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China This Week: Will China Display Hard or Soft Power in the Era of Xi?

Nov 06 , 2017

At China's 19th Party Congress, the rest of the world's eyes and ears were fixed on how president Xi Jinping described China's role in the global order and his foreign policy language. While different interpretations have been made since, there are no signs that China plans on backing down on any of its "core interests" or or perhaps on any other interests for that matter.

"A military force is built to fight," Xi said in his work report to the congress on Oct. 18. "Our military must regard combat readiness as the goal for all its work and focus on how to win when it is called upon." In his remarks he declared China's intention of transforming the People's Liberation Army into a "world-class military by the mid-21st century." This comes at a time when many are worried that Trump risks ceding the world stage to an emboldened China.

In a an opinion piece in the South China Morning Post titled "In Xi's new era, Chinese diplomacy will be a display of hard power", Deng Yuwen interpreted "The way the Party sees it, a hardline approach will not only protect the country's interests, but also meet the people's expectations of how a great power should behave." Deng concludes that "the Communist Party will no longer back down on many issues," and that the international community should be prepared to face a "strong" China. Others, such as China-US Focus contributor Mel Gurtov, think that rather squabbling over who's era it is, "these two great powers might better consider two fundamental issues: how to manage their differences so as to avoid confrontations, and how to cooperate in ways that truly benefit human security." 

For the latest issue of China This Week, an exclusive weekly review and analysis of major trends and developments impacting the China-U.S. relations, please visit here.

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