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President Andrzej Duda didn’t yet have a chance to speak with the new US President Joe Biden. Instead, on Monday, he had a reportedly very successful conversation with China’s Xi Jinping. A truly puzzling choice of a conversation partner.

China doesn’t care about the rule of law

For years, China pursued a genocidal policy towards the Uighur minority. Despite Beijing’s threats of retaliation, the civilized world has grown increasingly more confident to call what is happening in the Xinjiang province a genocide. Yet, the President of Poland, a country that experienced genocide firsthand, has somehow failed to take notice. For one thing, he failed to notice the fact that China is actively obstructing the WHO investigation into the coronavirus origins in Wuhan. For another, he also failed to notice Xi’s imperialistic policy and his attempts to subjugate China’s political partners.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised president Duda against attending the summit of Central and Eastern European countries and China. Duda decided to participate anyway and was the only head of state present at the conference. One might speculate that he is trying to build a personal relationship with the Chinese president, in the hope to help him secure an international post after the end of his last term. Leaked information suggests that the presidential aide and head of the newly created presidential Bureau of International Policy, Krzysztof Szczerski, is supporting him in these efforts.

But perhaps the real aim of this ostentatious pivot towards China is somewhat different. Maybe Duda wants to send the West a message? Facing growing criticism from its strategic partner across the Atlantic, Poland’s right-wing government is simply looking for alternatives in the Far East. After all, China won’t complain about violations of the rule of law or attacks on media freedom- to the Chinese Communist Party, these are foreign concepts.

Xi’s China is a rising power. Biden’s America, on the other hand, has to struggle if it wants to maintain its hegemonic position. Poland’s pivot to China surely won’t go unnoticed in the US.

The direction in which the ruling Law and Justice party continues to steer Polish diplomacy is becoming increasingly less clear and more worrisome. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has lost some of its power and influence at the expense of the prime minister and the president; a separate foreign policy office has even been established in the Law and Justice party headquarters. Polish diplomacy has been without a spokesperson for six months now. Under the new foreign service law, ambassadors will not even be required to speak foreign languages...

Today, China is offering us vaccines and investments. But what will it ask for in return?

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