‘Chairman Xi’ seeks only to purge and subjugate. That is his weakness ... Chinese history is full of examples of omnipotent rulers whose unchecked behaviour led to disaster ... Xi seems to think he can do no wrong. As a result, not much is going right. Xi’s authoritarian, expansionist policies, pursued with increasing vehemence since he became communist party chief and president in 2012-13, have enveloped China in a ring of fire. Its borderlands are ablaze with conflict and confrontation from Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet and the Himalayas in the north and west to Hong Kong, the South China Sea and Taiwan to the east. More than at any time since Mao’s 1949 revolution, China is also at odds with the wider world ... perhaps Xi does what he does simply because he can – because he’s lost sight of the national interest and ideas of justice and equality, and covets a personal legacy as the great unifier of the new China. There’s nobody to stop him, nobody to say “no”. It’s the blindness and hubris that comes with absolute power. It usually ends in tears.
Of course, as Tisdall says, there are many angry words from the rest of the world whenever Xi throws down the guantlet, but nobody ever picks it up. Still, they may not be so quick pick up invitations to the Belt & Road party, either.
So for now, maybe it'll just be words. And mockery ... he loves being mocked.