Amerikas Ärger mit China

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Xi Jinping, Chinas neu erkorener Präsident, machte seinen ersten Besuch in den USA im Mai 1980. Er war ein junger Offizier von 27 Jahren, der Geng Biao begleitete, damals Vizepremier und Chinas führender Militär. Geng war im Januar davor mein Gastgeber gewesen, als ich als erster US-Verteidigungsminister als Gesprächspartner für die Regierung von Präsident Jimmy Carter China besuchte.

Die Amerikaner hatten damals wenig Grund, Xi zu beachten, aber seine Vorgesetzten erkannten sein Potenzial eindeutig. In den folgenden 32 Jahren wuchs Xis Bedeutung – parallel mit Chinas wirtschaftlicher und militärischer Stärke. Der Aufstieg seiner Altersgruppe an den Gipfel der Macht markiert den Rückzug der letzten Führungsgeneration, die noch von Deng Xiaoping ernannt wurde (auch wenn diese weiter einflussreich bleibt).

Trotz Chinas größerem Gewicht in internationalen Angelegenheiten sieht sich Xi internen Belastungen gegenüber, die China anfälliger machen als gemeinhin wahrgenommen. Chinas exportorientiertes Wirtschaftmodell stößt an seine Grenzen, und der Übergang zu einem durch die Binnennachfrage getragenen Wachstum verschärft die inneren Spannungen. Unruhen durch Repressionen zu kontrollieren ist heute schwieriger als früher, da rapide Urbanisierung, Wirtschaftsreformen und gesellschaftlicher Wandel dieses Land mit seinen 1,3 Milliarden Einwohnern aufwühlen. Und auch ethnische Konflikte in den abgelegenen Regionen werden Xis politische Führung auf die Probe stellen.

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