'Difficult' to convince governments China is a threat says expert
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Professor Zeno Leoni, a defence studies lecturer at King’s College London, said that “it is really difficult” to convince Western Governments that China is a “threat” to the rest of the world because of its stranglehold on global exports. Providing the world with nearly 15 percent of all goods and services, opposition to China is “very difficult, Prof Leoni claimed. And added the West faces a “true dilemma” over how to contain China’s military expansion without causing chaos on the global trade floor.
Prof Leoni said: “In the West, we are in such a big dilemma when it comes to China. You look inside each county and you see debates between those who want to trade with China and those who want to securitise the China threat.
“This is mostly because of China’s economic influence. It means that it is really difficult to convince any government that China is a threat.
“So there will always be that ambiguity and this contrast between those competing feelings about China.
“In that way, [China] is more powerful, more subtle, than the way Russia has been operating. And so, it’s more difficult.
“And that’s also why, only up to recently with [Barack] Obama and [Donald] Trump, with the golden era [of trade] in the UK, the West has started to realise that it needs to face China.
“But in the 90s, in the first decade of the 21st century, there was very little discussion about that.
“We were only seeing the economic benefits. So it’s a dilemma. It’s a true dilemma.”
US President Joe Biden became the latest global politician to throw shade on the principle of “strategic ambiguity” employed towards China, a practice that looks to contain Xi Jinping’s military expansion of China without destroying trade relations.
During a summit meeting in Tokyo last week alongside Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Mr Biden was asked if the US was willing to “get involved militarily to defend Taiwan” should China invade.
It has been common geopolitical practice to refrain from explicitly stating military intentions against China – a tactic South Korea, Japan and the US have employed for more than half a century – but Mr Biden responded: “Yes. That’s the commitment we made.”
He added: “The idea that [Taiwan] can be taken by force, just taken by force, is [just not] appropriate.”
While White House officials quickly walked back the comments, Mr Biden’s words were viewed as a potential change in approach from the US and evidence that they are looking to stand up more publicly to the threat of China.
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China’s influence on the global trade market has skyrocketed over the past few decades, and they now hold the title of the largest global exporter of goods.
As of 2020, they were responsible for nearly 15 percent of all goods exported around the world, while its closest competitor, the US, boasts under nine percent.
While the pandemic has caused carnage in China, with strict lockdown policies causing factories and shipyards to close, China’s 2021 first quarter recovery amounted to around $710 billion (£564 billion), a 50 percent surge year-over-year.
It is this global influence that has rendered it a dangerous enemy, should they choose to act in a hostile manner; Russia, in contrast, is not even in the top 10 global exporters.
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