The history of relations between South Korea and African countries does not cast a particularly long shadow as far as international relations go.
This is easily explained by geography and the fact that both entities, and both at least until the 1950s incidentally, were dominated by colonisers and that in subsequent years,South Korea prioritised its alliance with the US in pursuit of economic growth and military security – thereby going from one of the most economically disadvantaged countries in the world to being among the most wealthy (currently ranking 11th in the world in terms of GDP). And in the Cold War climate that characterised these subsequent post-World War II, post-colonial years, there were high levels of indifference between African states and South Korea as many post-colonial African states honed relations with the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China (the PRC) and communist North Korea. And so the rest of the twentieth century was characterised by relatively little contact between the two entities, going no further than the opening up of formal diplomatic ties and consulates.
But things have changed as of recent. Particularly in the past decade or so, South Korea has increasingly looked at Africa as a viable economic partner. Attracting over 7,000 delegates in the year 2015, the Korea-Africa Forum (KAF), which was formulated in 2006 as a forum for African heads of state and their South Korean counterparts to hold discussions and negotiations, has been largely understood as the two parties’ attempt to catalyse and harness the relationship between themselves in trade, investment and aid terms. Having held just four summits in over ten years, however, the Forum is especially important and will need to hold its sessions more regularly, and will also need to be more ambitious in the goals it sets for itself.
South Korean investment and trade with Africa: trends and patterns – and ways forward
According to a 2014 Chatham House report entitled ‘South Korea’s Engagement in Sub-Saharan Africa: Fortune, Fuel and Frontier Markets’, South Korea’s increasing presence in sub-Saharan Africa is motivated by three factors: “the pursuit of food and energy security; the establishment of new markets for its manufactured goods; and the enhancement of its credentials as a prominent global power, particularly in order to counter the diplomacy of North Korea.” South Korean exports to Africa rose fivefold between 2000 and 2011 and, although South Korea-Africa bilateral trade remains low (being a portion of only two per cent of South Korea’s global trade), South Korean chaebols (multinational corporations/conglomerates) such as Samsung, Daewoo and Hyundai are incrementally making a presence in the face of some serious competition in the form of the more established players on the African market such as the US, the European Union (EU), China and Japan. South Korea has also been an active donor to the continent. Tanzania, Egypt, Kenya and Ethiopia have been major recipients of South Korean aid. The aid has been aimed at funding measures for achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs) and the latter-day sustainable development goals (SDGs) by providing much-needed assistance to health and medical services, education, and rural development in sub-Saharan countries and responding to climate change and improving governance in North Africa. In sum, prioritising education (30%), health (20%), and governance (6%) the continent receives more than 55 percent of South Korea’s allotted foreign aid budget.
While difficult to ascertain for sure (a time-honoured custom in international affairs), it can be generally said that in its few years of activity on the continent, South Korea has had a largely positive impact on the continent. Perhaps the best example is Rwanda. In 2013 the Rwandan government announced that an agreement had been reached with KT Corporation, which is South Korea’s largest telecommunications provider, to roll out high-speed 4G internet service to 95 per cent of the population of Rwanda by 2017. With only 8.3 per cent of Rwandans currently online, such an increase in connectivity could mean a 10–13 per cent rise in the rate of GDP growth. The PPP was made possible by the integration of Rwanda’s pre-existing fiber optic network with KT Corporation’s financial resources, as the latter provided around $140 million for the initiative. This partnership has the potential to transform the Rwandan economy, and is likely to become an integral part of the country’s Vision 2020 development programme.
South Korea’s positive impact in Rwanda is largely a result of the Korea International Cooperation Agency’s involvement there. The Chatham House report further adds that “as well as being involved in the planning stages of the 4G scheme, the agency is also currently financing a $5.6 million ICT innovation centre in Kigali. KOICA’s commitment to Rwanda is further evident in its agricultural development programmes, police training and its partnership with UNICEF Rwanda, which uses SMS technology to reduce maternal and new-born deaths in the country.”
But there have been setbacks in the relationship; including most infamously the controversial and blatantly unfair land-lease deal with Madagascar wherein 50% of that island-nation’s arable rice land was to be leased to South Korea for some 90 years in exchange for ambiguously defined infrastructural improvements by South Korea to the island; the unpopular deal was arguably seen as corrupt by the citizenry of that country and led to the toppling of the government of Marc Ravalomanana in 2009 – upon which it was scrapped when Andry Rajoelina came into power. South Korea’s involvement in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing on African shores has also been a serious blot on the country’s relations with the continent as it has taken away potential jobs in West Africa and even threatened relations with the EU (which gave South Korea a “yellow card”).
One of the key responsibilities of African leaders in the Korea-Africa Forum should be to convey and relay public opinion so as to avoid similar pitfalls from occurring again in the future. Clearly, for a South Korean presence and interchange to continue to receive popular support African leaders and South Korean leaders will need to work hard to shape the relations along the lines of a moral and legal framework that does not compromise adherence to domestic and international laws and protocols because this will hurt business and relations in the long-run.
And this speaks to another matter: good governance. While not necessarily being intrusive, South Korea may need to harness the Agenda 2063 goal of good governance in the continent – South Korea itself stands to benefit most from this. For example, South Korea may prioritise those African states that are leaning towards democracy. It is more prudent to do so not only for the moral stance but also because those regimes that are democratic are also more likely to be stable and have a good investment climate. The Arab Spring in North Africa, the civil riots and general dissatisfaction in the undemocratic states of Burundi, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and Uganda in recent years over presidents who wanted unwarranted, unconstitutional additional terms in office is a prime example of this. To what extent can South Korea risk the chances of having their investments and infrastructure tarnished and destroyed in a civil riot? Or of a sudden regime change revoking previous agreements (as was the case with a Nigerian deal)? Or of having its name associated with the malpractices of undemocratic regimes?
Naturally, among of the key discussion points in any upcoming Korea-Africa Forum summit are the security threats that currently plague the continent. As a country that has had to live with the threat of attack by an unpredictable government in its neighbourhood in the form of North Korea, South Korea is uniquely placed among the nations of the world in terms of speaking from experience in offering counsel and advices on dealing with force at the hands of unscrupulous, ideologue leaders. Africa itself is currently faced with a number of these. The Central African Republic has for a long time been torn asunder by rebel forces that use religion as a benchmark for their violence; likewise Somalia cannot be brought to a state of functionality due to much the same problem in the form of al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabab, which has also terrorised Kenya (most notably in its 2013 attack on Westgate mall in Nairobi). Nigeria has only recently rendered Boko Haram ineffective but that is no assurance that they will not rise up again. Likewise the government of Mozambique had previously believed RENAMO to be neutralised when they invited them into the government but since 2014/15 the right-wing group has “gone back to the bush”. The same can be said of South Sudan which is torn along lines of ethnicity; the result being a dysfunctional, failed state born just 6 years ago. In light of South Korea’s own experiences, the East Asian republic has a lot to offer in way of mediation and strategy formation.
