Is China losing the world?


Kerry Brown, professor of Chinese studies and director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College, London, argues that China’s recent assertiveness and hardline policies are turning the world against Beijing. Excerpt:

The sharp treatment of Taiwan, the actions in Xinjiang, the incredible, pervasive growth of the surveillance state in China and its annexation of almost every aspect of life without any institutional or legal restraint — all these register in some form and shape a little resistance

In the past, issues about China were once disparate; now they are being linked and form the basis of a critical counternarrative. Suddenly, there is more sympathy for Taiwan, for example.

More people in Europe and the United States are starting to be uneasy about the ways in which Confucius Institutes are allowed to operate in Western establishments without similar freedoms for Western equivalents in Chinese ones. They wonder why Chinese can buy, invest, and work so freely in their environments while it is so difficult for foreigners to do the same back in China. They wonder why Chinese lobbyists and activists are able to freely express their ideas in London, Sydney, or Washington, and seek to influence outcomes that matter to them there, when there is precious little space for this sort of activity back in China.

For me, the most telling statement in Brown’s essay is this: “More and more will start to ask the simple question, where is the reciprocity?