Is it me or is China becoming an international bully?

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It seems like every bit of media coverage I hear or see involving a Chinese official has that official essentially saying that the country they’re dealing with or talking about will do as China says if it knows what’s good for it. The threats are thinly veiled, and the tone is generally on the arrogant side.

Whether it’s the Two Michaels (or the 121 other Canadians in Chinese detention, if anyone’s counting), Huawei and 5G, Hong Kong, COVID, trade talks, state-owned business, or just generally giving the PRC the respect that the PRC feels it deserves, I’m not seeing anything where China is taking anything less than a militant do-as-your-told-or-you’ll-regret-it tone.

On one level, I sort of understand the posturing. The US spent a long time being the only superpower, and it’s kind of fallen down on the job without someone else to match politic wits with. China is stepping in to fill the void left by the Soviet Union, and it’s being as belligerent as it feels it can get away with. Of course, India isn’t far behind, and Russia still remembers. There may come a time in the not-so-distant future when we live in a multi-superpower world.

This isn’t the same world I grew up in. The Cold War isn’t dangling nuclear armageddon over our heads every day. At a high level, the world isn’t as dangerous a place as it used to be looking at the shape of the geopolitical landscape. But drop below the cloud deck and it’s weird, getting weirder all the time. China seems like it’s making a bid to be a superpower, maybe THE superpower, and doesn’t seem to care what the rest of the world thinks about how it goes about it. That could wind up making it an isolated superpower.

Is that a recipe for a new cold war?

And how will that look?

I watch politics and I follow it at a number of levels, from global down to local. I’m not making any claims at being an expert on any of those levels, but I know when something bothers me. China’s behaviour in the last couple of years is worrying to me, looking like a slide back into totalitarianism after flirting with mere authoritarianism for a few decades. I don’t think that can be a good thing.

While we watch what develops, stay safe and be well, everyone.

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