The question of good governance speaks to another issue of institutional arrangement on the African continent. In spite of the many movements for balkanisation worldwide (Brexit, the Catalan, Quebec, and Kashmiri questions to mention a few) by 2030, the African continent wants to have carved out a form of unity in line with its vision of a pan-African arrangement of the continent’s political interface. South Korea must therefore be supportive of African integration movements and policies for practical reasons as it will be easier and less demanding to deal with a single political entity than a constellation of them. Also, active and close involvement in the process of structuring of alternatives of what a “united Africa” may look like will be a learning experience for South Korean statesmen and stateswomen who may use this accumulated expertise to work out possible ways in which Greater Korea itself may be re-unified after being divided some seven decades ago. In other words, Africa may become for Korea a ‘petri dish’ in which political unison is experimented with.
South Korea and Africa’s exchange of ideas and experience can go further. An avenue which would allow the fulfilling of both the cultural and economic aspirations of the relations could be the formation of sister-cities; pairing each of South Korea’s major cities’ governments with those of Africa and forging a kind of ‘Mayoral Korea-Africa Forum’ as well accompanying that with population exchange programmes. As the author suggested to the South Korean and South African delegation in a meeting with students in 2016 in Pretoria, while heads of state who attend the Korea-Africa Forum summits do connect with their nations, this lower-level platform would allow not only for a more meaningful, grassroots kindling of cultural promotion for both sides but would also allow for a more precise intelligence-gathering tactic for investment opportunities. Increasing the number of direct airports would also be beneficial as that could allow for South Korean goods to reach specific African metros easier – especially those which are land-locked, of which Africa has a high number.
Among others, the African Union Foundation describes one of its 2060 goals as “developing Africa’s youth to take their rightful place on the global stage, by promoting science and technology education among young people”. This goal may well have been written with South Korea in mind. The extent of access to technology and science in South Korea – where almost every household is computer literate and connected to the internet – is the world’s envy, whereas there is an incredible paucity of even a fraction of this in Africa. South Korea’s niche as a technology hub in the world should, in its relationship with Africa, mean that it could be able to form technology apprenticeships as well as sci-tech scholarships for African students. In the long-run, this will pay for itself as computer literate citizens are likely to purchase more and recent innovations from South Korean producers. In the very least, nonetheless, the model applied in Rwanda should be replicated elsewhere on the continent.
While having taken steps to relatively solve the rural-urban divide in the Saemaul Undong movement (whose policy methods, in 2008, the Economic Commission for Africa selected as the model for its own Sustainable Modernization of Agriculture and Rural Transformation program) of the 1970s, South Korea is increasingly running out of land in which to produce its food. While the deal with Madagascar may have failed, it would be possible to carve out newer ones with African countries, one of whose Vision 2063 goals is to “[work] with women and youth in agriculture towards modernised agriculture and food production.” South Korea has agricultural expertise, with each South Korean farmer producing on average 40 times more than their Chinese counterpart, Africa has both land and human capital (and also, a low human density thanks to the sheer geographic size of the continent). Bringing in the South Korean expertise would bring about larger quantities of produce; enough for South Korea to import and ultimately resolve the food insecurity threat for both parties.
As both South Korea and many African states are part of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), a free trade deal between the two entities will also be ideal for some, if not all, goods and services as has already been being done with the Korea Southern African Customs Union Free Trade Agreement (KSACUFTA). South Korea has shown the benefits to be reaped from a free market engagement with its own development trajectory. And frankly, Africa can benefit from the realisation of true multilateral free trade. But so far, while African countries have a number of bilateral free trade agreements with the US and the EU, these are almost rendered meaningless by the number of constraints and preconditions posed – and in many instances the continent opens up to these partners but they close their own markets in turn. Indeed, the EU has such high regulatory measures that Africa cannot access the European market. And Africa’s agricultural produce is blockaded by the common tariff that is imposed by the EU on agricultural produce in order to protect failing, subsidised EU farmers – the WTO Doha Round only managed to get a tariff-free agreement on a single agricultural produce: the banana. Meanwhile, potential niche goods such as coffee have such high tariffs placed on them that there is almost no incentive to produce them on a large scale.
Both South Korea and Africa have a lot to gain from one another, and must look to do just that without denying the other fairness. And so, coming onto every negotiation table, each entity’s representative must come in good faith and with willingness to carve out a truly mutually beneficial relationship. South Korea has the opportunity to get it right; to be Africa’s first true friend in a non-exploitative, fair relationship. And in the long-run, Korea will be immensely rewarded for this. As the first major economic entity to willingly and openly seek to sit down and co-plan and co-strategize a way forward together with African leaders and African citizens beforehand, South Korea, if nothing else, grasps that there are moral, legal and institutional implications to international relations and trade. It is up to Africa now to make the most of this.
President Xi Jinping’s diplomacy doctrine
After a long preparatory work and thanks to the strong mindedness that we already recognize to him, on March 10, 2018 Xi Jinping succeeded in imposing – with 99.86% of favourable votes – a constitutional reform enabling him to extend his stay in power without time limits.
It should be recalled that the maximum limit of the two consecutive terms of office was introduced by Deng Xiaoping in 1982 to avoid the danger of a “personalistic drift” (as Deng himself called it), which – according to that ruling class, just getting over the Red Guards’ harsh attacks -had characterized the last phase of Mao Zedong’s regime.
After stabilizing his power within the Party and the State – with his loyal aides, such as Wang Qishan, who managed the world financial crisis of 2008-2010 and the relations with the United States, as well as Deputy-Prime Minister Liu He, supervising economic and financial policy, and Yi Gang, the Governor of the Central Bank – President Xi Jinping established a large and cohesive negotiating group for international economic and financial affairs, above all with the United States. In 2017 the United States managed a trade surplus of 375 billion US dollars in favour of China, as well as a volume of Chinese investment in US Treasury bills equal to 1,200 billion US dollars and many other operations. At the core of them there is the New Silk Road, which will characterize the strategic-economic and geopolitical nature of China’s current foreign policy.
Power projection in the Heartland and US potential exclusion from it.
As Brzezinsky said, when the Heartland is united with the Eurasian peninsula, there will be the end of US hegemony. Both in Europe and in the rest of the world.
Furthermore,Liu He and Yi Gang spent long periods in the United States to study international finance and political science.
