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Picasso

Picasso

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عن "الاجتياح النخبوي" الصيني لأوستراليا


ملبورن - بقلم جهاد الزين


اذا كانت هناك بلدان شاهدة على ضخامة الصعود الصيني، فاوستراليا هي احد ابرزها. هكذا تلتزم اوستراليا بمعادلة ذات جناحين يزداد احتمال تناقضهما: ارتباط اقتصادها بالاقتصاد الصيني وارتباط أمنها بالاستراتيجية الاميركية.

تكاد تصبح ضاحية كلايتون في المحيط الجنوبي لمدينة ملبورن ضاحيةً لِـ"جامعة موناش". فمع وجود مباني الجامعة الدراسية ومراكز الابحاث التابعة لها سيصبح هذا المركز الرئيسي في كلايتون، مع انه أحد فروع الجامعة الستة في اوستراليا وتحديدا في ولاية فكتوريا وأحد اربعة فروع في الخارج: ماليزيا، جنوب افريقيا، ايطاليا والهند، سيصبح أقرب الى الجامعة - المدينة الصغيرة التي تستقطب، مع وجود مستشفى الجامعة، سكن أعداد متزايدة من الاساتذة والطلاب وخصوصا الطلاب.

ربما لايحتاج الزائر ان يذهب الى داخل حرم الجامعة ليشاهد نسبة الطلاب الصينيين المرتفعة، فبمجرد التجول في شوارع "كلايتون" و في بعض الضواحي و المدن الاوسترالية الكبيرة سيلحظ عشرات الشباب والشابات ذوي المظهر الطلابي في محطات القطار او في الساحات العامة. قد تكون الظاهرة الطلابية الصينية في "جامعة موناش" أكبر من غيرها لأن هذه الجامعة الحديثة العهد نسبيا - والتي تملكها الدولة - تبنّت مبكرا ليس فقط استراتيجية الاستقطاب من الخارج باعتبارها واحدة من الجامعات الكبرى الاوسترالية ("مجموعة الثماني" كما يسمونها هنا ذات المستوى الارفع) بل ايضا تبنّت استراتيجية الانتشار في الخارج. ولهذا فإن الرقم الرسمي الذي تقدمه "موناش" عن عدد طلابها الاجمالي داخل اوستراليا وخارجها لهذا العام الدراسي هو 39 الف طالب في سنوات قبل التخرج و16 ألف طالب في الدراسات العليا.

في باحات جامعة سيدني كما في باحات جامعة ملبورن وامام مبانيهما العريقة شاهدتُ الطلبة الصينيين بأعداد ملفتة. وكان هناك بالطبع طلاب كوريون جنوبيون وماليزيون واندونيسيون ناهيك عن الجنسيات الاخرى من الهند الصينية كما من اليابان والهند، لكن الحضور الصيني على هذا الصعيدِ مسَلّمٌ بأنه الاكثف. ففي بعض الصفوف الدراسية في "جامعة موناش" قد تصل نسبة الطلاب الصينيين الى الستين في المائة ويبلغ القسط السنوي للطالب الاجنبي حوالي ثلاثين ألف دولار استرالي وقد يكون اكثر حسب نوع الاختصاص (يزيد سعر الدولار الاوسترالي قليلا عن الدولار الاميركي). لهذا ترتبط الظاهرة الطلابية ارتباطا مباشرا بالوضع داخل الصين وتحديدا بما يسمى "الصعود الصيني". وهؤلاء الطلاب يأتون اساسا من مزيج اجتماعي، احد مكوناته المهمة ابناءُ الاغنياءِ الجدد الكبارِ والمتوسطين والصغار. فتَصوّرْ عدد طبقة "الواحد بالمئة" وحدها في بلد كالصين يفوق سكانه المليار نسمة فكيف لو ارتفعت نسب الميسورين من اعلى شرائح الطبقة الوسطى الجديدة في ربع القرن المنصرم الى الخمسة بالماية مع نسبة تقديرات عامة لهذه الطبقة الوسطى لا تقل عن عشرين بالماية من مجموع السكان الصينيين.

