There is that thing, called socialist diplomacy with Chinese characteristics for a new era. We are talking about several of the Beijing publications, devoted to the oncoming 20th Congress of the ruling party on 16 October, an event that happens once in 5 years. It’s only natural that any ruling party in the world strives, in such cases, to assess its achievements and to lay down the tasks for the future.
We, China’s neighbours, should be interested in this general review and besides the economy, the topic has to be China’s foreign policy. So, if China is saying there is such a thing as its own brand of diplomacy, we should be interested. Especially so, when Beijing publications are saying that this kind of diplomacy is not an idea for the future, but something being very much in existence for years. Russia, at least, is keenly watching the overall activities of China beyond its borders.
You may scan the People’s Daily, an official source for such cases, and discover the national goal of China, that is, “to build a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, equity, justice and win-win cooperation”, so as to build “a global community of development with a shared future, and a global community of security for all”.
Essentially that means that China wants a new world with “shared benefits”, and is proposing a “reform of the global governance system with equity and justice”, to create a family of nations where there is no place for “outdated zero-sum games” and the “winner takes all” approach.
That, of course, is a case of a huge verbal exercise in idealism, but then, if you want to do anything, you have to be idealistic and formulate the best outcome of your effort.
Diplomacy is only a tool to achieve these or other goals. So, is there a distinctly Chinese style of negotiating for that future ideal world? At the very least, the Chinese diplomacy does have a typical feature, namely, China hates to pressure its partners into doing something that they do not want to do. This is not idealism, it’s only cold logic. You bludgeon your partner today, but then you’ll have to double your effort tomorrow.
Essentially China views its diplomacy style as a way to capitalise on mistakes that others are making on the world stage. Look at yet another publication in the same Beijing newspaper with a telling headline – For U.S., There Is No Diplomacy, But All Coercion. It’s when you are not necessarily starting wars, as America often does, but when you achieve your goals if not by violence, then by a threat of punishment for noncompliance. What’s important, says the paper, “U.S. coercion does not discriminate friends from foes. To keep China down in sci-tech development and long-term growth, then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put forward a “clean network” initiative, attempting to decouple with China technologically and rope in its allies and partners, even though knowing that it would not bring them any benefit”. And it’s precisely the style that China should avoid at all costs since it only brings short-time benefits.
Do we have to take that Chinese idea seriously? After all, we are talking about a nation, comparable to the US in many aspects, and one that openly strives for the restoration of its historic status of one of the global superpowers. You promote your, and not someone else’s, interests in such cases, right? Show me a nation that wants to decrease its influence, and I’ll show you my surprise.
Anyway, Russia’s expert and political community take very seriously these Chinese attempts to build a new type of international relations, featuring mutual respect. That’s so at least because “coercive diplomacy” is totally unacceptable to Moscow, and, besides, it’s failing constantly and everywhere.
So, there is – as just one example of that serious approach – a project, sponsored by the Moscow Higher School of Economics and the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, combining the effort of several young researchers studying various diplomatic doctrines of non-Western nations. The director is Anastacia Pyatachkova, who incidentally is a Sinologist. Her deputy, Sofia Akhmanayeva, is researching India’s foreign policy concepts. The idea of the project is simply to compare all such concepts favoured in Asia, Africa or Latin America, which inevitably will bring you to the conclusion that the world, most of almost 200 nations of it, may differ on secondary matters, but is united in rejection of the current strong-arm foreign policy, whoever conducts it. That diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, or at least an idea of such – take it or leave it, but it’s very similar to such ideals from most parts of the world.
Does it mean that we really are going to have a new set of rules for tomorrow’s world? And why not.
Now, there are other examples of Russian research on China’s diplomacy. An article as a part of the mentioned project shows that there are Russian experts who follow closely China’s internal debate on the matter. We, in Moscow, know well several very different Chinese schools of thought, from cold realists to Confucian moralists, and we are aware of their influence on the government circles.
And then there is an article in the International Life magazine, listing in detail every idea of the American propaganda campaign against Beijing. We know what the Americans say about China’s “cyber war” against the West, what they think about the global battle for economic influence, etc. All in all, whatever China is doing is supposed to be a hybrid kind of war on a global scale, and everyone in that world is supposed to be afraid of China.
The general rule here is simple. Whatever a Western government is doing in that world of ours, is right. Whatever China (or Russia, or somebody else) is doing, is wrong, even if we talk about the same kind of actions.
You really start dreaming about a “world of equity and justice” after reading all that.
The author is a columnist for the Russian State agency website ria.ru, as well as for other publications. Views are personal.
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.