Is China Now the Adult in the Room? Xi and Macron Consult

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Donald Trump preferred the Neofascist Marine Le Pen as president of France, who wanted to pull out of NATO and the European Union. Trump’s own Environmental Protection Agency advisers are resigned because of his attack on the science of climate change. Trump is mulling pulling out the the Paris agreement on combating climate change adopted by 200 countries and territories.

In contrast, China’s President Xi Jinping called the new French leader Emmanuel Macron this week, urging him to adhere to the Paris agreement.

He was preaching to the converted, since Macron is big on green energy and has even called on American scientists and engineers disillusioned with the GOP war on science to come to France. Macron plans to invest 30 bn Euros ($32.8 bn.) in wind, solar and other green energy, and to double electricity production from renewables in five years.

For its part, China just suspended any plans for new coal plants in 29 provinces because of the severe pollution and health costs of smog and the danger to the world from emitting poisonous carbon dioxide, which is destroying the climate.

Beijing sighed a sigh of reliev when Macron beat the extreme right candidate Le Pen by 30 points. Their only worry now is whether the untested and very young Macron can actually deal effectively with crises like unemployment and tensions in Europe.

In the phone call, Xi also affirmed China’s support for European integration. Unlike Trump, who wants to pull Europe apart and push each individual country toward white nationalism and plutocracy, China prefers to deal with larger units economically and politically.

Xi also invited France to buy into China’s New Silk Road, the attempt to redo Eurasian transportation and other infrastructure so as to give a fillip to world trade.

I know which leader is a more positive force in international affairs, by far (domestic policies and press are a different issue, though I don’t trust Trump on those either).

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

China’s President Xi urges closer ties in phone call with French President-elect Macron

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14 Responses

  1. Professor Cole – Observing POTUS is a spoiled, stoned-out, paranoid old man with the mind of an angry ten year-old boy, the answer to your well-made question is obvious.

  2. Who would have imagined years ago, that China has become the adult in the room, and that the US right now is behaving like an uneducated and backward adolescent?

  3. Xi Jinping is responsible for crackdowns on Tibetans and Uighurs, Christians, and human-rights lawyers. His “Seven Taboo Phrases” that Chinese institutions have been instructed to censor are: (1) universal values, (2) freedom of speech, (3) civil society, (4) civil rights, (5) the historical errors of the Communist Party, (6) crony capitalism, and (7) judicial independence. He has threatened war over the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and Taiwan, and claimed India’s Arunachal Pradesh. Having praised “Xitler,” you cannot with any moral consistency complain about the fascist or imperialistic tendencies of the USA.

    • As I said, I was talking about foreign policy– Climate change, European integration, etc.

      As for the rest, two wrongs don’t make a right.

  4. Although it’s a problematic list, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea are going to have to figure out how to work with China while the U.S. is AWOL. The critical issue is global warming, but there are other issues. I’m assuming the U.S. will return to its leadership role, but it’s not guaranteed. For now, China will be proceeding cautiously. It’s almost certain they’re thinking of the long game and not just taking advantage of the situation.

    Maybe other countries have to be put on the list but I’m surprised that it’s not that easy to see who.

    Trump will attempt to play power games but he’s an idiot and is sometimes unhinged. And he truly does not understand what it means to be an American president. Despite his ego, he really has no clue how hard it is to be a world leader.

    • It is unlikely the USA will return to a leadership roll primarily because the USA culture is not well equipped to deal with a world where most humans are unemployable. That is, where technology eliminates most jobs.

      Most other countries on earth have a more “communal” type culture whereas the USA, because of its unique history, tends to have a more “rugged individual” type culture. The dissonance between the need for more “communal” type changes to the USA culture and the founding myths is going to cause massive turmoil in the USA which will focus the USA inward preventing the USA from providing global leadership.

      Part of why trump was elected is because huge parts of the USA can no longer ignore the changes that technology has made, such as depopulation of small towns, and the USA culture has no mechanism to deal with the changes.

      As for China, people should remember that except for a 200 year period (1750 – 1950), for over 5000 years, China was a MAJOR regional power and they have written records of every mistake they have ever made and their culture actually pays attention to those records. So Yes, China is going to move cautiously to minimize mistakes.

    • You refer to the US ‘returning to its leadership role’ as if such a role were somehow US property or a divine entitlement. But it isn’t. The role was self-awarded, flourished in a vacuum, and is now morphing into something to be shared with others. What distorts the process is the notion that China and Russia, for instance, are somehow bent on acquiring the role for themselves. This is unrealistic and unnecessarily combative when the world is crying out for cooperation. A dispassionate look at the disorder, and ecological and moral decay seeping into our lives from areas where the US seeks to maintain the trappings of that role should be enough to give us pause. There is no reason why Trump, Putin and Xi Jinping, or whoever sits on their seats, should not get together and devise a new age of global order. It wouldn’t even be that difficult since initially it would be a question of agreeing what not to do, and only then what to undertake. Of course it would not be perfect, but it could hardly be worse than what we are stuck with today. The underlying reality is that this is occurring as an inexorable process, consider how it has evolved just over the last 50 years. The ancients attributed such a processes to Fate, and the thing about Fate is that while you may cooperate with her, resistance only leaves you battered and bleeding, and consider how much of the world is already in that state.

      • When the U.S. acts like a Chamber of Commerce with narrowly defined self-interests, then no, it’s not showing leadership, it’s merely taking advantage of reputation and position. In any case, given that the world is currently in a fast changing situation, narrowly defined self-interests are likely to backfire sooner or later (Trump thinks he shows leadership but deludes himself).

        There are world interests, such as global warming, that need leadership, even if defined as a group of 3, 7 or whatever. I’m concerned that Venezuela and Syria are showing us too much of the future. Without leadership of some kind, things globally will get much worse.

        • Leadership of one would be macro dictatorship, two is inevitable confrontation, and more than three dissolves into factions. Three is best, and may be emerging from the mist?

  5. The trajectories are very different. I have a young Chinese national as junior partner in my company, he recently received his Ph.D. in Germany and then went back to China. Neither he nor I are happy with the illiberal aspects of the Chinese system, but where China is overall moving towards becoming more of a nation of law, the country that pioneered this principle is now undermining it.

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