Discourse Power | July 3, 2022
Ximon and Garfunkel, protracted war, out with "international development" and in with "global development", and "spiritual Americans" that are insane in the membrane
“Thoroughly explore how to dispel the discourse of the West's so-called "debt trap" narrative
The Global Development Initiative (GDI), according to Professor Liu Hongwu, a "Changjiang Scholar" of the Ministry of Education and Dean of the Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University, is a natural extension and expansion of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that could aid China in escaping the "discourse trap", that is, the "debt trap" narrative that the West propagates.
The notion that China is engaged in “debt-trap diplomacy” was popularized by Indian Author Brahma Chellaney in 2017 and has since become synonymous with the BRI.
Despite being thoroughly debunked by development economists and senior government officials in the countries that are supposedly victims of Chinese "neocolonialism" and "predatory lending," the idea still holds.
Consequently, instead of serving their intended purpose as a Chinese celebration of multilateralism and a soft-power platform, China's foreign aid, trade, investment, and foreign financing and loans turned into a China-bashing competition by the global crowd.
In addition to its "image problem”, Liu implies that the BRI is insufficient to address the "great changes unseen in a century" that have transpired since it was unveiled ten years ago, most recently the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
“Against this background”, he writes, “humanity is confronted with unparalleled challenges.” Paraphrasing General Secretary Xi Jinping’s “Questions of our Times”, Liu asks: “Where are the "great global changes unseen in a century" leading us? Which direction should we face?”
“Is the world once again headed for two world wars, as it was a century ago,” he asks, “or can people forge ahead through these troubled waters and treacherous shoals 动荡不定的急流险滩 by applying what they have learned from humanity’s past and their inventiveness to spur global change toward sustainability, win-win cooperation, and peace and security?”
“President Xi Jinping suggested the GDI in September 2021, after which he put forth the Global Security Initiative (GSI) in April 2022. China presents both the GDI and the GSI, with their respective emphasis on "development" and "security," as "Chinese prescriptions" 中国药方 for the world's ills.
“Overall, ranging from the BRI to the GDI, it can be seen that China's understanding of the global situation is becoming clearer and more accurate and that Chinese solutions based on Chinese wisdom are becoming more apparent as the global situation changes.
“The GDI is a natural extension and expansion 延伸与拓展 of the BRI. It is sharper and more focused, as it bases all security cooperation on "development" as a starting point 抓手. It essentially embodies China's experience over the past 40 years of viewing "development" as the solution to each and every problem.
“Development is essential and demonstrates the continuity and viability of China's global strategy. Currently, one of the main areas of cooperation between China and Africa is investment and financing.
“Additionally, there are numerous issues with financing and investment in African nations, many of which go beyond economics. This has a strong connection to the current governance structures, political institutions, and security concerns in African nations.
“Over the last two, three years, with the spread of COVID-19 and the onset of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the West has been relentlessly pushing the idea that trade and economic cooperation between China and Africa is in a "debt trap" set by China.
“Therefore, in order to thoroughly explore how to break through the Western discourse of the so-called "debt trap", we need to study how to construct China's discourse system in the field of investment and financing in Sino-African relations.
“Together, we shall demonstrate that China and Africa are creating a new development model in those fields through concrete projects of China's effective development cooperation throughout the continent.
“China should maintain its strategic resolve, continue to deepen its strategic understanding of Sino-African cooperation from the careful study of the historical process and contemporary development, and vigorously support the strategic initiatives of Sino-African cooperation regardless of how the global situation may change.
“In terms of population size, land mass, resource endowment, and future market development potential, Africa is a "world-class" and "potential rising continent," and we have every reason to believe that its economy will play a more unique role in the course of global development in the future.” (CSSN)
“The world is currently undergoing great changes that are leading to a ‘rising South and declining North, the rise of the East and the decline of the West.’ China has remained unaffected by the pandemic's shocking impacts, proving the superiority of its system, culture, and socialist cause”
China should get ready for a war of attrition against the West over public opinion, writes Dr. Lin Sixian of the School of International Journalism and Communication (SIJC) at the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU).
