Simmering tensions between China and Japan and in the South China Sea combined with the American "pivot" to Asia have been used by some to produce a narrative that China is a destabilizing force for the region and the world. Many have accused China of being a free rider and troublemaker. Nothing can be further from the truth. On the contrary, China has been a linchpin for stability and development in this important region.
When Xi assumed office, people once hoped he would usher in democracy, but what actually happened was much stronger suppression of speech and greater thought control. He seems, so to speak, like a captain of a ship in distress who is hardening his resolve to deny his passengers the liberty to act on their own. In the end it is only the Chinese people who can decide which way China will go. But it is certain that the conclusion of this battle of Xi's will have an enormous effect on those of us outside China.
Beijing's sparring with Abe has produced underwhelming results. An international public relations blitz following Abe's Yasukuni trip -- to remind the world of Japan's past aggression and warn of resurgent militarism -- resulted not in a chorus of condemnation of Tokyo but in wariness of excessive Chinese rhetoric. Nor did harsh criticism of Abe undermine his standing at home.