The powerful anti-corruption campaign also contributed to the quick and effective results of this great change in China’s leadership. Besides the thoroughcontrol ofthe ways and procedures to select both the middle-low and upperranks of the Party and the State, carried out directly by President Xi Jinping’s “internal” group, said campaign was organized also by Wang Qishan, the powerful Head of the new Party’s “control commission” and very loyal to President Xi Jinping.
An essential aspect of foreign policy, which for President Xi Jinping and his team is mainly economic and financial foreign policy, is the establishment of independent Chinese initiatives abroad, in addition to expanding China’s role in the WTO and in the other international organizations.
It is by no mere coincidence that the Chinese intelligence services have a section dealing with the “use of international standards”.
Initiatives such as the Investment Bank for Asian Infrastructure (in which also Italy participates) and the BRICS Investment Bank, which are essential for understanding the role of China as a country within the world trade flows, but also its strong geopolitical autonomy.
These phenomena will emerge above all in the 75 countries that have already joined the New Silk Road.
Economic ties with China, but adhesion of the 75 countries to China’s unwritten project of hegemony in the new world order, which today, in particular, appears as a structural weakening of the United States.
With specific reference to diplomacy, the recently-drafted “Xi Jinping’s Thought on Diplomacy” envisages that – as already done for seven decades -the Party develops a diplomacy thought “with Chinese characteristics” and that this Thought is defined directly by the CPC leaders.
While today’s world is infinitely complex, as Chinese leaders maintain, the Chinese diplomacy must also reach a new starting point.
A new starting point that simplifies the initial approach and leads to a New World Order, not focused on the United States, but linked – if anything – to a Chinese diplomacy operating bilaterally in all economic and political spheres and in all areas of the world.
Hence, following President Xi Jinping’s diplomatic policy line means – first and foremost -to remain loyal to the peaceful development pathway, with a view to furthering cooperation with all countries to achieve win-win results. It also means to support the formal architecture of the current international system, with a view to finally achieving a better external environment for all States and making definitive progress towards world peace and human progress.
Hence President Xi Jinping’s diplomacy means – first and foremost-support for the gradual and ongoing opening up of global markets, especially today when Western countries tend to protectionism, but is also designed to foster relations with the countries that the West is neglecting or still considers mere “deposits of raw materials”, such as Africa or Latin America.Said diplomacy, however, works above all to avoid the creation of hotbeds of crisis.
In a nutshell,albeit with some degree of legitimate simplification, President Xi Jinping is turning most of Mao Zedong’s “Three Worlds Theory” into diplomacy doctrine.
It should be recalled that it is a classification dividing the countries according to their hegemonic claims and designs, as well as to their power projection.
The “imperialist” West and the “revisionist” USSR, or rather the First World, would wear themselves out, with their cold wars, on the ground of the “great European plain” they both want to conquer, while all the vast world that is not yet developed will be led by the People’s Republic of China.
The Second World was made up of the developed countries, but the marginal ones compared to the nations of the First World.
Analyzing President Xi Jinping’s doctrine on Chinese diplomacy more in depth, we realize that these times have already come.
As to the First World, the USA is under crisis, while Russia is now part of the Chinese-led Heartland. The Second World’s countries can all now be part of a bilateral win-win project guaranteed by the new Chinese superpower.
Firstly, China has experienced 40 years of continuous development, i.eafter the Four Modernisations and the subsequent economic and political reforms.
Currently China is the second largest economy in the world and, in 10 years’ time, Chinese analysts reasonably expect it will outperform the United States.
On the other hand, as seen above, there is the progressive expansion of protectionist practices that lead to strong strategic and economic tension between States.
In this case, precisely with his diplomacy doctrine, President Xi Jinping maintains that the domestic choices must always be coordinated with those in the international sphere.
There is no separation – which is eminently non-dialectic – between domestic and international policy in a country.
Again according to President Xi Jinping’s doctrine, at world level the guidelines can only be those of mutual respect for global peace(hence never non-hegemonic) and of mutual development, not only at economic, but also at human level.
It is a Western-rooted humanism, albeit “with Chinese characteristics”, as Chinese would say.
Hence President Xi Jinping’s Diplomacy Doctrine strongly supports multilateralism, both at political and economic and financial levels. It also promotes free trade and facilitatesinvestmentand finally tends to renew and “rejuvenate” the system of global relations as against the US “unilateralism”, which is closely related to protectionism.
Obviously an exporting economy such as China’s, which is however expanding also in the internal market, wants free trade. It is less obvious, however, that a country dominating the world financial system like the United States is linked to the protection of its industries, which are often mature or even decocted.
The primary factor is that, in the idealistic diplomacy resulting from President Xi Jinping’s Thought, what is noted by many Chinese scholars and diplomats is the significant and specific contribution of the country to human civilization – a contribution that, in Chinese leaders’ minds, no other country can currently provide.
It is not a secondary and rhetorical factor: humanism with Chinese characteristics shows that China holds universal values, while the West is ever less globalized in its values and lifestyle.
The China that has expanded throughout the world, in the 40 years since the Four Modernizations, is a primary part of the international community. Its interests have spread across the world, which implies that China has a perspective and a way of assessing facts in a global and not strictly nationalistic way.
Chinese humanism as hegemony of soft power.
Hence, also the West – which is obviously not satisfied with China’s quick, stable and powerful growth – cannot even understand how, according to Chinese analysts, the country can have the perception of its universal commitments and interests.
A Chinese diplomat said that they have been accustomed to be modest, but they have begun to engage deeply in international and global issues, with a view to leading “the reform of globalization” – which is the key to President Xi Jinping’s geopolitics – particularly after the 18thCPC National Congress.
With specific reference to the relations between the USA and China, President Xi Jinping’s theory of Diplomacy maintains that cooperation always achieves win-win objectives, while confrontation always entails a loss for both actors.
According to President Xi Jinping, those who still have a cold war mentality isolate themselves from the world, and those who currently use zero-sum games will never be able to avoid confrontation without suffering great damage.
If the United States creates the conditions for a hard confrontation with China – and powerful enemies emerge – it will reach a condition in which the contrast, even peaceful, will be so hard as to severely undermine the US world rank, as well as its status as first global economy.
As to the relations between China and the Russian Federation, President Xi Jinping regards the two nations as global strategic partners in all areas.
Currently the relations between the two countries are “rock solid” – just to put it in President Xi Jinping’s Doctrine. Together they are becoming a strategically very important force for maintaining peace in the world.
Common Russian-Chinese interests are always expanding, but they never negatively affect a third party and are never influenced by the decisions of a third party.
It is the current Chinese definition of the classic term “independence”. Esoterically, the Void between two Full.
