Historically, the Silk Road was established during the Han dynasty, between 206 B.C and 220 A.D., after the long Chinese exploration of Southern and Western Asia which had started at least two thousand years before.
As the original myth of Eurasia’s foundation has it, it was in those areas – among nomadic and warring populations – that the Son of Heaven became, for the first time, a shepherd of sheep flocks, and escaped the wild beasts which wanted to kill him and then devour the whole Han dinasty.
President Xi Jinping, the new Son of Heaven, embodying positive forces both at political and mythical levels, followed again the Silk Road and hence returned to the Middle East, by visiting Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
This was meant to rebuild the original strategic projection of China’s First Red Empire – hence to make China regain its ancient role based on the philosophical principle of “All under Heaven”.
The visit to the three Middle East countries was paid by the CCP Secretary on January 19-22, 2016, on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the mutual recognition between China and the Arab League.
Until 2015 Saudi Arabia was the most important China’s crude oil supplier – a position currently held by Russia as primary seller.
The travel to these three Arab and Islamic countries is the first visit paid by the CCP Secretary in 2016 and this makes us understand the special importance that Xi Jinping and his China attaches to the commercial, political and strategic relationship between China and Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
As is well-known, Xi Jinping’ strategic project is the new Silk Road, which he called “One Belt One Road”.
Xi Jinping’s project was made public in October 2013. It is divided into a maritime part and a land part, which will both connect China with Central and Western Asia, the Middle East and finally Europe.
To put it in a metaphor of the Taoist sages – and Mao Zedong was so – the void (of power) of the United States and of the European Union itself, completely devoid of a real foreign policy, will be “filled” by a link with China and Eurasia on the part of the Sunni and Shi’ite Islamic world.
In Asia, where it originates, the new Silk Road will be connected with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and with the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Corridor (BCIM).
After the globalization which was an Americanization, the Chinese-style globalization will prevail, which will unite all the losers of the first globalization by tying them at first to Eurasia and later to China itself.
Since the diplomatic recognition between Russia and Saudi Arabia in 1990, trade has increased by 230 times, up to 70 billion US dollars in 2014.
Currently, in Saudi Arabia, 160 Chinese companies operate not only in the oil sector but also in the logistics, transport and electronics sectors.
China wants to support the Arab world with a stimulus to the domestic production differentiation and the reduction of those economies’ oil dependence.
For China, the relationship with Saudi Arabia is the strategic link with the Sunni country closest to the United States which, however, does not want to be tied hand and foot to the United States.
Saudi Arabia has every interest in dealing with China so as to avoid having only North America as counterpart – a relationship and a situation which, devoid of any counterbalance, would obviously be less favourable to Saudi Arabia.
The most important project binding China and Saudi Arabia is the Yarseef refinery which is worth 10 billion US dollars, 62.5% of which funded by the Chinese Sinopec.
President Xi Jinping has defined Yanbu – the Red Sea port where the Yarseef refinery is located – as the regional point of arrival of the Silk Road and, at the same time, the axis of the new Saudi industrialization.
Another essential aspect of Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia is the idea of establishing, by 2017, a Free Trade Zone together with the Gulf Cooperation Council, another component of the “Silk Road” which, in these areas, connects its maritime way and its land stretch.
Later, in his visit to Egypt, the CCP Secretary followed up the themes already developed during the visit paid by the Egyptian President, Al Sisi, to Beijing in December 2014.
The idea is to implement a “comprehensive strategic partnership” based on 15 major projects, to the tune of 15 billion US dollars.
These projects are related to infrastructure and transport, considering that Cairo and the Egyptian coast will be the Mediterranean point of arrival of the new maritime Silk Road.
Other investments in the “comprehensive strategic partnership” regard the Egyptian energy sector while, during Xi Jinping’s visit, additional 21 new investment projects were defined with an additional soft loan to this country equal to 1.7 billion US dollars, managed by some Egyptian banks.
A geopolitical level, Xi Jinping’s attention is mainly focused on the Egyptian and Shi’ite region, with a probable mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia which has materialized during the Chinese leader’s visit.
