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Discourse Power | May 10, 2023
Inner strength, Confucian-Islamic military connection, and we're only making plans for Taiwan - we only want what's best for them
Greetings from Jerusalem,
Before we begin, I'd like to recommend a most recent episode of thePodcast, where talks with Tu Le of Sino Auto Insights on the rise of the Chinese vehicle industry. Israel is rightfully featured in brief, as Chinese EVs like Geely's Geometry C model are absolutely crushing it here, topping the sales charts and leaving Tesla to eat their dust: listen here.
Thank you for reading,
“The most important element in the Sino-US competition is the human factor, that is, the competition for talent”
The next five to ten years will be pivotal in determining the outcome of the Sino-American rivalry. Tsinghua University professor Chen Qi explains how China can prevail.
Chen is a professor of International Relations in the School of Social Sciences at Tsinghua University and Chief Expert for Key Programs of China's National Social Science Fund.
Full translation of Chen’s interview, published on April 26th:
The Global Times: “Why do the US military and political establishments regard the next 5-10 years as critical to the Sino-US relationship? What will the characteristics of the bilateral ties be during this time? At what levels is the US likely to contain China's development?”
Chen Qi: “Based on the official policy declarations made by the US and China, the importance of the next 5-10 years speaks for itself. This period will determine the basic outcome of the intense competition or game that is currently taking place.
“Over this time, using both offense and defense, China and the US will compete and struggle in a variety of areas. There will be no overall verdict on who is the winner; the main determinant of the outcome will be one's capacity to boost the vitality of their system and commit fewer blunders.
“Capitalizing on the strengths and avoiding flaws will be crucial. On the other hand, you will fall behind in this crucial competition if you do not consistently engage in policy innovation and institutional reforms.
“The US is likely to compete with China on the following fronts over the next 5-10 years:
“It will attempt to encroach on China's strategic space by its dazzling 眼花缭乱 alliance diplomacy. It will further attempt to curb China's military development and modernization through export controls and military deterrence on issues related to China's core interests, such as Taiwan. All are undertaken in an effort to uphold US hegemony and prevent the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation;
“It will try to "de-Sinicize" global industrial supply chains and slow China's economic growth even further by enforcing increasingly stringent "long-arm jurisdiction" measures and export controls.
“It will mobilize its international propaganda machine to portray China as a ‘destructive force’ in the international order. Additionally, it will portray the conflict with China as an ideological struggle to uphold Western values and way of life.”
Global Times: “What are the strengths and weaknesses of the two sides, as they will manifest in this game or competition over the following five to ten years?”
Chen Qi: “The most important element in the Sino-US competition is the human factor, that is, the competition for talent. American colleges and universities continue to attract young people from a wide range of countries, providing a wealth of talent for American scientific and technological research and industrial development.
“Chinese universities' progress in teaching and research, as well as their strengths, are obvious to all, as they keep ascending the ranks of the top universities. We must, however, first get past some institutional hurdles and deal with the brain drain problem if we want to establish ourselves as a global talent magnet.
“Due to America’s ‘overbearing self-confidence’ in its own system and growing political polarization, rational adjustments to its domestic and foreign policies have become increasingly difficult.
“The deterioration of domestic consensus has exacerbated the rigidity of bipartisan policies toward China. Despite the fact that everyone now agrees that the Trump administration's trade war with China was a failure, Washington has been unable to correct its course.”
Global Times: “How should we break free from the US siege?”
Chen Qi: “First, we must maintain confidence in China's economic growth. The so-called ‘China has reached its peak’ theory, which is essentially a new iteration of the ‘Chinese decline’ theory, was the subject of speculation earlier this year in American public opinion.
“The more China takes the initiative to open up to the outside world and maintain the momentum of continued economic development, the more difficult it will be for the US to "de-Sinicize" the global economy.
“Second, the biggest security challenge between the US and China is now the issue of Taiwan. Increasingly, the US has been openly incorporating it into NATO's globalization and internationalization as a means of containing China.
“We must wage a dual effort of military struggle and diplomatic appeasement in response to America's propensity to shift its strategic ambiguity and empower ‘Taiwan independence’ forces. This will address the strategic concerns of neighboring countries and EU member states to the greatest extent possible.
“Finally, the various ways the US stigmatizes China should be vigorously opposed. We cannot let the US-led ideological discourse in international relations dictate how we conduct our affairs; rather, we must take the strategic initiative in setting the agenda as well as the pace, and avoid depleting our resources on issues of ideology and values.”
