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Japan’s Claim over the ECS and Role of USA in Dispute

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Japan claims that since 1885, Japan has surveyed the Senkaku Islands and determined that the islands were indeed uninhabited and clearly not under the influence of China. Therefore, Japan formally incorporated the islands into Japanese territory by erecting a territorial marker on the islands. Since then, the Senkaku Islands remained an integral part of Japanese territory as part of the Nansei Shoto Islands. Japan argues that since the Senkaku Islands were not under Chinese control, they were not “seized” during the Sino Japanese War. This means that they were exempt from the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations that required Japan to return all territories that it has seized from China.

                Japan further claims to have maintained sovereign title to the islands ever since and the islands weren’t an integral part of neither the Treaty of Shimonoseki nor the declarations signed during and shortly after the end of World War II (the Wartime declarations). Treaty law is therefore irrelevant to the sovereignty issue, according to the Japanese stance. The stances by the PRC and the ROC are fundamentally the same since they share a common history. The stances deviate only in relation to events that occurred after 1949. The Chinese stance is also based on the mode of occupation, they claim to have discovered and named the islands prior or during the Ming dynasty (1368- 1644) and then treated the islands in accordance with the international law requirements of occupation until the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki on April 17, 1895, through which the islands were ceded to Japan. According to the Chinese stance, the islands were lawfully Japanese from 1895 until 1945 when Japan formally surrendered. This document of surrender incorporated two other Wartime declarations, which obliged Japan to return sovereignty of the islands to China, according to the Chinese stance (Berg, 2014).

               The Japanese claim is additionally strengthened by the fact that they appear to have the stronger argument in relation to every unclasping legal issue. The first such issue discussed was whether China ever acquired sovereignty. The difficulty of this analysis is that the international law requirements of occupation during the relevant time haven’t been sufficiently established. As  (Berg, 2014) have opinion that a conservative approach, wherein mere visual discovery isn’t enough to establish sovereign title, is more reasonable and therefore, China has a weak case under international law. However, should the political realities of East Asia be taken into account in this evaluation, China has a stronger case. The second issue discussed was through which mode Japan acquired sovereignty. Regarding this matter the  (Berg, 2014) have opinion that it cannot be deduced from the Treaty of Shimonoseki that the disputed islands where an integral part. Moreover the Japanese process of incorporation, as deceitful as it may have been, can hardly make the incorporation invalid. The third issue discussed was whether the Wartime declarations obliged Japan to return the islands to China and therefore made them lawfully Chinese. Regarding this matter, the author is of the opinion that such a stance cannot be supported since neither of these declarations where meant to deal with sovereignty of the islands.

               After years of negotiations, Japan and China reached a “Principled Consensus on the East China Sea Issue,” which included provisions for the joint development of offshore oil and gas. Although this was considered a landmark agreement, GuoRongxingargued that it did not resolve the wider conflict over territorial disputes. Rongxing stated, “international conflict is due to a perpetually self-reinforcing dynamic: one side responds to the other’s last provaction with a new provocation of its own”(Rongxing, 2010).

               According to Japan “there is no doubt that the Senkaku Islands are clearly an
inherent part of the territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law. Indeed, the Senkaku Islands are under the valid control of Japan. There exists no issue of territorial sovereignty to be resolved concerning the Senkaku Islands” (VISKUPIC, 2013).

               Prime Minister Shinzo Abe worked to repair relations under a “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests.” (Hornung, 2014)

               Towards the end of the 20th century observers noticed that Japan began seeking a prominent role on the global stage for political and security issues; and particularly in East Asia, fuelled in part by a new crop of Japanese leadership feeling more assured of the need for Japan to have a more strategic influence in international affairs. (Green, 2000) Indeed, some analysts considered the setbacks Japan suffered during the early 1990s as somewhat temporary (Brown, 2007). It should be remembered that eminent scholars considered the economic meltdown experienced by Japan and East Asia at the time threatened the global economy (Thurow, 2000). Against this backdrop are views that China remains on a quest to overlook Asia the way the US dominates the Western Hemisphere, as well as, this has intensified since the early days of the 21st Century (Mearsheimer, 2005). Yet, some writers have sought to downplay such perception of China by arguing that rise of China, in so far as Japan is concerned, is more of an intellectual challenge rather than a strategic threat (Shih, 2011).

               (Ramos-Mrosovsky, 2015)

               Furthermore, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo pushed Japan’s military standeization more than any other Japanese government and Japanese planner expressed that normalization of Japan would permit Japan to give more to the US-Japan alliance, protect US advance bases, and forward- deployed forces in Asia. This policy change heightened China’s fear because under the new constitution, Japan could come to the aid of allied forces under attack even if Japan itself is not a target. Furthermore, on April 27, 2015, after 18 years first time, Japanese government declared a new defense rules with the US. According to this new rules, the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) expanded their role to global and regional security and reinforced their cooperation with the US on nautical crises and disputes. After the unveiling of the new guideline, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman GengYansheng said that “we are very concerned about the new U.S.-Japan defense cooperation guidelines and high ranking officials’ comments on China” and stressed that the US-Japan alliance “should not go beyond its bilateral scope or undermine third parties’ interests”  (Dimond, 2014).

Japanese purchased three islands

               In September 2012, the Japanese government purchased three islands of Senkaku/Diaoyu from right wing of Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, private owner, claimed that state ownership would be less provocative to Beijing. This purchase provoked nationalist sentiment over the islands again in China. On August 15, 2012, a group of Hong Kong activists with two national flags of the PRC and one Chinese flag sailed to one of the disputed islands and landed on the island.

               Though, the Chinese government did not support this group of activists, it allowed its official media, CCTV, to provide live coverage of the whole landing process. The report incited nationalist sentiment nationwide and caused street protests in 85 cities that called for a boycott against Japanese products during the weekend of September.  On December 13 2012, a Chinese aircraft entered the territory overhead the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the first time since records in 1958. In response to the incident, the Abe administration immediately made a strong protest to the Xi Jinping administration via diplomatic channels and scrambled eight F-15 fighters of the Japanese air force and an airborne troops to give a warning to the Chinese flight. Despite the heightened tension, the Chinese continued to dispatch the SOA’s aircraft near the airspace of the disputed islands. According to Japan’s Ministry of Defense, there were 13 confirmed cases of similar incidents like this one in the space of 3 years from 2012 to 2015; the most recent case was on March, 2014.In April 2013, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced for the first time that China officially identifies the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands as a “core interest.”