This means that China fears the expansionism of the Isis/Daesh “Caliphate” and, above all, the return of hundreds of Uighur foreign fighters living in Xingkiang.
At diplomatic – and probably at operational – level, China has supported Egypt in its fight against the Qaedist jihadist area, at first, and later against the Caliphate jihadist aera in the Sinai. It will certainly distribute its investments across the Middle East, based on the each country’s ability to fight against the jihad.
If Europe and the West will not be able to support the new autonomous development of the Middle East – and we can currently perceive all their limits in this regard – this region will become – between Russia and China – the Southern and maritime part of Eurasia.
This will be the new Sino-Russian Heartland which will hegemonize the Mediterranean region and much of the “great European plain”, as the French philosopher Raymond Aron called it.
Another significant geopolitical sign is that Xi Jinping urged Al Sisi’s Egypt to participate, as observer, in the next G20 Summit to be held in Beijing next September.
The last Middle East country visited by the Chinese leader, was the Shi’ite and not Arab nation of Iran.
Xi Jinping was the first leader of a world power to visit Iran after the lifting of sanctions, to which the Chinese and Russian activity within the P5+1 contributed significantly.
It is a very important symbolic fact.
Certainly China has never taken the sanctions against Iran into account. In fact, as early as 2014, China has replaced Germany as first business partner of the Shi’ite country, with a bilateral turnover exceeding 70 billion US dollars.
Obviously Xi Jimping came to preserve the Chinese position reached in Iran, but also to support Iran in its strategic differentiating from Europe and NATO, as demonstrated by the open support he showed during some interviews in Iran for the presence of Shi’ite forces in Syria.
Unlike many naïve Western experts and the even more childish leaders of a gutless Europe believe, the Syrian issue is not the fight against a “tyrant” such as Bashar al-Assad so as to restore a very unlikely “democracy”.
In the Middle East democracy is imposed to make a country strategically “viable”, which means devoid of reactions to the operations carried out by other players on the field.
Therefore the real Syrian issue is the fight against those hegemonizing the Greater Middle East in the future.
It may be Turkey, which wants to conquer Syria’s vast Sunni area for its mad neo-Ottoman dream.
Or the Russian Federation along with Iran, which will annex the Shi’ite and Alawite Syria to the corridor stretching from Ukraine to the coast towards the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean basin.
Or finally Saudi Arabia, which wants to manage its own “Sunni and Wahhabi International” so as to dominate the whole Middle East region and its oil, without the constraints of OPEC, which is now a residual cartel.
Xi Jinping, however, proposes to Iran a greater Chinese presence in the local banking and financial sector, the building of seven fast railway lines to be connected, in the future, with the networks already existing in China and, of course, a greater Chinese presence in the Iranian oil and gas sector.
According to Chinese analysts, trade between China and Iran is expected to increase tenfold, up to reaching 700 billions a year by 2017.
Hence, considering all the actions undertaken in the three Middle East countries he visited late January, the core of Xi Jinping’s operation is the creation of a joint Free Trade Zone between the three countries with China’s support – a topic we have already raised at the beginning of this article.
This is a move intended to rebalance the free trade agreement between the United States and other 11 Pacific countries, as well as to fill Western Europe’s “void” throughout the Middle East.
China has reached the free trade agreement with all the six Persian Gulf countries, namely Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman.
China wants to put enemy countries together so as to mediate in a credible way.
The agreement is supposed to be signed by the end of 2016.
Hence the “void” of the United States and of an ever weaker and inward-looking West, obsessed by the idea of “exporting democracy” or by a naïve, self-defeating and self-destructive “geopolitics of values”, is “filled” by a China exporting economic support, political influence and credible skills and abilities to mediate between all regional players.
China’s proposed One Belt One Road project, which is the geopolitical matrix of all Chinese operations in the Middle East, stems from the current leadership’s perception of a now unrenounceable geoeconomic power projection.
It also stems from China’s feeling to be geographically surrounded by confined and enclosed spaces, mountains and deserts which must be overcome so as to avoid the Middle Kingdom – which has a much greater production potential than its territory expresses – remaining blocked.
This is the contemporary version of the structural crisis between the evolution of production ratios and the growth of productive forces, which has always been fatal to Marxism applied in practice.
