Discourse Power | May 22, 2022
A battle for your mind, keeping globalization alive, in it for the long haul, and studying bioterrorism from O.J. Simpson
I’d like to open with two recommendations.
First, an interview with David Ownby of the Reading the China Dream translation blog, in which he discusses his work, Chinese intellectual trends, censorship, and Trump's popularity in the mainland.
Second, I was interviewed for this fascinating The Atlantic piece on the Great Translation Movement and translating the Chinese Internet by Timothy McLaughlin:
"[In every country] you are going to have bigots and racists and people saying terrible things.” There were two main differences with China.
“The information space in China is highly regulated—that’s one,” he said. “Second, the people I document saying these horrible, terrible things are tenured professors; they are party members; some of them are policymakers; some of them are top strategists.”
Lastly, beginning this week, Discourse Power will be on summer vacation and international conferences mode until late June, which means that publication will become more infrequent during the next four weeks.
Subscribe so you don't miss out on new issues, and if you've been reading and enjoying Discourse Power, please show your support by sharing it.
And, as always, thanks for reading,
"The cognitive domain has emerged as a new frontier in the battle for language supremacy"
Dr. Liang Xiaobo, a professor at the National University of Defense Technology's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, a public research university administered by the CCP Central Military Commission, describes how the Chinese military can employ cognitive warfare tools to dominate the enemy's mind.
For a primer on Chinese cognitive warfare, see Minds at War: China’s Pursuit of Military Advantage through Cognitive Science and Biotechnology by Ms. Elsa B. Kania, Adjunct Senior Fellow with the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.
"Cognitive domain warfare (CDW) 认知域作战 is an important type of ideological conflict. It refers to the allocation and application of multidimensional tools such as public opinion, psychology, law, and other multidimensional tools, as well as the use of modern networks, media, text, images, videos, digital, and other multidimensional technologies.
“CDW is used in public opinion propaganda, psychological offense and defense, winning people's hearts and minds, subverting their trust, influencing their beliefs, and fighting for their minds.
“It aims to take the initiative in terms of winning people over in terms of their thoughts, beliefs, values, personal preferences, emotions, what they identify with, and what they lean toward...
“Ideas and theories that influence people's cognition will become the most powerful weapons at all levels of cognitive domain warfare.
“We should communicate using a variety of methods and rely on military-civil fusion, coordination, and integration; in addition to NGOs, we should rely on the power of civil society, experts, opinion leaders, and individuals to support the military in carrying out cognitive domain warfare...
“In particular, it is necessary to establish an elite task force with foreign language proficiency, cross-cultural skills, understanding of international communication laws, and the ability to speak fluently on international multidimensional platforms.
"Such individuals can use regular and issue-specific interpersonal relationships to conduct extensive sentiment analysis, gather opinions and hold debates, build relationships and fan bases, and, most importantly, use them in the moment of truth to exert influence and complete strategic communication missions." (CSSN)
"The crisis in Ukraine won't end globalization”
According to a new report by the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), China must resolutely oppose the United States and the West's efforts to divide the world along ideological lines, and defend globalization and Xi’s vision of a community with a shared future for mankind.
The Center for China and Globalization (CCG) is a leading non-governmental think tank based in Beijing, led by Dr. Wang Huiyao (Henry) as President and Dr. Miao Lu (Mabel) as Secretary-General, who also oversaw the writing of the report.
As its name suggests, the think tank's work is pro-globalization, reform and opening, and engagement with the West, but even this liberal think tank adheres to Marxist political economy and can be deeply critical of the US-led West.
Below is a translation of the abstract and the policy recommendations:
“The sudden onset of the Ukrainian crisis has had a dramatic and widespread impact on the global economy, trade, and investment, as well as many national and regional economies. It is most visible in the effects on global logistics, energy, food, and some industrial supply chains.
“The economic impact of the war on global investment, trade, and value chains is relatively small due to the limited economic and trade volumes and participation of Russia and Ukraine in globalization. However, it does pose a serious and pervasive threat to globalization on the political and strategic front.
“The geopolitical and strategic landscape in a post-Ukraine crisis era, as well as the US-led push to split the world into camps based on values, could stymie the value chain between the European and Asian economic blocs;
“this may lead to increased fragmentation of global trade and investment; it may also have dire consequences for the core of the global trading system, the WTO rules-based system, and the integrity and credibility of the global financial system.
“And yet, the crisis in Ukraine will not change the general trend of globalization. The three major trends of globalization formed by modern mass production will remain constant, namely, the globalization of cross-border direct investment and multinational companies, global trade between the three economic blocs [Asia, Europe, North America] and the trade flow patterns of global value chains.
“Globalization cannot be stopped by political partitioning. The three major dynamics of globalization demonstrate that the international division of labor has not changed and cannot be cleaved by political parties.
