It has been said that the so-called “rise of China” has created structural stress at the international system level. During the Belt and Road Summit held in May 2017, President Xi Jinping behaved as if China was the standard-bearer of free trade. It was a stark contrast to President Donald Trump’s “America First.”
China is trying to design international economic rules on its own. The United States probably realizes that China is trying to challenge the international order led by the US up until now. In its National Defense Strategy released on January 19, 2018, the United States Department of Defense placed competition with China and Russia as a top priority. It was a change in policy from the fight against terrorism that has been a priority for the past 15 years.
However, what are the top priorities for China? Is China trying to challenge the United States to rebuild the international order? The fact is, simply observing China’s behavior on an international level cannot accurately answer these questions. The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China held on October 18, 2017 was conscious of the need to bolster the power of the Communist Party of China and showed a renewed awareness toward strengthening control of the Party and society.
Knowing the state of China’s domestic politics, society, and the economy helps understand the meaning of its foreign diplomacy and security policy. This understanding should be useful for Japan when it thinks about how to respond to China.
This “SPF China Observer” offers a study of contemporary Chinese politics, economics, society, diplomacy and security by Chinese experts in Japan. We hope that it helps readers better understand China.