It is worth recalling that the “productive forces” are science and technology with their applications to the production process, namely the whole organization of work, while “the development of production ratios” regards the relations established by those participating in productive work, including those which are outside the actual production process, such as owners and shareholders.
Hence if the development of productive forces is expanded beyond a certain limit, its expansion is made at the expense of production ratios, as an increasing share of manpower is replaced or marginalized by new technologies.
It was the problem Stalin had to face shortly before his death. It was Mao’s demon from the Great Leap Forward onwards and it is currently the concept underlying the One Belt One Road project.
In other words, for Xi Jinping the issue lies in projecting productive forces outside China’s land and sea borders, so as to prevent its internal production ratios from being distorted up to jeopardizing the State and the Party.
Obviously the project of the new Silk Road is also a way for ensuring the security of the first Chinese loop, namely Central Asia’s, and freeing from dangerous opponents the Chinese secondary loop, stretching from the Greater Middle East to Western Europe.
The two geoeconomic processes to ensure security regard both the Earth and the Sea, two entities which, in the Western tradition synthesized by the philosopher Carl Schmitt, tend to be two opposing entities.
Hobbes’ Leviathan, the biblical sea monster epitomizing the future British thalassocracy, is opposed by Behemoth, the terrestrial State which enslaves its citizens.
It is the constant plot of Western political thought.
Furthermore the One Belt One Road project involves the Russian Federation which, after the different globalization to which the USSR and post-Maoist China were subjected, de facto unites the two countries that had radically changed the relationship between productive forces and production ratios in an anti-capitalist way.
The One Belt One Road line, or rather lines, starts from Xi’an – the former capital of 13 dynasties, where there is the Mausoleum of the Qin Emperor Shi Huang, the first unifier of China, and his famous “terracotta warriors”.
It must never be forgotten that the Chinese universe, today as in its earliest stages, lives on symbols it uses in a way we can define apotropaic both for the unity of “all-under Heaven” and against external enemies.
From Xi’an – with connections to Beijing, Zhanjiang and Shanghai – the terrestrial route reaches up to Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang, and hence the area characterized by a strong Islamic presence where the Turkmen arrived following their expansion eastwards, which was also a return to the origins.
The previously mentioned city of Zhanjiang, the old Fort Bayard until 1946, is the capital city of the Guangdong Province and a very active port, the future geopolitical axis of the new China-led “Indochinese Union”, which will obviously be very different from the one favored by French occupiers from 1899 until 1946.
From Urumqi, the Silk Road terrestrial route reaches Almaty, the old Alma-Ata of the Soviet era, which is the oldest and most populous city of Kazakhstan, the former capital city until 1993.
The new “Silk Road” will then directly reach Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia’s oil axis, up to Tehran.
The reasons for the particular interest currently shown by China in Shi’ite Iran are the following: it is an oil supplier needed for its continued development; it is an anti-jihadist rampart, as we can currently see in the role played by Iran’s paramilitary forces in Syria; for the China of the new Silk Road, it is the point of control over the whole region of the Greater Middle East.
China will never lift a finger against Saudi Arabia, which is peripheral compared to its new strategic axis, but it will play an essential role in stabilizing the infra-Islamic clash, which China sees as a direct threat to its oil and geopolitical interests.
A Middle East in flames destabilizes the Islamist Uighur minorities, blocks the large commercial networks being created and devastates the economies of New China’s primary buyers.
From Bishkek there will be a line connecting the terrestrial Silk Road with the maritime one. A transport line will link the Kirghizistan capital city to Gwadar, the Pakistani port located in the Balochistan province, an area already acquired by China.
Gwadar is China’s strategic sentinel toward the Strait of Hormuz.
From Tehran the One Road will reach directly Istanbul and will then deviate – again on a land route – towards Moscow, the real military and political pivot of current China vis-à-vis the Eurasian peninsula.
All “Eurasist” theories and approaches which currently inspire Russia imply substantial unity between China and Russia, with a view to preserving Eurasia and its hegemony over current Europe.
This is the theoretical and operational foundation of Russia’s presence in Syria.
