New leader hints at foreign policy apporach

The Times reports on the first publicised speech of China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, on foreign policy. The Times article is titled’ “Xi strikes strident note on foreign policy” although the report itself simply reports on Xi Jnpings assertion that China will never compromise on its core interests and legitimate rights. This, I would suggest, is the position of every country in the world, although of course, the devil is in the detail. What are China’s legitimate rights?

Looking beyond the headline there is a throw away comment in the article which perhaps is worth reflecting upon. “The speech appears to be mostly aimed at domestic consumption and scoring easy political points.” Why I suggest this is of interest is the implicit suggestion that Xi Jinping has to address the concerns of a domestic audience. I don’t think that this is referring to internal political maneuvering, the likes of which happen in any government, regardless of type. No, this is referring essentially to public opinion.

Often painted as a totalitarian one party state, it is easy to think that China’s leaders hold a carte blanche when it comes to domestic affairs. This is not true. Public opinion matters to China’s politicians more than at any time in China’s 5,000 years of history.

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