What fundamental misunderstandings does the Chinese leadership have about western governments and western foreign policy?
Chinese leadership understand very well how Western government works, but seem to have deeply misjudged what is currently happening in the West.
They spent decades learning the inner workings of global politics and law from the most prestigious schools and networks in the world but they failed to see how much out of touch it was, and how much people wanted to take it down.
Hate and distrust against these institutions have grown in Western democracies, to the point where they are almost becoming irrelevant.
Imagine you spend years learning English at university to become good friend with this powerful guy at Harvard. Suddenly, time has passed and
- o surprise - he got replaced by this other guy after an election. The newly elected guy is part of a gang that follows him everywhere. He is violent, rude and want to fight all the time. He did not even go to high school. You have heard his name only once a few years ago, but never talked to him before. He does not like you.
In US and Europe, the leadership style is shifting from a moderate, educated and business-oriented globalism, to an aggressive, anti-institutional and strong-handed nationalism. The priority is not business and opulence anymore, it is strength and order.
The Chinese leadership seems underprepared to deal with the new generation of Western (fascist) leaders to come - hint : some are in power already. Beijing seems to have quite a poor understanding of how these trends are unfolding in the population and how far this new leaders will go. Their newly-acquired Western education is at their disadvantage here. One elected, the new guys do not really want business achievements, they want military victories. They see war as an opportunity and international trade as a risk. You can not buy out this people with money because they don ‘t really care about it. They want to win big time and make noise, not to be rich and quiet like the old technocrats before.
How Beijing will accommodate with this new trend remains to be seen, but it will require a shift in their approach for sure. Especially, it will require them to understand better how they can connect not only to leaders, but to the Western population itself as it is the only thing that may assure them peace.
This text was originally published in quora.