Global Times: “The current state of the world is undergoing many changes, including a ‘wave of reconciliation’ in the Middle East and some African nations openly criticizing Europe and the US. What do you consider to be the most crucial aspect at the moment? What is the trajectory of the world as the various forces wax and wane?”
Chen Qi: “One of the principal contradictions in the international community today is the struggle between forces that continue to incite war and those that strive for peace.
“On the one hand, the US has, whether intentionally or unintentionally, tied some nations to its 'war chariot' 战车 by fanning the flames and compelling them to take sides. This has made peace talks on the Russia-Ukraine conflict all but impossible;
“on the other hand, voices and forces for peace are gradually gaining momentum. China has successively put forward the Global Development Initiative (GDI), Global Security Initiative (GSI), and Global Civilization Initiative (GCI), which are representatives of such forces.”
Global Times: “How should China achieve better development amidst the changing international landscape?”
Chen Qi: “First and foremost, China must maintain its strategic resolve. Second, we should encourage high-quality development and break free from 'bottle-necks' imposed by others in the high-tech sector, so that the United States cannot and dare not 'decouple' from China.
“China must, to reiterate, maintain a high level of openness to the outside world. The more comprehensive its resource exchange with other countries, the more complete and secure its development will be.
“Finally, China should work on developing its ‘inner strength’ 内功. If we maximize the vitality of the system and market actors, stimulate the potential for innovation, and improve ourselves, we will undoubtedly be invincible.” (Global Times)
"The Global Civilization Initiative is…a new vision for the development of human civilization"
Dr. Li Yu, a senior editor of the Party-state media, follows in Xi's footsteps by attacking a Huntington-shaped strawman in an attempt to undermine universal values and deflect criticism of China's gross violations of them.
Li is a communications scholar, senior editor, and director of the China Media Group’s (CMG) International Communication Planning Bureau. The CMG, also known as the Voice of China, was founded in 2018 as a merger of China Central Television (CCTV), China National Radio (CNR), and China Radio International (CRI), all of which are directly controlled by the Party's Central Propaganda/Publicity Department.
Full translation of Li’s article, published on April 20th, 2023:
“On March 15, 2023, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech titled Join Hands on the Path Towards Modernization at the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-level Meeting in Beijing.
“In his speech, the General Secretary proposed the Global Civilization Initiative (GCI), a Chinese solution to advance the cause of human civilization. From a global perspective, it transcends the Western "clash of civilizations theory" and presents a new paradigm for the development of human civilization.”
“The Clash of Civilizations Theory Contradicts the Law of Historical Development”
“American scholar Samuel Huntington proposed the Clash of Civilizations theory in the 1990s. While controversial, it has gotten extensive international attention. In this new world, Huntington claimed, regional politics is the politics of race, and global politics is the politics of civilizations. The traditional paradigm of competition between superpowers has been replaced by the Clash of Civilizations.
“The Clash of Civilizations theory is a typical 代表性 Western theory and argument about the relationship between global civilizations. Essentially, it is a Western-centric cultural worldview that provides excuses and discoursive support for Western political interventions, including the use of armed force against non-Christian cultures.
“Huntington, for example, argued against a ‘Confucian-Islamic military connection’ that would create military power in East Asia and the Middle East. He advocated for greater Western cooperation, arguing that the differences and conflicts between Confucian and Islamic states should be exploited in order to maintain Western economic and military power and protect its interests.
“Huntington's blatant conflation of security interests with a cursory understanding of civilizational differences, according to US-based [Dutch] scholar Jan Nederveen Pieterse, is a highly inflammatory view. It clearly falls under the category of fomenting a ‘new kind of enemy narratives’ 新式敌人.
“As can be seen, the Clash of Civilizations theory is entirely anchored in Western hegemonism. When the US government needs to incite trouble or provoke a specific country through a regional conflict, the theory serves as a convenient rhetorical and conceptual framework it uses to persuade the domestic populace and thus systematically conceal its true intentions. It also betrays the West's concern about the changing global landscape.
“According to Le Dayun, a professor at Peking University, Huntington believed that the Western-centric cultural establishment of the past was crumbling. This belief stemmed from his Western-centric theories. With the demise of the colonial system, each national culture is asserting itself. This made him anxious 紧张.
“Thus, the theory of the Clash of Civilizations emerged from a historical context and reflects the real-world concerns of the West. And, objectively speaking, it presents a false perception of civilizations and a skewed worldview, in direct opposition to the laws of historical development.”