“Similarly, it is not up to the United States and the Western world to define global trade rules. All of this is explained by Marxist political economy and supported by the world economy's history since the British Industrial Revolution.”
“Maintain an objective and impartial stance on the crisis, emphasizing the importance of dialogue and peace. Strive to work with both Russia and Ukraine, and take the initiative to consult widely with the international community in order to do everything possible to end the war quickly and achieve balanced and just security arrangements for both Europe and Russia. Strive to play a significant role in the peaceful resolution of Ukraine's crisis.
“Strongly oppose any unilateral sanctions that are not supported by international law. Maintain normal trade relations with Russia and Ukraine while working to improve how we communicate our policies to the rest of the world.
“Maintain a position in favor of multilateralism and globalization. Strive for the broadest possible consensus at the United Nations, the IMF, the World Trade Organization, the G20, APEC, and other international forums.
”In particular, seek the support of the majority of developing countries. Encourage existing global governance mechanisms to play a bigger role in dealing with pandemics and geopolitical crises.
“Encourage the signing and implementation of various regional and bilateral free trade agreements. Promote the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in particular so that solid results can be achieved at an early date.
”Accelerate China's application to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Promote the Belt and Road Initiative's (BRI) continuous development so that it can produce more tangible results.
“Strive to promote comprehensive trade and investment cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), EU, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa economies.
“Further consolidate and stabilize global supply chains. Focus on the EU in particular, and develop and improve supply chain cooperation with EU countries. Strive for cooperation with the EU and the majority of developing country members on the multilateral stage in order to jointly maintain and reform WTO rules.
“Consistently pursue deeper reform and wider opening. Encourage high-tech multinational companies to invest in China and establish R&D, manufacturing, or marketing centers on the mainland. Expand the financial sector's opening and integration into the global capital market.
”Pay attention to the reasonable demands of foreign-funded enterprises, continue to build a business environment that promotes fair competition and equal treatment, and derail 打破 US efforts to isolate China.
”Promote the establishment of various pilot free trade zones, as well as the Hainan free trade port, to help China's business environment rise even higher in the world rankings.
“Handle relations with the US calmly and steadfastly oppose its misguided approach against our country, an approach of cold war mentality, containment, suppression, and attempts to cut China off supply chains. At the same time, we should work to improve dialogue with the US, manage our differences, and keep Sino-US relations stable.
”We must work to improve communication and cooperation between Chinese and US localities, as well as business and people-to-people exchanges so that US-China trade remains stable and grows, and US multinational corporations do not reduce their investment in China. Strive to remove any hurdles to bilateral relations and expand and deepen fair and mutually beneficial supply chains between the two countries.
“Promote globalization and explore cooperation between the Belt and Road Initiative and the G7's initiative on global infrastructure development [Build Back Better World, B3W].
”Explore win-win cooperation with American and European multinational corporations along the Belt and Road and in third-party markets.
”As the US now works to establish an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) in the Asia-Pacific region, the RCEP should be actively consolidated, and China's application to the CPTPP accelerated. At the same time, we should seek ways to coexist and integrate with the IPEF.
”In doing so, China will facilitate its two-pronged approach to achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation by creating and maintaining a favorable external environment for its economic globalization.” (CCG)
“China's internal pressures and external environment have changed dramatically since the Obama administration promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership”
The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), according to Dr. Zhao Minghao, is another tool in America’s arsenal for competing with China.
Zhao is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University and an Adjunct Fellow at the Center for International Security and Strategy (CISS) at Tsinghua University.
“The Biden Administration's IPEF will be a series of negotiations and agreements on topics ranging from digital trade to supply chain resilience to decarbonization, clean energy, and infrastructure, rather than a single economic and trade agreement. These agreements will form the foundation of the Biden Administration's "close contact platform" 接触平台 for strengthening US economic ties with Indo-Pacific nations.
“The Biden administration hopes to use the IPEF to further US diplomatic and national security goals, with a particular emphasis on linking the new platform to domestic policy goals like "rebuilding the American middle class."
“Although the IPEF has yet to be announced, discussions among senior US officials and members of the strategic community indicate that it will primarily focus on trade facilitation, the digital economy and emerging technologies, supply chain resilience, decarbonization and clean energy, and infrastructure.
”The Biden administration is thoroughly keen to promote the IPEF, hoping to demonstrate US commitment to implement the Indo-Pacific Strategy. However, the IPEF will face numerous challenges, the most significant of which is the US' inability to provide tangible benefits in terms of "market access" for the countries involved.
”Southeast Asian, South Asian, and other developing countries expect to export agricultural and manufacturing products to the United States. However, American labor groups, most Democrats, and some Republicans oppose tariff concessions and related measures, arguing that they will harm domestic employment and manufacturing.
