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Why Is The Washington Post Rehabilitating President Xi’s Image In The Western Consciousness?
To be clear, this remarkable narrative event doesn’t mean that the Sino-American discussions over a New Détente will ultimately succeed, but just that enough progress has thus far been made by these two superpowers over the past month to begin preconditioning the Western public to accept a potential series of mutual compromises aimed at establishing a balance of influence between them.
A remarkable narrative event occurred on Sunday when the Washington Post (WaPo), which is regarded as one of the US’ premier platforms for managing public perceptions and considered to be connected to its national security apparatus, began rehabilitating President Xi’s image. In their piece about how “A more pragmatic Xi Jinping launches a global charm offensive for China”, the outlet praised the Chinese leader for the positive interactions that he shared with his Western counterparts since October.
The reason why this is worthy of analysis is because the US has repeatedly insisted that China is its only peer competitor capable of reshaping the international system. The ongoing New Cold War between the US-led West’s Golden Billion and the jointly BRICS- & SCO-led Global South of which China is considered by many to be the leader (for now at least) is over whether the global systemic transition should largely retain the trappings of unipolarity or continue evolving towards multipolarity.
Be that as it is, “The Ukrainian Conflict Might Have Already Derailed China’s Superpower Trajectory”, hence why “Kissinger’s Prediction About A Forthcoming Policy Recalibration By China Is Probably Correct”. This globally renowned China expert forecast in early October that the confluence of systemic crises beginning with the trade war and continuing into COVID and the Ukrainian Conflict would compel the People’s Republic to reach out to the West in order to de-escalate tensions for the time being.
Late last month, “The Daily Beast Shared Some Surprisingly Accurate Assessments Of Chinese Interests” that placed President Xi’s positive interactions with his Western counterparts into their appropriate grand strategic context. Those meetings preceded the resumption of talks between the American and Chinese Defense Ministers in Cambodia, which signaled that discussions over a New Détente are actively underway between them when analyzed in sequence exactly as Kissinger presciently predicted.
The preceding concept refers to their attempt to reach a series of mutual compromises aimed at establishing a pragmatic balance of influence that’ll serve as the “new normal”. Considering their superpower status in the present bi-multipolar intermediary phase of the global systemic transition, it follows that they have shared interests in retaining the status quo instead of allowing those Indian-led multipolar processes unleashed by the Ukrainian Conflict to continue proliferating uncontrollably.
Their talks have seemingly made some progress ahead of Secretary of State Blinken’s planned trip to Beijing early next year as evidenced by WaPo’s attempt to rehabilitate President Xi’s image in the Western consciousness. This remarkable narrative event wouldn’t have been undertaken had that outlet’s national security partners not tacitly approved of them doing so seeing as how their countries are still officially locked in a fierce competition over the direction of the global systemic transition.
Up until this point, President Xi was framed by them as a “power-hungry anti-Western dictator” that’s supposedly obsessed with China surpassing the US in all respects as soon as possible for purely dogmatic ideological reasons. This weaponized information warfare narrative was meant to generate public support for America’s attempts to comprehensively contain the People’s Republic despite the increasing risk of this resulting in a major war by miscalculation.
That’s why it’s so surprising that one of its premier platforms for managing public perceptions is now conspicuously walking back its prior demonization of the Chinese leader by proactively informing their targeted audience about how “pragmatic” his “global charm offensive” has been. The dog whistle being blown by this powerful tool of the US’ national security apparatus is that those comparatively less influential outlets should follow its lead in gradually rehabilitating President Xi’s reputation.
This is being down to facilitate the potential success of these two superpowers’ ongoing talks over a New Détente with regards to preconditioning the public to expect a series of mutual compromises between them aimed at establishing a pragmatic balance of influence that’ll serve as the “new normal”. The past half-decade of demonizing the Chinese leader reshaped public perceptions of him in the Western consciousness, which is why WaPo needs to prepare its audience for this possible outcome.
Failing to do so could result in serious cognitive dissonance if folks were all of a sudden told by their leaders that China is no longer their so-called “top peer competitor” and that the US has instead decided to roll back its prior comprehensive containment campaign against the People’s Republic. To be clear, this remarkable narrative event doesn’t mean that those two superpowers’ discussions over a New Détente will ultimately succeed, but just that enough progress has thus far been made to take that step.
Looking forward, observers should closely monitor other prominent Western outlets to see whether they start following WaPo’s lead. It’s expected that more of them will slowly but surely do so provided that progress on their ongoing discussions continues ahead of Blinken’s planned visit to China early next year. It’s too early to confidently predict the contours of whatever series of pragmatic compromises might be agreed to, but that doesn’t mean that experts shouldn’t start brainstorming now just in case.