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Global Pulse: The world should fear Xi Jinping, Russia’s dose of nationalistic entertainment

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The world should fear Xi Jinping

The president of the world’s largest authoritarian state, in contrast to that of the United States, “walks with swagger abroad,” argues a piece in The Economist.

Xi Jinping might not just be the most powerful leader that China has had in a century. He might just be the most powerful leader in the world today, and that should make the international community wary.

“The United States is still the world’s most powerful country, but its leader is weaker at home and less effective abroad than any of his recent predecessors, not least because he scorns the values and alliances that underpin American influence.”

“Mr. Xi may think that concentrating more or less unchecked power over 1.4bn Chinese in the hands of one man is, to borrow one of his favourite terms, the “new normal” of Chinese politics. But it is not normal; it is dangerous. No one should have that much power. One-man rule is ultimately a recipe for instability in China, as it has been in the past—think of Mao and his Cultural Revolution. It is also a recipe for arbitrary behaviour abroad, which is especially worrying at a time when Mr Trump’s America is pulling back and creating a power vacuum. The world does not want an isolationist United States or a dictatorship in China. Alas, it may get both.”

Russia’s dose of nationalistic entertainment

“The Internet may attract more eyeballs than it used to, but Russia is still a television nation, and it is state-run or state-connected channels that have the largest audience,” Ferris-Rotman writes Amie Ferris-Rotman in Foreign Affairs.

The world may be convinced that Vladimir Putin is winning the next election is Russia, but the leader is in no mood to take his victory for granted. And for that, he’s not only shaping the narrative in the news, like he always has, but also in entertainment.

“As Russia’s relationship with the West has worsened, producers have found a soaring audience for shows using the tensions as a storyline. In the reality show Made in Russia, now in its third season on the state-run Moscow channel 360TV, young couples ditch their European-made car and clothes in an act of defiance against U.S. and European sanctions. Russia responded with its own counter-sanctions, including a ban on European food imports. The move initially hurt Russian consumers, but ended up boosting the domestic market. In this vein, the couples in ‘Made in Russia’ — whose logo is a barcode made of strands of wheat — discover that Russian products are of better quality anyway.

“The market for this kind of programing seems durable, at least for as long as Russia and the West remain locked in a standoff over Ukraine and other issues.”

Germany’s excuses for free-riding need to stop

Germany needs to come out of the shadow of its Nazi past, and play a bigger role in international security, writes Paul Taylor in Politico EU.

“Germans are right to criticize Western interventions in Iraq and Libya for having focused on short-term military success and neglected the disastrous aftermath. They are right to advocate a comprehensive approach to security problems including conflict prevention, development assistance, institution-building and empowerment of local security forces. But they are wrong to wrap themselves in a moral comfort blanket, parroting “there is no military solution” in all situations. Too often, that has been an excuse for free-riding.”

“Since Donald Trump’s election, Chancellor Angela Merkel has acknowledged that Europe cannot rely to the same extent on the United States and must instead take its fate into its own hands. As she starts coalition negotiations with the liberal Free Democrats and the Greens, responding to French President Emmanuel Macron’s challenge to build a European intervention force with a common defense budget and a common strategic doctrine should be high on the agenda.”

White nationalism could ruin the West

If there is a danger to the West today, it comes, not from Islamisation or immigration, but from White nationalism, writes Sasha Polakow-Suransky in The New York Times.

“Islamists are not on the verge of seizing power in any advanced Western democracy or even winning significant political influence at the polls.

“The same cannot be said of white nationalists, who today are on the march from Charlottesville, Va., to Dresden, Germany. As an ideology, white nationalism poses a significantly greater threat to Western democracies,” she argues.

“Far-right leaders are correct that immigration creates problems; what they miss is that they are the primary problem. The greatest threat to liberal democracies does not come from immigrants and refugees but from the backlash against them by those on the inside who are exploiting fear of outsiders to chip away at the values and institutions that make our societies liberal.”

Trump has ushered the US into a new century: the 19th century

Donald Trump often speaks about China “killing” the US, and that as president, he’s “tired” of hearing about China’s massive growth numbers. He should see that Beijing is attaining its growth by focusing on the future, and not being engaged in “a futile and quixotic quest to revive the industries of the past,” unlike Trump, writes Fareed Zakaria in The Washington Post.

China, he writes, “is making huge investments in clean energy. The country has become one of the world’s leading producers of wind turbines and solar panels, with government subsidies enabling its companies to become cost-efficient and global in their aspirations. In 2015, China was home to the world’s top wind-turbine maker and the top two solar-panel manufacturers. According to a recent report from the United Nations, China invested $78.3 billion in renewable energy last year — almost twice as much as the United States.

“Now Beijing is making a push into electric cars, hoping to dominate what it believes will be the transport industry of the future.”

This, at a time, when the Trump administration is busy declaring that “the war on coal is over”. “The Trump administration has decided to move into a new century: the 19th century,” Zakaria writes. “Who do you think is going to win?” he asks.

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