“Hide your brightness, bide your time.” That famous piece of advice from Deng Xiaoping has served China well over the past 40 years. Deng, the leader whose economic policies transformed China, understood that if his country was to become richer and stronger, it must avoid confrontation with the west.
But Xi Jinping, who has led China since 2012, has decided that the “bide your time” era is over. He talks of a China that “dares to fight”. Even if Xi does not literally mean that his country should go to war, he has signalled — by word and deed — that Beijing is ready to confront its international rivals.