June 14, 2024

China’s self-defeating Dutch gun barrel diplomacy

Its apply of coercive energy at dwelling may guarantee its energy at dwelling, however the Chinese Communist Party’s apply of coercive energy overseas usually weakens its political pursuits overseas. Just as Xi Jinping locations far an excessive amount of confidence in Mao Zedong’s statist financial theories, so additionally does he place an excessive amount of religion in Mao’s lesson that “Every Communist must grasp the truth, ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.’”

This bears observe in mild of China’s coverage towards the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is essential to China, as a result of China is determined to safe the Dutch authorities’s allowance of continued exports by Dutch semiconductor producer ASML. The Dutch authorities is below vital stress from the United States to additional prohibit ASML exports to China, reflecting U.S. fears that China will use these exports to spice up its navy capabilities. The Netherlands has launched quite a lot of China-focused restrictions lately.

In flip, the Chinese Embassy to the Netherlands pushes a public narrative that Beijing seeks solely win-win cooperation with the Netherlands. It says ASML exports profit each nations and that the Netherlands ought to reject U.S. arguments on the contrary. Interviewed in January, Ambassador Tan Jian declared, “We don’t want to see things go from bad to worse. We should enhance dialogue, understand each other and see how we can join hands or work together.” In a speech final month, Tan supplied his “hope the Netherlands will continue to uphold free and open trade, contributing to the stability of the global supply chains.” He concluded, “Allow me to repeat my favorite line: China is part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

On paper, Tan’s rosy let’s-be-friends method makes way more sense than the “wolf warrior” threats he previously issued in 2023. ASML exports are economically profitable for the agency and for the Dutch financial system. ASML has a new soft-spoken CEO who’s determined to keep up commerce ties with China. And whereas he has been eager to keep up U.S. support for his bid to steer NATO, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has usually proceeded slowly in proscribing ASML exports to China. Chinese public diplomacy that presents U.S. stress as self-interested and towards Dutch pursuits may feasibly pay dividends.

The drawback is that Xi and the Communist Party elite can’t resist coercive energy and the pursuit of zero-sum success. As a living proof, the Chinese intelligence providers have repeatedly been called out by the Netherlands for his or her aggressive espionage focusing on that nation. This has understandably broken China’s standing with the Dutch individuals. And now China has began one other spat.

Last week, a helicopter working off of a Dutch warship within the East China Sea was aggressively intercepted by two People’s Liberation Army fighter jets and a helicopter. The Dutch complained that the harassment in worldwide airspace and waters “created a potentially unsafe situation.” Rather than let the matter relaxation there, nevertheless, China struck again with a hyperbolic onslaught on Tuesday. As a PLA spokesman put it, “We sternly warn the Dutch side to strictly restrain the actions of its maritime and air forces, and any infringement and provocation will be firmly countered by the Chinese side.” He added that the gentle Dutch intercept grievance had “distorted the facts” of the PLA’s “completely legal and reasonable” intercept and that China had “made serious representations” in response to it.


This completely unjustified exercise and ensuing fury will clearly irritate the Dutch authorities and folks. Their warship and helicopter have been working in worldwide waters and airspace. Their conduct posed no risk to China. In response, nevertheless, the Chinese first threatened the protection of Dutch navy personnel and have now issued additional threats towards them. Quite how this comports with Tan’s “favorite line” insistence that “China is part of the solution, not part of the problem” is unclear.

Regardless, this dichotomy between rosy rhetoric in public and aggressive motion behind the scenes speaks to 2 key factors: first, the Communist Party’s fetish for the duplicitous pursuit of zero-sum victories, and second, its incapacity to acknowledge that coercive motion doesn’t all the time translate to Party success.

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