27 Ιουλίου 2014

Ι) Clashes with Russia point to globalization’s end ΙΙ) Westphalia with Chinese Characteristics III) The China Model: a Civilizational-State Perspective IV) Zhang Weiwei: The China Wave (video).

Clashes with Russia point to globalization’s end

As the European Union and the United States ramp up their sanctions on Russia, President Vladimir Putin’s plans for retaliation seem to include an attack on McDonald’s. There could not be a more powerful symbol that geopolitics is increasingly undoing the globalization of the world economy.
The burger chain was celebrated in the 1990s by the journalist Thomas Friedman’s “Golden Arches theory of conflict prevention,” which argued that the spread of McDonald’s around the world would bring an end to war. But almost 25 years after a McDonald’s restaurant opened in Moscow, it seems that deep interdependence has not ended conflict between great powers – it has merely provided a new battlefield for it.
As in any relationship that turns sour, many of the things that initially tie the parties together are now being used to drive them apart. For the past two decades we have heard that the world is becoming a global village because of the breadth and depth of its trading and investment links, its nascent global governance and the networks of the information age. But those forces for interdependence are degenerating into their opposite; we could call it the three faces of ‘splinterdependence’:

From free trade to economic warfare
Economic interdependence was supposed to defuse geopolitical tensions over time – or at least allow the two to be compartmentalized. But today the West is using Russia’s participation in the global economy to punish it for its actions in eastern Ukraine. The EU has announced sanctions that will hit Russia in the banking, oil and defense industries. When China felt its interests were threatened, it was also willing to use economic sanctions in its territorial disputes with the Philippines and Japan. In May, Beijing found itself on the receiving end as Vietnam turned a blind eye to anti-Chinese riots targeting Chinese plants when China put an oil rig in the disputed Paracel Islands.

From global governance to competitive multilateralism
Many saw global trade relations as a prelude to global government, with rising powers such as Russia and China being socialized into roles as “responsible stakeholders” in a single global system. But multilateral integration now seems to be dividing rather than uniting. Geopolitical competition gridlocks global institutions; the Ukraine crisis came about because of a clash between two incompatible projects of multilateral integration — the European-led Eastern Partnership and Russia’s Eurasian Union.
There is a global trend of competing mini-lateral friendship organizations. On the one hand, the “world without the West” encompasses the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and a host of sub-regional bodies. On the other, the West is creating new groupings outside the universal institutions — such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Asia and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership — that deliberately exclude China and Russia. Rather than seeing international law as a way of de-escalating disputes between countries, people are increasingly talking about its use as a weapon against hostile countries — “lawfare.”

From one Internet to many
Even the Internet is leading to hostile fragmentation rather than a global public square. Putin might have offered Edward Snowden refuge, but it is America’s closest allies — such as Angela Merkel in Germany and President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil — who are the most concerned about the National Security Agency’s prying into their citizens private lives. Anupam Chander and Uyen P. Le of the University of California at Davis contend that “Anxieties over surveillance … are justifying governmental measures that break apart the World Wide Web … the era of a global Internet may be passing.” They claim that countries such as Australia, France, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia and Vietnam have already moved to keep certain types of data on servers within their national borders.
After the end of the Cold War, when the apostles of globalization argued that trade would soon eclipse warfare, the military strategist Edward Luttwak predicted that they would soon be proved wrong. Although capital would replace firepower as a weapon of choice, and market penetration would play the role that bases and garrisons had in earlier generations, the driving force of international relations would be conflict rather than trade. As he put it, we would have “the grammar of commerce but the logic of war.” Luttwak’s prediction seemed misplaced at a time when countries such as Russia, China, India and Brazil were rushing to join the global economy.
The post-Cold War world these countries entered was marked by the development of an U.S.-led unipolar security order and a European-led legal order that sought to bind the world together through free trade, economic interdependence, international law and multilateral institutions. Today, we can see that the U.S.-led security order is fraying both as a result of war-weariness and the emergence of new powers internationally. As a result, great powers such as the United States are increasingly trying to weaponize the international legal order through sanctions to compensate for their unwillingness to use military force.
Interdependence, formerly an economic boon, has now become a threat as well. No one is willing to lose out on the benefits of a global economy, but all great powers are thinking about how to protect themselves from its risks, military and otherwise. China is moving toward domestic consumption after the threat of the U.S. financial crisis. America is moving toward energy independence after the Iraq War. Russia is trying to build a Eurasian Union after the euro crisis. And even internationalist Germany is trying to change the EU so that its fellow member states are bound into German-style policies.
In the years after the Cold War, interdependence was a force for ending conflict. But in 2014, it is creating it. After 25 years of being bound together ever more tightly, the world seems intent on resegregating itself.
Mark Leonard - Reuters