In Syria, Russia wants: a) to block any kind of US and its allies’ hegemony in the Middle East; b) to ensure its presence in the Mediterranean region, which will become a military, economic and political presence; c) to impose its hegemony over an area where there are no longer global players, with the gradual withdrawal of the United States and NATO.
The very recent Munich agreement, regardless of its duration, is the reaffirmation and certification of the special role played by Russia in the region, while temporarily enabling the United States and its allies to save face.
From Moscow, the new Silk Road will reach Rotterdam and, southwards, up to Venice, the city which, thanks to Marco Polo, is associated with the West’s new discovery of China.
As already seen, the Chinese maritime Silk Road will start from Zhangjian, and will reach Jakarta, through Kuala Lumpur, in the Straits of Malacca which are the jugular vein of international maritime trade. It will then head to Colombo, in the ancient island of Ceylon – now Sri Lanka – and northwards to Kolkata, the ancient Calcutta.
From both Eastern ports, the maritime Silk Road will reach Nairobi and then, through the Straits of Bab el Mandeb, it will reach the Suez Canal up to Athens.
Hence this is the meaning of Xi Jinping’s current visit to Cairo, the Eastern closing point of the maritime Silk Road and the military closure of the Middle East instability area.
From Athens to Venice, the two Belts will reconnect.
A “Taoist” geopolitical project: the two natural opposites oppose and merge because they are both “the Way.”
Moreover, in the Middle East, China (and Russia) are completely rethinking their relations with Israel.
In the Jewish state, China seeks advanced technologies and, in fact, in mid-December last year the two countries signed a treaty for the co-financing of some advanced research.
The Chinese banks are now strongly present in the funding of many Israeli projects, as was the case of China CreditEase with the Hapoalim Bank.
Obviously this new link between Israel and China stems from a choice of the Israeli leadership that now sees minimized its relations with the European Union, which is increasingly heading towards dangerous anti-Semitism, as well as its relations with the United States, which are now de facto abandoning the Middle East.
The geopolitical and military alternative option for the United States will be a new cold war with the Russian Federation, a true strategic nonsense which, however, will serve to preserve the old “political-military complex” of which even President Eisenhower feared the choices.
Keeping Europe ever more irrelevant at strategic level and often ridiculous in foreign policy, so as to contain Russia and then China, is the US project, which will be followed also by Barack Obama’ successor, irrespective of his/her political complexion.
It is worth noting that this new North American stance is not at all in contrast with the great project One Belt One Road which, as you can easily understand, is designed to support some countries, namely the less close to the United States, and exclude the others, namely those which are more traditionally in line with the North American Grand Strategy.
In all likelihood, Israel will be a de facto point of arrival of the maritime-terrestrial “Silk Road” while, in the future – once stabilized the Syrian chaos – China will propose itself as a credible mediator and broker between the Jewish State and the Islamic countries.
Is China on the brink of a food crisis?
It is not a secret that the current COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting people all around the globe. The virus touched almost all spheres of regular life – i.e. it resulted in temporary or permanent closure of businesses, a rise in the unemployment rate, inability to physically spend time with family and friends. Such drastic changes in times of uncertainty significantly impacted the well-being of the world population. Moreover, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned about the emerging food shortages worldwide. According to FAO statistics, global food prices have been on the rise for four consequent months, hitting their maximum in September 2020. China – the place where the virus originated – is one of the states that have been seriously affected by the disruptions, including production and distribution of food.
In his speech on August, 11 Chinese leader Xi Jinping did not admit any food shortages. However, he promoted food security through the campaign “operation empty plate,” thereby encouraging people to stop wasting food. It is interesting to note that Mao Zedong introduced a similar food campaign before the 1959 Great Chinese Famine. Meanwhile, there has undoubtedly been a significant increase in food prices in China. Many experts claim that China is on the brink of a food crisis that has been manifested as a result of lockdowns, infected livestock, and poor weather conditions. It is difficult to give any predictions or estimations about the future food situation in China because the country does not share enough of its data with the rest of the world, yet it is possible to answer the question why the state faces food difficulties.