Hence, just to recap, President Xi Jinping’s diplomacy doctrine consists of ten simple points:
a) always supporting the CPC Central Committee’s policy as if it were the essential principle for action, underlining the function of the centralized and unified direction of the Party as far as all relations with foreign countries are concerned.
b) Supporting the development of diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, with a view to fulfilling the mission of national rejuvenation. The internal and external spheres are linked and must never be treated separately.
c) Preserving world peace and reaching a common level of development among peoples and nations, with a view to building a large community, with a shared future for all ankind. Chinese global humanism seen as a Vase of Kingdoms for every national and humanistic tradition.
d) Strengthening all countries’ strategic trust in Socialism with Chinese characteristics.
e) Continuing to work for the Belt and Road Initiative in view of all member countries’ common growth, through discussion and collaboration.
f) Following the path of peaceful development, based on mutual respect and win-win cooperation. Respect, not asymmetrical hegemony, but symmetrical hegemony – in the Chinese view – since it is the result of the political effects of a win-win relationship.
g) Developing global partnerships while proposing a diplomatic agenda.
h) Leading the reform of the global governance system, based on the concepts of justice and fairness – i.e. non-hegemonic concepts of a cultural and political nature.
i) Taking the Chinese national interests as the bottom line for safeguarding China’s sovereignty, security and development interests. It is once again the link between the outside and the inside of the same Vase, namely domestic policy and foreign policy.
j) Nurturing the growth of a specific style of Chinese diplomacy, combining the fine tradition of China’s “external work” with the current needs and characteristics of the international environment. This means to link the Confucian and elitist Chinese tradition with the daily practice of diplomacy.
According to the Party’s current leadership, the study of President Xi Jinping’s diplomacy thought is an essential part of the thought on Socialism “with Chinese characteristics”, so as to achieve a New Era, which is designed to be the start of a global and peaceful diplomacy led by China.
A diplomacy mainly supporting the reform of globalization, the deep core of President Xi Jinping’s diplomacy thought, as well as the global spreading of China’s win-win relations with all the countries of the world.
From this viewpoint, and without ever losing sight of the goal of Chinese national rejuvenation and universal human development – another essential feature of President Xi Jinping’s diplomacy thought – new types of international relations will be established, based on mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation. Global multilateralism.
In the future, the diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, introduced by President Xi Jinping, will promote a new international order, resulting from an inclusive world of stable peace, universal security and common prosperity.
This is not propaganda. It is a project that – in the specific terminology of the CPC Central Committee -is building China’s new foreign policy.
Without this kind of political eschatology, we cannot fully understand President Xi Jinping’s thought on international relations.
For a modern, but also for a traditional Chinese, the Confucian metaphysics of principles is what metaphysics was for Aristotle: “the science of ends” – ends which are as real as means.
In fact, Father Matteo Ricci S.J. regardedConfucius as “the Aristotle of the East” and, in the “Rites controversy”, which involved the Jesuit and the Franciscan Fathers, the former supported the sinicizationof the Holy Mass because, despite everything, the Chinese tradition was comparable and consistent with Aristotle’s tradition that had refounded Catholic Metaphysics, through St. Thomas Aquinas.
Moreover, it is a moral and cultural standing proposing itself as a new leadership, in a world of political materialism – especially in the West – and of short-term operational and practical visions.
Hence, there is a successful merging of Marxist analysis and Chinese cultural tradition – a modern cultural and political tradition that is now also ancient.
Therefore, this is another essential point of President Xi Jinping’s Thought on foreign policy.
President Xi Jinping’s diplomacy is an important achievement of the now successful turning of Confucian thought into “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”.
In President Xi Jinping’s mind, arts and culture – which are also essential in the current Chinese power projection – are based on some points that can be taken from various speeches and documents and can be summarized as follows:
1) contemporary art must take patriotism as its primary theme (patriotism and not Marxism),thus leading the crowds to have correct visions of history, nationality, the State and culture. Confirming the integrity and self-confidence of the Chinese people – here lies mass pedagogy, which applies also to foreign policy.
2) Some artists ridicule the sublime (and much could be said in relation to the Western theory of the sublime) and even offend the classics, thus depriving the crowds of heroic figures. The world upside down, the good as the bad, the evil becoming good, the ugly becoming beautiful. Here President Xi Jinping, who knows the European culture well, will certainly remember a scene of the tragedy that built the Western culture: the ritual of the Three Witches around the cauldron in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
3) The market value of arts is completely irrelevant, compared to their social value. Another problem of pedagogy in arts, while the West tends to exclude the public from the works of art and is scandalized – following Walter Benjamin -by their technical reproducibility. The economic benefits are always worth less than social ones – and this is another very important factor to understand President Xi Jinping’s thought. Nevertheless, the independence of arts and the autonomy of their aesthetic value is indisputable. Autonomy, not exclusion from the public.
4) Chinese art must never chase the foreigner. Provincialism is the absolute evil. We cannot say President Jinping is wrong.
5) Providing sound, healthy and progressive content to mass fashions coming from abroad.
In essence, it is a transposition – within the arts – of the same principles that President Xi Jinping has developed for the art of diplomacysince last June.
In other words, the values of all behaviours;the universal effect of behaviours; the union between the private and the public sphere, i.e. between the external (foreign policy) and internal domains (national life).
The Chinese still view diplomacy as an art, unlike the West, which now regards its diplomats as sellers of goods and services, as financial promoters or advisors, and possibly as brokers of contracts.
This will never be the diplomacy of a prestigious, influential and successful country.
The New Chinese Diplomacy, however, also concerns President Xi Jinping’s attempt to capitalize on Donald J. Trump’s isolation on the world scene.
So far, however, only 19% of the citizens in 25 Western countries like China as world leader, while a US Rule is still acceptable to 25% of the world public.
Not even the US results, however, are very brilliant.
After all, President Jinping’s goal is to make China rapidly becoming a global superpower, thus creating a protective network of allied countries, with a view to counterbalancing the equivalent US structure of international relations. Once again the Void and the Full exchanging their roles.
In fact, one of the reasons underlying the Belt and Road Initiative is to create a network of long-term allies for China, capable of covering at least the whole Eurasian Heartland, thus blocking it in the face of the US power expansion.
Once again the Void and the Full, two terms of the Chinese esoteric tradition: the Full will be China’s and the Russian Federation’s undisputed power over the entire Eurasian Heartland, with ramifications towards an increasingly weaker Eurasian peninsula in geopolitical and military terms.
The Void will be the US strategic autonomy around China – at least for the time being.
There may also be a structural Chinese contrast with India, a future great power, also at economic level, but to the south, at the crossroads between the Heartland and the great line of communication between the Asian Seas and the Persian Gulf, and finally the Mediterranean.
For the time being, the EU irrelevance will suffice. An unbeatable guarantee for both the USA and the other major global players.