Westphalia with Chinese Characteristics

What will be the future implications of China’s rise in power? The towering political scientist Stephen Krasner has produced a lucid synopsis for the Hoover Institution. One of the biggest take-away points is that the organization of global governance stands to undergo a significant overhaul if Beijing’s capabilities continue to expand vis-à-vis the United States.
In terms of the international economic order, Krasner notes that:
“[t]he existing trade and investment regimes more or less assume that corporations are independent of the state; this assumption is comfortable for the United States. It is not so comfortable for China: a more powerful China might press for principles, norms, and rules that were more accepting of state direction of the economy.”
It warrants pointing out that China’s preferences for statism in economic affairs are not simply because of its communist leadership. Rather, developing economies in general tend to rely upon government intervention for growth. This was true of the so-called Asian Tigers in the 1970s and is certainly true of China and the other BRICS nations today, all of which blend an appreciation for markets with a dyed in the wool commitment to a form of dirigisme.
The difference between the newly industrialized countries (NICs) of the 1970s and the BRICS of today, of course, is that the latter entertain hopes of refashioning the international economic architecture to better suit their particular interests. Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan never aspired to global leadership. Whether the BRICS will succeed in their bid any time soon is far from certain; as yet, the BRICS lack the cohesion, the will and the means actually to lead a new global order. Nevertheless, their dissatisfaction and rise in power do combine to produce a long-term potential threat to the western-made status quo.
China’s rise might also portend implications for how states engage with each other politically and diplomatically. “China’s internal divisions make it one of the strongest proponents of the sanctity of sovereigntist principles that totally reject external interference in the internal affairs of other states,” Krasner points out. “The United States as a proponent of human rights, and as target for transnational terrorist, has a much weaker commitment to non-intervention.”
There is some irony to this mismatch in attitudes. Sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-intervention are the cornerstones of the Westphalian system, a model of international relations that emphasizes the centrality of state actors to global politics and which is supposed the epitomize the western approach to international organization. Yet Krasner is correct that the U.S. and Europe have been at the forefront of enervating Westphalia over the past several decades while China has emerged as a champion of Westphalian principles.
Just as the Westphalian ideal has been at times convenient for western powers and inconvenient (and ignored) at other times—a system of “organized hypocrisy” in Krasner’s own words—so too are Westphalian norms a valuable (and pliable) resource for China’s leadership. As Stephen Hopgood argues in his book The Endtimes of Human Rights, the logic of Westphalia affords Beijing a rationale for maintaining authoritarian rule at home and opposing the imposition of western influence abroad (including, recently, in Syria).
Westphalia can also be applied by China to legitimize its actions, at least rhetorically, regarding its various territorial and sovereignty disputes: from Xinjiang and Tibet to Taiwan and the islands of the East and South China Seas. All of this means that Westphalia can probably be expected to remain firmly in place as a core tenet of international order under Chinese leadership, even if the application of Westphalian norms will look cynical and opportunistic to observers in the west.
If China does reassert sovereignty as an inviolable cornerstone of international organization then it will be a hammer blow to western interventionists on both the right and left. This is partly what Krasner means when he concludes that “the world would be a very different place than it is now if an autocratic China became the indispensable nation.”
Not everybody in the west would be sad to see a reduction in of overseas interventions, of course, but if it takes Chinese preponderance to curtail the west’s adventurism then this might leave a bitter taste—especially if it comes accompanied by other changes to international order. An uncertain future impends.
Peter Harris - The National Interest