Average food prices increase
The National Bureau of Statistics of China reported that, on average, food prices have increased by 11.2% compared to 2019. The price level of vegetables increased by 6.4% in one month; egg prices soared by 11.3% within the same period. Pork prices grew the most, by 52.6% compared to the last year’s statistics. Why is it important?
Firstly, many workers and their families who faced loss or decrease of income or remittances became food insecure. That, in turn, has had social repercussions for the overall level of crime, health concerns among adults and infants, high death rate, different demographic and economic challenges. Furthermore, international trade will also suffer: due to the lack of labor force Chinese imports in foreign countries will seemingly increase in price.
Secondly, China, along with other countries, was in a period of recession earlier this year. Food insecurity will cause difficulties in coming out of this financial downturn.
The impact of lockdowns on food supply chains
One of the main factors contributing to the declining agricultural productivity and spiking food prices in China is the restrictions on personal mobility and transportation of goods. In January Chinese authorities adopted measures to limit mobility within the country; they imposed “city lockdowns, traffic control, and closed management of villages and communities.” Such restrictions impacted food supply chains. For the production part many workers experienced difficulties getting to work that created a shortage of physical labor. That is why some crops were not picked, others were not even planted. As a result, the supply of agricultural goods decreased. On the other hand, at the beginning of the year, the demand for them also fell as restaurants and bars were closed. Thereby, many crops went to waste, while farmers did not make enough profit to purchase the seeds and fertilizers for the next season. It is a problem because businesses continue to open up, raising the demand and prices on crops. Immobility also impacted the distribution of seeds and fertilizers to the farms that disrupted the plantation season. Furthermore, the distribution of agricultural goods to grocery stores became difficult. Particular inconveniences associated with the restrictions on mobility all added up to the spike of prices on crops.
African Swine fever outbreak
Another factor impacting the emerging food crisis in China is the failure to rebuild last year’s loss of pigs due to the infection. Chinese porcine farms were hit by the African swine fever outbreak that infected and killed a large number of pigs (40% of total Chinese pigs’ population), decreasing the supply but increasing the prices on pork in 2019. According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, pork prices were 52.6% higher in August this year than the year before, while corn prices – the main porcine fodder – increased by 20% compared to last year. Chinese farmers failed to improve the situation in 2020 due to severe flooding. The increased amount of precipitation caused considerable losses of corn and thus the inability to feed pigs. China began to import crops from abroad – particularly, corn from the US. As the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stated, China had been importing 195,000 more tonnes of American corn than the year before.
Shuttered diplomatic relations between China and Western states
Some experts claim that Chinese diplomatic relations with such Western countries as Australia, the US and Canada shattered due to the fire of four ballistic missiles on the Indian border on August, 26. These states are China’s major food exporters. If their diplomatic relations with Beijing worsen, then the trade has a high chance of being negatively affected as well. In other words, Chinese imports of crops have the risk of becoming more expensive, meaning that the prices of pork and other goods might rise even more.
Severe flooding and drought
Finally, worsened weather conditions – some parts of China experienced drought, others were hit by flooding – led to a decrease in crops and a significant increase in food prices. Southern, Central and Eastern China underwent a period of heavy rain and the worst flooding in the last hundred years. Excessively high water levels in major Chinese rivers, including the Yangtze River, resulted in the evacuation of 15 million people in July 2020. Moreover, the flooding destroyed 13 million acres of agricultural land, which is estimated to cost at least $29 billion of economic damage. In the meantime Northern (Xinjiang province) and Southwest (Yunnan province) China have gone through a period of severe drought. In April 2020 nearly 1.5 million people in Yunnan province were caught in an emergency situation: shortages of drinking water, damage of hundreds of hectares of crops and livestock. Consequently, the supply of many agricultural goods and pork decreased, which spiked the prices on these goods.
