We are in a second Cold War with China. That’s the conclusion many experts have come to as they observe China’s increasingly aggressive behaviour beyond its borders – its suppression of democracy in Hong Kong, its sabre-rattling towards Taiwan, the vast espionage offensive against the West’s technology, not to mention the confrontational tone of its new ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy.
So how should the West respond? Some say that giving President Xi and his elites a slap on the wrist is not enough: we need to get tough with deeds, not just words. We should sanction the Chinese leaders responsible for the abuse of human rights, both on the mainland and in Hong Kong, and our political leaders should boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022. If we really care about maintaining the liberal democratic world order we should be prepared to take a hit and stop prioritising our supply chains over our values.
That’s the argument of the China hawks, but not everyone agrees. Some believe that coexistence with China, not confrontation, should be the West’s goal. After all, allowing tensions to escalate to an actual war is too horrific to contemplate. We should put our faith in diplomacy and work to persuade the Chinese leadership that it is in their best interests to cooperate within the existing world order, instead of trying to dominate it.
Which side is right?
Speakers subject to change.