“Providing a New Paradigm for the Development of Human Civilization”
"In contrast to the Western-centric theory of a Clash of Civilizations, the GCI is useful for addressing the urgent problems of division and conflict that afflict our world today, positively helping to shape a new vision for the development of human civilization.
“Following the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and the Global Security Initiative (GSI), the GCI is yet another important public good provided by China to the international community in the New Era. It provides a powerful theoretical tool and practical path for solving many of the world's problems, holding a great promise for the future development of mankind.
“The GCI inspires people around the world to examine cultural differences objectively. ‘It is the nature of things to be of unequal quality’ 物之不齐，物之情也 [from Mencius]; the diversity of civilizations is an objective fact, and preserving and promoting this diversity is a blessing for the world, the treasure trove of humanity.
“At the same time, the contact and exchange of diverse civilizations is an unavoidable historical process that necessitates inclusivity 兼容并蓄 and harmonious coexistence 和合共生.
“The Western theory of the Clash of Civilizations, on the other hand, reinforces cultural differences and advocates for a civilization struggle, which is detrimental to the smooth progression of this process.
“The GCI proposes that we all work together to promote global respect for the diversity of civilizations. It advocates for civilizations to insist on equality, mutual appreciation, dialogue, and tolerance, transcending civilizational barriers through civilizational exchanges, transcending civilizational conflicts through mutual appreciation, and transcending civilizational superiority through civilizational inclusiveness.
“Different civilizations can achieve mutual absorption, inspiration, integration, and motivation through mutual appreciation and dialogue, while also promoting the common prosperity of human civilization.
“This is extremely valuable in leading countries around the world to look objectively at civilizational differences and then seek to acknowledge and learn from one another in order to achieve common prosperity 共同繁荣.
“The world will follow GCI's guidance as it explores the true meaning of the common rights of mankind 人类共同价值. To ensure the continuation of civilizational diversity and the bridging of civilizational differences, humanity must re-examine what the common values of humanity are all about.
“For a long time, the West has promoted a set of ‘universal values.’ Huntington himself referred to the US as a ‘missionary state’ 传教士国家, arguing that non-Western people should be committed to and have their institutions reflect Western values such as democracy, free markets, limited government, human rights, individualism, rule of law, and so on.
“Western countries have long used values as a tool, if not a weapon, for political manipulation based on this philosophy. They are always ready to incite division and conflict under the banner of "democracy" and "freedom." Such behavior is increasingly resented and resisted by the international community.
“In contrast, the GCI believes that we should all work together to promote the common values of mankind as the shared pursuit of all peoples: peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom.
“We must be open-minded in being cognizant of different civilizations' interpretations of the essence of values and resist imposing our own values and models on others.
“The positive energy inherent in proper value guidance 正确的价值引领 can both aid in the advancement of humanity's modernization process and the establishment of a Community of Shared Destiny for Mankind. The GCI has significant practical value in assisting people all over the world in understanding both common and diverse values in a thorough, unbiased, and accurate manner.
“Building cultural confidence is a field in which the GCI excels. Countries today are large and small, and civilizations can be strong or weak. However, there is no distinction between superior and inferior civilizations. Each civilization has its own distinct value, and civilizations can be developed and improved through mutual learning and drawing on one another's experience.
“For a long time, the West saw itself as a paragon of civilization, believing it was globally superior and ineffable. It has even arrogated to itself the task of ‘civilizational enlightenment’ of non-Western civilizations.
“Francis Fukuyama's claim of the "end of history" is based on his belief in the West's superiority: the Western model is the only ideal model. Meanwhile, the GCI proposes that we jointly advocate the importance of civilization traditions and innovation.
“It fully explores the contemporary values of each country's history and culture and promotes the creative transformation and innovative development of each country's outstanding traditional culture in the process of modernization.
“With depth and breadth that far exceed Western perceptions of civilizations, the GCI plays an important role in fostering cultural confidence and mutual appreciation among civilizations worldwide.
“The GCI is guiding the world into a new era of collaboration and dialogue. Today, the world is not at peace, and the West remains obsessed with hegemony and power politics, refusing and loath to engage in dialogue with other civilizations due to its inherent mindset and self-interest. In other words, other civilizations are only objects of conquest, not partners in dialogue.
“In his pompous manner, former US President Theodore Roosevelt once explained his predilection for expansionism, aggression, and hegemonic behavior: ‘Every expansion of civilization makes for peace...every expansion of a great civilized power means a victory for law, order, and righteousness.’
“Enlightened Westerners feel that foreign civilizations appear hostile and inferior to countries such as America, and that ‘savages should thus either be civilized or made as offerings on the altar of civilization.’
