Educated with Confucius’ philosophy and using its strong economic, political, and social influences, China has played a significant role not only in East Asia but also in the world. Using its “hard power” and “soft power” at the same time, China wielded its power and kept good relationships with its neighbors and position as a superpower in the world, according to The Economist.
These wise diplomatic tactics allowed China to prosper more than 1,000 years, and “acting as a responsible superpower” was China’s main diplomatic goal.
However, the outstanding diplomacy of China completely changed as the country went through the establishment of the People’s Republic of China and undergoing the cultural revolution. This forced the Chinese to believe in Mao’s ideas and abandon their own traditions, the Chinese lost their diplomatic skills and responsibility to behave as a great power.
After World War II and China’s reconstruction period, China set its diplomatic goal as taking its position back as a superpower. However, diplomatic culture being compromised, China started to only wield its hard power, and this resulted in negative diplomatic results, according to The Economist.
Since the cultural revolution, China has lost several allies including Japan, India, South Korea, and Southeast Asian countries. Even the communist-dictator state of North Korea has been hostile to China. Moreover, China is having a hard time unifying ethnic Chinese and establishing a united Chinese state, as a result of its unsophisticated diplomacy, according to The Economist.
Taiwan and Hong Kong are still considered obstacles to China’s diplomacy. Beijing is currently only trying to solve the issues using its economic and political power.
However, completely contrary to Beijing’s expectations, these actions of lifting sanctions and pressure have only resulted in negative results. The Taiwanese pro-independent president Tsai Ing-wen has been re-elected and Hong Kong protests have shown how hostile Taiwanese and Hong Kongers are toward Beijing’s policies, according to The Economist.
Situations in Hong Kong and Taiwan prior to 2019 were genuinely going positive for Beijing. Due to Beijing’s diplomatic, economic, and political pressure and sanctions on Taiwan, Taiwan lost its economic drive and fell into the deep economic recession. It also seemed likely that a relatively pro-Chinese party, Kuomintang, would easily replace Tsai’s presidency, according to Foreign Policy.
Except for the economy, five countries have decided to abandon diplomatic relationships with Taiwan and shifted to China, and the result of the 2018 regional election exhibited how pathetic and hopeless her term was.
Things were similar in Hong Kong.
As economic ties and businesses between Hong Kong and the mainland were getting closer and cooperating to a greater extent, pro-Chinese politicians were elected in regional elections. Beijing had to do nothing but wait until 2047, which is the year Hong Kong would fully become a part of China, according to the New York Times.
However, Beijing had no patience and decided to suppress Hong Kong in order to fully control the region, and this caused the enormous backfire.
Millions of people protested against the mainland, and this also perfectly changed the political geography in Taiwan and allowed Tsai to get re-elected. Beijing’s effort to remove Tsai from office and suppress Hong Kong resulted in elevating tensions, providing a vivid example of the state of current Chinese diplomacy.
Starting from 2018, countries including the United States and multiple European states targeted China as the major threat of the world, and decided to put China on the “blacklist,” which is including China with states such as Iran and North Korea, which are considered the “Axis of Evil” in the world by Washington according to George W. Bush’s speech about the “Axis of Evil.”
Beijing has missed major diplomatic opportunities. Improving relationships would Taiwan and Hong Kong would have actually brought benefits to Beijing, but China did not choose to take advantage of that, according to The Economist.
In order for Beijing and the communist party to survive in the current anti-Chinese political world, Beijing will have to try its best to restore its traditional, sophisticated diplomacy and step back from its increasingly aggressive behavior.