”In any case, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework highlights the US strategic intent to intensify the geo-economic competition with China against the backdrop of the COVID pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and it poses a challenge to China that cannot be overlooked.
”China's internal pressures and external environment have changed dramatically since the Obama administration promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
“To effectively respond to the increasingly fierce geo-economic competition among major powers in the digital age, China can only rely on deepening domestic reforms to actively promote the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) and other international economic and trade agreements, as well as continuously enhance its own economic attractiveness.” (Aisixiang)
"Instead of unrealistic outbursts of radical nationalist sentiments, China today needs to demonstrate its strong desire to pursue peaceful diplomacy and the path of peaceful development through concrete actions"
Mr. Hu Jian, a Party member and Deputy Director-General of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Information Department, believes that China must learn to play the long game by focusing on its own development in order to assure its peaceful rise as a major power.
Hu deconstructs the concept of “time” in international relations and great-power competition in this new study for the peer-reviewed Chinese Journal of International Security Studies.
Prof. Zheng Yongnian expressed similar views on the necessity for China to stabilize its external environment while focusing on the long game through domestic development, as shared in the May 19 issue of Discourse Power.
“Many experts feel that, at a time when Sino-US ties are strained and US hegemony is waning, China ought to offer a Chinese model of globalization and new global governance structures.
“Some scholars even argue that China should actively "achieve something" 有所作为 [this idiom from Mencius was actually used by Xi's predecessor Hu Jintao] in order to lead the new globalization process and prepare for the final "standoff" with the US.
“The differences between China and the United States are growing increasingly serious as each side is held captive by its own internal extremist beliefs, making it increasingly difficult to bring Sino-American ties back on track.
“The current "war of words" in inter-state relations is quite severe, and quick-witted big talking 口舌之快 will not help the country win the strategic competition, but will only tarnish our national image…The current international environment is not favorable to China's national security, and it is even getting increasingly hostile…Therefore, time is of great importance to China's strategy and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
“In short, history is both a mirror and the best teacher. The rise of a major power demands wisdom and cannot be founded just on "brute force" 匹夫之勇. (Chinese Journal of International Security Studies)
"The United States is clearly preparing to escalate its confrontation with China, particularly over Taiwan"
Mr. Hu Xijin, the former editor-in-chief of the Party tabloid Global Times, asks on his personal social media account, rhetorically asking what Biden is trying to achieve in Japan and South Korea. He is similarly urging China to look at the long term (see previous entry).
"The Biden administration is attempting to restructure the strategic environment around China by pressuring it to submit and accept that the Taiwan question and the South China Sea conflicts are all under America’s control.
”The US goal is to erode China's close ties with its neighbors, upset China's development pattern, wear down the spirit and will of Chinese society, and finally make China kneel before its hegemony.
”The US's ultimate goal is to squelch China's development. China's continued rise in power is what it fears most. It will only be at ease if it destroys the momentum of China's continued development.
”The Chinese people must understand that maintaining strong development is more important than anything else. This is the most effective strategic maneuver for restraining US hegemony and putting an end to the US strategic strangulation of China.
”Anything else is merely a side issue, a passing trifle. The only thing of strategic significance now is to allow China to develop and grow greater and more powerful. Maintain this drive and let time take its course, and we will have everything we need in the future. That's right, in the future we will have everything we desire." (Hu Xijin Guancha)
"These US biolabs are steeped in secrecy. If the US administration continues to withhold information that might clear the air, the country's credibility will erode much more quickly...What is America afraid of?"
In this week's edition of China Now, Fudan University Professor and Party member Zhang Weiwei, Dean of the China Institute, invited Professor Wang Xiaoli, a biosecurity expert with the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai (IPS) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Together, they doubled-down on the Kremlin conspiracy about US biolabs in Ukraine, raising "six doubts" about the US side of the story.
Zhang Weiwei: “It is part of our Chinese culture to be kind to others, and we rarely think negatively of others. Indeed, when it comes to bio-weapons, we Chinese used to be less aware and familiar with them, particularly the average citizen, who was less concerned about the matter. This topic, however, has long been common knowledge in Western societies.
“In the 1970s, there was a movie called The Cassandra Crossing [starring O.J. Simpson; a terrible movie] about a terrorist attack on a biolab in Geneva. Bio-weapons were already a household name in the West at the time.
“So this is now a good educational experience for the Chinese population to see that the world is highly unpredictable and that our lives, biosecurity, and so on are always threatened." (DragonTV)
Playing in the Background
British rock-band Porcupine Tree released on Friday a single from their upcoming album, the first in 12 years. The song is fitting for the spirit of conspiracy that we occasionally have to tackle in these pages, refering to to the eerie Skinwalker Ranch in Utah.
Discourse Power is written by Tuvia Gering, a research fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and a 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