From Strategic Culture
Two very different faces of world leadership were on display this week. In Beijing, President Xi Jinping delivered a bold, outward-looking vision of Chinese global leadership. Meanwhile, in Washington President Donald Trump was embroiled in yet more egotistical infighting and tawdry claims of media lies.
Addressing the 19th congress of China's Communist Party, 64-year-old Xi was reelected for a second five-year term. He is being talked about as the greatest Chinese leader since Mao Zedong who led the country's founding revolution in 1949. With dignified composure, Xi spoke to the Great Hall of the People about "a new era of modern socialism... open to the world."
The Washington DC-based Council on Foreign Relations headlined: "Xi Asserts China's Global Leadership Role."
The BBC reported Xi as telling the more than 2,000 delegates: "China has entered a new era in which it should take centre-stage in the world."
Reuters reported: "In what was probably an indirect reference to US President Donald Trump's America First policy, Xi promised that China would be fully engaged with the world, and reiterated pledges to tackle climate change. Trump this year opted to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate pact."
"No country can alone address the many challenges facing mankind; no country can afford to retreat into self-isolation," Xi told delegates during a three-and-half-hour address.
Reuters again: "Xi set bold long-term goals for China's development, envisioning it as a modernized socialist country by 2035, and a modern socialist strong power with leading influence on the world stage by 2050."
Fair enough, cynics may balk at "promise fatigue" and snipe that the Chinese leader's rhetoric was heavy on aspiration and light on specific enabling details.
However, there is no denying that Xi was this week offering a vision of ambitious possibility for social progress and internationalism.
Contrary to American leadership and Trump in particular, Chinese characteristics of global leadership are not marked by knuckle-dragging domination, militarism and aggression. The emphasis from the Chinese leader is on global cooperation and multilateralism. In short, a peaceful and prosperous world.
Contrast that to Trump's tirade before the UN General Assembly last month when he rhetorically swaggered and threatened nations with "total destruction."
In that regard, Russian President Vladimir Putin shares the same leadership qualities as China's Xi. No wonder the two leaders are visibly comfortable when they meet publicly, as they have done more frequently than any other two current heads of state. Quietly, with dignity, the two men seem driven to create a more progressive, peaceful world of co-development and co-existence -- in spite of American proclivities to create a world of chaos, conflict and hegemony.
While Xi Jinping was conducting himself with dignity and dedication, on the other side of the world, physically and metaphorically, Trump was behaving like the antithesis.
Again this week, Trump was bragging about massive tax cuts for the already mega-rich; about imposing stricter travel bans on foreigners; about ripping up international accords (the Iran nuclear deal); and showing appalling disrespect for his own country's military men and women -- despite at other times boasting about American military might.
Trump's embarrassing boorishness is getting so bad, senior Republicans are deploring the country's "lack of leadership." Arizona Senator John McCain lamented that "America's leadership and ideals are absent." Last week, another senior Republican Senator, Bob Corker, said Trump was behaving like someone who should be confined to "an adult care center" and whose reckless rants are endangering the planet with World War III.
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).