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China’s soft power and its Lunar New Year’s Culture

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Authors: Liu Hui & Humprey A. Russell*

As a common practice, China has celebrated its annual Lunar new year since 1984 when the leaders of the day decided to open mysterious country in a more confident and transparent way. So far, the lunar new year gala has become a part of Chinese cultural life and beyond. The question then arises why China or its people have been so thrilled to exhibit themselves to the world, as its economy has already impressed the world by its rapid pace and tremendous capacity.

As it is well-known, in international relations, peoples from different cultural and ethnical backgrounds need to enhance their understanding which eventually leads to mutual respect and tolerance as the key to the world peace and stability. China is well-aware of this norm. As a rising power with 1.3 billion people, it is necessary for China to introduce its culture and notion of the peaceful rise to the audiences globally. Joseph Nye, Jr., the founder of the concept of the soft power, has argued: “The currency of soft power is culture, political values, and foreign policies. During the information age, credibility is the scarcest resource.”In light of this, China has been steadily involved in cultural promotions abroad.

China is an ancient civilization but diplomatically it is a new global player in terms of its modern involvement into the world affairs, particularly in terms of reform and openness. Yet, since China has aspired to rejuvenate itself as one of the leading powers globally, it is natural for the world en bloc to assume Beijing’s intention and approach to the power transition between the rising power like itself and the ruling powers such as the United States and the G-7 club. Consider this, China has exerted all efforts to project but not propagate its image to the world. Here culture is bound to play the vital role in convincing the countries concerned that “culturally China has no the gene of being a threat to other peoples,” as Chinese President Xi has assured. The annual lunar gala is evidently a useful instrument to demonstrate Chinese people, culture and policies as well.

Culturally speaking, the Chinese New Year celebrations can be seen as follows. In a general sense, similar themes run through all the galas with the local cultural and ethnical ingredients, for instance, Chinese opera, crosstalk and acrobatics, as well as the lion-dancing or the dragon-dancing from time to time. Yes, the galas play the role of promoting the Chinese communities over the world to identify themselves with the Chinese culture which surely strengthen the cultural bonds among the Chinese, in particular the younger generations. Moreover, the dimension of the Chinese culture can be found beyond the country since its neighbors like Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and Malaysia, as well as Chinese communities in many other areas also perform those arts at the holiday seasons. The message here is clear that China, although it is a rising great power, has never abandoned its cultural tradition which has emphasized the harmony among the different races and ethnics.

Recently, the lunar new year celebrations across China have invited professional and amateur artists from all over the world. Those foreign guest artists and many overseas students studying in China have been able to offer their talents in either Chinese or their mother tongues. No doubt, this is a two-way to learn from each other because Chinese performers are benefited from the contacts with their counterparts globally. In terms of public diplomacy, Beijing aims to send a powerful and sincere message to the world: China can’t be in isolation from the world because it has aspired to be a great and inclusive country as well. To that end, the rise of China is not going to challenge the status quo, but will act as one of the stakeholders.

As usual, realists have difficulties and even cultural bias to accept the rhetoric from a country like China since it has been regarded by the ruling powers of the world as an ambitious, assertive and communist-ruled country with its unique culture. To that challenge, the Chinese government and the people have done a great deal of works to successfully illustrate Chinese practice of harmony at the societal level idealized by Confucius’ doctrines. This social harmony is made possible only by the realization of the Taoist ideal of harmony with nature – in this case, harmony between humans and nature. This explains why panda and many other rare animals are now viewed as new national symbol of China. Although they are unnecessarily an indispensable part of the lunar new year gala, the viewpoint is that the rise of China would not be completed at the cost of the ecological environment like many other countries did in history.

Practically speaking, the lunar new year celebrations are being conducted in a rich variety of ways such as concerts, cuisines, folk entertainments and even forums and receptions around the world. Major global commercial centers have also served to create a Chinese holiday atmosphere, adapt to the needs of Chinese tourists, attract active participation from local residents, and provide such diversities of cultural and social events. What is worth mentioning is that some Chinese-North American non-profit, non-partisan organizations are beginning to celebrate Chinese lunar gala in partnership with other local counterparts. For instance, the Chinese Inter-cultural Association based in California, recently hosted a Chinese New Year party in a Persian restaurant in partnership with a local non-profit, non-partisan organization called the Orange County Toastmaster Club, part of Toastmaster International. Also, in another Chinese New Year celebration that was open to people of all races in Pasadena, two Americans played the guitar and sang songs in fluent Chinese! Both galas were attended by people of all racial backgrounds around the world. Given this, it is fair to say that China’s soft power supported by its annual lunar new year festival is on the rise globally with a view to promoting mutual respect and friendship among the peoples of various cultural, ethnical and racial origins.