The void, more important than the full, is currently the still decisive US presence in the primary and secondary seas, with little penetration into Africa, very strong US presence in Europe and the North American management of the break between Eastern Europe and Russia, which is capable of making the Heartland open and “viable” and depriving it of strategic value.
This is the great picture in which President Jinping’s Diplomacy Doctrine shall be seen.
Hence, we are still in the phase of the speech delivered by President Jinping to the CPC Central Committee in 2017, when he said that “China would stand tall and strong in the East”.
In a phase of globalization crisis, we are still reinterpreting the theme of China’s “central interests” – an issue that had been discussed by the Chinese leaders, especially in the early 2000s.
On the basis, however, of the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” and of the “Chinese dream”, two essential themes of the 18th CPC Congress that crowned Xi Jinping as leader.
The President has quickly become China’s “central leader”, especially through the great campaign against corruption.
At international level, Jinping’s Presidency differs greatly from an essential strategic theme of contemporary China: the low profile imposed, at the beginning, by Deng Xiaoping.
Deng seemed to think that China should be allowed to build a modern economy, which was its first and fundamental objective, but should not be bothered with the major geopolitical and military issues, which were still out of reach and diverting the country from its primary objective.
President Jinping has instead overturned this principle: China certainly has world ambitions, which are also its primary interests.
Hence China’s core interests are well known: the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank;the One Belt, One RoadInitiative; the construction of artificial islands in the Sea of Japan; the building of the Djibouti base and the silent participation in many world conflicts and tensions. These are all ways to further China’s global power and protect its primary interests.
We should also recall “China 2025” and “Amazing China”, two projects that are far from negligible in this new Chinese plan that consists in regulating, reforming and even regaining globalization, while other countries, such as the USA, temporarily recreate their economy and their labor force returning to protectionism. Inevitably, this will always recoil on them.
Protectionism is a drug with short-term effects.
The alternative option is twofold: to continue the game of globalization – which has now almost completely deindustrialized the nations that began the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century – or to temporarily strengthen the country with protectionism.
On the one hand, however, China can afford globalization because it has a different productive formula but, on the other, it could play even the game of protectionism, using the belt of the Silk Road countries, which can easily maintain and absorb an acceptable level of Chinese exports, even under the terms and conditions set by China.
Hence, are we now faced with a new cold war, the one between China and the West?
Probably, but only a Third Type one, with an economic war characterized by Second Type skirmishes, halfway between the symbolic and the strictly military domains.
China has already tried to close operations with an alliance between it and the EU, Russia and Japan.
Nevertheless, considering the current configuration of world trade, the attitude has been lukewarm.
The USA has instead reactivated part of its trade with the EU, by greatly strengthening its historic relationship with Japan.
Hence, there is once again the spectre of China’s closure within its traditional borders – a danger that President Xi Jinping wants to avert ab ovo.
As early as 2009, China’s “central interests” were theorized in the Central Committee as: 1) China’s fundamental system and State security; 2) the State sovereignty and territorial integrity; 3) the stable development of the economy and society.
The 2011 White Paper added “peaceful development” and “national reunification” to these fundamental policy lines.
That is the one with Taiwan.
Currently China makes it increasingly clear that respect for its core interests is essential to create the win-win relations that characterize its bilateral economic relations.
This is one of the primary aims of President Xi Jinping’s Diplomacy Doctrine.
Moreover, China, is no longer encouraging Chinese companies’ investment abroad, thus reuniting all what was previously scattered everywhere in the sole Belt and RoadInitiative, which is currently part of the Constitution and the Party’s Basic Policy Line.
The Belt and Road Line was born from that of the “March to the West”, a strategy initially developed by the international policy expert Wang Jisi, who believed China had to go towards Central Asia and the Middle East, with a view to minimizing the tensions with the United States in East Asia.
An essential area for the United States.
Currently, however, the “Belt and Road” initiative is a global and not a regional initiative – as Wang Jisiinitially thought – a project that will lead to geopolitical upheavals not yet predictable.
The project stems from two essential needs: China’s exit from its unsafe traditional borders and the continuous, stable internal economic development that, where lacking, would put the power of the Party and the State to a hard test.
These are the economic and political mechanisms that President Xi Jinping’s Diplomacy Theory wants to expand and protect.
The rebellion in Hong Kong and its geopolitical effects
The rebellion in Hong Kong is more complex and politically relevant than we may think, both nationally and internationally.
In the elections held on last September in the former British colony, as many as eight openly pro-independence representatives were elected who, at the first meeting, shouted hate phrases against the People’s Republic of China and expressed clear rejection of its specific sovereignty.
The “students” and the other participants in the protests immediately attacked police stations and then closed the main tunnel that connects the island of Hong Kong with the rest of the former British colony’s territory. Finally ,in Wanchai’s Golden Bauhinia Square – a magnet for tourists from other parts of China – they spray-painted palaces and a statue with provocative statements such as “Heaven will destroy the Communist Party” and “Liberate Hong Kong”.
The operation, organization, stability and continuity of the rebellion, as well as the control and cohesion of its ranks, the elimination of undercovers, the military quality of the “students’ operation”, the excellent publicity and recruitment ability make us think that this rebellion is so well organized that it certainly has points of reference, sponsors and supporters abroad.
Who? Certainly, the United States – with its foundations for the globalization of democracy – which thinks of exploiting Hong Kong to destabilize China, especially given the proximity of Shenzen, one of the largest developing areas of Chinese economy and technology that could easily be “infected” by the rebellion.
Certainly, China’s current dilemma about its next military reaction and its impact on the world public is already a serious damage to Chinese national and foreign policy.
The United States has every interest in causing at least China’s global defamation before and after the Hong Kong rebellion, precisely pending the clash over duties and tariffs for the import and export of Chinese goods.
There is also Taiwan that, thanks to the large echo of the Hong Kong rebellion, is trying to publicize its idea of independence from China, as well as of reaction against China’s latest adverse actions against the Nationalist Island.
The countries interested in the destabilization of the link between Hong Kong and China may also include Japan, which is interested in weakening the Chinese strategic projection eastwards, and finally even Britain which -fallen prey to the retro dream characterizing the current phase of Brexit – could think of recovering the old colony or even merely taking revenge against China.
It all began with a major demonstration in late April against the extradition bill, which facilitated the transfer from Hong Kong to mainland China of Chinese people found guilty according to local regulations, as well as of Chinese criminals who could be protected by Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The rebellion has already forced Carrie Lam, the current Chief Executive and President of Hong Kong’ Special Administrative Region, to drop the extradition bill. But now it is too late to stop the rebellion.
One of the protesters’ objectives is also to “raise awareness” among the many Chinese tourists of their demands and claims, which have been magnified by the current crisis of the local economy.