Concept of Dynamic Defense Force

               The Japanese security policy community has recently begun discussing a three-pillar policy format for its China strategy: integration, balancing, and deterrence.  Japan’s security environment significantly changed after the Cold War. Several North-East Asian countries possess advanced military capabilities, nuclear weapons, and are committed to nuclear developments. In the past years one of Japan’s neighbors’ aims to gain influence in an increasingly active manner on water, in the air, entering Japanese territories, too. As a decisive element of the Japanese national defense policy, the bilateral alliance was powerful enough to deter China until the 2000s. However, 2010 meant a turning point in the Japan-China relationship. As a result of the incident in Senkaku-island the National Defense Program Guidelines enabled the Self-Defense Forces to strengthen the protection of Japan’s south-western territory, and they introduced the concept of Dynamic Defense Force. The protection of the “grey zones” has become crucial. The U.S. also has to face the growing challenge concerning the rise of China from her allied responsibility on the one hand, and due to the importance of the the region on the other hand. These changes clearly showed, that the second assumption of the dissertation, saying that “in the U.S.-Japan security alliance the common interest of the two parties involved, is the containment of China in the Asia-Pacific region” proved right. In connection with this, the second part of this hypothesis also stands on solid basis, which states, that “this is the reason why Japan with the permission of the U.S. is constantly raising her defense budget and modernizing her Defense Forces, as well as the maintaining of functional American military bases in Japan.” Upon planning the defense budget despite the country follows the rule that the expenditure must not exceed the limit of the 1 percent of the GNP, it has proved through comparative analyses, that since the middle of the 1950s the military expenses are constantly rising. These developments were supported with the change of the public opinion about the role of Self-Defence Forces.

Importance in Japanese Politics

               Within Japanese domestic politics, the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands is not disputed: all major political parties consider the islands to be Japanese territory (Deans 2000; Hirano 2014).

The official position of the government of Japan is that there is no dispute over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands. The government maintains the islands were terranullius(discover first time) when they were claimed by Japan in 1895 and thus were not included in the Treaty of Shimonoseki in which Taiwan was ceded to Japan.

Japanese nationalist and ultraconservative groups and ECS dispute

               Within Japan, the major political parties, nationalist and ultraconservative groups, and Okinawans are integral to understanding the dynamics of the ECS dispute. Competition between the political parties contributed to a widespread consensus that the outlying islands should be fortified to counter the PRC presence near the Senkaku Islands. The ECS dispute is more than an international relations issue, and more credence should be given to the dispute’s role in domestic politics and the role of secondary actors in the dispute (Dimond, 2014).

Japanese Domestic Politics and ECS issue

               The dominant approaches to the ECS dispute assume it is first and foremost an international relations or legal issue in which the governments of Japan, the PRC, and ROC are the only meaningful actors. Within scholarship on Japanese politics, such as Hughes (2013) and Sneider (2013), conflicts in the ECS are framed as foreign policy crises for the national government, rather than a topic in domestic political discourses. However, the Japanese government’s official position denies the existence of a dispute over the Senkaku Islands and argues the demarcation of Japan’s EEZ is legal. The government thus maintains that conflicts in the area are domestic matters. Indeed, the ECS dispute has become a recurring topic in domestic political discourse, and secondary actors have proven themselves to be key actors on the Japanese side of the dispute (Manicom 2014).

Japan Coast Guard (JCG), China Coast Guard (CCG) and East China Sea

               Indeed, the JCG is the primary agency responsible for patrolling and safeguarding Japanese waters: it is at the front line in the ECS. As the capabilities of the CCG are set to grow, and as tensions over the disputed Senkakus linger, Japan must reinforce its own coast guard. In addition, Tokyo needs to ensure optimal coordination between the JCG and JMSDF, which will intervene in the event that a crisis worsens. The challenge is threefold: first, to ensure optimal cooperation between the JCG and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in terms of information sharing and surveillance of the area; second, to allow a smooth transition of responsibility between the JCG and JMSDF without escalating the situation into a military conflict should a contingency arise; and third, to make sure that this overall defense arrangement constitutes an effective deterrent (Pajon, 2017).

               Recourse to nonmilitary tools to advance one’s interest regarding territorial claims or access to natural resources has been used by China to back up its claims in both ECS and SCS. Such tactics have been referred to as “reactive assertiveness” or “salami slicing” (Haddick, 2012). Some experts explain this approach as a form of “hybrid warfare,” by which China uses fishing vessels in combination with paramilitary units such as CCG vessels to gain control of disputed territories (Kraska, 2015).Japan sees this challenge as a core security concern; the expansion of Chinese maritime activities since the mid-2000s has resulted in more frequent patrols along the Japanese coastline and incursions into Japanese waters (Pajon, 2017).

               Since the 2000s, the JMSDF has focused on ensuring maritime control and superiority in the ECS in the face of a more assertive China and also on developing an expeditionary capability to take part in international operations, such as the antipiracy activities in the Gulf of Aden since 2009 (Patalano, 2014).

According to the government’s interpretation of Japanese law, maritime security operations should be considered as a noncombat activity. As such, the government argues that an order to engage in maritime security operations should not be considered an act of military escalation. Indeed, through this order, JMSDF can use weapons along the strict conditions provided by JCG Law. As a result, the Japanese government makes a distinction between the “use of weapons” by the JSDF under these specific circumstances and the broader “use of force” to defend against an armed attack (Patalano, 2014).

