party is not elected, so there is no way to know how much real support it has in China. For example, a severe economic collapse – a serious crisis cannot be avoided.
President Xi and his colleagues are reminded of how the old Soviet empire disappeared between 1989 and 1991, as it lacked the support of ordinary citizens.
Mr. Hu does not accept that a new cold war has started. China’s dispute, he says, is basically with the US. He makes it clear that President Donald Trump’s attack on China is heavily linked to the November 3 presidential election, and his efforts to win it.
In fact after the election, the atmosphere is likely to improve – whoever wins.
China is huge, involved in everyone’s life, living in a permanent state of outright hostility towards it for America and its allies.
But this only reinforces Mr. AE’s warning: that it is now too late to save the West from China’s influence.