The West’s “woke” agenda is making it easier for China to extend its global reach, experts warned on Saturday night.

Critics fear last week’s visit by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken – in which he held talks foreign minister Qin Gang and had a brief meeting with premier Xi Jinping – did much to boost Beijing’s image without anything meaningful in return.

Meanwhile, a post-Covid China is engaged in a new diplomatic offensive with key nations, particularly in the oil-rich Middle East.

As part of his so-called Global Civilisation Initiative, Xi is pushing a cultural alternative to the West.

Dubbed “Xivilisation”, it advocates for “common aspirations” but adds “We won’t tell you what to do, unlike the West”.

More than £109billion flowed last year in “Woke capitalism” – or environmental, social, and corporate governance global ventures.

These place factors like lower carbon emissions and human rights high in the list criteria for investments.

When added to the West’s shifting political discourse, focusing on things like the rights of transgender athletes, it spells a recipe for disaster, said China expert Dean Cheng, formerly of the Heritage Foundation.

“Western wokeism is an absolute catastrophe when it comes to realistic diplomacy against a country like China,” he said on Saturday night.

“The West has done bad things historically at home and abroad, but wokeism says it can never be forgiven.

“China pushes this because it makes the West appear like it’s no better than autocracies today.

“The fact China also has a history of repression is ignored because wokeism also says other cultures are always superior to the West, not equal and certainly not guilty of their own crimes.”

The senior adviser at the US Institute of Peace added: “While the West contemplates its navel, China is telling nations ‘We will work with you, we will trade with you and we don’t care whether you are a democracy, or autocracy or dictatorship’.`

“This makes China much more appealing to autocracies and countries which are less cosmopolitan.”

And Mr Cheng said China’s diplomatic influence is extending far beyond the Pacific.

“In Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman was slowly beginning to liberalise things – women can drive, they no longer need permission from a man to travel, and even register a marriage, divorce or birth,” he said.

“Yet China was able to broker a deal between it and Iran, whose Mullahs are intent on remaining in the 12th century.

“The Woke argument was one of the things that weakened Western appeal for Saudi Arabia and it is hurting bin Salman’s efforts to reform.”

Hoang Thi Ha, senior fellow at the Singapore-based ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, added: “At the political level there is a lot of alignment actually with the Chinese (in south-east Asian countries).

“The idea of ‘Don’t just use values such as liberal Western values to dictate your foreign policy with us’ carries weight in some capitals.”

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