Japan-U.S. security alliance

               The asymmetrical architecture of the U.S.-Japan security alliance after the war met with a minimal Japanese response in the following decades, the majority of the general public accepted the maintenance of the evolved practice and the antimilitaristic norm. Japan, who focused on reviving the economy, enjoyed the protection of her ally, which did not mean a serious regional challenge, as long as it did not clash the sphere of economic growth of China. If Japan would be economically strong, but politically weak, China could cope with her, however, with a proper backing the balance of power had also changed. Ipso facto Japan’s role in the Asian region means a confrontative perception for China, whose physical manifestations testified these statements. In close context with these developments, the changing security environment after the Cold War had a significant impact on the shifting norms of Japan’s security policy. It was more noticeable, when East-Asia got into China’s focus, which encouraged the allies to take actions. Through the examples of China’s written and verbal behaviours, the researchers came to the conclusion, that China created the disputed narrative of the Senkaku islands in order to test Japan, as well as to break its monopoly of sovereignty. The next example of this narrative is the intensification of the Chinese nationalism, which tradition goes back to half a century. Finally, the most consequent explanation seemed to be the testing of the Japan- bilateral alliance. This permanent Chinese testing aims to find the weaknesses of the alliance.

Japan’s Arrest of Chinese Fishing Trawler Captain

               One of the most severe and public disputes between Japan and China occurred when a Chinese fishing trawler struck two Japanese ships near the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands on September 7, 2010 (Wan, 2011). The Japanese government, controlled by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), arrested and detained the captain. In retaliation, Beijing cut exchange programs, and spoke publicly against the measures taken by the Japanese. International tourism was halted. After the incident, China halted shipments of rare earth to Japan for seven weeks before the shipments were reinstated  (Natzke, 2014).  The Chinese response was widely viewed as an overreaction. Compounding the matter, media coverage of the event and its repercussions were extreme due to intense public interest on both sides. The Japanese Embassy in Beijing witnessed heavy demonstrations from the Chinese outside its walls. While the Chinese captain was eventually released, the implications of the incident were far-reaching. This incident caused “relations between Japan and China to hit a new low (Smith P. , 2013). Regarding this incident and others like it, both countries strongly believe that they are in the right. Both feel that the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are their own property. The Japanese feel they were perfectly justified in detaining the fishing captain. The Chinese felt they had to respond to what they considered were mistaken actions of the Japanese. The situation resulted in the postponement of talks between both countries over the exploration of natural gas deposits in the areas near the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands (Natzke, 2014).

The economic potential of the ECS area has been a contributing factor in the dispute. It increases the motivation of both Japan and China to gain ownership of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands and its territorial waters. While the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands themselves are infertile and not habitable, the ECS holds marine and oil deposits (Wiegand, 2011).

Both Japan and China are well aware of the economic potential that this area contains. This creates more of an incentive to define territory so their country can benefit from its resources (Natzke, 2014). As shown by this incident, the dispute over claims to the Senkaku/DiaoyuIslands is strongly influenced by the desire to gain economically from the resources on the islands.

It has been suggested that neither government wants to engage in a full military confrontation due to economic reasons.This may be true. But rising nationalism, stoked by state and non-state actors, has not been tempered by economic concerns. Both sides would have profited from joint exploration of the waters near the islands and labor strife could have affected the balance of bilateral trade. But neither side would give way.

Purchase of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands

On September 11, 2012, the Japanese government purchased three of the five main islands in the Senkaku/Diaoyu Island group from a private owner, in essence “nationalizing” the island group(Smith P. , 2013).The Japanese government was forced into this action for reasons beyond its control, mainly due to internal issues and to unrelenting pressure from China (Natzke, 2014). In April 2012, Ishihara proposed to buy the Senkaku/DiaoyuIslands, stating that the “Senkaku Islets will be purchased by Tokyo Metropolitan Government (and) we will do whatever it takes to protect our own land. This compelled the Japanese government to step in and purchase the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Regardless of the Japanese government’s motives, the Chinese government still reacted strongly to what they saw as a provocation.

               In this instance, the Japanese government was forced by internal pressure to take steps it originally had attempted to avoid. Pressure from China contributed to the problem. The response from the Chinese citizens and government was harsh. The situation escalated but the citizens on both sides did not show concern about the negative impact on the economic and trade relationship. Bilateral trade suffered. The majority of scholars state that Japan played a defensive role in the conflict and China the offensive. As shown in this situation, the Japanese government was reluctant to increase tensions with China and had nothing to gain from continuing its conflict with China. This influence makes it more difficult for the Chinese government to compromise on disputes over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.

               In July 2016 both countries foreign Minster met in Laos, Foreign Minister Kishida(Japan) stated that the strong concern and sense of crisis that Japan harbors regarding the ECS, mainly the condition on the waters and in the airspace around the Senkaku Islands, must be taken seriously, and that the consultations based on the ”2008 Agreement” regarding the issue of the development of natural resources in the East China Sea should be held soon, and expressed his desire for an early start to the operation of the Japan-China Nautical and Airborne Communication Mechanism between the defense authorities. Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed his desire to cherish the momentum of improving the Japan-China relationship. In response, Foreign Minister Kishida stated the we would like to work together toward further improving the positive aspects of the bilateral relationship by expanding cooperation in economic areas among others.

Role of US in ECS Dispute

               The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the US and Japan was drafted sixty years ago under conditions far different than they are today. Still, it seems strange that it was not drafted more carefully. Words are important. The most important omission is the position of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. While it was assumed that the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands would ultimately be turned over to Japan, nowhere in the text are they mentioned. This gives the United States an excuse to evade its responsibilities if it were inclined to do so. Within the Treaty, the phrase “peaceful means” also lends itself to various interpretations.

               The US government recently has given Japan oral assurances that the United States would support Japan in any conflict over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. But this is not the same assurance as a solemn written treaty approved by the Senate. If the United States determination to defend the Islands had been spelled out from the beginning in non -ambiguous terms, it is conceivable that the Chinese Government, needing a foreign target, would have directed their pressure on another target, likely India, with whom they also have a contested border.

               The United States and Japan share strong concern over recent actions that have raised tensions in the ECS and SCS. Sometime in the future, the US may be involved in resolving this dispute between Japan and China. When attempting to understand the tension between the two countries, the US must remember not only the trade ties, but the importance of cultural ties and the deep history that Japan and China have experienced together. As a third party helps facilitate communication between the parties to a maritime dispute and may make proposals. The US existing to play a role as a arbitrator in the Sino-Japanese maritime disputes in the ECS, but that was rejected by the PRC.

