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Paranoia Drives China’s Approach to Foreign Policy – Journalist Joanna Chiu

In spite of China’s power and influence across the globe, its foreign policy is driven by paranoia and distrust, said Hong Kong-born journalist Joanna Chiu in a Zoom talk hosted by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club. 

The author of China Unbound: A New World Disorder, which details China’s rapid international rise and the ways Western nations have contributed to a state of global disorder, Chiu explained how her reporting revealed “paranoid rhetoric” and a tendency of United Front effort to focus on individuals and “no-names” who don’t pose a meaningful threat to the CCP. 

Asked to explain this paranoia, Chiu said it had everything to do with history. 

“That’s partly why I provide a lot of historical context, because I think to understand what Beijing’s doing, the great paranoia of Chinese leaders, it’s also important to understand the history of Western colonialism and imperialism in China,” said Chiu. “That’s a really important backdrop.”

She went on to explain that targeting individuals perhaps stemmed from the fact that past incidents such as the Taiping Rebellion had been started by ordinary people. She added that targeting overseas Chinese, who may not even identify with China in any meaningful way, reveals a paternalistic impulse of the CCP. 

In her book, Chiu examines the relationships between China and a number of Western countries including Turkey, Italy, Greece, Australia, Canada and the United States. She said all of these countries are experiencing increased tensions with China “where it’s no longer a war of words or diplomatic disputes — it’s in the economic sphere.”

Still, she said, she hoped her reporting helps to disprove a narrative that so-called middle powers have no negotiating power with regards to China.

“Western countries aren’t powerless”, said Chiu.

Watch the full discussion below:

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