Chinese long-term prospects toward food security
To conclude, immobility, African swine flu, worsened weather and security conditions led to the growing food shortages and increasing food prices in China. This being said, the Chinese government has been working on that problem. It has taken special measures to ensure sufficience of agricultural goods by investing in various disaster relief funds for different crops, particularly rice and wheat. For example, Chinese authorities allocated 1.4 billion yuan to save the agricultural harvest in Hubei province. Due to the substantial loss of agricultural products, China has also increased its imports. General Administration of Customs reported that China’s grain imports rose by 22.7% in July 2020 compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, the Chinese leader took a gentle approach to solve this problem. He did not announce the issues related to the insufficient number of crops; instead, he adopted a program for encouraging people to be more frugal with their eating habits. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences followed the same path as it denied anticipation of a food crisis in the short-term perspective, yet warned about possible food shortfalls by 2025 if no agricultural reforms take place. As of now, China is not on the break of a food crisis; however, its shuttered prospects for long-term food sustainability are subject to dangerous repercussions.
From our partner RIAC
China and Mongolia: A Comprehensive and Never-Ending Strategic Partnership
Mongolia is an exceptional country when it comes to Eurasian geopolitics, linking China with Russia, two great countries in terms of military and economic capabilities, geographical area and population. In June 2016, the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor (CMREC) was announced in order to consolidate friendly relations and promote economic exchanges for the success of the Belt and Road Initiative. Many reports indicate the great position of Mongolia on the Chinese economic map as a pillar of the modern Chinese initiative. Mongolia is a major economic partner of China, and the Chinese administration aspires to forge permanent relations of cooperation and coordination with Mongolia by virtue of its common geography and strategic location, in order to open up through it to Russia and other Mongolia is a key economic partner of China, and the Chinese administration aspires to forge permanent relations of cooperation and coordination with Mongolia by virtue of its common geography and strategic location, in order to open up through it to Russia and other international partners.
Mongolia is rich in natural resources, for example the mining industry provided up to 30% of GDP and almost 90% of exports, but its economy is not as developed compared to China. Some economic reports indicate the great economic benefit to Mongolia from the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor. Mongolia is expected to witness unparalleled economic growth in terms of international economic cooperation, which will positively affect the national economy. The Mongolian economy depends heavily on China’s investment; data of the two largest ports in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in northern China indicates enormous economic benefits. In the chart below, the continued economic progress achieved in Inner Mongolia is shown. In addition, rail trade increased by 16 percent year-on-year to 11.2 million tons in 2017. In the same year, 570 trips were made on the China-Europe railways passing through Ernhot (a county-level city of the XilinGol League, in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, located in the Gobi Desert along the Sino-Mongolian border, across from the Mongolian town of Zamyn-Üüd).
The Belt and Road Initiative aims for mutual profit, cooperation and peaceful communication. China shares an ancient cultural history with Mongolia, long common borders, and economic cooperation that has never stopped. The strategic geographic location of Mongolia makes it a priority for China on the new Silk Road, in addition to the richness of natural resources and livestock that China needs.
The Mongolians are a horse-loving people, a country known for its large number of horses. Mongols without horses are like birds without wings. Despite globalization and the great economic progress in the neighbor (China), as well as the cold weather and difficult geography, the Mongolians did not abandon their traditions and the Mongolian way of life still exists today. In Mongolia there are herders of horses, camels and cattle to benefit from milk, meat, wool, etc. During the pandemic in China, for example, President Battulga set up what is known as “Sheep Diplomacy” where Mongolian President donated 30,000 sheep to China. This initiative indicates the Mongolians’ positive intentions towards the Chinese and the desire to open up more. In this context, I would like to point out that China is a big importer of meat and the Chinese demand for meat is constantly increasing, as shown in the chart below. Here is a great opportunity for Mongolia to increase its exports of meat to the Chinese market.
The reading of Mongolian history indicates that this country has passed through periods of prosperity. Mongolia may be a good example of power and rule, as its borders extended to many countries during the rule of Genghis Khan (1162-1227), the man whom the Mongolians consider their historical leader and has turned into a hero and a national symbol. The Mongolians did not abandon their land despite the cold weather and difficult geography, indicating that they are a deeply rooted people with land. Mongolia, with its vast territories and few people, has turned into a meeting place for Russia and China, and a strategic center for Chinese economic expansion. Therefore, it is impossible for the Chinese administration to abandon the partnership with Mongolia.