The United States as an Ambivalent Ally of Japan

               The US is also a key player in this dispute for the following three reasons: controversial US-Japanese bilateral treaties after WWII, the US’s obligation to defend Japan against armed attack, and the rising military presence of China. In this territorial dispute, treaties between the US and Japan constitute a critical element of Japan’s defense of the islands, while presenting China with the irritating history of what it considers to be “backdoor” deals. First of all, as mentioned in the previous section, the San Francisco Peace Treaty and the Okinawa Reversion Treaty are indispensable for Japan’s claim that the islands were returned to Japan as part of the greater Okinawa region. Moreover, negotiated at the beginning of the Cold War, the Japan-US Security Treaty guarantees the US military protection of Japan, under the condition that Japan permits US military bases in Japan. In November 2012, upon Japan’s purchase of the islands, the US Congress approved an amendment to this military alliance treaty, which explicitly included the protection of “the Senkaku islands” within the US defense obligation. In other words, the US has made explicit that it is obliged to react to an armed attack by any threat to Japan’s territory including the islands in accordance with the Security Council. On the other hand, the US remains reluctant to be directly involved with the territorial dispute between China and Japan. An US Congressional issue summary indicates that the US’s policy has been to remain neutral on the territorial sovereignty, while pressuring against China’s naval ambition. This position is consistent since the beginning of the Sino-Japanese conflict in 1971, just as Secretary of State William Rogers stated “the US has no intention to prejudice either claim” to deny the US interventions into the bilateral territorial conflict. Likewise, in 2010, Clinton, Secretary of State stated that “with respect to the Senkaku Islands, the United States has never taken a position on sovereignty.” Hence, despite its embedded interests in East Asia, the US has refrained from direct intervention in the dispute.

Also, amid growing tension between China and Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in 2010, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are part of the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan.The statement made by Clinton and the Japanese government’s acknowledgment of the statement signaled the resoluteness of the US-Japan alliance to China. Also, the Noda Yoshihiko administration’s (September 2011-December 2012) emphasis on the restoration of bilateral relations with the US and decision to purchase the disputed islands further aggravated the relations between Beijing and Tokyo.In continuation of this President Obama stated that

The policy of the United States is clear – the Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands (Panda, 2014).

               In the contemporary world order, it is said that global hegemony, even by the United States is impossible, and that at best a State may eventually only dominate its own backyard (Mearsheimer, 2005). Whether China and Japan are seeking to outdo one another may be open to question (Hagström, 2010). Nevertheless, observers consider that China currently seeks a stable security environment to enable focus on economic advancement, to better integrate with the regional and global economy (Deng, 1988). At the heart of maritime issues between China and Japan are their overlapping nautical claims in the ECS (Vilisaar, 2009) with fledgling results from efforts between both States to resolve the matter (Zhang, 2011).

On 30 July 2013, US Senate approved a resolution “Senate Resolution 167- Reaffirming the Strong Support of the United States for the Peaceful Resolution of Territorial, Sovereignty, and Jurisdictional Disputes in the Asia-Pacific Maritime Domains.

               According to the Chinese defense ministry ADIZ around the island is basis on “guard against potential air threats”. Japan reaction to the news about ADIZ ‘very dangerous’ for the region. 

President Obama remarks over Senkaku

Speaking to the press with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo in April 2014, President Obama underscored the U.S. commitment in what are believed to be the first public remarks by a U.S. President stating the U.S. position on the Senkakus/Diaoyu dispute. In his prepared remarks, the President said

“We stand together in calling for disputes in the region, including maritime issues, to be resolved peacefully through dialogue. We share a commitment to fundamental principles such as freedom of navigation and respect for international law. And let me reiterate that our treaty commitment to Japan’s security is absolute, and Article 5 covers all territories under Japan’s administration, including the Senkaku Islands”(Dolven, 2015)

President Donald Trump’s statement

In February 2017, during his first joint press appearance as President with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Donald Trump stated that “we are committed to the security of Japan and all areas under its administrative control”. A joint statement issued by the two governments during their summit said that the two leaders “affirmed that Article V of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security covers the Senkaku Islands (Townshend, 2017).

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East Asia

On Chinese Democracy

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China Beijing

In recent years, China has been following the adage that “he who controls the discourse controls the world” with increasing vigour. That is, the first side to describe a given phenomenon, with a new coinage emerging, determines global attitudes towards it. There are two nations, one on either side of the Pacific, the two main economies of the world. Both declare they have a constitutional republican system and respect for human rights. Yet, one is considered a model of democracy and an example to be followed, while the other is seen as an archaic authoritarian system built upon censorship and repression. We are, of course, talking about the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China.

As recently as 15–20 years ago, it was generally accepted that the U.S. version of democracy was the model to aspire to, but this is no longer the case. Against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis and the various reactions thereto around the world, Western journalists are increasingly giving in to the temptation to characterize this period of world history as a struggle between “democracy” (represented by the West, led by the United States, and “correct” non-Western countries such as Japan and Lithuania) and “authoritarianism” (China, Russia and the “enfants terrible of world politics” that joined them). One of the fallouts, therefore, is that there have been new turns to the discussion about whether China’s socio-political system can be called “democracy”.  

Western observers are unanimous in their appraisal: “there’s no democracy in China.” However, the problem is that the very concept of “democracy” (a certain “power of the people”) is fluid. It is much like a “healthy lifestyle”—it is easy to assume that you are leading a healthy lifestyle, while your rival is not. How can you know for sure, though?

Even political analysis falls short. For instance, any researcher who was brought up in the Western paradigm of political science will argue that if there are no direct democratic elections and a separation of powers, this is no “democracy” but something entirely different. Neither exists in China, yet this does not stop Chinese scholars from proclaiming—with no hint of irony—that their country is indeed democratic, only in a distinctly Chinese way.

It is not only the definition of “democracy” that is fluid, so too is the genesis of democratic traditions. For example, it is generally accepted that the Western neo-liberal model can be traced back to the democratic practices of Ancient Greece and that the subsequent history of humankind is a single process of encouraging and improving such practices. However, what most people do not know is that democracy, even in Athens, was an expression of the oligarchic elite’s power at best, and this was done with the help of populism and appeals to the legitimacy of the “popular opinion.” A similar situation was the case with the Veche in medieval Veliky Novgorod. At the same time, proto-democratic procedures (for example, the election of chiefs among nomads or the self-government of agricultural communities in Ancient China) existed among all the peoples of the world in one form or another, and it is a mystery why some practices led to “good democracy,” while others led to “bad authoritarianism.”