Abstract: “Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global public opinion environment has deteriorated. Western media have employed a variety of tactics to demonize China and achieve their strategic objective of impeding its peaceful development process, including integrated framing devices and struggle tactics.
“In order to make up for Chinese media’s own weaknesses and respond to Western media's new set of capabilities, strategies, and targeted campaigns, they must scrutinize the Western efforts and learn from their successes. Moreover, Chinese media should adopt a tit-for-tat strategy to ensure that its framing strategies are up to date and can win the high ground of public opinion.”
“Suggested Countermeasures to the West’s Public Opinion Warfare against China:
“In a speech at the Working Conference of National Party Schools in 2016, Comrade Xi Jinping noted that "those who fall behind will be beaten 挨打, those who are poor will be starved 挨饿, and those who have nothing to say will be scolded 挨骂."
“The West's ongoing public opinion campaign against China aims to undermine China’s efforts to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation by not only systematically stigmatizing China but also gathering momentum for denigrating our nation.
“First, it is necessary to accurately grasp the current international public opinion struggle, distinguish between "friends and foes" on the international public opinion front, and struggle 斗争 with the Western anti-China mainstream media while seeking sympathy and feedback from friendly international media.
“In the current international environment, the Western anti-China media should undoubtedly be our struggle's primary target, while many media stakeholders in Russia and neighboring developing countries can be regarded as a foreign backup.
“There are still a lot of China-related stories in the Western media that have an element of objectivity... This goes to show that even mainstream media in the West is not monolithic.
“Therefore, China should try to unite as much as possible the international media stakeholders that it can win over, while doing its utmost to isolate and strike down 打击 the remaining anti-China media outlets in the United States, Britain, and other countries that hold unto their hard-line positions.
“Second, it's critical to accurately assess the power imbalance on the global public opinion front and respond calmly. The current reality of the international public opinion front is that the enemy is powerful while we are weak 敌强我弱. Although it is important for us to have a fundamental understanding of this truth, we shouldn't overstate the "strength" of our opponents and the "weakness" of our side.
“Despite early attempts by CGTN, Global Times, and other Chinese media platforms to compete directly with the US and Western mainstream media by catering to foreign audiences, they still struggle with a lack of airtime and inexperience in comparison to centuries-old Western media brands and outlets. Chinese media, hence, must thoroughly analyze the Western media's strengths and weaknesses and learn from them, so as to compensate for their own shortcomings.
“Third, in terms of strategy and tactics, we should not just counter the anti-China propaganda in the Western media. In order to avoid falling into the framework of their discourse system advantages, it is also necessary to avoid being drawn by the issues and discourse frames that they use to entrap us.
“Recent criticism of America's disorderly anti-COVID measures, frequent shootings, rampant racism, and forceful law enforcement has dominated coverage in CCTV and other major Chinese media.
“They have been very successful in challenging Western discourse hegemony, perfectly illustrating the Maoist tactic of "let the enemy fight its own way, while we fight our own way 你打你的，我打我的".
“Fourth, it is imperative to fully recognize the fundamental difference between Chinese and Western perceptions of "public opinion warfare," and gear up for a protracted war.
“If we think of this problem from a long-term, global, and spatial perspective, the media is just one of many factors influencing the constantly shifting landscape of international public opinion.
“The battle for public opinion encompasses more than just which nation has media outlets with better gear, and more know-how and experience. This is also a fierce competition between countries in terms of political, economic, and cultural strength, as well as between ideologies and political systems.
“The world is currently undergoing great changes that are leading to a ‘rising South and declining North, the rise of the East and the decline of the West.’ China has remained unaffected by the pandemic's shocking impacts, proving the superiority of its system, culture, and socialist cause.
“As such, the Chinese people are highly motivated and confident about the future of their country, enjoying an unprecedented unity of mind and will, whereas the West is in disarray as a result of its failed efforts to combat the pandemic.
“The spread of neo-liberalism and Western-style democracy is plagued by internal strife and political animosity, shattering the myth of Western superiority.