The China Model: a Civilizational-State Perspective

China’s dramatic rise should be understood in the context of China as a civilizational state, i.e. an amalgam of the world’s oldest continuous civilization and a huge modern state which is a product of hundreds of states amalgamated into one over the past thousands of years of history. The state is characterized by four factors: a super-large population, a super-sized territory, a super-long history and a super-rich culture, which have in term shaped all the key features of China’s development model, with all its possible ramifications for the future trajectory of China and beyond.
As we know, China, or the rise of China, remains controversial in the West for all kinds of reasons. Indeed, over the past 30 or so years, the Chinese state has often been portrayed in the Western media as a dichotomy of a repressive regime clinging to power and a society led by pro-democracy dissidents bordering on rebellion, and some Europeans, for instance, in Oslo, still view China as an enlarged East Germany or Belarus awaiting a color revolution.
This perception has led many China-watchers in the West to confidently crystal-ball a pessimistic future for China: the regime would collapse after the Tiananmen event in 1989; China would follow in the footsteps of the Soviet Union in its disintegration; chaos would engulf China after Deng Xiaoping’s death; the prosperity of Hong Kong would fade with its return to China; the explosion of SARS would be China’s Chernobyl; China would fall apart after its WTO entry; and chaos would ensue following the 2008 global financial tsunami. Yet all these forecasts turned out to be wrong: it is not China that has collapsed, but all the forecasts about China’s collapse that have “collapsed”.
This unimpressive track record of crystal-balling China’s future reminds us of the need to look at this huge and complex country in a more objective way, and perhaps with an approach adopted by the great German philosopher G. W. Leibniz (1646–1716) to focus on how the Chinese developed what he called “natural religion” or the secular application of ethics and political philosophy to social, economic and political governance. If we are freed from ideological hang-ups, we may come to see that what has happened over the past three decades in China is arguably the greatest economic and social revolution in human history: over 400 million people have been lifted out of poverty, with all the implications of this success for China and the rest of the world.
China has in fact performed better than all other developing countries combined over the past 3 decades, as 70% of world’s poverty eradication has taken place in China. China has performed better than all transition economies combined, as the Chinese economy has increased about 18 fold since 1979, while Eastern Europe, as an example, only 1-fold, albeit from different starting point. China has also performed better than many developed countries, and its ‘developed regions’ with a population of about 300 million, the size of the US population, today in many ways match the developed economies in southern Europe in overall prosperity, and China’s first-tier cities like Shanghai may aready surpass New York in many ways, in terms of ‘hardware’ such as airports, subways, bullet trains, shopping facilities and city skylines, and in terms of ‘software’ such as life expectancy, child mortality rate and street safety.
China has its share of problems, some of which are serious and require earnest solution, but China’s overall success is beyond doubt. How can this success be explained? Some claim that it is due to foreign direct investment, but Eastern Europe has received far more FDI in per capita terms; some claim that it’s due to China’s cheap labour, but India and many developing countries offer cheaper labour; some claim that it’s due to an authoritarian government, but there are authoriatian governments, as the concept is defined by the West, everywhere in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and in the Arab world. None of them have accomplished what China has achieved.
If none of these explanations can clarify China’s success, one should be encouraged to think outside the box. To this author, it is essentially due to the nature of China as a state, and the Chinese model of development.
China is not an enlarged East Germany or Belarus. Nor is China another ordinary state; China is a civilizational state, arguably the world’s only one, as China is the only country in the world with a history of unified state for over 2000 years, and it is the world’s only continuous civilization lasting over 5000 years and it is the world’s only amalgam of an ancient civilization and a huge modern state.
An inaccurate analogy would be something like the ancient Roman Empire continuing to this day as a unified modern state with a centralized government, modern economy, all its diverse traditions and cultures and a huge population speaking the same language called Latin.
This kind of country is bound to be unique: China is an amalgamation of four factors, namely, a super-large population, a super-sized territory, a super-long history and a super-rich culture. China has a population larger than the total populations of the 27 Europe Union countries, the USA, Russia and Japan combined. China’s Spring Festival in 2012 saw 3.1 billion visits via China’s vast transportation networks, something equivelant to moving the whole populations of North and South America, Europe, Russia, Japan and Africa from one place to another in less than a month. This is the scale of the country as well as the challenges and opportunities it faces.
