DENVER – Not long ago, China was a soft-power juggernaut. Media accounts highlighted Chinese leaders’ thoughtful forays abroad, depicting policymakers that were respectful of others’ opinions, willing to listen, humble to a fault, and reluctant to dispense unsolicited advice. Here was a country that was content to allow its own example of success to speak for itself.
Those days are over. Today, China, like many large countries, is allowing its internal political battles to shape how it interacts with the world, especially with neighbors whose sensitivities it seems entirely willing to ignore. (Indeed, with alarm bells sounding throughout the region, the United States’ “pivot to Asia,” widely derided for its clumsy rollout and unintended consequences, now seems wise and prudent.)