Yet, though the impressive feats are achieved, it has noted that China still has a long way to go in terms of its twin-centennial dreams. First, as a developing country with its unique culture, it is necessary for China to promote its great ancient culture abroad, but it is also imperative to avoid “introducing” China rashly into the globe. Essentially, soft power is more the ability to attract and co-opt than to use force or give money as a means of persuasion. Thereby, it is the very ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction. As cross-cultural communication is a long process, Nye admitted a few years ago, in public affairs, “the best propaganda is not propaganda.”

This is the key to all the countries. In 2014,President Xi formally stated, “China should increase its soft power, give a good Chinese narrative, and better communicate its messages to the world.” In light of this, Chinese lunar new year gala surely acts as soft power to project the image of China internationally.

* Humprey A. Russell (Indonesia), PhD candidate in international affairs, SIPA, Jilin University.

Liu Hui, associate professor specialized in Cross-cultural study, School of Foreign Studies, Guangxi Normal University

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East Asia

Emergence of New World Order out of Sino-US clash

Abbas Ali Bughio

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The United States of America and China’s relation has many up and down since the outbreak of Taiwan Strait status issue, Whenever, US Navy lifted than China deployed thousands of soldiers to Quemoy and MatruIsland in Taiwan Strait in August 1955.Later,Beijing was threatened with the Atom bomb, to end the agitation against the US. US president Richard Nixon ascribed Taiwan Strait status with China in 1972. Enduring conflict compelled the US to pass “Taiwan relation Act” from the congress on January 1, 1979, to help and maintain the peace, security and stability in western pacific and foreign policy would help to US authority to support on commercial, cultural and other relations between both countries. Therefore, Washington was lobbying to help Taiwan to get observer status at the World Health Organization (WHO) in the 73rd annual world health assembly while failing to maintain the preservation of the cross-strait status quo. Moreover, on retaliation by Chinese president Xi Jinping about Taiwan as under one-China policy to get and capture at any cost before 2050. However, this conflict would carry both superpowers to close any disastrous war.

Meanwhile, US-China Relation Act of 2000granted permission to China on trade. Firstly, the trade tensions were uprisings due to the US trade deficit with China from $273.1 billion in 2010. Therefore, on fulltime high of $295.5 billion in 2011.Preamble,US was malediction to pay $375.2 billion deficit to China in 2017.That imports increased $550 billion annually before imposing tariffs in which the comprehensive economic dialogue was convened in July 2017, on mutual understandings to adjourn$160 billion tariffs on Chinese goods, after the unfair practices of currency and manipulation of 1988 and 2015 Act of USA had compelled to China on massive tariffs.

Moreover, in March 2019, Trump warned most of the countries do not use Huawei and Telecom giant’s equipment in the battle with China for technological supremacy, and 5G works could use the company of spy. Furthermore, Trump administration-imposed tariffs to increase 10 to 25 percent on Chinese goods. The whole scenario compelled to Beijing to sign a trade agreement with Washington. However, the US blamed on currency manipulation through Act of 1988 under section 3004 against an opponent. It is a lengthy history of China to devalue the currency to gain and capture the market of the world. After the devaluation of Yuan as much weaker, which makes more competitive Chinese exports and buying to foreign currencies. Through, in global trade rules, if the competition among the countries on inflation and deflation currency could not evaluate due to get more foreign currencies though reduce capital inflow significantly hits on jobs sector especially in the USA and Europe. People’s Bank of China is under control by the communist party to let Yuan fall below key in 7.0 level against the US dollar and 8.5 percent depreciation from the exchange rate. However, the US department of treasury reported on January 13, 2020, before a great deal in which semiannual report on microeconomic and foreign exchange policies. This report assured about 20 significant partners of the US are involved with China on currency practices. The first trade deal would lead only $200 billion imports of US production and including $32 billion in agricultural. Moreover, $40 billion would be pasteurized through tariffs on Chinese goods at the end of 2021. Indeed, Trump ensured China all tariffs would be removed after signing the “second plan” trade deal.

The US and China’s relations got a new major twist due to COVID-19. After the breakout of the virus, the US president stretches the misinformation about China called “Chinese virus” and “Wuhan virus”. Moreover, the conspiracy theory lies the ideas about escaped from Wuhan lab. On the other side, China blames on US military persons on the carried virus and spilling in China. Therefore, the political battle of China is intense against adversaries, most of Americans about 66% believe virus divulged as the danger of dependency on China all manufacturing products, infect, the US was unaware from the abrupt global pandemic. It revealed the lack of necessary medical supplies and personal protective equipment’s (PPE) as well. The US must keep in mind the new raising for economic nationalism. The trade war between both countries will create uncertainty and global supply chain. Eventually, some business moved out of China like Apple production and the Tesla factory. If US government forced to leave US business from China through executive orders in which reestablish business in the USA to create jobs for Native Americans and secondly, a business must take ensures as a freeway, on its position. China is the first victim of the virus and reopening with $45 billion more attractive worth of markets. At the same time, senior US officials are proposing a plan to make China responsible for this virus and proposals are prepared to compensate that virus effects that economy of the world.

