He coincided his coronation with a demonstration of global influence: with the mediation of China, the archenemies of the Persian Gulf agreed to restart diplomatic relations. At the same time that he was anointed president for the third time, Xi Jinping showed him to USA and to the world that Chinese diplomacy can assume a leading role in the Middle East. Now, to postcards like the one in Menachem Begin and Anwar el Sadat agreeing on Camp David and Yitzhak Rabin shaking hands with Yasser Arafat in the gardens of the White House, is added the historic postcard of Foreign Minister Wang Yi sponsoring the handshake between the two top security officials of Iran and Saudi Arabia, Ali Samkhani and Musaad bin Mohamed Al-Aiban.
The rapprochement between the Persian Shiite power and the Sunni Arab power warns Washington that Beijing will also play a leading role in this complex game.
With that display of Chinese influence, Xi Jinping was crowned by the annual session of the National Popular Assembly as a leader with powers comparable to those he had Mao Tse-tung. As a sign of that power once again concentrated in the hands of a single man, replacing Li Kequiang, the last vestige of the influence of the moderate Hu Jintao, took over as prime minister. Li Qiang.
The new premier can apply totalitarian policies as he demonstrated during the pandemic by confining Shanghai, and also manage pragmatism in the financial system, in addition to showing his preference for private companies. But above all, he is a Xi Jinping man.
There is no return to the collectivism of Maoist times. Capitalism is immovable in China, but the companies will have the State and the CCP breathing down their necks. Only by agreeing to collaborate with everything that the State demands of them, will big businessmen be able to maintain their capital and wealth. And the mysterious disappearances suffered by several billionaires who later appeared without clarifying what happened, seems a dark sign in this regard.
The new pattern of power in China marks the end of the era ushered in by Deng Xiaoping and Zhao Ziyang, and was characterized by its openness to the world and its rapprochement with the powers of the West. Dismantling the teams of Jiang Zeming and Hu Jintao, in addition to placing the collegiate bodies that shared power under the total control of the leader, China confirms return to the era of East-West Confrontation.
The diagnosis of the current world points to the advance of “de-globalization”. The first symptoms were seen with the resurgence of nationalisms that seemed to be on the verge of extinction. Resistance to diluting into a cultural mass on a global scale has been growing.
Later, new symptoms arrived: societies split into factions that abhor each other, suppurated anti-system leaders who channeled people’s uncertainties and fears against liberal democracy.
The pandemic showed that it is more natural for superpowers to confront than to cooperate in a global fight against threats that have no borders. And as if such symptoms were not overwhelming, Russia started a war to recover its nineteenth-century and Soviet maps.
At that point, China had already spent a couple of years remaking the power of the State created by Mao and the gravitation of the Communist Party over everything that moves and acts in the Asian giant. And at the beginning of the third decade, as the ghost of Stalingrad haunts Bakhmut, the shadow of China darkens the island where a democracy had slowly germinated in the second half of the 20th century.
Everything advanced in the matter of depersonalization of power from Deng and Zhao onwards was lost in a handful of years. In the same way that the republican path that promoted Sun Yat-sen’s revolution in 1912 began to deviate with Chiang Kai-shek and ended up totally adulterated by Maoism, the institutionality that Deng built to limit the power of a leader and distribute it in bodies collegiate, began to be dismantled since Xi Jinping reached the top of leadership.
What has been taking shape at the annual session of the National People’s Congress is the rebuilding of the party’s full power over China’s economic and political life and Xi Jinping’s absolute control over the party. One more sign of deglobalization.
The process, which accelerated with the war in Ukraine, would gain greater speed if China decided to do what the president has been concocting for a long time: invade Taiwan to reestablish Chinese control over the island that the Kuomintang government separated, in fact, from in 1950, after losing the civil war.
Should a war break out in Taiwan, the Americans and their European allies will try to do to the island what they are doing to Ukraine: help it defend itself against the invader by assisting it with massive shipments of weapons and ammunition.
In that case, the world would walk on the edge of a direct confrontation between superpowers, a danger that would also grow if China becomes for Russia what the Atlantic alliance is for Ukraine: the main massive supplier of arms and ammunition.
Even without the invasion of Taiwan having taken place, the signs are multiplying that the world is already on the threshold of a new East-West Confrontation, now with China in the place that the USSR had in the division of the world that covered half of the world. 20th century.
That the Beijing regime has had the submarine cables that connect Matsu, one of the islands of the archipelago with its capital in Taipei, cut to the internet, is a small and revealing metaphor for the process underway. The Internet was one of the keys to the advance of globalization since the end of the last century. Also, by the way, another symptom that the global village is under threat of an abrupt return to the world of nationalisms, big warring blocs and hot borders.
What the US legislator from Florida, María Elvira Salazar, clumsily expressed when she warned Argentina about making “a pact with the devil”, is what is beginning to be seen: the world divided as in the days of the Cold War, in the that it will be necessary to choose in which sidewalk to stand.
The growth of Chinese espionage also integrates the symptoms that describe a new division of the world with East-West confrontation. From industrial, scientific and technological espionage, the Asian giant moved on to a “vintage” method that baffled the world: hot air balloons.