Less assertive China a welcome change

One year after President Xi Jinping's Davos speech on free trade, Western disenchantment with China is showing and China appears to be softening its foreign policy stance in response

For a while there, it looked like the late Chinese patriarch Deng Xiaoping's exhortation to taoguangyanghui ("hide one's capacity, bide one's time") had been thrown to the winds as President Xi Jinping pursued a more muscular foreign policy than his predecessors.

Since coming to power in 2012, Mr Xi has shown a willingness to take stronger action abroad, including building and militarising artificial islands on disputed land features in the South China Sea.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2019, with the headline 'Less assertive China a welcome change'. Subscribe