Xi Pulls A Burke, or: How To Be A Paper Tiger.
The recent events in Taiwan have showed an attitude that we have, unfortunately, experienced within the Church not many years ago.
Then, Cardinal Burke and other (meanwhile deceased) allegedly courageous paper tigers made strong noises, and anticipated harsh measures for the case of Pope Frankie The Red-Nosed Clown not answering their Dubia; after which, they folded and retreated like the wet kitten at the sight of the Rottweiler. But hey, they sure enjoyed the applause of sincere Catholic while it lasted.
Now, China made an astonishing amount of noise about Old Hag’s visit to Taiwan, rattling sabers with the US until it was heard in the Tierra Del Fuego; then folded miserably, allowing Old Hag to come and go as she pleases, undisturbed. They are now staging military exercises around Taiwan, like the boy who plays though guy after the dude who would give him a new face has gone away.
I do not pretend to be an expert in Chinese culture, but it seems to me that not losing face is even more important in China than it is in the West. Therefore, Xi has some ‘splaining to do, as no doctor prescribed him to put such a fuss (the visit could simply have been authorised, showing once again that China gives permission to foreign dignitaries to visit Taiwan). But no: he had to do it. Ouch.
The same you can, of course, say of Burke & The Wet Kitten (might be a name for a pop band; we should ask Cardinal Ravasi for his opinion on this).
Naturally, the ones and the others will make excuses, as excuses are in even bigger supply everywhere than oxygen. “I did not want to risk a world war”, “I did not want to risk a schism”, “I have chosen to be superior”, “my squirrel had a headache”, “my pet rabbit had tennis elbow”, and the like. Obviously, none of this can ever wash.
Look at Putin instead. When he says he would do something, he also does it, and leaves no one in doubt that it would have been better to listen to him whilst there still was time. When he thinks the time is not right, he avoids the sabre rattling and simply expresses his view on a certain event (like the entry of the two Nordic Dwarfs in NATO), staying cool as a cucumber whilst he deals with the matters that are a priority to him.
Again: I am no expert of Chinese culture, but I have no doubt that China barked extremely loud on this. Then they didn’t bite. Then they engaging in some more barking.
A very poor show. One fears that Xi learned his diplomacy from Burke.
Make no mistake, this round goes to the Americans just as the Dubia round went to Frankie. You can say that the Old Hag has caused such problems that no fundraising and show of force on the home front can compensate for it, but the fact is, she did what she chose to do and the Chinese had to watch her doing it. Frankie did, of course, the same.
There aren’t many people with brass balls around.
Xi has shown to everybody that, like Burke, he is not one of them.