Is China the new global bully

China likes to pose as a victim these weeks. The United States would "bully" it, the government in Beijing outraged. The US wanted to keep the emerging country small with its tariffs. In fact, American trade tariffs are about more than the economy - China is right so far. But the country itself is to blame for the conflict.

China has become a global political actor in recent years. Worldwide, however, it operates according to the principle of "divide and rule". It plunges states into debt and forces them into dependencies through loans. Recently, for example, Sri Lanka had to cede a majority stake in its largest port to a Chinese state-owned company for 99 years after it was unable to pay its debts in Beijing. The fact that the Americans are now increasing the pressure on the country is not only the result of Donald Trump's America First Agenda, but also the ruthless policies of Beijing in recent years.

President Xi Jinping took office in 2013 as a beacon of hope for economic reform. These should liberalize the country and integrate it more closely into the global economic order. But it turned out differently. As the Chinese economy cooled and the Chinese became increasingly unsettled, Xi responded with repression. At the same time he fueled nationalism with an aggressive appearance abroad.

At least $ 1 trillion is available for the 2013 Silk Road Initiative. The aim is not to revive old trade routes, as Beijing romanticizes. It's about strategic investments in Asia and Africa and as far as the Arctic. In this way, China secures raw materials, land and political influence. Certainly: President Trump's allegation at the meeting of the UN Security Council in New York on Thursday that China interfered in the US congressional elections has not been proven. However, China makes targeted use of political, economic and information technology tools to influence politics and society in other countries and to weaken democratic structures.

In the countries of the EU, China buys important technologies with state money. Beijing describes Brussels as an important point of contact, but prefers to negotiate bilaterally with individual EU states. With the 16 + 1 dialogues that it has been conducting in Eastern Europe since 2012, it is testing how far it can go with the EU. At the same time, it piles up islands in the South China Sea. Satellite images show airports and military installations. A ruling by the International Court of Justice in 2016 denied any historical claims made by the country in the region. China ignored it and continues to dig.

After China opened up in the late 1970s, the USA, like Germany, focused on change through trade in the country and actively integrated China into international organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, with its aggressive foreign policy and the growing autocratic structures at home, Beijing has disappointed the hopes of many observers and exhausted the patience of numerous countries.

China rejects criticism. Either it is dismissed as interference in internal affairs, such as the persecution of Muslim minorities in western China. Or one denies that the allegations are justified, despite overwhelming evidence. In addition, there are oversights by foreign companies and violations of WTO rules. Now that the US has passed new tariffs and increased political pressure to punish Internet espionage and human rights violations, for example, the country simply claims that other states envy its success. And anyway: China is "the largest developing country in the world," as President Xi recently declared. Let it rule work in progress.

The country represents a fifth of the world's population. He is entitled to a place at the negotiating table. It is only part of a world power to take responsibility. China cannot be a developing country when it comes to responsibility and a world power when it wants influence. It likes to look outside because the US has shaped the structures of the liberal world order. That's right. To undermine this is a mistake.

China needs political stability internationally if it wants to grow in the long term. If it is not satisfied with international treaties, it has to develop alternatives. But so far there have been no constructive suggestions. In the trade dispute, China could now prove that it has learned. It should not only approach the US on trade issues, but also on issues such as human rights, investment programs in Africa and Asia, and the conflict in the South China Sea. That would appease Washington and send a sign of relaxation to other regions as well.