Furthermore, US state agencies convened a meeting on May 7, 2020, to begin mapping out a strategy as reflationary measurement against China, the whole meeting and planning put out on vanquish or anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal the planning. Trump and some expert have discussed to strip “sovereign immunity” of China. However, legal expert says it would not be easy to put back China even pass the congressional legislation which is extremely difficult for accomplishing and secondly, senior officer advice to Trump to cancel the debt obtain to China or to pay back $1200 billion amount with no interest and to consider levy extreme. Lastly, Trumps thinks about to increase one trillion-dollar tariff on Chinese imports due to damage to US cost. Similarly, coronavirus has killed 106000 Americans with loss of 28 million jobs. However, companies, corporation, oil companies became bankrupt and lost more than $700 billion since the outbreak of COVID-19 that would never easy to let the US boast up the economy after any solution about the virus.

China modernized maritime PLA Navy for the context of the new war. Moreover, this whole region relies on primary of American military presence on different offshores of countries to contain any immediate response from China and allies after intensifying the naval gape would lead the geopolitical competition US commentators towards south Asia. Last three weeks before Washington post published the secret report of CIA “The war with China would lead the major disastrous for the USA” And major superpowers would lead the US capital losses. Therefore, all bases of US in Indo-pacific command region would be at risk, especially US territory Guan might be the first concern. The primary issue of both superpowers on Taiwan Strait land. After pandemic ravaged in the world. Furthermore, the escalation was erupted last month to push back on the major war that would erupt a nuclear war. After publishing the report, the vast difference had been seen between Trump administration and US establishment.

On the other hand, Trump claims super-duper missiles. Moreover, the US wants to test nuclear bomb to deterrence against China. Besides, China is acknowledged throughout the world on economic hegemony. Lastly, after the end of pandemic US will lose her hegemony from the Middle East, South Asia because US pullout all forces from NATO on any stage in recent future, so Trump already withdraw from WHO. Moreover, Black African American George Floyd murder took a new great agitation against white supremacy. However, all about that weaken and isolate the US from rest of world which is beginning of the downfall of the US that could be enduring so on China will take a better position to change new world order on an economic basis.

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East Asia

Post pandemic: US, China and their deteriorating relationship

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In the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increasing clamor, for reducing imports, especially of essential commodities from China, and for exploring new supply chains.

The US has proposed an ‘Economic Prosperity Network’ consisting of US, India, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea. US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo while speaking to the media, reiterated the need for greater cooperation between these countries for pushing forward the global economy, in a post corona world, and also to change existing supply chains.

Similarly, a number of members of the CPTPP (Comprehensive Partnership Trans Pacific Partnership), especially Japan, Singapore and Australia, worked closely, to keep supply chains intact in the midst of covid19 (Japan has also been seeking to expand the CPTPP with the aim of alternative supply chains).

Reducing dependence upon Chinese technologies

Apart from supply chains of essential commodities, steps are being taken to create an alternative to Chinese technologies.  UK has recently proposed, that 10 countries work together to counter China’s technologies – especially 5G. This network, Britain has proposed, should include G7 countries (United States, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, France) + South Korea, India and New Zealand. US President Trump further stated, that G7should be expanded to include India, South Korea, Russia, New Zealand.

Resumption of International travel

While there have been numerous discussions on shifting supply chains from China, another challenge posed by the pandemic is likely to be the resumption of international travel. Interestingly, the US has international flights with China from June 16, 2020. This is in line with the US President’s aggressive stance vis-à-vis China. The reason cited for the US President’s decision was China’s refusal to allow US carriers to fly to China (American companies on the other hand have been lobbying for the resumption of flights). China was then compelled to take back on its decision of US airlines.

China has recently allowed business executives to fly in from Germany and South Korea (China and South Korea have also signed a fast track arrangement to reduce the quarantine period for executives travelling).

Domestic flights within Asia

A number of countries in Asia, including Vietnam and India have opened domestic travel (the latter is likely to resume international flights from June 9 to US and Canada). Vietnam had resumed domestic travel after the easing out of social distancing measures, (since then over 500,000 domestic passengers have flown). The ASEAN nation began by opening out five tourist destinations. India resumed domestic Air travel on May 25, 2020 and between then and June 1, 2020 over 4,000 flights have been operated.