Thus, when the Chinese talk about their own “thousand-year traditions of democracy,” they are not paltering with the truth, but sincerely believe it to be true. They call the political system they now have “democratic,” with China’s Constitution containing a reference to “a socialist state governed by the people’s democratic dictatorship, led by the working class and based on an alliance of workers and peasants.” Who said democracy was anything other than that? And who endowed someone with the right to decide what democracy is or is not?

It should be noted here that the term “democracy” has long been absent in the Chinese tradition. In fact, the word “minzhu” (民主, “the power of the people” or “the people are the masters”) was brought by Sun Yat-sen from Japan in the early 20th century. This was merely a re-rendering of the Japanese term “mingshu” (民主), which itself came from the Western notion of “power of the people.” The Hanzi and Kanji (which the Japanese originally adopted from China) are identical, but the wording first came from Japanese for a fact—much as the word “gongchanzhui,” 共产主义, meaning communism, as well as other “-zhui”-words (主义), which is something like the English “-ism”—and never appeared in classical Chinese texts.    

On the one hand, the term “democracy” is borrowed, and so too is its understanding. On the other hand, the term has no historical base and can be filled with any content. Or, rather, its understanding can be corrected for the sake of political expediency or local conditions. And that is exactly what has happened to “democracy.”

In China, the term appeared on the eve of the Xinhai Revolution and the overthrow the Manchu-led Qing imperial dynasty. For Sun Yat-sen and his cohort, it was important that the “power of the people” (“minzhu”) was directly opposed to the “power of the sovereign” (“junzhu”, 君主). That is, any political system where the head of state is not the sole sovereign is seen as a democracy. Incidentally, Sun Yat-sen used the word “minquan” (民主, “sovereignty of the people”) in addition to “minzhu” (民主) to denote democracy, although most people consider these terms to be identical.

In any case, if we proceed from Sun Yat-sen’s understanding of democracy, we can say that a democratic state was founded in China in 1912, since power was seized by the party, and the party consists of the people and reflects the interests of the people. This is fundamentally different to the situation where power belonged to the Son of Heaven (the Emperor’s official title).  

Of course, China’s political system of the 1910s to the 1940s—that is, before the Communist Party ascended to power—was far from the high standards of neoliberal democracy. If we were to put a label on it, we would say that it was a combination of the power of the oligarchy and generals, multiplied by the partocracy (the ruling Kuomintang party) and the cult of its leader Chiang Kai-shek. But this, of course, was also called “democracy.”

When the Communists came to power, Mao Zedong wanted to show that China would be a democracy—not the “bad” kind of democracy that reigned under Chiang Kai-shek, but a different, “new” kind of democracy. This “new democracy” (新民主), as it was called, was seen as a stopgap on the way to building a socialist society. It was still a single-party system (only it was a different party that was in power), and the position of leader (Mao Zedong) looked almost indistinguishable from that of emperor in the end.  

The death of Mao Zedong was followed by a series of reforms that laid the foundation for the modern Chinese political system, where elections do take place, although the Party’s monopoly on power remains very much intact. The Chinese people define this phenomenon as “the people’s democratic dictatorship led by the working class” (a quote from the preamble to the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China). It is essentially a partocratic regime based on the one that once existed in the Soviet Union, only reimagined and improved.

One of the most striking features of China’s political system is the absence of the separation of powers. Officially, the only “state power” is the national people’s congresses—the institution through which the people exercise their power under the Constitution. People’s congresses are a multi-layered pyramid, at the very bottom of which direct and quite democratic elections are indeed held. What is more, the higher people’s congresses are made up of members of the lower ones, meaning that the pyramid works as one big filter. Thus, the people actually play an indirect role in the formation of the highest body of state power – the National People’s Congress (NPC).

It just so happens that most members of the people’s congresses at all levels are communists. While some opposition-minded figures may appear as if out of nowhere at the bottom of the pyramid from time to time, they will not make it past the multi-stage filter, and only proven and reliable people will end up in the NPC. The vast majority of these (although not all) are members of the Communist Party. It is only natural, therefore, that they act within the framework of party discipline and go along with decisions adopted by party congresses in the past.

The workings of this system are quite easy to trace if you look at key personnel decisions. For example, the party leadership for the next five years will be elected this autumn at the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. The new convocation of the NPC will convene somewhat later in March, where the President of the People’s Republic of China will be elected (or re-elected). Therefore, it would be logical to assume that it will be the General Secretary of the Central Committee elected (or re-elected) at the autumn Congress.

Other key appointments will be made in a similar fashion. For example, the second-highest person in the party hierarchy will become the head of government. Is that democratic? If you were to ask China’s idea-mongers, they would tell you that it most certainly is. The NPC is formed as a result of multi-stage elections. Theoretically, parties other than the CPC can compete for a parliamentary majority. But the main thing is that the Party represents the interests of the people, meaning that the power of the party is the “power of the people.”

Are Chinese people aware that their understanding of “democracy” is different from Western standards? Of course they are. Are they about the abandon their system in order to conform to Western standards? Of course not. What is more, Chinese politicians have been actively using the term “democracy” in their official rhetoric and stressing that democracy exists in China too. They do this in defiance of the West and its “monopoly on deciding where there is democracy and where it is absent.” China realizes that the West uses this monopoly to exert pressure on foreign policies of its opponents and seeks to demonopolize this function and achieve parity in the struggle for control over the information discourse at the very least.

This is most evident not in the concept of “democracy,” but rather in the concept of “human rights.” From a Western point of view, human rights are first and foremost the right of the individual to do or have something contrary to or regardless of the interests of society or the state. The classic liberal understanding of human rights is the triad of fundamental natural rights put forward by the British political philosopher John Locke, namely, the right to “life, liberty, and property” (the understanding is that the state was created to guarantee these rights, even though they may be contrary to the interests of the state).