“The GCI suggests that we work together to strengthen international humanities exchanges and cooperation. We must continue to investigate the development of a global network for dialogue and cooperation among civilizations in order to enrich the content of exchanges, expand cooperation channels, promote mutual understanding among peoples, and jointly promote the development and progress of human civilization.
“This fully reflects China's long history as a builder of world peace, contributor to global development, defender of the international order, and promoter of the progress of human civilization.
“The GCI paves the way for peaceful coexistence among nations and civilizations. It promotes dialogue over confrontation and cooperation over antagonism among countries; it is a Chinese solution that benefits mankind's harmonious coexistence and civilizational progress.” (CSSN)
“After the country is fully reunified, the hunt for wanted Taiwan independence activists will be inevitable”
Many Chinese and foreign military analysts have made detailed predictions about how the PRC will try to conquer Taiwan, but it is less common to see questions about what will happen to Taiwanese citizens if they succeed. Professor Hu Maoren of Beihang University provides some preliminary thoughts by saying the quiet part loud.
Hu is the director of the China Dialectical Materialism Research Association and the Beijing Philosophy Association. As a professor of Marxism, his views on military affairs are far from authoritative.
However, his position at the prestigious Beihang University in Beijing, one of the so-called “Seven Sons of National Defense” due to its close ties to the Chinese military-industrial complex, most likely exposes him to people who are.
Full translation of Hu’s blogpost, first published May 5th, 2023:
“Although the country's complete reunification has yet to be realized, it soon will be. When that occurs, Taiwan's operation and governance will be a major and complex undertaking. Therefore, it is essential to develop some fundamental plans for Taiwan's future.
“If the country's complete reunification is to be achieved through non-peaceful means, the implementation of the One Country, Two Systems in Taiwan should differ from that of peaceful reunification. Since the circumstances are different, it makes sense that the arrangements and responses would also need to differ.
“A non-peaceful reunification would necessitate the formation of provincial-level military control councils 省级军管会. The establishment of the councils in subordinate counties 县 and municipalities 市 will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
“If the overall situation in any given county or city is relatively stable after reunification and there isn't too much unrest 骚乱, it may be possible to forego temporarily establishing a military control council in said jurisdiction. In the interim, the existing government can be used to maintain law and order.
“If there are counties or cities where the situation is less stable and there are serious riots or disturbances caused by Taiwan independence activists, military control councils must be established.
“The councils shall have the authority to enact temporary laws and ordinances to strengthen law and order and ensure that Taiwan's general population can live in peace and harmony 安居乐业. Troublemakers and saboteurs, on the other hand, must be resolutely crushed 镇压 and punished 打击.
“The process of complete national reunification is essentially a continuation of the War of Liberation [the civil war between the Nationalists (Kuomintang) under Chiang Kai-shek and the Communists under Mao Zedong for control of the Chinese mainland between 1945 and 1949]. The non-peaceful approach to the country's complete reunification is analogous to the Tianjin campaign, whereas the peaceful approach is akin to the [surrender of] Beiping.
“One of Taiwan's two major political parties insists on Taiwan's independence, while the other passively resists the country's reunification. Political parties that are strongly in favor of national reunification are few and insignificant.
“Consequently, even after the country's complete reunification, the official name of the People's Republic of China cannot be changed, nor can the PRC's national flag, emblem, or anthem. Any changes to the national symbols will not be permitted.
“After the country is fully reunified, the hunt 追捕 for wanted 通缉 Taiwan independence activists will be inevitable. Taiwan independence activists declared wanted by the state will face harsh prosecution and penalties upon their arrest. There must be no room for softness or leniency in this regard.
“At the same time, all political parties, regardless of size, that have openly advocated for Taiwan's independence should be outlawed and disbanded. Such political parties will not be permitted to operate on the island once the country has been fully reunified.
“If the country is completely reunified through peaceful means, i.e. the Beiping way, a military government may not even be required at the provincial level. Because Taiwan currently lacks a provincial government, plans must be made to establish a temporary provincial administration to govern the entire island of Taiwan and its satellite islands. Its membership could include PLA representatives in Taiwan, central government supervisory cadres, and representatives from some of Taiwan's political parties that have supported national reunification.
“The existing county and municipal governments may temporarily administer their respective units. However, if said authorities are made up of Taiwanese Independence Party appointees [台独党, i.e., the ruling Democratic Progressive Party], they will be promptly dismissed and reassigned.