“Fifth, we must fully comprehend the professional nature of the US-led Western public opinion campaign against China and bolster our retaliation with professional communication.” (Aisixiang)
"The Global Development Initiative is of great significance and will have a substantial effect on the international development structure...it develops China's right to speak on global development”
Professor Huang Meibo, dean of the School of International Development and Cooperation at UIBE Shanghai, thinks that Xi Jinping's new Global Development Initiative (GDI) has the potential to transform the way that the world views development, giving China and the developing world more discourse power over the West. (CSSN)
“The world today is in the midst of great changes unseen in a century. Some emerging-market nations, most notably China, are developing rapidly; hence, China and other emerging market nations are increasing their foreign trade, investments, and development financing, as well as their influence over the international community.
“In this context, Western nations have been pushing the so-called "China threat theory" 中国威胁论 and expressing opposition to Chinese foreign aid, trade, and investment as well as foreign financing and loans.
“They have further labeled China's trade investments and foreign aid as "neo-colonialism", while some individuals with vested interests frame its development financing and foreign loans as instances of a "debt trap."
“What impact, then, has China had on global development? Which international development concept does China favor? We must assert our position to ensure that the international community is informed.
“The Global Development Initiative's effects The GDI’s proposal is of great significance and will have a substantial impact on the international development structure:
“To start, China has declared its international sustainable development policy in response to pressing global issues related to international development. For one thing, it has fundamentally changed the way we think about international development.
“China was able to shift our perspective, in which we view development from a singular whole to one of integrated diversity 单一走向复合多元, from materialistic to humanistic, from a focus solely on economic growth to one on sustainable development, and from one that emphasizes building national capacities and development to one that reinforces individual development.
“The GDI, thus, intends to incorporate economic, social, and humanistic environmental indicators into the design of long-term development goals.
“For another, it makes development initiatives available to the world, introduces Chinese public goods in areas where there is a consensus on development, makes bold commitments and follows through on them, and makes contributions based on China's advantages and expertise.
“While China actively promotes global development, its own development successes - including the eradication of poverty, economic growth, the digital economy, as well as its extensive experience with receiving aid - can be used as a model for other developing nations to follow in order to advance the cause of global development.
“Secondly, the GDI helps establish China's discourse power on "global development". At present, the era of "international development" 国际发展 is giving way to an era of "global development" 全球发展”.
“The term "international development" refers only to North-South relations. Development is no longer just a problem for developing countries, as global ecological challenges have been exacerbated.
“Therefore, the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is no longer limited to developing countries, contrary to the UN Millennium Declaration of 2000. Rather, it is universally applicable - a new era of "global development" has dawned.
“In light of this, President Xi Jinping's GDI suggests that China will actively participate in global development and strengthen its discourse power on global development.
“The GDI also identifies potential areas for China's future international development cooperation. On the one hand, China should continue to take advantage of its comparative advantages in the production of infrastructure and actively address the various post-pandemic demands of recipient nations in terms of public health policies, production, and economic rehabilitation.
“On the other hand, more focus should be placed on social infrastructure, bridging the wealth gap, safeguarding vulnerable populations, addressing climate change, etc.” (CSSN)
“We can see how the Western discourse currently dominates international relations by looking at how the Russia-Ukraine situation is developing. This understanding could be vital in constructing an international relations discourse with Chinese characteristics and breaking the monopoly of Western discourse”
On June 24, the 4th Young Scholars Forum on International Relations Studies took place online under the theme "Development and Innovation of International Relations Theory amidst Great Changes Unseen in a Century."
The event was jointly organized by the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs'-backed China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) and the Center for Asia-Pacific Development Studies (CAPDS) of Nanjing University.
Dr. Xu Jian, who is the Chancellor of the China Diplomatic Academy (CDA) and the President and Deputy Secretary of the CPC Committee of the China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU), provided three suggestions for developing a theory of international relations with Chinese characteristics:
“First, China's path has diverged from that of the West. China's achievements, experience, and path are destined to have a very special and undeniable significance for the entire planet and for all of mankind.
“Second, China is increasingly moving to the center of the world stage.
The level of interdependence between China and the rest of the world is unprecedented, as is the world's focus on and expectations for China. China's responsibility and obligations, as well as its capacity and potential to promote global peace and development, are growing with each passing day.