China has a super-sized landscape, a continent by itself, with unimaginable regional diversity. China has super-entrenched historical traditions on everything one could think of, often traditions spanning thousands of years, ranging from political governance, statecraft and economics, to philosophy, medicine, military strategy and way of life. China has a super-rich culture, including one of the world’s most sophisticated literatures and architectures. Perhaps there is no better example to illustrate this richness than the Chinese cuisine: there are 8 main schools of cuisine and their countless sub-schools, each of the 8 main schools is arguably richer than the French cuisine in terms of contents and variety.
So a civilizational state is a product of hundreds of states amalgamated into one over thousands of years of history. The four ‘supers’, to this author, have shaped China’s unique development model, of which 8 features can be distilled:
First, it’s guiding philosophy is called ‘seeking truth from facts’. This is an ancient Chinese concept revived by the late leader Deng Xiaoping after the failure of the utopian Cultural Revolution. Deng believed that facts rather than ideological dogmas — whether from East or West — should serve as the ultimate criterion for establishing truth. Beijing concluded, from examining facts, that neither the Soviet Communist model nor the Western liberal democracy model really worked for a developing country in terms of achieving modernization. Hence China decided in 1978 to explore its own path of development and to adopt a pragmatic, trial-and-error approach for its massive modernization program. This is the philosophical underpining of the China model.
Second, putting people’s livelihood first. This is a very traditional concept of political governance in China. In this context, Deng Xiaoping prioritized poverty eradication as China’s no.1 task and pursued a down-to-earth strategy to wipe out poverty. China’s reform started first in the countryside, as at that time most Chinese lived in the countryside. The success of the rural reform set the Chinese economy moving and created a positive chain reaction leading to the rise of millions of small and medium-siezed enterprises, which soon accounted for more than half of China’s industrial output, thus paving the way for the rapid expansion of China’s manufacturing industries and foreign trade.
China is arguably correcting a neglect in the range of human rights advocated by the West, which tend to focus exclusively on civil and political rights. This feature of ‘putting people’s livelihood first’ may have long-term implications for the half of the world’s population who still live in poverty.
Third, stability as a pre-condition for development. As a civilizational state, its ethnic, religious, linguistic and regional diversity is among the highest in the world, and hence this condition has shaped what may be called ‘the collective psyche’ of the Chinese, i.e., most people revere stability and fear ‘luan’, the Chinese word for chaos, and the Chinese political culture is deeply rooted in the concept of ‘taipingshengshi’: prosperity in peace, or peace with prosperity. Deng Xiaoping’s penchant for stability derives in part from his understanding of Chinese history: in a span of nearly one and a half centuries, from 1840, when the British launched the Opium War on China, to the begining of the reform in late 1978, China’s longest continuous period of peace and stability lasted no more than 8 to 9 years; the country was in constant turmoil and suffered from repeated foreign aggressions, civil wars, peasant uprisings and self-inflicted ideological frenzy. By now China had for the first time in its modern history enjoyed a sustained stability for over three decades, and China has created an economic miracle.
Fourth, gradual reform. Given the size and complexity of the country, Deng Xiaoping set out a strategy that is often described as ‘crossing a river by feeling for stepping stones’, and he encouraged experiments for all major reform initiatives, as exemplified by China’s special economic zones, where new ideas were tested, such as land sale, high-tech joint ventures and an export-oriented economy. Only when new initiatives are shown to work are they extended nationwide. China has rejected ‘shock therapy’ and worked through the existing, imperfect institutions while gradually reforming them to serve modernization. This cautious approach has enabled China to maintain much needed political stablity and avoided paralysing failures as was the case with the former Soviet Union and ex-Yugoslavia.
Fifth, correct priorities and sequence. In line with the gradual approach, China’s reform has demonstrated a clear pattern of change: rural reforms first, urban ones second; changes in coastal areas first, inland second; economic reforms first, political ones second. In a nutshell, easy reforms before more difficult ones. The advantage of this approach is that the experiences and lessons gained in the first stage of reform create conditions for the next stage of change. Underpining this approach is China’s philosophical tradition of holistic thinking. Deng Xiaoping mapped out a 70-year strategy for modernizing China by the middle of the 21st century, and China is still pursuing this strategy today. This feature contrasts sharply with the populist, short-term politics so prevalent in much of the world today.
Sixth, a mixed economy. China has tried to combine the strength of the invisible hand of the market force with the visible hand of the state intervention, in part to correct market failures. China’s economic system is thus called ‘socialist market economy’. When the market force is released by China’s gigantic economic change, the Chinese state has done its utmost to ensure a macro political and economic stability, and the state has steered the country out of harm’s way in both the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and the current financial tsunami.
