One has to ask, what changed in the mind of President Xi? Before the pandemic spread to the West President Xi was extremely careful not to antagonize America by over-responding to civil unrest in Hong Kong. Contrastingly, he is now aggressively subjugating Hong Kong while the world suffers from this pandemic. This action should lead to the sounding of alarm bells in all Western governments.
Xi’s strategy has changed so dramatically because pre-pandemic he was still trying to placate America and maximise his trade outcomes (despite secretly undermining the American order and building up his economic and military strength). However, in a post-pandemic world where China’s hegemonic ambitions are blatant, coupled with Western knowledge that China is responsible for the spread of Covid, Xi knows his manipulative game is up. China is now viewed as a dangerous strategic competitor. Resultantly, Xi has been forced to accelerate his plans. The consequence is a much more brazen hegemonic challenge than the world has previously seen.
The first sign of Xi’s gear shift was the recent annexation of Hong Kong. Xi knew it would no longer act as a conduit to the West and obviously made the judgment that, as the Second Cold War walls rise, its utility would be limited. Hence, the annexation. Trump's response in removing the special trading status means America recognises China’s annexation. This act has only served to fuel American fears and secondary polarisation.
Meanwhile, almost unreported by all but the London Times, Xi made a speech that holds chilling reminders of past dictators.
“We must explore ways to train and prepare for war when pandemic control efforts are normalized. We must hasten preparations for armed warfare, carry out real combat military training with flexibility, to comprehensively enhance our army abilities to perform military missions.”
President Xi Jinping
Xi carried on to say this pandemic has had a profound change on the global order. This comment carried a heavy implication that America had been severely weakened and highlights China’s disparaging view of America as growing ever more feeble.
Simultaneously, senior general Wei Fenghe stated US-Sino strategic competition had entered a new stage of high risk. Fenghe said “We must strengthen our fighting spirit and be good at fighting and use it to promote stability!”
As I predicted, China is accelerating the arms race with the view of securing its Hegemonic ambitions. Increasingly isolated and militarised, China is enacting a version of Hitler's 4 Year Plan of 1936. This plan militarised the German economy and prepared it for Hitler’s impending expansion. Sound familiar? That’s because it is. My estimate is that Xi possesses a similar time frame and will seek to be powerful enough to directly challenge America by 2025. However, before this point is reached, we should expect to see more annexations by China within the First Island Chain. This in turn risks a proxy conflict with America and will be a test of intention and military capacity that France and Britain failed in the late 1930’s. We all know where that mistake led. We can only hope America robustly rebuffs China’s expansion if and when it does occur to avoid the same outcome. Make no mistake, this situation is deadly serious. Worryingly, it will become even more so, with the passage of time.