Also the choice of this type of propaganda makes us think of an influence by Westerners. Indeed, a not casual influence.
Certainly one of the rebellion goals is also the attempt to radicalize and destabilize the Chinese areas on the border with the former British colony, which is the reason why President Xi Jinping has created a “cordon sanitaire” for the news coming from Hong Kong.
The longer the rebellion lasts, the more the goal – rather unrealistic but rational, considering the current political equilibria – is precisely that of “infecting” the most modern and productive areas of Southern China.
Overseas and in Asia, there are those who dream of even “disintegrating China”, by stirring up the major minorities present in the People’s Republic of China, and by destabilizing the centres of greatest industrial concentration in the South, as well as by infecting the areas of most difficult communication with the political Centre and with Beijing.
Three concurrent and simultaneous projects for destabilizing China, which have already been underway for some time.
With or without the Hong Kong rebellion, which – in any case – is currently strategic for the splitting up of the People’s Republic of China.
Otherwise, those who oppose the growth of China as a great power may think about strengthening the Islamist insurgency in Xinjiang and in Tibet or triggering another insurgency by one of the 56 recognized minorities of the People’s Republic of China, namely the Miao, the Dong, the Yao or the Koreans.
This is what really lies behind the idea of the “Hong Kong Nation” that is spreading among the leaders of the current rebellion.
The independence issue, however, still accounts for 20-25% of voters in the old British colony – and all this has nothing to do with “nostalgia” for Great Britain.
Hong Kong is an area of great importance for China: since the British takeover of the island in 1977, Beijing has always privileged relations with the powerful financial and industrial elites of Hong Kong.
Exactly in the phase of the Four Modernizations, this enabled China to actually have one of the major financial hubs in the world.
Goodness knows how important this was for the further and subsequent growth of China.
But the former British promontory is very important also from the geopolitical viewpoint.
Indeed, it is the fifth most important port in the world.
For years China has already been implementing the “Great Bay” project that will unite Hong Kong with China, both in fact and in law.
Moreover, there is already the project of putting Hong Kong in communication with Macau and Zhihai, but the promontory is also already a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and will hence play a remarkable role in the New Silk Road.
It should also be recalled that when control over Hong Kong returned to China in 1977, under Deng Xiaoping, the leader of the Four Modernizations (and of the repression of Tiananmen Square), the former British colony accounted for over a quarter of the GDP of the entire People’s Republic of China.
Hence the issue was not only strictly economic, but also strategic in nature.
For President Xi Jinping, however, the main issue is to avoid – both in Hong Kong and in China – what now appears to be an obvious “colour revolution”, similar to the Georgian and Ukrainian ones, and to the various Arab Springs that spread the jihad to a large part of the Maghreb region.
Currently the dilemma for China is radical and very hard to solve.
Should it come to terms and – as some Chinese leaders are envisaging –accept to meet some demands from the Hong Kong insurgents who, however, deeply hate China?
Or should it do the same as in Tiananmen Square? A likely, but still dangerous option – mainly for its international effects.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam will probably be held in power by China to avoid a new “election” by the Hong Kong Election Committee, a body of 12,000 members in a city of over 7 million people.
Moreover, 1.3 million of them live in deep poverty but, for the time being, the “rebellion” is entirely organized by the middle class – like the European protests of 1968, the best operation of destabilization in recent history that has many fathers.
Nevertheless, unlike the European protests of 1968, the Hong Kong rebellion still lacks official leaders. While, at the same time as the democratic and pro-Western “rebellion” is developing, the pro-China insurgency tries to invade the streets against the struggle of the “autonomists”.
We should not forget this part of the issue either.
The maximum pressure of the “rebels” will certainly last until October 1, the day on which the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China is celebrated.
In my opinion, this seems to be the key date beyond which a Chinese intervention could have the greatest political and economic impact.
After all, there are two real reasons underlying the autonomist and anti-Chinese “rebellion” in the city-State: the clear mistrust vis-à-vis China, on the one hand, and, on the other, the total distrust also vis-à-vis the current government in Hong Kong which is still – almost more than the Chinese power – the current objective of the civil war now underway.
China could still separate the two objectives of the rebels, thus sparking off a crisis in the local government and then reacting militarily against the rest of the “students”.
The rebels are aged 25, on average, and are equally distributed by gender.
Most of them come from the educated middle class, especially the part that already votes for the “pan-democratic” parties, those that have long been opposing the pro-Chinese government in Hong Kong.
The rebels even accuse the poor population of supporting China. According to them, the poor are not “true Hongkongers” – and this says a lot about the social nature of the rebellion.
The “movement” is also very decentralized. It publishes good magazines and it is even said that its cameras frighten the police.
None of the local universities, however, officially supports the “rebellion”.
There is not yet workers’ clear solidarity for the “rebellion” – not even by the many migrant workers.
For the current rebels in Hong Kong, the word “democracy” does not concern the creation of an electoral system with universal suffrage that, indeed, already exists – albeit to a limited extent – but it is a sort of universal “system”, without repression, restrictions and controls – and hence it will be difficult to face similar demands by simply extending political representation.
However, most of the citizens living in the city-peninsula still do not support the rebels – not even superficially.
With specific reference to the international support for the rebellion, certainly the United States views it favourably, but we should also mention the now known direct commitment of the NGO National Endowment for Democracy, linked to the CIA, while the Chinese press underlines that the bill that triggered the revolt was inevitable, otherwise the already judged and convicted Chinese criminals could have fled to Hong Kong, thus becoming untouchable.
Furthermore, seventy NGOs have already signed an open letter to stop the extradition bill, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Red Cross International.
Too many not to think badly. Moreover, the rebels’ slogans and messages seem to be produced with purely Western techniques and methods.
Many of them are already written in English, instead of Chinese, and Hong Kong has always been one of the main places of CIA’s action against China.
Moreover, the aforementioned NGO, namely National Endowment for Democracy, already operates mainly through the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Civic Party, the Labour Party and the Democratic Party of Hong Kong.
There is also the cryptocurrency created by an obscure supporter of the rebellion, who calls himself “Dr. Dragon”, who has recently devised a “coin” to be distributed among the rebels to encourage and fund their actions.
As already said, Taiwan is certainly endeavoring to influence the rebels in Hong Kong.
There is also the Chinese Triads’ presence during the repression of the rebellion in the various cities of Hong Kong.
The Triads are essential to understand the economy of both Hong Kong and Macau.
Hong Kong is the traditional home of China’s major criminal organizations.
For example, the 14K, Wo Shin Wo and Sun Yee On Triads are essential in the entire world crime economy.
There are over 50 minor Triads in Hong Kong. Every economic activity in the former British colony is subject to bribery.
