"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Xi Jinping has officially been named China's new president. But what kind of leader will he be? And what does it mean for ties with the United States? Fareed speaks with Roderick MacFarquhar, Harvard University professor of history and political science, and the New Yorker’s China correspondent, Evan Osnos, about new Chinese President Xi Jinping.
When people look at his first moves, they point out that he went to one of the fast growing provinces that’s traditionally seen as a kind of sign that you support economic reform. Is that a fair analysis of that trip?
Osnos: What he did was he went down to the origins, the birthplace of the Chinese boom. And he draped himself in the flag of economic success. And he said, I will give you the “Chinese dream,” his term. This has been his innovation, his rhetorical innovation is what he calls the China dream. And it is a lot like the American dream. It's the idea that every child can get an education, you can start a business. What he's saying is recognition of the fact that Chinese people are a bit frustrated these days, and that after 30 years of economic growth, he needs to reinvigorate the idea that if you aspire to something in China, that it is a level playing field and the system is not stacked against you.
Another piece of what he's been doing has been he's visited some army units. And he has said some things that lead to people to say that this is a kind of strange alliance. There's, on the other hand, talk of economic reform, and, on the other hand, there's a real nationalism, real Chinese nationalism.
MacFarquhar: I think he knows that the only legitimizing factor really left to the Communist Party is that they conquered China and that the People's Liberation Army was the unit that conquered China for the party and that nationalism is what links the people, the party and the military. And so he is in charge of the affairs that are going on in the East China Sea at that moment. And, he is playing a quite a dangerous game. I'm sure that he does not want any conflict, any hostilities with Japan, but things can go wrong.
The hacking, that seems to me another sign of a more assertive China, a China that is willing to play by the rules in its own way and defy those rules that it wants to.
Osnos: Yes, for years, one of the theories has been that this is a loosely coordinated group of independent, patriotic hackers who are operating under the kind of general leadership of the party. I think that era is over. We now know this is a concerted, serious effort that is targeting not just political targets in the United States and American agencies, but also an enormous effort at industrial espionage, going into companies and pulling out as much of the blueprints as possible. There's a saying these days in the cyber crowd which is, there's only two kinds of companies, the ones that have been hacked and the ones that don't know they've been hacked.
What does it say about China's attitude toward the United States now? Because the one aspect of Deng Xiaoping's policy that was followed by the next two of his successors was be nice to the Americans, you know, accept American hegemony. The Chinese would generally abstain rather than vote with the U.S. in the Security Council. But the general idea was we've got to do economic development and we need America for membership in the World Trade Organization, for these kinds of things. Has that fundamental calculus changed?
MacFarquhar: I don't think the calculus has changed, but I think that the Chinese are beginning, since about '09, and '10, to feel their strength and to exhibit it, especially vis-a-vis their Southeast Asian neighbors. They are furious about the pivot to Asia. They seem to be detecting that Kerry will not be pivoting quite so much to Asia, which will be good for them. But I think they realize that America is the most open economy in the world that they can sell to. And [it’s] a place which they'd like to hack into, but that they have to preserve relations with it. And I think the next move is actually in President Obama's court. What is he going to do about this hacking?