Dance with the dragon
China is being increasingly associated with the fire-breathing dragon, which in Western mythology was usually regarded as a monster that had to be destroyed. Such fire dragons also exist in Asia. But the East Asian dragon is an ambivalent creature with predominantly positive qualities: a symbol of fertility, of wealth, auspiciousness, goodness and intelligence – and of imperial power.
Similarly ambivalent is the brand name ‘Belt and Road’, which stands for world-wide infrastructure development, billion-dollar investments and integration into a “community with a shared future”. On one hand, it promises ‘New Silk Roads’, linking it to a historical, supposedly Golden Age of an equitable, flourishing interchange between China and Europe. On the other hand, it is being interpreted as a seductive web in which participating countries become entangled and dependent on Beijing’s power ambitions.
China’s global reach in all areas has long since progressed to the point where the dance with the dragon is in full swing. The music for it is currently being written by a wide variety of composers. One of the basic rules for this dance: don’t step too firmly on the dragon’s feet.
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- Ukraine-Russia: Those who are not with us ….For its answer to the war against Ukraine, the Western world is looking for partners all over the world. But after the unexpectedly widespread support in the United Nations for Russia’s condemnation, many countries of the Global South have since taken a rather more neutral attitude, because the escalation of the conflict goes against their own interests. There are signs of a new alliance emerging, which could benefit China in particular.
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- Merry-go-round in South AsiaIn the last week of March, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi was on a whirlwind tour in South Asia, where the relations of several countries with Beijing, and thus the geopolitical constellations, seem to be shifting. After talks in Pakistan, where a serious political crisis is darkening the future of a Belt & Road flagship, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor CPEC, and a fly-by in Kabul, which has already been interpreted as a first step towards recognising the Taliban government, he made a visit to Nepal after a sensational detour into India.