China 2023: still on course for expansion?

China will cede the rank of the world's most populous country to India this year - but politically and economically it remains Asia's number one superpower. However, Beijing's confrontation with Taiwan, its alliance with Russia and its political and economic expansionism could take an unexpected turn this year, Europe's press speculates.

Open/close all quotes
Le Monde (FR) /

Global South has its own agenda

Like Russia, China has failed to secure the support of the emerging powers, Le Monde observes:

“For example, India, the leader of the Global South, is a member of the quad - alongside the US, Australia and Japan - which aims to contain China's expansionist ambitions in the Pacific. And Delhi is circumventing Western sanctions so as to buy Russian oil cheaply - and thus financing the war in Ukraine. Many middle powers like Saudi Arabia and Turkey are breaking away from the protective rule of the US, but not to slip under the Sino-Russian umbrella. The game of the emerging states - from Riyadh to Ankara, from Manila to Jakarta - is to sometimes join one major power centre (the Western bloc), and sometimes join the other (the Sino-Russian camp).”

Satori (LV) /

The enemy of my enemy is not always my friend

China's support for Russia is not set in stone, the news website Satori comments:

“Russia's behaviour in the confrontation with Ukraine and the West in general depends to a large extent on China. The principle that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' is a standard component of realpolitik. China supports Pakistan, which is at odds with India, which in turn is a traditional rival of China. And even if we don't like it, the same logic applies in the 'Russia-US-China' triangle. ... The question for 2023 is: will China continue to follow this logic? One alternative would be for it to conclude that 'of course the Americans are scum', but Putin's Russia has become so odd that it's no longer worth supporting.”

Spotmedia (RO) /

The Pacific is the most dangerous powder keg

China could trigger a world war if it tries to invade Taiwan, the Spotmedia blog fears:

“This could not be done without triggering a huge confrontation possibly involving Japan and spreading to Korea as well as Australia in the form of the AUCUS alliance (the trilateral military alliance comprising Australia, the US and UK), and then other Indo-Pacific states trying to settle accounts and establish new borders in Asian seas. ... However complicated, fragmented and threatened by Putin's Russia Europe may seem, the danger of a major conflagration in this century emanates from Asia, where the calm before the typhoon prevails and the temperature is rising.”