“The status quo should be maintained for the administrative units lower down the hierarchy, namely townships 乡 and villages 里. Members of organized crime or Taiwanese Independence Party members, on the other hand, must be duly dismissed and replaced in a similar fashion.
“The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) will have to make up the majority of the garrisoned forces in Taiwan whether the country is fully reunified through the Tianjin or Beiping approaches.
“If national reunification is not achieved by peaceful means, the central government will be required to dispatch PLA cadres of all ranks to be incorporated across the ranks of Taiwan's military forces. All units in Taiwan should be decommissioned completely.
“If any officers or soldiers from the Taiwanese army are willing to continue serving, they should be separately reassigned to various units of the PLA in Taiwan in order to avoid having them become overly concentrated.
“In terms of political training, strengthening understanding of national unity, Chinese history, and the PRC will become the primary educational objective in the integration process.
“If the Tianjin approach is used to complete the country's reunification, Taiwan Province will lose all diplomatic rights. The Central People's Government's Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be completely in charge of Taiwan's diplomacy.
“If the country is completely reunified through the Beiping model, the Taiwan province may establish foreign consular offices in certain counties and municipalities - so long as they are approved by the central government - to conduct some foreign affairs business.
“Following the country's complete reunification, the existing laws and regulations in Taiwan Province must be re-examined. Those enacted to cater to the needs of the US and Japan, as well as those passed to promote Taiwan's independence, must be repealed without delay.
“For example, the laws and regulations governing the importation of the so-called ractopamine pigs [American meat imports to Taiwan have long been a source of contention in Taiwan] are not only unreasonable but also humiliating. Such laws must be annulled entirely.
“Regarding Taiwan Province's participation in international cultural and sports activities, it may do so under the name ‘Taiwan Province of the People's Republic of China.’ This applies to sporting events, cultural exchanges, cultural performances, and other overseas activities with the consent of the Central People's Government.
“Taiwan Province may also participate in international organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, and Interpol under the banner of “Taiwan Province of the People's Republic of China.”
“Internally, In terms of culture and education, the content of Taiwan's basic curriculum, i.e., public education in Taiwan, must be consistent with that of the mainland.
“It will be necessary to discard 废除 existing textbooks in the subjects of politics, history, and civics that are currently in use on the island (with the exception of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology) and were compiled by Taiwan independence forces. It will be necessary to completely rewrite them.
“To address the distortions and slanders of Taiwan independence forces in these subjects, the new textbooks must criticize Taiwan independence ideas and views while emphasizing the Chinese nation's history and unity. They ought to further highlight the people of Taiwan's contributions to national reunification and the sacrifices they have made throughout history.
“Basic education teachers in Taiwan will be subject to a certification and approval process 资格认证. Aside from their ability to teach professionally, another important aspect of their credentials will be whether they identify with national reunification and the government of the People's Republic of China's government.
“After the country is fully reunified, it will be necessary to establish and develop a branch of the Communist Party of China in Taiwan. There should be a distinction between this case and that of the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao. The two cases are distinct in that the latter two were returned to the motherland, whereas Taiwan represents the final stage of national reunification.
“That is why we were able to postpone the establishment and expansion of CPC branches in Hong Kong and Macao for a period of time. However, forming CPC branches and assigning memberships in Taiwan province will be critical. It is necessary to ensure the implementation of all aspects of work following national reunification and to strengthen Taiwanese people's sense of unity 凝聚力 towards their return to the motherland.
“In terms of economics, it is also necessary for certain mainland state-owned enterprises with a greater influence over the national economy and people's livelihoods 国计民生 to establish branches in Taiwan Province.
“Several major state-owned banks, PetroChina, Sinopec, China Railway, China Post, China Mobile, China Unicom, and others are among them. State-owned enterprises such as the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), China Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), and Norinco, among others, should also be included. This will not only have a significant impact on Taiwan Province's economic development, but it will also have a positive effect on the proper distribution of its economy.
“The preceding are only some preliminary thoughts on the political, military, economic, and cultural aspects of Taiwan Province after national reunification. After the country's complete reunification, there will be much work to be done. Many problems will continue to arise and must be resolved through practice.” (The Ramblings of Old Hu from Beihang 北航老胡之闲话)
Playing in the Background
Discourse Power is written by Tuvia Gering, a researcher at the Diane and Guilford Glazer Foundation Israel-China Policy Center at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub, and a Tikvah Fund’s Krauthammer Fellow. Any views expressed in this newsletter, as well as any errors, are solely those of the author. Follow Tuvia on Twitter @GeringTuvia