Seventh, opening up to the outside world. With no messanic tradition of converting others, China represents a secular culture where learning from others is highly virtuous. China has retained its long tradition of ‘selective cultural borrowing’ from outside world, including drawing on useful elements from the neo-liberal Washington consensus such as its emphasis on enterpreneruship and international trade. But Beijing always safeguards its policy space and draws on foreign ideas selectively. Opening up to international competition has allowed China to become one of the most competitive economies in the world.
Last but not least, a rather disinterested and enlightened strong state. China’s change has been led by an enlightened developmental state. The Chinese state is capable of shaping national consensus on the need for reform and modernization and ensuring overall political and macroeconomic stability and persuing hard strategic objectives, such as enforcing banking sector reforms, carrying out state-owned enterprise reforms, implementing necessary industrial policies and stimulating the economy against the global downturn. This feature originates from China’s Confucian tradition of a benevolent strong state established on the basis of meritocracy at all levels. After all, China is the country that invented the civil servant examination system over 1000 years ago.
With this tradition of meritocracy and performance legitimacy, Beijing now practices what can be called “selection plus some form of election” throughout its leadership structure. For instance, the criteria for becoming one of China’s top 9 leaders, i.e. members of the Standing Committe of the Political Bureau, require usually two terms of good performance as the top leader of a province, which is often the size of 4 to 5 average European states. With this system of meritocracy and performance legitimacy in place, whatever defects it may have, there is no chance for such incompetent leaders as Geroge W. Bush to rise to the top echelon of power.
The relative success of China since 1979 shows that whatever the political system, it must all boil down to good governance. In other words, the ultimate test of a good political system is to what extent it can ensure good governance. The stereotyped dichotomy of democracy vs. autocracy sounds increasingly hollow in today’s complex world, given the large numbers of poorly governed “democracies”. China’s idea may eventually shape a paradigm shift from the dichotomy of democracy vs. autocracy to that of good governance vs. bad governance.
Good governance may take the form of the Western political system as in the case of, perhaps, Switzerland, or the form of a non-Western political system as in the case of Singapore and Hong Kong. China, with all its shortcomings, is a much better governed country than most developing countries. Likewise, bad governance may take the form of the Western political system as in the case of Haiti, Iraq, Mongolia, Ukraine and the recently bankrupt Iceland and Greece, and it may also take the form of a non-Western political system as in the case of Burma.
It follows that, from the Chinese point of view, the nature of a state, including its legitimacy, has to be defined more by its substance, i.e., good governance, than by its procedures. China emphasizes substance over procedures, believing that ultimately the right substance will evolve into the right procedures, appropriate to each nation’s own conditions. Good governance should be an objective of all governments in the world, and the developing world is faced with the mounting challenge of political reform in order to achieve good governance. The same is true for the developed world, given the scale of crises across Japan, Europe and the United States.
China is now the world’s largest laboratory for economic, social and political change. China’s successful economic reforms may have set a pattern for its future political change: a gradual, experimental and accumulative approach, and assimilating whatever is good in Chinese and foreign ideas and practices. After more than a century of devastating wars and revolutions, and after three decades of successful economic reforms, most Chinese seem willing to continue with its own imperfect yet efficient model of development, and this model seems to blend reasonably well with China’s own civilization of several millenia — including 20 or so dynasties, seven of which lasted longer than the whole of U.S. history.
China is going through its own industrial and social revolutions. Imperfections are abundant, and the country is still faced with many challenges such as fighting corruption and reducing gaps between regions and between rich and poor. But China is likely to continue to evolve along its own successful model, rather than embracing other models.
With China’s further ascendance, the China model may well become more influential internationally. While China’s experience is largely indigenous and will be difficult to copy by other countries with different cultural traditions, certain ideas and practices from the China model such as ‘seeking truth from facts ’, putting people’s livelihood first, gradual and experimental approach to change, ‘good governance matters more than democratization’, may have broader international appeal.
Indeed, the world is witnessing a wave of change from a vertical world order, in which the West is above the rest in both wealth and ideas, to a more horizontal order, in which the rest, notably China, will be on a par with the West in both wealth and ideas. This is an unprecedented shift of economic and political gravity in human history, which will change the world forever.

Zhang Weiwei is professor of international relations at Fudan Universty and senior fellow at Chunqiu Institute, China, and a visiting professor at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations. His recent publications include a bestseller in China "The China Wave, Rise of a Civilizational State".

Zhang Weiwei: The China Wave

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