9 July 2024

The Dragon and Phoenix: How Beijing is Winning Battles in Its “Peaceful War” with the United States

Professor Patrick Mendis and Professor Antonina Luszczykiewicz-Mendis

Peaceful War?

With thriving diplomatic outreach and trade connectivity, China is heading for neither Cold War 2.0 nor a hot war—but manifesting the art of “Peaceful War.” Regardless of the national history, geography, and culture of each country, the significance of the red thread is that China is destined to be the unifying force in building a “community with a shared future for mankind” through trade and development.

China’s foreign policy agenda was shrewdly revised when President Xi Jinping’s new Defence Minister Dong Jun unveiled it at the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in June 2024. Admiral Dong depicted China as a benign power, whose military “never acts from the so-called position of strength.” It was indeed a sarcastic criticism of America’s perennial “peace through strength” doctrine, which is associated originally with President George Washington’s Farewell Address and more recently with President Ronald Reagan.

Ironically, however, China’s words contradict its actions. Mere days after Taiwan’s inauguration of its democratically elected president on 20 May 2024, Beijing staged aggressive military exercises encircling the island with Chinese vessels and aircraft.

Coincidentally, history is repeating itself—and not for the first time. For example, when President Barack Obama expressed concerns about the Chinese militarisation of artificial islands in the South China Sea (SCS) in 2015, President Xi assured him that China did not have such intentions. A year later, however, Beijing admitted that it was building “necessary military facilities” in the SCS; thus, breaking its promise to the US president of peaceful “Chimerican” leadership.

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