What is the Chinese government afraid of?
Hardly any other country in the world, with the exception of the completely paranoid North Korea, has sealed itself off as much in the past few months as China. Once dozens of machines flew back and forth between Germany and the People's Republic every day, today there are only a handful of connections - per week. If you get a visa for China, you have to go into excruciatingly long quarantine after landing and endure a number of tests - including an anal swab.
The Chinese government wants to prevent a re-import of the coronavirus, but not only that. This year's conference of the National People's Congress shows: The successful opening policy of the past decades, the time of cooperation is over. The pandemic has only accelerated this process. The leadership in Beijing has long been arming itself militarily and is adopting a threateningly nationalist tone. China is on the verge of becoming a state that threatens to burst with strength and overconfidence.
The People's Liberation Army must concentrate on "combat readiness", China's state and party leader Xi Jinping recently ordered his generals. The new five-year plan from 2021 to 2025 is a good start to strengthen national defense and the armed forces.
An attack on Taiwan suddenly seems realistic
In America, therefore, the scenario of a Chinese attack on Taiwan is already being played out. In the next six years, a Chinese first strike is quite possible, said the Asia-Pacific commander of the US Navy to the Senate in Washington. Until recently, such considerations were considered absurd. But who could have imagined that soldiers would be killed in border disputes with Indian troops in the Himalayas? That hadn't happened since 1962, until several men died last summer.
For years Beijing had tried to convince the citizens of Taiwan to reunite along the lines of Hong Kong. One country, two systems, that was the formula. Nobody really wants to believe in this model after the People's Congress introduced a draconian security law in the former British crown colony last year and is now followed by an electoral reform that finally cripples Hong Kong's self-sufficiency.
Beijing ignores international protests; it begins with making one's own economy sanction-proof. The economic dependence on the rest of the world is to be systematically reduced. To this end, Xi Jinping is pursuing the strategy of "dual cycles". In the "internal cycle" the demand in the People's Republic should be strengthened, and there should be a lot of money for research and development. In the new five-year plan, seven key areas are identified that are to be specifically subsidized: artificial intelligence and quantum information, brain research, semiconductor construction, genetic research and biotechnology, clinical medicine and research into space, the deep sea and the polar regions.
The "external cycle" - that is, international trade and investments from abroad - is only given a supporting role. The world may need China, especially economically. But China is preparing to do without the world.
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