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Xi not a dictator?

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(TibetanReview.net, Sep19’23) – China has on Oct 18 strongly objected to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s Sep 14 citing of its President Xi Jinping as among “dictators” who should not be allowed to derive satisfaction from Russia winning its war in Ukraine.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said in Beijing on Sep 28 that the remarks calling Xi a dictator were “extremely absurd, seriously infringing on China’s political dignity, and are an open political provocation,” reported the German news agency DPA 18.

Mao has added that China disagreed with Baerbock’s comments on Xi and had contacted Germany through diplomatic channels to address the issue.

Also, the German Foreign Office in Berlin confirmed Sep 18 evening that Ambassador Patricia Flor had been summoned for a meeting on Sep 17, the report said.

It was during an interview with US network Fox News on Sep 14, while she was in Texas, that Baerbock, commenting on Russia’s war in Ukraine and about Russian President Vladimir Putin, said: “If Putin were to win this war, what sign would that be for other dictators in the world, like Xi, like the Chinese president?”

Baerbock added: “Therefore Ukraine has to win this war. Freedom and democracy have to win.”

* * *

This is not the first time China has shown sensitivity towards how foreign leaders refer to Xi. In June, US President Joe Biden also referred to Xi as a “dictator,” sparking a fierce backlash from Beijing.

At that time, China’s Foreign Ministry said Biden’s comments “seriously contradict basic facts and seriously violate diplomatic etiquette.”

Before that, in 2000, Xi’s predecessor Jiang Zemin famously objected to being called a “dictator” in a spirited exchange with American journalist Mike Wallace on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” noted edition.cnn.com Sep 19.

Jiang, who died aged 96 last year, is remembered by many Chinese as a symbol for a bygone era when China was perceived to be freer and less ideologically driven under a system known as “collective leadership”.

However, since coming to power a decade ago, Xi has dismantled that system and moved back towards something much more closely resembling a one-man rule.

* * *

This summer, the German government announced its first-ever China strategy document which calls for reducing the country’s dependence on China.

However, Berlin says it does not want to “decouple” from the world’s second-largest economy, as China is extremely important to Germany’s export-oriented economy. It has sought to reset relations with Beijing while also trying to reduce its economic dependency on it.

Germany’s current government is made up of a centre-left coalition of parties that accompanied the stepping down of Angela Merkel in late 2021 after 16 years at the helm of Europe’s largest economy.

Foreign minister Baerbock belongs to Germany’s Greens party and has pushed for a tougher stance on China, especially on the issues of human rights and Taiwan – a self-governing democracy that Beijing claims as its own.

In August, she told an Australian think-tank that China posed a challenge to the “fundamentals of how we live together in this world.”

Her address drew a searing commentary from China’s state-run Global Times, which accused her of “smearing China” and holding “deep-rooted prejudice” against the country, the report noted.

The report also said that during a visit to Beijing in April, Baerbock warned that any attempt by China to control Taiwan would be unacceptable. She has also said Beijing was increasingly becoming a systemic rival more than a trade partner and competitor.

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