The major legal and illegal activities controlled by the Triads are gambling, prostitution, drug trafficking and dealing, as well as the counterfeiting of all kinds of products, ranging from drugs to toys.
Nevertheless, there is an economic sector in Hong Kong that is almost entirely in the Triads’ hands, namely the movie industry – mainly the genre related to martial arts and pornography.
Probably it is not by chance that the “rebels” often quote the old films of Bruce Lee, who was born in San Francisco but died in Hong Kong, and was a decisive figure in the martial arts movie sector.
Macau is the world capital of gambling. The city has five times the players of Las Vegas.
Moreover, as is well known, gambling is the main channel for money laundering.
While in China and Hong Kong gambling is forbidden – at least officially – the huge crowd of Chinese players goes to Macau for gambling. Also 47% of government officials and executives of Chinese state-owned enterprises go there for gambling and this allows to possibly blackmail a significant number of Chinese (and Hong Kong) bureaucrats.
However, there are also strong ties between the Triads and the Chinese government.
The activity of finding important civilian and military technologies is often “commissioned” to the Triads by the Department of the Chinese Intelligence Services, namely the Guoangbu.
The Chinese espionage relating to the World Trade Organization (WTO) is often carried out by the Sun Ye On Triad.
As part of the mutual assistance relations with the Chinese government, the Triads control and repress much of the petty crime in both China and Hong Kong.
Therefore, in all likelihood, there will also be the collaboration of some Triads in the future Chinese repression of the “rebellion” in Hong Kong.
Deeper meanings of the Hong Kong protests: Is China a gamechanger or yet another winner?
Does our history only appear overheated, while it is essentially calmly predetermined? Is it directional or conceivable, dialectic and eclectic or cyclical, and therefore cynical? Surely, our history warns. Does it also provide for a hope? Hence, what is in front of us: destiny or future?
Theory loves to teach us that extensive debates on what kind of economic system is most conductive to human wellbeing is what consumed most of our civilizational vertical. However, our history has a different say: It seems that the manipulation of the global political economy – far more than the introduction of ideologies – is the dominant and arguably more durable way that human elites usually conspired to build or break civilizations, as planned projects. Somewhere down the process, it deceived us, becoming the self-entrapment. How?
One of the biggest (nearly schizophrenic) dilemmas of liberalism, ever since David Hume and Adam Smith, was an insight into reality: Whether the world is essentially Hobbesian or Kantian. As postulated, the main task of any liberal state is to enable and maintain wealth of its nation, which of course rests upon wealthy individuals inhabiting the particular state. That imperative brought about another dilemma: if wealthy individual, the state will rob you, but in absence of it, the pauperized masses will mob you.
The invisible hand of Smith’s followers have found the satisfactory answer – sovereign debt. That ‘invention’ meant: relatively strong central government of the state. Instead of popular control through the democratic checks-&-balance mechanism, such a state should be rather heavily indebted. Debt – firstly to local merchants, than to foreigners – is a far more powerful deterrent, as it resides outside the popular check domain.
With such a mixed blessing, no empire can easily demonetize its legitimacy, and abandon its hierarchical but invisible and unconstitutional controls. This is how a debtor empire was born. A blessing or totalitarian curse? Let us briefly examine it.
The Soviet Union – much as (the pre-Deng’s) China itself – was far more of a classic continental military empire (overtly brutal; rigid, authoritative, anti-individual, apparent, secretive), while the US was more a financial-trading empire (covertly coercive; hierarchical, yet asocial, exploitive, pervasive, polarizing). On opposite sides of the globe and cognition, to each other they remained enigmatic, mysterious and incalculable: Bear of permafrost vs. Fish of the warm seas. Sparta vs. Athens. Rome vs. Phoenicia… However, common for the both was a super-appetite for omnipresence. Along with the price to pay for it.
Consequently, the Soviets went bankrupt by mid 1980s – they cracked under its own weight, imperially overstretched. So did the Americans – the ‘white man burden’ fractured them already by the Vietnam war, with the Nixon shock only officializing it. However, the US imperium managed to survive and to outlive the Soviets. How?
The United States, with its financial capital (or an outfoxing illusion of it), evolved into a debtor empire through the Wall Street guaranties. Titanium-made Sputnik vs. gold mine of printed-paper… Nothing epitomizes this better than the words of the longest serving US Federal Reserve’s boss, Alan Greenspan, who famously quoted J.B. Connally to then French President Jacques Chirac: “True, the dollar is our currency, but your problem”. Hegemony vs. hegemoney.
House of Cards
Conventional economic theory teaches us that money is a universal equivalent to all goods. Historically, currencies were a space and time-related, to say locality-dependent. However, like no currency ever before, the US dollar became – past the WWII – the universal equivalent to all other moneys of the world. According to history of currencies, the core component of the non-precious metals’ money is a so-called promissory note – intangible belief that,by any given point in future, a particular shiny paper (self-styled as money) will be smoothly exchanged for real goods.
Thus, roughly speaking, money is nothing else but a civilizational construct about imagined/projected tomorrow – that the next day (which nobody has ever seen in the history of humankind, but everybody operates with) definitely comes (i), and that this tomorrow will certainly be a better day then our yesterday or even our today (ii).
This and similar types of collective constructs (horizontal and vertical) over our social contracts hold society together as much as its economy keeps it alive and evolving. Hence, it is money that powers economy, but our blind faith in constructed (imagined) tomorrows and its alleged certainty is what empowers money.
Clearly, the universal equivalent of all equivalents – the US dollar – follows the same pattern: Bold and widely accepted promise. What does the US dollar promise when there is no gold cover attached to it ever since the time of Nixon shock of 1971?
Pentagon promises that the oceanic sea-lanes will remain opened (read: controlled by the US Navy), pathways unhindered, and that the most traded world’s commodity – oil, will be delivered. So, it is not a crude or its delivery what is a cover to the US dollar – it is a promise that oil of tomorrow will be deliverable. That is a real might of the US dollar, which in return finances Pentagon’s massive expenditures and shoulders its supremacy.
Admired and feared, Pentagon further fans our planetary belief in tomorrow’s deliverability – if we only keep our faith in dollar (and hydrocarbons’ energized economy), and so on and on in perpetuated circle of mutual reinforcements.
These two pillars of the US might from the East coast (the US Treasury/Wall Street and Pentagon) together with the two pillars of the West coast – both financed and amplified by the US dollar, and spread through the open sea-routs (Silicone Valley and Hollywood), are an essence of the US posture.