For China, the very notion that the interests of the individual and the state may not coincide is inconceivable. The Western understanding of human rights thus not have any foundation. The Chinese concept of “human rights” (also absent in the traditional political and legal system) is also different. Human rights, as the Chinese understand the term (at least those I have had the chance to talk to), means, first of all, the right to food and a decent quality of life, and the state exists to ensure this. This implies that the highest interests of the state and the highest interests of the individual are one and the same.

Thus, as long as there is economic growth in the country and people are fed and clothed, the Chinese version of democracy and human rights will be supported by its people. And the idea that all the countries in the world will, as globalization marches forward, eventually adopt the Western socio-political system is no longer popular or seen as a given.

After the West emerged victorious from the Cold War at the turn of the 1990s and everyone wanted to be like the winners, it was the United States who perhaps had the moral right to say which countries were “democratic” and which were not, and everyone listened. What is more, both China and Russia sincerely wanted to become a part of the “global West.” But when it became clear that they would never occupy a place other than the periphery in this pro-Western global model, and that Western society had become a prisoner of its own agenda (poorly understood and not at all appealing for the “non-West”), people started to voice their criticism of the West’s monopoly on the right to play the role of arbiter.   

Nowhere can these voices be heard louder than in Russia and China, and to some it may seem that they are singing this tune in unison. At the same time, the two countries have a number of differences and contradictions, and the Chinese political agenda is even less clear than the Western one. Thus, Russia and China should not be lumped together into some kind of “axis of authoritarianism,” not only because there is no military–political alliance between the two countries (this is just a formality), but also because the terms “democracy” and “authoritarianism” are little more than “labels” that rivals in the current political climate tag each other with in the struggle for control over the information discourse.

From our partner RIAC

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East Asia

Tension prevails after Pelosi’s Visit

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Image tweeted by @SpeakerPelosi

Already tense geopolitics are boiling and making the whole world more nervous. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has damaged International politics and heated the tension around the globe. Her visit was opposed by more than 100 countries and equally criticized domestically. Many scholars, intellects, politicians, and civil society is criticizing her visit.

Looking at her profile and past, she was a rigid, hardliner, and non-flexible personality. Her role in American politics is also the same tough. She is not willing to accept others’ point of view and always insist on her opinion, or precisely described – imposing her ideology on others.

The same happened in the case of her Taiwan visit, although there was opposition from within the US as well as globally, in addition to strong warnings from China, yet, she made her visit. It was her deliberate attempt to offend public opinion and spoil the international political environment. Certainly, it has created a lot of adverse impacts, on the global economy, security, and peace.

One-China policy is well recognized and a pre-condition to establishing diplomatic relations with China. There are only 13 countries, that maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. It means the rest of the whole world recognizes China only and sticks to the One-China policy. Her visit was totally against the One-China policy.

1.4 Billion People in China are offended and public sentiments were ignored. There is tremendous pressure on the Chinese government from the public to protect its sovereignty. Although, China has made tremendous developments on the economic front, technological advancement, and defense capacities. China possesses the ability to capture Taiwan by force. Yet, Beijing has never used military options. China is a responsible state, and very mature in its international affairs. It always kept on convincing for the peaceful reunification of Taiwan with Main Land through dialogue. China has introduced “One Country, Two Systems” to manage Hong Kong and Taiwan, and is always willing to offer a similar option to Taiwan, even a high degree of autonomy.  If Taiwan thinks smartly, can bargain more concessions and favors from China, but, ultimately have to reunify with the mainland.

The implication of her visit and its consequences must be serious, but, to describe it precisely, may not be possible at this stage, the immediate actions taken by Beijing are as:-

1. Canceling China-U.S. Theater Commanders Talk.

2. Canceling China-U.S. Defense Policy Coordination Talks (DPCT).

3. Canceling China-U.S. Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA) meetings

4. Suspending China-U.S. cooperation on the repatriation of illegal immigrants.

5. Suspending China-U.S. cooperation on legal assistance in criminal matters.

6. Suspending China-U.S. cooperation against transnational crimes.

7. Suspending China-U.S. counter-narcotics cooperation.

8. Suspending China-U.S. talks on climate change.

The big Military exercise is ongoing in the Strait of Taiwan, where China is using live ammunition and using all three forces, Land, Air, and Navy, very close to Taiwan. In fact, surrounds Taiwan closely.

What other measures or reactions will China take, is not known yet. As China is an inward society and does not reveal what they are planning or thinking, so one may not guess precisely. China believes in doing more but beating the drum less (Less Shouting). It is well understood that Taiwan is a very sensitive issue for the Chinese nation and the reaction must be very serious.

The adverse impact of the Ukraine war is already harming the global economy and if something goes wrong in this region, the price has to be paid by the whole world. China is a World Factory and provides almost 70% of consumer products to the rest of the world. The price offered by China is incompatible and meets the needs of a majority of the middle and lower middle class of the whole world. Only filthy rich people can afford expensive products, but, China caters to the absolute majority.

In case of crisis, the developing and underdeveloped nations will suffer severely. Poverty will jump globally and the masses will be deprived of consumer products. The world will be divided into more blocks. China will be more close to Russia and the cold war may revive once again.

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East Asia

BRICS – How Will the Organisation Get a ‘Second Wind’?

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BRICS, which was rapidly gaining momentum in the first decade of its operation, has, expectedly, over the past few years faced a certain crisis in its development (this crisis is understood not as a decline, but as a turning point, a transitional situation). At the level of official discourse, the word “crisis” was never used; the rhetoric continued to be predominantly optimistic, however, the expert community has increasingly called for a rethinking of the role of the association, overcoming the mounting internal contradictions. The very logic of the development of any association implies that periods of growth, expansion of the agenda, the predominance of centripetal forces, and crises will alternate, and that it is necessary to look for new foundations for rapprochement. The reasons for slippage, as is always the case, have been both external and internal. On the one hand, a fundamental transformation of the globalisation process has begun (and this process is only gaining momentum); there are calls for the basic principles and mechanisms which bring the BRICS countries together to undergo reform. This challenge is facing all global multilateral organisations today; BRICS is not unique here: the WTO, the G7, the G20, and even the UN and its structures — all of them are faced with the loss of their status as universal platforms for overseeing the global rules of the game. For BRICS, on the one hand, this is a problem of self-identification, since the countries have advocated the transformation of global mechanisms imposed by developed countries. At the same time, it is also an opportunity to “rebuild” the association, turning it into an alternative, new platform for uniting the entire developing world. The latter scenario inevitably implies the expansion of the union, both by accepting new members (which is already happening), and in the BRICS+ format that has become a permanent issue for the current Chinese presidency in 2022.