“Third, China has the right conditions, responsibility, and ability to draw valuable lessons for a different modernization path than that of the West. It should use this to make greater contributions to the development of human civilization and the cause of human progress.
Also in attendance was Professor Sun Zhuangzhi, Director of the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies and Vice President of the Council on Strategic Interaction between China and Russia at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
Sun called on Chinese IR scholars to "pay closer attention to the progression of the Russia-Ukraine situation and to observe, follow, and analyze any potential new effects that this situation may have on the international order and on international development.
“We can see how the Western discourse currently dominates international relations by looking at how the Russia-Ukraine situation is developing,” Sun observed. “This understanding could be vital in constructing an international relations discourse with Chinese characteristics and breaking the monopoly of Western discourse.”
“The war”, in the opinion of the experts and academics that took part in the online Forum, “poses a serious threat to the global order and serves as further evidence of the West's hegemonic mindset.
“China needs to be aware of the public opinion war with the West while always keeping in mind that protracted struggle 长期保持斗争思维 is one of the main ways to advance the development of China's international discourse system 国际话语体系建设.”
They further discussed future developments in Sino-US relations and China's Neighborhood Diplomacy 周边外交. It was agreed that the political polarization in the US has had a “significant impact on American foreign policy and Sino-US ties and that this is an issue that requires more attention in the study of the bilateral relationship.”
They have also concluded that “China must maintain good relations with its neighbors and create a secure environment in its surroundings. The propagation of China's diplomatic philosophy 外交理念 depends heavily on this.” (CSSN)
"Color revolutions are the primary tool used by the US-led West to manipulate the world, and the only way to stop them is with absolute sovereignty"
Fudan University Professor, Party member, and head of the China Institute Zhang Weiwei warned his viewers against the pernicious infiltration of "spiritual Americans" in China, just as he did in his show from the previous week (read the China Media Project synopsis).
This "fifth column" that the US-led West employs to spark color revolutions around the globe, said Zhang, includes organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the "George Soros Foundation" (sic.).
Together, they failed to instigate a color revolution in China, but their success in Ukraine has led to the "horrifying human tragedy" that is currently taking place.
Excerpts from his June 27 show:
“The US has been able to form a group of ideologically hollow 思想浅薄, uncouth, 品味低下, and mentally deranged 心理扭曲 "spiritual Americans" 精神美国人 in China through long-term cultural infiltration.
“It is through them, that they’ve been able to extend their black hand 黑手 into our humanities, arts, media, and even social sciences. However, the United States' biggest mistake was acting in such a despicable way [with "no bottom line"] that the Chinese people are finally awake.
“The eight-year-long Ukrainian civil war saw the rise of Nazi and ultra-nationalist ideologies, as their oppressive campaign grew bloodier and showcased numerous atrocious massacres.
“During this time, NATO provided long-term support and continued to promote Ukraine's accession to the organization. Russia eventually reached a breaking point and, on February 24, 2022, sent troops directly to Ukraine with the demand that it be made a neutral nation and demilitarized and de-Nazified.”
“We, the Chinese people, must also be wary of the "double agents 带路党", "fifth column 第五纵队", and "spiritual Americans" of the US and the West. They have been colluding with the evil forces of the West 邪恶势力, fanning the flames, sowing divisions, and attempting to overthrow our People's Republic.
“However, despite the fact that they are still running amok, I am also adamant that the time for "spiritual Americans" to call the shots has come to an end.
“Behind the scenes, the American model to which they prostrate and grovel 跪舔 has fallen from the "altar", and the American "myth" has been shattered among the majority of Chinese people, particularly among the young.
“The more we struggle against such forces, the more mature we will become. "Time" and "momentum" are on our side.“ (Transcript | Video)
Playing in the Background
Discourse Power is written by Tuvia Gering, a research fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub, and a Tikvah’s Krauthammer Fellow, specializing in Chinese security and foreign policy, and emergency and disaster management. Any views expressed in this newsletter, as well as any errors, are solely those of the author. Follow Tuvia on Twitter @GeringTuvia