In light of the changes happening in the structure of the international system, which is moving away from unipolarity towards a state of multipolarity, in addition to the escalation of tensions between China and Taiwan, fueled by international interventions, a very important question arises: Can China continue to climb the international hierarchy peacefully?
Any observer of Chinese success at the international level knows that hard power was not the main basis for Chinese moves, as is the case in international relations, for example, if we examine the rise of the United States to the throne of world leadership, we find that it used hard power from the Vietnam War to Afghanistan, the Cold War and others.
However, China has mainly relied on soft power since it first opened its doors to the world and started competing with the US for world dominance.
China managed to obtain an important position in the new international system to formulate a successful foreign policy and draw a positive image in the world in a volatile time.
Watching Xi Jinping’s speech, observers found that he was trying to mend modern international relations using the distinct traditional Chinese culture, using quotes such as “relatives and neighbours wish each other well”, “a good neighbour cannot be bought with the treasures of the world”, “if brothers worked together, the doors of wealth would open for them”, and other sayings that indicate that China is trying to employ traditional Chinese culture as an active soft power in its foreign policy.
Therefore, China is confirming that it is keen on employing its culture as a basis for its political moves, giving “Confucian principles” an important place in the Chinese political language, as it represents an essential part of the Chinese cultural traditions that call for rapprochement between people, spreading peace, renouncing wars, cooperation and harmony to build a global community.
However, the Chinese-American competition is witnessing rapid changes so it is impossible to say with certainty that China will maintain its foreign policy principles.
If we examine the escalating tension between China and Taiwan, particularly in 2022, we find that things got pretty heated, as China sent more than 1,700 warplanes to the Taiwanese air defence zone, carried out 101 incursions with bombers, and for the first time Taipei recorded 71 incursions with Chinese drones.
Therefore, it is clear that these developments are threatening the peaceful rise of China, so it is difficult to rule out that Beijing will not resort to hard power in its foreign relations, especially as it views Taiwan as a penetration area, which Washington is trying to use to weaken and influence China’s international rise.
Moreover, the war of ideology occupies an important place in the international competition between the United States and China.
While China is trying to employ soft power to serve its rise in the international system, promote its Confucian principles, spread peace, renounce wars, and cooperate to build a global community, we find the US trying to detonate the situation between China and Taiwan, to keep Beijing surrounded by tensions and unable to expand its influence outside the East Asian region, evidenced by the continuation of the American provocations, the latest of which is the crossing of an American destroyer through the Taiwan Strait, as this allows Washington to weaken the soft power and peaceful principles, which China uses to paint a positive image of itself while it climbs the international hierarchy.