The difficulties of the BRICS were also caused by internal reasons. The test for BRICS was 2020, when the association, contrary to expectations, did hardly anything to assist in countering the COVID-19 pandemic. While initially considered a club of the most dynamic economies, the union of five countries has become internally highly heterogeneous. China and India continue to vie with each other as leaders of economic growth, while Brazil, South Africa and Russia have witnessed a systemic crisis since the mid-2010s, when the fall in GDP alternates with stagnant growth. Economic difficulties in Brazil and South Africa have led to a change of elites. The new leaders have sought to critically rethink their goals and priorities in unification. However, today BRICS is no longer a club of growth leaders, and the ability of the candidate countries to effectively participate in solving the most acute current problems facing the developing world — the energy and food crises — is coming to the fore. In many respects, these considerations have dictated China’s desire to include Argentina and Iran in the union, despite all the well-known problems facing the economies of these countries.

The aggravation of contradictions between China and India, and along the China-Brazil line, has also led to a slowdown in active work in the BRICS. The rise of China, securing for it the role of the “main sponsor” of the BRICS (primarily as the main founder of the New Development Bank) presents a kind of challenge for Beijing, since the line between leadership and dominance, as the experience of other associations shows, is usually very thin. The accumulated dissatisfaction with the real results of the decade-long work of the association has also made its contribution: many initiatives, including the task of strengthening the voice of developing countries and reforming the global regulatory institutions, still remain only slogans.

To understand the prospects for BRICS, it makes sense to look at the evolution of approaches to unify the current government in Brazil. The victory of Jair Bolsonaro in 2018 was perceived by some experts as a moment of risk for the five, as the new elites in power made no secret of their desire to place their main stake on rapprochement with the United States. The negative scenarios did not materialise. However, Brasilia did significantly rethink its priorities, goals and objectives. Unlike his predecessors from the leftist camp (Presidents Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff), Bolsonaro was not close to the idea of uniting the Global South under the banner of reshaping the world order. However, more pragmatic, technocratic areas that are objectively beneficial to the country (technological cooperation, the fight against organised crime, digitalisation and the Development Bank) were chosen as priorities in the year of Brazil’s chairmanship in 2019. Paradoxically, such a narrowing of the agenda played a rather constructive role in the development of BRICS, since the quality of the elaboration of joint decisions was so high that Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, Sherpa of the Russian Federation in the BRICS, even commended the brilliant organisation of the work, saying that there were far more specifics than general declarations. Paraphrasing the famous phrase of Alexander Gorchakov, one can say that the Brazilian presidency allowed BRICS to focus, to replace the extensive growth of the agenda of previous years with intensive progress in really important and compromise-driven areas.

The arrival of the Joe Biden administration in Washington in 2021 has led to a cooling of the enthusiasm among the Brazilian elites regarding the prospects for rapprochement with the United States. In Brasilia the incumbent American President’s threats, made during the election campaign, were well-heard: to impose sanctions against the Tropical Giant if it does not reconsider its policy toward the Amazon River. Bolsonaro is also worried about the inclusion of environmental issues in the NATO agenda. That is, the increased attention of the military alliance in the Amazon region is not ruled out, which is traditionally an extremely sensitive topic for Brazilians. In this context, the Brazilian leader is revisiting his previously restrained approach to the BRICS, recognising its importance and strategic significance for the country as a tool to counter isolation in the event that the risks of worsening relations with the US and the EU materialise. Following this logic, Bolsonaro today advocates expanding the association, including within the framework of BRICS +, and in official speeches he speaks of the need to reform the World Bank, IMF and the UN Security Council, which was difficult to imagine a few years ago.

Geographic expansion

Expansion through the inclusion of new full members has been talked about since the first years of the BRICS. Since the concept of BRICS as an alliance of civilizations initially prevailed, where each macro-region is represented by one leader, the inclusion of a large Islamic country was most likely. Indonesia, as the world’s largest Islamic country in terms of population, and Egypt were usually considered. The recent application for the entry of Shiite Iran alters this logic, since, apparently, when inviting Tehran to the recent 14th Summit, China was guided by the exceptional importance of the country precisely from the point of view of its energy potential as one of the leaders in hydrocarbon reserves.

The possibility of Argentina joining the BRICS was also discussed for a long time, but Brazil was interested in maintaining its role as a regional leader, representing all of Latin America. The possibility of competition from Buenos Aires did not rouse enthusiasm among the authorities of the Tropical Giant, even during the reign of the left, despite the friendly relations between the countries at that time. Argentina then did not yet face the economic problems that it is experiencing today; the country’s economy was one of the most dynamic in the region. At present, the countries are going through a difficult period in the history of their bilateral relations; the leaders have no trusting, friendly contact. In BRICS, any decision on the admission of new members is made by consensus, but how easy it will be to get the support of the Brazilian authorities for the entry of Argentina remains a big question. Argentina’s entry into the association will not only exacerbate political rivalry; the countries are the largest food producers, competing in many markets. The appearance of a second country from one continent in BRICS will finally move the organisation away from its original concept of uniting the political and economic leaders of their continents (or civilizations). However, these challenges also present opportunities. The new global situation requires developing countries to push old grievances to the background, so that they may work on the task of increasing the representative nature of the BRICS, expanding its potential in addressing the food and energy crises.

Without Argentina, achieving this goal will be much more difficult, since together the two Latin American countries are able to provide food for more than 1 billion people. Participation in the BRICS of another state of the region, especially a partner in Mercosur, despite the competition, creates more opportunities to convey the Latin American agenda and priorities.

At the time of writing, Jair Bolsonaro had not officially commented on his decision to support or not support the entry of Argentina, while the statements were limited to the words of the Minister of Economy Paulo Guedes about the possibility of connecting Buenos Aires to the New Development Bank. However, the mere fact of the official application for membership may indicate that there may be some informal arrangements between Brasilia and Buenos Aires.

