Xi Jinping’s policies are not working, China is stumbling: Fareed Zakaria

Veteran journalist and geopolitical expert Fareed Zakaria spoke to India today about the pressure and tension building in China as the country experiences economic slowdown. Fareed Zakaria said that China is stumbling and its policies are failing.

“They are going for zero-Covid and they are getting zero growth,” Fareed Zakaria said.

Referring to Chinese Premier Le Keqiang, who raised alarm over the country’s economic growth, Zakaria said, “Just this morning, Le Keqiang said that they are not growing as a country.Their estimate for this year was 5.5 per cent. It will be the first time in 46 years that the United States will grow faster than China.”

Talking about Chinese President Xi Jinping, Fareed Zakaria said, “Xi’s policies are not working, but he has a very tight grip on power. The whole anti-corruption sweep allowed him to eliminate a lot of his enemies and rivals. It will take more than these few months of bad policy and bad outcomes to dislodge him.”

Contrasting democratic countries with China and Russia, Zakaria said, “At the end of the day, whatever PM Modi does, there are checks. There are checks on power that remind you that you’re human. Imagine living in Putin’s world, or Xi’s world, where there is never any pushback.”

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He added, “If they don’t course correct, it will lead to a scenario of China slowdown. Chinese growth will move more into the 4 per cent range, which is very bad for them given their demographic. They need growth, they are still only a middle-income country. The forces that propelled China’s growth were the private sectors…The state-owned enterprises of China are as badly run as the state-run parts of the Indian economy.

“Unless there is course correction, I suspect a significant Chinese slowdown for several years,” Fareed Zakaria said.

Can India take advantage of China’s slowing growth?

When asked the implication of Chinese economic slowdown on India, Fareed Zakaria said, “India is the best country positioned to take advantage of these concerns about China in light of both external and internal concerns. Externally, the concerns are that China is becoming expansionist and predatory. Internally, the concerns are about China’s slowing growth. India is perfectly positioned to pick up slack in some areas by manufacturing goods at a lower price than China and more.”

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“India needs a more open, business-friendly, and can-do attitude. India needs to cut down mountains of red tape that still exists. PM Modi is doing a good job economically and has implemented second-tier reforms,” Fareed Zakaria told India Today.

China’s economic policy a threat to India

The geopolitical expert also underlined the threat aimed at India through Chinese foreign economic policy.

“From a strategic point of view India has to be worried about a Chinese foreign economic policy that is strategically oriented in a way that encircles India. The ports that China seems to be financing do seem to be encircling one country (India),” Fareed Zakaria pointed out.

Talking about the situation in South Asia, Fareed Zakaria referred to crisis in Sri Lanka as well as the growing proximity between China and Pakistan.

“The circumstances behind Sri Lankan crisis were unusual and countries have become more aware (of China’s debt trap),” Zakaria said, adding, “India has to accept that Pakistan has essentially aligned itself with China and that has larger strategic implications. China is allying itself with a neighbouring county with a history of hostility, disputed territories, and a history of sending militancy with the objective of de-stabilising India.”

He said that a possible solution is that “India may try to have a working relationship with Pakistan to diffuse some of that crisis.”

Border dispute between India, China

Talking about the border dispute between India and China, Fareed Zakaria said, “I am surprised that China has not made more of an effort to ease tensions with India. It is another example of Xi Jinping’s non-pragmatic policy. China has resolved border disputed with 15 countries around them. The one country that they have not resolved with is India.”

“Part of it is because it involves Tibet. When it comes to China, on the issues that it regards as integrity of Chinese territory and creating a kind of Han-dominated China, they have always been hardlined. And maybe India falls into that. Maybe they view India as the only country in Asia that could equal them,” Fareed Zakaria told India Today.

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