The West was fooling itself if it expected Beijing to do its bidding, analysts say
Reporting from Beijing — China and the United States have been referred to as global partners, strategic competitors, outright rivals and “frenemies” — friends who secretly hate each other’s guts.
In recent months, a pretense of cordiality has given way to unusually public squabbling. China is threatening to boycott U.S. defense contractors over arms sales to Taiwan and is loudly protesting President Obama’s meeting this week with the Dalai Lama. The United States and its European allies are angry about what they regard as China’s obstructionist behavior on issues such as global warming and Iran’s nuclear program.
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The West has gotten it wrong on China for decades – even as it embraces a market economy, it has shunned Western-style freedoms. And its power is only growing
The dynamics of President Obama’s trip to China were markedly different from those evident on visits made by President Clinton and President George W. Bush. This time the Chinese made clear that they were unwilling even to discuss issues such as human rights or free speech. Why? The relationship between the countries has changed: America feels weak and China strong in their bilateral ties. This is not a temporary shift that will reverse itself once the U.S. has escaped from its mountain of debt. Rather, it is the expression of a deep and progressive shift in the balance of power between the two nations, one that is giving the Chinese — though studiously cautious in their approach — a rising sense of self-confidence.
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