China's Stock Market Crash Scapegoat: “Hostile Foreign Forces”
While the Chinese leadership may see such rhetoric and policies as a cheap and easy way of deflecting attention from their inability to address the challenges before them, this strategy trades short-term gain for long-term pain. As the political atmosphere turns sour, China will become a less attractive destination for many foreigners. Overall, twice as many foreigners left China than arrived in 2014, and while the United States still supplies more expats to China than any other country, 22 percent fewer Americans moved to China in 2014 than in 2013. Beijing also risks losing credibility with the most educated segments of Chinese society. Even as less informed Chinese may buy into the anti-Western narrative, each time the “hostile foreign forces” argument is introduced, Chinese netizens fight back. Chinese labor union activists, for example, have argued that their discontent derives not from the infiltration of foreign forces but from the failure of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions to protect their interests. And certainly the constant drumbeat of anti-Western sentiment emanating from senior Chinese officials does little to support their claim that they want a trust-based “new relationship among major powers.” The China Dream may eventually come to represent a unique and compelling combination of Chinese traditional values, Marxism, and Xi Jinping Thought; but in the meantime, Chinese leaders shouldn’t take the easy, but ultimately self-defeating and poisonous, path of using anti-Western values to fill the void.
This piece appeared courtesy of CFR’s Asia Unbound blog and Forbes.