The Mongolian economy is heavily dependent on livestock, and the number of pastures has increased significantly since the Soviet era because of the transfer of ownership to the people. However, the government is still not able to provide all services to citizens “the government has failed to promote education and health care and veterinary care in pastoral communities, so there is no longer any incentive to stay in rural areas” said Sarol Khuadu, an official at the Institute for Environmental Research in the Mongolian capital. The policy, which no longer places much emphasis on the countryside, has led to the transfer of large numbers of citizens to the capital and to engage in the world of money and business.
Unfortunately, the Mongolian government is not working seriously to support citizens in remote areas. The conditions of life are not good and the loans granted are high interest, in addition to the weather that adversely affects their businesses. In order to help the poor and rural people, in cooperation with national governments, humanitarian, development and scientific partners, FAO has developed an early warning approach by monitoring risk information systems and turning warnings into proactive actions. International organizations contribute to permanent humanitarian and social assistance in Mongolia.
Mongolia’s strategic policy through the “Mongolia Steppe Road Program 蒙古国“草原之路” is largely in line with the belt and road initiative, which is a road connecting Mongolia, China and Russia. Consequently, Mongolia, a country that mainly depends on the agricultural sector, will be a center for economic communication between China and Russia, and thus will witness a great economic development. The Steppe Road Program aims to boost Mongolia’s economic standing and create an advanced network of infrastructure for communication with China and Russia and build an oil and gas pipeline. In 2014, during his historic visit, Chinese President Xi Jinping raised the level of relations between the two countries to “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Relations”. Since then, bilateral cooperation has begun to move faster.
China has never abandoned Mongolia; it is a country of advanced strategic location as a bridge between Asia and Europe, in addition to the important agricultural sector in Mongolia which benefits China greatly, not to forget to mention the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor which has become an important part of the belt and road initiative and a key component of Sino-Russian cooperation.
The relationship between China and Mongolia today is an ideal example of the bilateral relationship between two neighboring countries. Cultural, economic, political and tourism communication is in continuous progress between the Chinese and Mongolians, and the Belt and Road Initiative will push this communication forward. The Chinese aspire to increase free trade areas and economic connectivity through a developed infrastructure network.
Chinese Smart Power
China is a unique country as it holds a world with Chinese Characteristics. China has rapidly transformed from an underdeveloped country to a key player in international politics.
Mao Zedong stated- “Political Power grows out of the barrel of the gun” reflects a perspective of hard power but Hooghe stated that the Chinese havechanged and do not even like the idea of smart power as it holdsa hard power component in it. President Hu Jintao in the 17th Party Congress favored smart power as he believed that China needs to keep a balance between hard power and soft power to avoid other countries create a coalition against China.
China becomes a difficult country to analyze as it holds a strong Confucian face-saving culture and does not like being criticized butits opponents continue to demonize it.
China understands the scene in international politics and prepares a centralized plan to acquire politicaland economic gains.
In 2005, China tried to gift two pandas to Taiwan which was refused by Taiwan as Taiwan consider this would violate the 1963 Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
China had argued that the transfer of Panda would remain an internal transfer within China even when the Taiwanese wanted to acquire two pandas that were appealing to its public theyfailed to acquire them. This could have helped China to gain the legitimacy of its one-China policy without provoking any actor.
The concept of soft power can be far more complex, as it could be a process to gain legal recognition without provoking a hostile population. The American production of Kung Fu Panda helped China in enhancing Panda Diplomacy.
Chinese more effectively controls Hollywood with Chinese investment and as American producers’ make an effort to be screened in Chinese theatre by being accepted in China’s quota for moving screening in Chinese theatre.
Tiktok which now is in a position of being banned in the United States indicates that the government is forced to take measurements due to the rising popularity of Chinese application in the American market.
China’s ban of the National Basketball Association (NBA) for a year also reflects China can force its opponents to maintain self-censorship for the sake of material incentives as mentioned by Ikenberry and Kupchan as a form of ‘external inducement’ leading to ‘policy change’ which would change the standard norm.
China has effectively used education as a medium to socialize with other countries which gets difficult to scrutinize by western powers.