This very nature of power explains why the Americans have missed to take the mankind into completely other direction; towards the non-confrontational, decarbonized, de-monetized/de-financialized and de-psychologized, the self-realizing and green humankind. In short, to turn history into a moral success story. They had such a chance when, past the Gorbachev’s unconditional surrender of the Soviet bloc, and the Deng’s Copernicus-shift of China, the US – unconstrained as a lonely superpower – solely dictated terms of reference; our common destiny and direction/s to our future/s.
Winner is rarely a game-changer
Sadly enough, that was not the first missed opportunity for the US to soften and delay its forthcoming, imminent multidimensional imperial retreat. The very epilogue of the WWII meant a full security guaranty for the US: Geo-economically – 54% of anything manufactured in the world was carrying the Made in USA label, and geostrategically – the US had uninterruptedly enjoyed nearly a decade of the ‘nuclear monopoly’. Up to this very day, the US scores the biggest number of N-tests conducted, the largest stockpile of nuclear weaponry, and it represents the only power ever deploying this ‘ultimate weapon’ on other nation. To complete the irony, Americans enjoy geographic advantage like no other empire before. Save the US, as Ikenberry notes: “…every major power in the world lives in a crowded geopolitical neighborhood where shifts in power routinely provoke counterbalancing”. Look the map, at Russia or China and their packed surroundings. The US is blessed with its insular position, by neighboring oceans. All that should harbor tranquility, peace and prosperity, foresightedness.
Why the lonely might, an empire by invitation did not evolve into empire of relaxation, a generator of harmony? Why does it hold (extra-judicially) captive more political prisoners on Cuban soil than the badmouthed Cuban regime has ever had? Why does it remain obsessed with armament for at home and abroad? Why existential anxieties for at home and security challenges for abroad ? (Eg. 78% of all weaponry at disposal in the wider MENA theater is manufactured in the US, while domestically Americans – only for their civilian purpose – have 1,2 small arms pieces per capita.)
Why the fall of Berlin Wall 30 years ago marked a beginning of decades of stagnant or failing incomes in the US (and elsewhere in the OECD world) coupled with alarming inequalities. What are we talking about here; the inadequate intensity of our tireless confrontational push or about the false course of our civilizational direction?
Indeed, no successful and enduring empire does merely rely on coercion, be it abroad or at home. The grand design of every empire in past rested on a skillful calibration between obedience and initiative – at home, and between bandwagoning and engagement – abroad. In XXI century, one wins when one convinces not when one coerces. Hence, if unable to escape its inner logics and deeply-rooted appeal of confrontational nostalgia, the prevailing archrival is only a winner, rarely a game-changer.
To sum up; After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Americans accelerated expansion while waiting for (real or imagined) adversaries to further decline, ‘liberalize’ and bandwagon behind the US. Expansion is the path to security dictatum only exacerbated the problems afflicting the Pax Americana. That is how the capability of the US to maintain its order started to erode faster than the capacity of its opponents to challenge it. A classical imperial self-entrapment!!
The repeated failure to notice and recalibrate its imperial retreat brought the painful hangovers to Washington by the last presidential elections. Inability to manage the rising costs of sustaining the imperial order only increased the domestic popular revolt and political pressure to abandon its ‘mission’ altogether. Perfectly hitting the target to miss everything else …
Hence, Americans are not fixing the world any more. They are only managing its decline. Look at their (winner) footprint in former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria – to mention but a few.
When the Soviets lost their own indigenous ideological matrix and maverick confrontational stance, and when the US dominated West missed to triumph although winning the Cold War, how to expect from the imitator to score the lasting moral or even amomentary economic victory?
Neither more confrontation and more carbons nor more weaponized trade and traded weapons will save our day. It failed in past, it will fail again any given day.
Interestingly, China opposed the I World, left the II in rift, and ever since Bandung of 1955 it neither won over nor (truly) joined the III Way. Today, many see it as a main contestant. But, where is a lasting success?
(The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is what the most attribute as an instrument of the Chinese planetary posture. Chinese leaders promised massive infrastructure projects all around by burning trillions of dollars. Still, numbers are more moderate. As the recent The II BRI Summit has shown, so far, Chinese companies had invested $90 worldwide. Seems, neither People’s Republic is as rich as many (wish to) think nor it will be able to finance its promised projects without seeking for a global private capital. Such a capital –if ever – will not flow without conditionalities. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the BRICS or ‘New Development’ – Bank have some $150 billion at hand, and the Silk Road Infrastructure Fund (SRIF) has up to $40 billion. Chinese state and semi-private companies can access – according to the OECD estimates – just another $600 billion (much of it tight) from the home, state-controlled financial sector. That means that China runs short on the BRI deliveries worldwide. Ergo, either bad news to the (BRI) world or the conditionalities’ constrained China.)
Greening international relations along with a greening of economy – geopolitical and environmental understanding, de-acidification and relaxation is the only way out.
That necessitates both at once: less confrontation over the art-of-day technology and their monopolies’ redistribution (as preached by the Sino-American high priests of globalization) as well as the resolute work on the so-called Tesla-ian implosive/fusion-holistic systems(including free-energy technologies; carbon-sequestration; antigravity and self-navigational solutions; bioinformatics and nanorobotics). More of initiative than of obedience (including more public control over data hoovering). More effort to excellence (creation) than struggle for preeminence (partition).
Finally, no global leader has ever in history emerged from a shaky and distrustful neighborhood, or by offering a little bit more of the same in lieu of an innovative technological advancement. (Eg. many see the Chinese 5G as an illiberal innovation, which may end up servicing authoritarianism, anywhere. And indeed, the AI deep learning inspired by biological neurons (neural science) including its three methods: supervised, unsupervised and reinforced learning can end up used for the digital authoritarianism, predictive policing and manufactured social governance based on the bonus-malus behavioral social credits.)
Ergo, it all starts from within, from at home. Without support from a home base (including that of Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet), there is no game changer. China’s home is Asia. Its size and its centrality along with its impressive output is constraining it enough.
Hence, it is not only a new, non-imitative, turn of technology what is needed. Without truly and sincerely embracing mechanisms such as the NaM, ASEAN and SAARC (eventually even the OSCE) and the main champions of multilateralism in Asia, those being India Indonesia and Japan first of all, China has no future of what is planetary awaited – the third force, a game-changer, lasting visionary and trusted global leader.
To varying degrees, but all throughout a premodern and modern history, nearly every world’s major foreign policy originator was dependent (and still depends) on what happens in, and to, Russia. It is not only a size, but also centrality of Russia that matters. It is as much (if not even more), as it is an omnipresence of the US and as it is a hyper production of the PR China.
Ergo, it is an uninterrupted flow of manufactured goods to the whole world, it is balancing of the oversized and centrally positioned one, and it is the ability to controllably destruct the way in and insert itself of the peripheral one. The oscillatory interplay of these three is what characterizes our days.
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