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Chinese Counterparts Make It Clear: We Are Equals Now

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EDITOR NOTE: “China can already look at the world on an equal level,” says President Xi during a legislative session last March. The message is clear: China is in a position that’s second to no country, neither economically nor perhaps even militarily. What’s notable is the frequency in which China is now acknowledging its own dominant position. Having taken a more reserved stance toward its self-reflexive language in the past, Chinese counterparts now speak openly about competition, particularly with regard to economic, political, and regional lines beyond which, it asserts, other countries should not cross.  What the article below doesn’t mention is the extent to which China is potentially far ahead of its biggest rival--the US. Far ahead in terms of economic recovery, its caution in fiscal spending and monetary easing, and in the development of a digital currency and payment system with which it aims to dethrone the dollar’s long-standing hegemony over global trade.

President Xi is confronting the Biden administration with a new world view, that Beijing’s decades of not challenging the U.S. as global leader are over

It quickly became obvious in Anchorage, Alaska, last month that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s diplomatic envoys hadn’t come carrying olive branches. Instead they brought a new world view.

As Biden administration officials expected in their first meeting with Chinese counterparts, Yang Jiechi, Mr. Xi’s top foreign-policy aide, and Foreign Minister Wang Yiasked them to roll back Trump-era policies targeting China. Beijing wanted to restore the kind of recurring “dialogue” Washington sees as a waste of time, say U.S. and Chinese officials briefed on the Alaska meeting.

Mr. Yang also delivered a surprise: a 16-minute lecture about America’s racial problems and democratic failings. The objective, say Chinese officials, was to make clear that Beijing sees itself as an equal of the U.S. He also warned Washington against challenging China over a mission Beijing views as sacred—the eventual reunification with Taiwan.

That is a big shift for Chinese leaders, who for decades took care not to challenge the U.S. as the world’s leader and followed the dictum Deng Xiaoping set decades ago: “Keep a low profile and bide your time.” Some senior Chinese officials privately—often sarcastically—called the U.S. Lao Da, or Big Boss.

Now Mr. Xi is reshaping the relationship. As far as he is concerned, China’s time has arrived.

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