Discourse Power | November 20, 2022
Talkin' Bout a Revolution
Greetings from Jerusalem,
I know I said there would be no more Discourse Power editions this month due to the international convention season, but this new article by Professor Zheng Yongnian is relevant to my presentation next week, so I just went ahead and translated it for your convenience.
Now that Twitter is imploding, it’s a great opportunity to introduce the new @ function of Substack by highly recommending you subscribe to, , , and, which, alongside the mandatory and , provide useful translations and featured content from the Chinese interwebs. While you're at it, check out the fantastic by my Atlantic Council senior fellow, Dexter Roberts.
Thank you for reading,
“As the world's second-largest economy, China has the material foundation, a strong will, and extensive experience in international affairs to play a leading role as a major power and provide ‘Chinese solutions’ for the reform of the international order”
The Russia-Ukraine war, according to Professor Zheng Yongnian, confirmed what was already known: the UN is dysfunctional and the post-World War II order is broken. As the world's new major power, China must now lead the reconstruction of the international order.
Notably, now that the G20 has concluded in Bali, he proposes the establishment of a new mechanism, the G20 Strategic Thinkers Dialogue Mechanism (S20). The new framework will bring together strategic thinkers from the G20 member countries and facilitate the exchange of ideas and solutions to compensate for the shortcomings of their governments. In the process, its Chinese participants may contribute to the development of China's discourse power.
Zheng is a popular pundit and the director of the Advanced Institute of Global and Contemporary China Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen).
“We must acknowledge that Western countries, including the United States, played a critical role in establishing the post-World War II international order. However, America has now become the primary force undermining it. This is due to the fact that Western nations, led by the US, established the international order after the War, making their values its guiding principles.
“On the one hand, there is an asymmetry between the international structure 国际格局 and the global distribution of power that prevents emerging countries from participating in the provision of international public goods. At the same time, the US is determined to promote global polarization, which limits international cooperation.
“Following the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the UN as a system did not play a significant role... And while it continues to exist, it has lost its ability to persuade member states to accept the rules and coordinate the behavior of major powers. Despite repeated calls and attempts to reform the UN over the years, no significant change has been made as a result of the incessant debate 争论不休 among the different nations.
“Meanwhile, the war hastened the breakdown of relations between the major powers. Ever since the US identified China as its primary competitor 竞争对手 and even enemy 敌, Cold War and anti-China factions in the US have been working to steer US-China relations toward the US-Soviet Cold War model of yesteryear, i.e., the polarization of the world - one pole with the US at its core and the other with China at its core.
“If their ambitions are realized, our international order will revert to the Cold War order that began in 1945, causing the entire international community to devolve 倒退.
“Overall, the essence of today's international order crisis is that the international community not only lacks good international public goods but also produces an excess of bad ones.
“International organizations such as the UN, free trade, open and inclusive multilateralism, and healthy competition among countries are examples of good public goods. Again, we should recognize that, following WWII, the US-led West played a critical role in providing international public goods...And many countries, including China, have benefited from the globalization process [they led].
“Extreme weather, nuclear proliferation, public health crises, maritime ecological crises, arms races, and so on are examples of bad public goods. [In addition to climate change and COVID-19]...The Russia-Ukraine war has negatively impacted the international order, worsening the energy, food, and supply chain crises, among other things.
“Human society has reached an unprecedented level of material affluence, and advances in science and technology have provided humanity with limitless capabilities to solve the problems it faces. Therefore, the international order is in crisis as a result of the world community's lack of cooperation.
“As the world's second-largest economy, China has the material foundation, a strong will, and extensive experience in international affairs to play a leading role as a major power and provide "Chinese solutions" 中国方案 for the reform of the international order.
“In particular, it should strongly support and promote a systemic reform of the UN. It must continue to promote and lead globalization progress, as well as collaborate with the US on a strategy of "strengthening cooperation, healthy competition, and conflict resolution."
“It should continue to practice open, inclusive multilateralism that is not directed at third parties. Furthermore, by striking three balances in its international strategy, it can lead the reconstruction of the international order, i.e., between land and maritime diplomacy, security and economic diplomacy, and hard and soft power.
“Furthermore, we should fully utilize the role of unofficial strategic thinkers 战略思想家 and establish a set of mechanisms for Track II diplomacy outside of the G20 leaders' summit mechanism. By taking the initiative to build and provide an open platform for equal dialogue and discussion among all parties, China's new model of private think tanks 新型民间智库 can play a more proactive role in the Track II dialogue with foreign think tanks.
“In light of this, I have initiated the establishment of the G20 Strategic Thinkers Dialogue Mechanism (S20) 20国集团战略思想家对话机制, which will bring together strategic thinkers from the G20's member nations. Such a framework could be a useful platform for dialogue and discussion between Chinese private think tanks and foreign think tanks.
“It can help to spread China's voice, present a credible, lovable, and respectable image of our country, and encourage the rest of the world to learn more about China, the Chinese people 人民, the Communist Party of China, and the Chinese nation as a whole 中华民族.
“Chinese thinkers and strategists have produced remarkable wisdom and ideas, and they can work together to promote the development of a new type of international relations based on mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation.” (Aisixiang)
Playing in the Background
Here’s veteran Israeli singer Gidi Gov with the Revolution Orchestra with A Jungle Out There:
There’s a jungle out there,
crackling, boiling and stressed.
No one but me is aware.
Hey! Who's in charge around here?
Discourse Power is written by Tuvia Gering, a researcher at the 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’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