Japan seeking to revive air travel

Apart from China, one more country which is  working towards resuming air connectivity with other countries is Japan (restrictions will remain in place for some time for US, China and South Korea). The countries, with which Japan is exploring the possibility of air travel are; Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand and Thailand. Japan shares close economic linkages with Australia, Vietnam and Thailand(over 1500 Japanese companies operate in the two ASEAN nations, while Japan is dependent upon Australia for farm products). Japan also receives a large number of tourists from these countries. The East Asian nation is focusing on resuming air connectivity with the above countries for kickstarting the economy, but it is likely to do so in a phased manner; international flights will begin first for business men, then students and finally tourists.

Countries like China, India, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam are looking to revive economic activity and air connectivity, both domestic and international, is essential for the same. It is important, not just to resume air connectivity, but also to learn best practices with regard to precautions.

While all the above steps are welcome, the real challenge for governments, globally, is likely to be in the months of August and September 2020, when students from different parts of the world, need to travel to the west (especially, US, UK and Canada) for pursuing higher education.

Conclusion

The efforts of Japan, New Zealand, Vietnam and Australia yet again reiterate the point, that while all eyes have been on the US and China and their deteriorating relationship, a number of countries have been seeking ways to foster cooperation, not just in dealing with the pandemic, but also for giving a boost to economic ties, and resuming air connectivity.

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East Asia

Exposure of Ulterior Motives Behind Stigmatization of China with COVID-19

Sabah Aslam

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As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to rage across the US, the American people are complaining about the White House’s “lack of action” in the critical period of pandemic prevention and control, to which, however, Pompeo and his fellow politicians have kept finding excuses for themselves.

To be fair, these politicians have truly had a full plate since the outbreak, although on their plate is not how to control the pandemic at home, but how to make trouble for other countries.

When China, the country first hit by the virus, was busy containing its spread, the US politicians tried to stick their nose into China’s Xinjiang, Taiwan, and Hong Kong and brazenly interfered in the internal affairs of the country by passing the so-called “acts”. On the other hand, they put out a number of ludicrous assumptions like “China made the virus” and “China covered up its pandemic situation”, in an attempt to stigmatize China in the international community and corner it to a moral predicament. Washington leaves no stone unturned when it comes to the use of these ugly tricks.

This isn’t the first time that politicians like Pompeo are trying to loot a burning house – they always jump at the first sign of sniffing such an opportunity. They rolled out sanctions against Iran during its domestic turbulence; they tried to have it both ways when Qatar was on bad terms with countries like Saudi Arabia; and they, on the pretext of “democracy and human rights”, blatantly backed radical and violent criminals in Hong Kong during the riot and unrest caused by the expatriation law amendment bill.

If we go into their ploys seriously, Pompeo and his like are not only professional looters of burning houses, and they set the fire themselves! They first set the house on fire and flame it up, then loot it while occasionally making a gesture of putting out the fire. They are so good at playing “good cop and bad cop” games and busy putting on their farcical performances.

Just take a look at what the US has done in the Middle East. The wars it waged against Iraq and Afghanistan left the two countries in lasting turmoil; the Arab Spring it much-trumpeted left Egypt and Syria in prolonged instability; and its instigation and flame-fueling have led to the growing escalation of Palestine-Israel conflicts, in which the US had sowed seeds.

Yet certain American politicians have the nerve to reap geopolitical gains where they set fire in the first place. Pompeo and his like even posed as saviors or angels claiming to have brought peace to those areas they left in ruins.

How ridiculous and shameful they are! These politicians are accustomed to being cops in name but thieves in nature, calling “stop thief” on the one hand while being that thief on the other. They beautify hegemony as justice and dress up rumor-mongering as freedom of speech.

Pompeo and his like are doomed to a pathetic end. As an old Chinese saying goes, good and evil will meet their karma one day or another, which has been verified on Pompeo and his like over and over again. In the Middle East, for instance, America’s credibility has been irreversibly destroyed no matter how hard Pompeo and his like are trying to bloat their bubble.

The COVID-19 outbreak wouldn’t and shouldn’t have spread so fast and widely across the US had Pompeo and his like devoted a tiny part of their energy and time into what they should have done. The chaotic disaster of Washington’s epidemic control has made millions of Americans suffer, and a growing number of the righteous people are voicing their questions and protests. In contrast, the US media has named Pompeo one of the worst Secretaries of State ever in American history.

Turning a blind eye to the chaos and loss of lives at home, Mike Pompeo and his like, adamant on making trouble for the world, have kept disrupting international cooperation and undermining peace undertakings. They have become the common enemy of world peace and are doomed for a pathetic end. The burning house looters will eventually get burned themselves.

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