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  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 8:14am
Column
PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 5:19am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 5:19am

One lion that doesn't want to be king of the jungle

BIO

Wang Xiangwei took up the role of Editor-in-Chief in February 2012, responsible for the editorial direction and newsroom operations. He started his 20-year career at the China Daily, before moving to the UK, where he gained valuable experience at a number of news organisations, including the BBC Chinese Service. In 1993, he moved to Hong Kong and worked at the Eastern Express before joining the South China Morning Post in 1996 as our China Business Reporter. He was subsequently promoted to China Editor in 2000 and Deputy Editor in 2007, a position he held for four years prior to being promoted to his current position. Mr. Wang has a Masters degree in Journalism, and a Bachelors degree in English.
 

Evoking Napoleon Bonaparte, President Xi Jinping proclaimed while in France last week, that "the sleeping lion" of China has awoken. But, unlike others of the species, this lion would be "peaceful, pleasant, and civilised".

Xi's decision to revive the quote often attributed to Napoleon more than two centuries ago announced a shift in China's foreign policy that is likely to accelerate, raising expectations and concerns alike that the China will be more confident and assertive on international issues.

It signalled that China would no longer be shy about staking its claims in controversial matters, be they territorial disputes with neighbouring countries or carving out its place in the international arena. It also reflected Xi's own personal outlook. Since coming to power in November 2012, he has been more forthcoming and forceful than his predecessors, not only on international issues, but also on domestic affairs.

Since China started to open its doors to the world in the late 1970s, Communist Party leaders have religiously followed Deng Xiaoping's motto on foreign affairs: "Bide one's time and never strive to be No 1."

During his own time in office, Jiang Zemin similarly trumpeted the folksy phrase "keeping quiet will help you make a fortune" to illustrate his foreign policy outlook.

But China could not afford to keep quiet over the decade Hu Jintao was in power, as its economy expanded to become the world's second largest and its businesses scoured the globe for sources of energy and raw materials.

In direct response to international concerns about Beijing's growing power, Hu and other Chinese leaders started to preach that China was committed to a "peaceful rise".

But they were still very much torn between the need to adopt a bigger international profile and a desire to hew closely to the policies of their predecessors.

Xi appears to have fewer inhibitions than the leaders of the Hu era. He has openly blasted Japan for its revival of militarism and has acted tough on territorial disputes in the South and East China seas.

International developments have indeed presented China with an opportunity to raise its profile. Washington has increasingly turned inward despite its intended policy "pivot" towards Asia. Europe is preoccupied with the crisis in Ukraine.

However, it is too early to conclude that Xi wants to replace Deng's foreign policy doctrine with his own. While Beijing appears to be more open about its intentions and capabilities, it still intends to adhere to Deng's exhortation to never strive to be No1.

This means that despite its intention to make better use of its rising influence, Beijing is unlikely to do anything to challenge the current international order or the supremacy of the US, as confirmed today by this newspaper's interview with senior Xi policy adviser, Shi Zhihong .

For Xi and other Chinese leaders, their priorities are domestic. They are battling a multitude of challenges, including rampant official corruption, a slowing economy and a need to enhance the legitimacy of the Communist Party.

xiangwei.wang@scmp.com

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This article is now closed to comments

Hum-Balang
Mmm if you do the math, 1.3B plus a tweak to relax the 1-child policy, with current policy on changes to the hukou for rural-urban migration, PRC should be able to create a domestic consumption growth robust enough to sustain itself over the next 3 decades. Throw in on the sides bi-lateral trades with most of Africa and South America and Eastern EU states.
Here is where the CCP can re-invent itself- that without stimulus package like war-economy or the cyclical boom-n-bust financial reboots that the USA+allies system rely on.
Putin will be the first one to join.
And yes let the Yankees burn themselves out building F-50 and drones and 9th generation aircraft carriers- but just watch out where they will start the next wars to offload their old military equipment declared as Aids!
sudouest
First of all, tiger has a bigger chance to be the king of the jungle. Lion does not live in a jungle !!! So, yes lion is _not_ king of the jungle. Lion lives in savannas. Your headline defies general science !!! I need not read the rest of the article.
P Blair
While China may want her rise to be "peaceful, pleasant, and civilised", she should be very very wary of Japan when Shinzo Abe states that he wants Japan to be the leader of the Asia. What a pipe dream when Japan cannot come into terms with her barbaric war history and at every opportunity bad-mouth and bully her neighbours. The US should have these right-wing Japanese fanatics castrated to prevent them from raping ordinary Japanese and from committing plunder and rape abroad.
jiawang@adb.org
Xi Jinping did not need to use the analogy of a waking lion if his "priorities are domestic."
What does a "waking" lion have to do with China's domestic issues?
According to the writer of this article, Xi wanted to indicate that China would "never strive to be No1."
Well, isn't the lion the so-called "king of the jungle"?
All this talk about lions neglects to say anything about the lion hunters (US/Japan).
China's panda is its best symbol. Lions are extinct in China.
J R
The Japanese mongrel wants to the King of the jungle. Only thing is it will just end up as a road kill.
J R
Lets hope you don't get a snake bite while putting your hands up the Japanese ars$e.
How About
Xiangwei, can you please do some research on these for your next article:
1) USA thrives on war, and every single presidents were drilled + brainwashed into this. Obama scared stiff of the unwinding GFC, perpectuated the Bush-era war-legacy, and the new mode of war- that defy every UN-Geneva & Hague Conventions about 'armed'-'conflict', and against all humanity. They will keep waging war like this forever ! Why Congress can long need to approve POTUS to go to war, the at-war button is always on and all defence sector benefit, and the GDP is always north + a few %.
.
2) Most presidents before and since JFK were stooges and fronts for the imperialist militant hawks in the USA who represent the interest of 0.5% untouchables, the big defence and energy corps of the world.
.
3) The jungle in your article is a jungle the USA and some of its allies created- the globalised networked world, all connected, all 'independent' systems that compliment each other. UN, IMF, WTO, gold standards, US$, bonds. Debt enslavement!
.
4) If China wants to stay in this jungle, and not create a new one, China will need to paly by its rules, again at the behest of USA. The growth cycle wll ebb in 7~8 years top because all of the variables are pre-determined- wages, currency, bank rates etc. by the rule books.
.
5) How can this panda stay on top of its game?
whymak
Is a Mexican migrant with all his 8 grown children toiling in Californian farms now having a family income equivalent to an average single wage earner family rich by American standards?
Forget about being number one. Don't kid yourself. Let's concentrate first on passing number 89.
sudouest
First of all, tiger has a bigger chance to be the king of the jungle. Lion does not live in a jungle !!! So, yes lion is _not_ king of the jungle. Lion lives in savannas. Your headline defies general science !!! I need not read the rest of the article.
 
 
 
 
 

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