The inclusion of new full members of the BRICS is a long process, which, even with the consent of all participants, could take several years. The Chinese approach to foreign policy is traditionally characterised by flexibility and action on several tracks at once. It is this “second track” that BRICS+ is intended to become. There are two approaches to the implementation of cooperation within the framework of this format. The approach of Russia is known, which promoted the concept of “integration of integrations”, which implies the cooperation of integration projects, where the participating countries are leaders (EAEU, Mercosur, South African Customs Union). China could participate through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. If to consider the concept of “integration” precisely as a formalized process of trade liberalisation, then at present individual regional integration blocs would really be interested in implementing deep forms of integration, for example, through the signing of free trade agreements (FTAs). Mercosur, having signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the EAEU, consistently offers the Eurasian bloc the opportunity to start trade negotiations. China would also be interested in rapprochement with all associations, but many countries see significant risks from such agreements for their producers. It may seem paradoxical that the “integration of integrations” format was promoted by Moscow, whose foreign trade policy is conservative; the EAEU has only a few FTAs with third countries. Despite the optimism of many experts about the prospects for establishing such a network of trade agreements between integration blocs, the author sees such breakthroughs as unlikely in the medium term. Today, in many countries or associations, there is a growing demand for closeness and the protection of national producers in order to achieve greater industrial and technological independence. The willingness to actively cooperate in creating a common financial or logistics infrastructure does not mean the willingness of Brazil, Russia or perhaps Argentina to open their markets and increase competition with imports from China.

China’s approach to the implementation of the BRICS+ format implies rather a “union of regionalisms”, when not trade blocs, but regional associations (SCO, CELAC, African Union) participate in the dialogue. China has established a dialogue with all these organisations (or being a member); there is a broad agenda of cooperation related to economic, political, scientific and technological areas and other topics. Obviously, the advantage of the Chinese approach is flexibility, as there is no need to talk about trade agreements by imposing rigid standards. The only formal obstacle to the implementation of the model today is the non-participation of Brazil (by Bolsonaro’s decision) in CELAC since 2019, the return of the country to the organisation has not yet been discussed. However, it is possible to expect that the position of the Brazilian leader in a reasonable perspective will change amid disappointment in the stalled rapprochement with the United States. A softening of the position is also noticeable in relations with the left-wing radical governments of Latin America, primarily Venezuela (it was precisely the preservation of this country’s participation in CELAC that became the reason for Brazil’s withdrawal). In any case, the decision on the possible resumption of participation in the regional union, if it is made, looks most likely after the elections in October 2022. If the left-wing politician Lula da Silva wins, the country’s return to CELAC can be considered a foregone conclusion. Therefore, Beijing is ready to bide its time. Chinese approaches to diplomacy and international politics are known for their strategic vision for the long term, the current formal obstacles to the implementation of their plans are perceived as temporary, and simply to be waited out. When communicating with our Chinese colleagues dealing with the topic of BRICS, one can feel a similar conviction in the objective mutual benefit and usefulness of the format for all participants.

New realities — new agenda

In the year of its presidency, China was noted not only for initiatives to expand the BRICS; it also significantly developed the agenda, including 23 priorities in 5 areas. There have not been such a number of initiatives within the BRICS for a long time, although most areas of work continue to develop the previous priorities. However, attention is drawn to the surprising similarity of the agenda of all major international forums in 2022. For example, within the framework of the 9th Summit of the Americas, held in early June under the chairmanship of the United States, Washington promoted an agenda that included the problems of post-pandemic recovery, combating the food and energy crises, cooperation in the field of healthcare, innovation, security, ecology, and trade. The intersections with China’s priorities in BRICS are significant. Washington’s main message during the Summit can be formulated as a desire to limit the presence of external players in the zone of their traditional interests. China, which did not participate in any way at the Summit of the Americas and was not mentioned by US officials in speeches, was in fact invisibly present. During his keynote speech at the opening of the forum on June 6, Joe Biden, after the announcement of new proposals for cooperation, emphasised, clearly in defiance of China, that the Western Hemisphere has enough of its own resources to solve all its main problems. The competition of the main financial development instruments is also obvious. For example, the United States promised to capitalise the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) as it is concerned about the growing presence of the Chinese New Infrastructure Investment Bank and the BRICS New Development Bank, financed mainly by Beijing.

Certain signs of rivalry with China can also be seen on the agenda of the 48th G7 summit at the end of June. Developed countries, largely in opposition to the Chinese Belt and Road project, announced their own infrastructure development project in developing countries. There was also talk about the food crisis and assistance to poor countries in counteracting rising prices, where Argentina was also invited to participate. The Western countries and China are entering into intense competition for the developing world, where aid and development programmes will become the main tool, and the developed world is playing the role of catching up in many respects.

For Russia, such a transformation and expansion (geographical and thematic) of the BRICS is obviously beneficial. The intensification of work on the creation of independent financial mechanisms (a new international currency, a pool of reserve currencies, the BRICS Pay payment system) is of interest not only to Moscow, which seeks to reduce its dependence on the monetary infrastructure of the West. The possible inclusion of new members, like Argentina and Iran, demonstrates the failure of the policy of isolating Russia. The Kremlin is ready to move away from the previous logic of the BRICS, when the association was emphatically positioned neither as an alternative to the West, nor as a coalition against it. Today, such positioning is no longer relevant for Russia and China. The latter confirmed this by inviting Iran to participate in the Summit, a country that is in a long-standing conflict with the US, but at the same time has almost 9% of the world’s oil reserves and 17% of its natural gas.

However, such an anti-Western projection of the BRICS is not beneficial to all its participants. Significantly, India, as well as candidate Argentina, took part in the G7 Summit. Argentina depends on the position of the IMF because of its debt problem; it discusses the possibility of obtaining assistance from developed countries. India seeks to pursue a multi-vector policy by participating with the US, Japan and Australia in the Quadripartite Security Dialogue (QUAD). Its interest in achieving the common goals of improving global regulation and interaction for the sake of development does not mean that all BRICS members are ready to oppose the countries of the West. Realising the positive chances from the emerging new period of growth of the association, all countries need to remain diplomatic in promoting their priorities, and seek a delicate balance that will give the BRICS the required stability in the next development cycle.

from our partner RIAC

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