Wang Zhao/Stringer

The West’s Decline Would Hurt China

From the British vote to leave the EU to the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump in the US, these are trying times for Western democracies. While Chinese leaders may be tempted to gloat, their own legitimacy depends on the success of countries that are, after all, China's main trading partners.

HONG KONG – Official Chinese media are having a field day touting the dysfunction of Western democracies. Between the British vote to “Brexit” the European Union and the nomination of Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for the US presidency, not to mention increasingly frequent terrorist attacks, they have plenty of evidence. But the truth is that the West’s loss is not China’s gain.

The hope, of course, is that the current travails of democracies around the world could boost the credibility of the Chinese Communist Party. And, indeed, a commentary in People’s Daily, the CCP’s official newspaper, portrayed the Brexit vote as a reflection of the fundamental flaws of Western democracies. The same paper used Trump’s rise to show that, in the American system, political leaders are “helpless” to address “complex social conflicts” like racial tensions and other sources of popular discontent.

The Global Times, an ultra-nationalist tabloid affiliated with the People’s Daily, seemed to suggest that recent terrorist attacks in the West were a harbinger of some kind of democratic apocalypse. The West may be facing some mysterious and unthinkable “change,” intoned the tabloid.

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