China’s Bullying Is Becoming a Danger to the World and Itself

Thomas L. Friedman

By Thomas L. Friedman

Opinion Columnist阅读简体中文版閱讀繁體中文版

“Ever since Deng Xiaoping opened China to the world in the late 1970s, many in the West wanted to see the country succeed, because we thought China — despite its brutal authoritarian political structure — was on a path to a more open economy and society. Alas, President Xi Jinping has reversed steps in that direction in ways that could pose a real danger to China’s future development and a real danger to the rest of the world.

Everything Xi is doing today is eroding trust among Chinese and foreign entrepreneurs about what the rules of business are now inside China, while at the same time eroding trust abroad that China — having swallowed Hong Kong — won’t soon move on Taiwan, which could trigger a direct conflict with the U.S.

While I don’t want Xi’s hard-line strategy to succeed — that would pose a danger to every free country and economy in the Pacific — I also don’t want China to fail or fracture. We’re talking about a country of 1.4 billion people whose destabilization would affect everything from the air you breathe to the cost of your shoes to the interest rate for the mortgage on your house. It’s a real dilemma. Alas, though, I don’t think Xi realizes just how much uncertainty his recent behavior has injected — inside and outside China.