Trump’s erratic leadership in global affairs does provide a strategic opportunity for China to fill that gap. Xi Jinping is astute in seizing this opportunity. In fact, China would be welcome to fill in the global leadership void on many critical issues, such as climate change, trade and infrastructure development. But while Xi’s vision of a “community of common destiny” is attractive in various ways for many economies around the world, China's execution of the vision invokes increasing unease, including among those who do not have strategic connections with Beijing. China's grand plans to achieve national rejuvenation by 2049 sounds impressive, but the tactics it applies are creating tensions. Xi Jinping's ambitious and impatient strategy of assertion is insensitive to fellow "common community" members' values, interests and needs. Additionally, it is a missed opportunity for global leadership and contradicts the rhetoric of international harmony and ‘win-win' behavior. Leaders supporting Beijing are also driven by the pursuit of immediate gains, seeking economic benefits rather than long-term common beliefs and solidarity. China is doubling down on a costly strategy of buying "followers" rather than winning the hearts and minds of friends and partners. This is neither an effective nor an efficient strategy.
Dr. Huong Le Thu is a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. She is the author of "China’s Dual Strategy of Coercion and Inducement towards ASEAN,” The Pacific Review.
Image: Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a briefing on the final day of the Belt and Road Forum, at the Yanqi Lake International Conference Center, north of Beijing, China May 15, 2017. REUTERS/Nicolas Asfouri/Pool