- After six months of protests in Hong Kong, the new year has brought more chaos, with Tsai Ing-wen winning an election in Taiwan and disease spreading in Wuhan. Perhaps President Xi Jinping should recognise that China needs new leadership
Tsai Ing-wen's historic, landslide victory in Taiwan's presidential election is seen by many as a clear indication that Beijing's current strategy towards the self-ruled island is fatally flawed.
Chinese policies, which include poaching Taiwan's diplomatic allies, curtailing its business and tourism, and spreading misinformation ahead of its election, have driven a deeper wedge between the Taiwanese public and the mainland.
More damaging, however, has been Beijing's disastrous response to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. Tsai acknowledged as much herself, telling the BBC that Taiwan's voters were watching as the much-heralded "one country, two systems" framework collapsed in Hong Kong, and voted with this in mind.
Even more remarkably, she argued that the island did not need to declare independence because it was already essentially independent.
Tsai's victory, just months after pro-democracy candidates' overwhelming victory in Hong Kong's district council elections, is a stark sign of how Beijing's " and President Xi Jinping's " policies have failed.
Tsai said that Beijing's policies of the past few years had changed the nature of the relationship between the island and the mainland, and nullified the ambiguity between them.
Tsai's victory in itself would not be a cause of concern for Xi, if it did not come after a chaotic year that included more than seven months of protests in Hong Kong, a trade war with the United States, an economic slowdown, and a devastating outbreak of African swine fever.
Carrie Lam should study Tsai Ing-wen's playbook
The new year has only brought more chaos: in addition to Tsai's victory, China faces an outbreak of a coronavirus in Wuhan " which has now spread to Japan, and elsewhere " just as the Lunar New Year holiday is beginning.
While a ceasefire in the trade war has ostensibly been declared, the phase one deal required concessions from Beijing and may lead to the perception that Xi has caved in to Trump's demands. Indeed, Xi's struggles to adapt to the situations in Hong Kong and Taiwan call into question what he has achieved as president.
When Xi first came to power in late 2012, many expected him to be an economic reformer like his father. Yet Xi's intervention in the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2015 ended in disaster. Under Xi's watch, China's growth rate has plunged to its lowest level in nearly 30 years.
Perhaps Xi's most ambitious policy to date has been the Belt and Road Initiative. I am sceptical about what China can gain from this venture. Why spend all this money outside China's borders, when there are still plenty of infrastructure improvements to be made domestically?
Russia is no friend to China. In fact, Beijing needs the US more
Xi may well believe that the initiative is a way to buy friends, which China sorely lacks. Its only true ally, North Korea, offers nothing beyond its geostrategic position as a buffer against the US-allied South Korea.
China's other historic partner, Pakistan, likewise has little to offer. Xi has been strengthening ties with Russia but, as I have written previously, it is folly to expect any loyalty from President Vladimir Putin considering the historical animosity between the two countries.
Xi's aggressive foreign policy in the South China Sea is sending countries in the region back to the embrace of the United States. He is seeking to buy friends in Central Asia and Africa without considering the extent to which he is overleveraging the Chinese economy.
And, all the while, he is consolidating power and paving the way to rule for life. If Xi truly cared about the future of China, he would recognise that the country really needs new leadership.
I grew up during the warlord era in China. I witnessed the Sino-Japanese war, Japanese occupation and civil war. Now, the People's Republic of China is 70. Through all this time, the Chinese people have been excluded from the process of selecting their own leaders. It does not appear that this will change for the foreseeable future.
But I hope the Chinese people will get to decide for themselves one day, just as those in Taiwan have.
Chi Wang, a former head of the Chinese section of the US Library of Congress, is president of the US-China Policy Foundation
Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.查看原始文章