China's new law strengthens Xi Jinping's control over the West

On duty at Tiananmen sq\. are paramilitary police

With a new law that will promote Beijing's interests on the international stage, China is enhancing Xi Jinping's already enormous power.

Although the law makes threats to punish those who behave in a "detrimental" way to China's interests, it is vague about where those boundaries should lie.

Experts claim that the law highlights China's assertive diplomacy, but it is unclear how actively it will be applied once it goes into effect on July 1.

After all, China has been eager to lure foreign capital after Covid.

A lot of the law is "relatively empty rhetoric and largely familiar," according to University of Pennsylvania law and political science professor Jacques deLisle, but it signals a more assertive foreign policy and stronger pushback against the US.

The law, according to state-run media outlet The Global Times, is "a key step to enrich the legal toolbox against Western hegemony.".

It is a "signal," according to Dr. Chong Ja-Ian, a non-resident scholar at Carnegie China, that Beijing intends to "actively pursue their interests through methods that include more coercion and pressure, even as they hold out the attraction of cooperation and economic gains.".

According to Manoj Kewalramani, who oversees the China Studies Programme at Indian think tank the Takshashila Institution, China's leaders navigate an "inherent tension" between the preservation of national security and interests and the pursuit of economic development.

This tug-of-war is most likely to continue, he said.

Particularly in recent years, relations between Beijing and Washington have deteriorated as the two superpowers have traded a number of reciprocal trade sanctions.

The local offices of several consulting firms with US headquarters have been raided and shut down by Chinese authorities this year, among other actions they have taken against Western companies.

These actions are frequently seen as retaliatory responses to US trade and technology restrictions that are escalating.

It forbade the sale of last month's Micron memory chip products.

The new foreign relations law, according to Dr. Chong, may increase international adherence to China's interests but may also elicit opposition from other governments.

If they haven't already, foreign companies may want to reevaluate their market exposure in China or the public stances they take, including those related to politics.

The legislation, according to him, "provides more legal support for the raids and inquiries into foreign firms that have already been occurring.".

The law does not, however, ensure that China will take these more forceful measures.

Elon Musk and Jamie Dimon, two prominent US business leaders who recently visited China to highlight the significance of that country for the US economy.

The way the law defines China's foreign relations in the context of ideology, according to experts, is particularly striking.

The law states that the People's Republic of China engages in international relations in order to uphold its system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, protect its sovereignty, unification, and territorial integrity, and advance its economic and social development.

It continues by saying that, among other political ideologies, China conducts its foreign policy "under the guidance of" those of Xi Jinping, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Marxism-Leninism.

The law formalizes for the first time that foreign policy is controlled by the ruling Communist Party rather than the government. It also shows how tightly Mr. Xi is holding onto power.

Dr. deLisle noted that the law "is startlingly explicit on party leadership over foreign relations, underscoring the Xi era trends of migration of power - from the state to the party, and within the party, to Xi.".

Wang Yi, China's top diplomat, referred to it as "an important measure to strengthen the Communist Party Central Committee's centralized and unified leadership over foreign affairs" in an editorial that appeared in the state-run People's Daily on Thursday.   .

Mr. Kewalramani claimed that the new law might also stifle debate and disagreement over matters of foreign policy.

But, according to him, understanding its broad implications will depend on how the courts interpret the law and the amount of punishment assessed over time.

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