The Former Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Karim Massimov and the President of EthiopiaMalatu Teshome had studied in China and later enhanced the relationship between their countries after they took offices. China’s 2008 defensewhite paper mentions4,000 military personnel from around 130 countries came to study in China for military education. China can combine educational diplomacy as a technique to enhance its military diplomacy and even use it to forge political allies.
Chinese Government operates Confucius Institutelike German use Goethe-Institut and France use Alliance Française to promote their languages.
The western world has worried as universities have started to impose regulations in favor of China after they operate Confucius Institute and even the students are likely to speak in a favorable tone to maintain a good image for the sake of acquiring a scholarship.
Dong and Chapman‘s research showed that 94.3% believed they had made the right choice coming to China, 91.6% believed that the scholarship would help in building a bilateral relationship between their countries, and 77.4% of people were satisfied studying in China.
China effectively funds various educational programs that educate smart or elite students from developing countries which generally hold a positive viewpoint of China as being emotionally connected to Chinese friends and tutors.
Chinese books such as Sun Tzu Art of War and Laozi’s book Dao De Jing have gained international attention which has allowed people to respect Chinese philosophy.
China is far more powerful than many scholars imagine and is more than just the factory of the world. China can use institutions such as cinematics, education, and various forms of arts in its favor.
China with heritages that include the Great Wall of China and Shaolin Temple has helped China to create a powerful image that is both precious and timeless.
China is one of the key three East Asian countries that has played a significant role in shaping international politics. The region is a strong contender in Olympics, have excellent cuisine,and are well recognized for their digital tools that are celebrated in around the world.
|PhysicalDiplomacy||Cuppings, Tai chi||Karate, Judo||Taekwondo|
|a) Olympics Medals||608||498||337|
|Gastrodiplomacy||Noodles, Dumplings||Sushi, Wasabi||Gimbap, Kimchi|
|Audio-visual diplomacy||Tiktok||Anime, Manga||K-pop|
|The Soft Power 30 (2019)||Rank:27|
|a) Exports (2018)||$2.59trillion Rank:1||$713 billion Rank:4||$617 billion Rank:5|
|b) Brands||Xiaomi, Alibaba||Toyota, Honda||Samsung,Hyundai|
|a) World Heritage Sites||55||23||14|
|b) Intangible Cultural Heritage||40||21||20|
|c) WEF, Travel & Tourism Competitive (2019)||Rank: 13|
|d) Revenue by Tourism (2018)||$11 billion||$45 billion||$18.46 billion|
The public generally does not have time to go into details of the report but would make a quick judgment by looking at the score and rank given by various organizations that would help build the national image.
The chart indicates China is surrounded by one of the most competitive neighborhoods which also contributesto building an environment that is boiling with soft and smart power.
China has an advantage in Travel and Tourism due to its massive as China has the highest World Heritage Site and Intangible Heritage List while South Korea and Japan are making more revenue through tourism.
China is also the world’s largest exporter and sits beside other major exporting countries creating a hot belt of traders. The culture of competing in sports help China in building a competitive culture with its neighbors.
The presence of South Korea and Japan are significant as these two are also very important countries with Confucian values.
China intends to develop its soft power to use and buildi) national cohesion, ii) a stable and reliable economy, iii) a trustworthy state, and iv) an ancient but vibrant country.
Chinese gallery, clinics, and restaurants serve as a place for gathering and sharing their rich heritage. They could feel blessed with Chinese culture as well as feel strong being the world’s largest exporter. The Chinese dream creates this cohesive attitude and legitimacy of the regime.
Stability plays a key role in obtaining and holding Foreign Direct Investment. Stability is also key to the continuity of growth and helps in generating wealth to purchase and maintain security instruments.
Trustworthiness has been extremely difficult for China with its historic secretive attitude specifically in case of its habit of not disclosing international health threats as quickly as possible as they feel threatened by mass panic and face-saving culture.
In 2013 President Xi Jinping remarked that the Chinese Dream would benefit other countries and their peopleby connecting the idea of an ancient country with modern technology.
The amount of criticism China receives projects the fear of foreign countries associated with the Thucydides trap. However, China still needs to modernize itself to be accepted as an ancient but vibrant country.It still needs to learn from its mistakes to be seen as a trustworthy and stable country to build its smart power to its full potential.
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