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Hal Brands

China Is Trying to Play Nice, and It’s a Problem for the US

Years of Beijing's bullying neighbors and “wolf warrior” diplomacy helped Washington forge security and trade alliances, but Xi Jinping seems to be wising up.

That’s one way to win friends.

That’s one way to win friends.

Photographer: Nicolas Asfouri

Having incompetent enemies is a blessing. For three years, Chinese President Xi Jinping has showered blessings upon the US. A self-isolated, belligerent and increasingly repressive China has been its own worst enemy, playing into America’s efforts to check Chinese power.

Now, though, Beijing is attempting an overdue course correction, and Xi’s new approach could expose America’s diplomatic weaknesses.