الى هؤلاء ابناء الاغنياء والميسورين هناك الطلاب المرسَلون بمنح سواء من الدولة الصينية او الشركات او هيئات اخرى خاصة وعامة في اطار الديناميات العملاقة للنهضة الاقتصادية العلمية الصينية والتي تجعل الاقتصاد الصيني اليوم هو من حيث الحجم العام (الماكرو) الاقتصاد الثاني في العالم بعد الولايات المتحدة الاميركية محتلا منذ سنوات مكان اليابان. ولهذا من البديهي الاشارة هنا الى ان الاقبال الصيني على الدراسة في الخارج والمتعدد المصادر من الدعم الداخلي لا ينحصر باوستراليا وحدها وانما هو مرتبط بكل مراكز الدراسة في العالم الغربي (وهو تقليد قديم العهد على اي حال: ألم يكن عدد مهم من قادة الحزب الشيوعي الصيني في عشرينات القرن العشرين طلابا في باريس ومنهم "شو ان لاي" الذي سيصبح أقرب معاوني ماوتسي تونغ ورئيس الوزراء). لكن الذي يميز الحالة الاوسترالية ليس فقط وجود هذا البلد الجزيرة - القارة ذات مساحة خمسة ملايين كيلومتر مربع على الحدود الجنوبية لمنطقة الهند الصينية ولبحر الصين الجنوبي وأقرب دولها اندونيسيا وانما اساسا وايضا لارتباط الاقتصاد الاوسترالي الخاص بالصعود الصيني. وهذا ينقلنا الى الموضوع الاهم في الظاهرة الصينية الاوسترالية التي تشكّل احد التأكيدات الحيوية الصينية في العالم.

الطائرة التي تقلع من دبي سيستغرق وصولها الى اول مطار في منطقة جنوب شرق آسيا ككوالامبور او سنغافورة او جاكارتا ليس أقل من سبع ساعات، وهذه كلها اول عواصم في غرب المنطقة والممتدة عميقا نحو الشرق والجنوب. من هنا فصاعدا لسنا فقط في المدى الحضاري الصيني التاريخي بل في الـ25 عاما الاخيرة... في المدى الاقتصادي الصيني. ومن هناك نحو الجنوب الشرقي ستحتاج الطائرة الى سبع ساعات أخرى للوصول الى ملبورن او سيدني. هنا نكون قد بلغنا الطرف الآخر الاكثر كوزموبوليتية من العمق الاوسترالي وبينهما العاصمة كانبيرا حيث تتعايش بشكل ناجح حتى الآن معادلةٌ بجناحين قد يصبحان متناقضين اذا كانت العلاقات الاميركية الصينية ستذهب نحو التوتر. الطبقة السياسية الاوسترالية بحزبيها الرئيسيين، العمال الحاكم الآن والمحافظ المعارض متفقة على هذه المعادلة بل تبادل الحزبان المساهمة في صناعتها مع التناوب على السلطة في العقدين الاخيرين. انها معادلة الارتباط الاقتصادي الواسع بالصين ولا سيما عبر التجاوب الشامل مع "ديبلوماسية المواد الاولية" الصينية وهي بيع الحديد والمواد المعدنية الى الصين والالتزام بالاستراتيجية الامنية والعسكرية للولايات المتحدة الاميركية.

الباحث الاوسترالي بول دِب والخبير في الاستراتيجيات الامنية لمنطقة جنوب آسيا يقول في محاضرة له اواخر العام الماضي امام "الجامعة الوطنية الاوسترالية (anu) – مركز الدراسات الدفاعية والاستراتيجية" ان 55 بالماية من الاستراليين يحبذون وجود قاعدة عسكرية اميركية في "داروين" على الشاطئ الشمالي المقابل للارخبيل الاندونيسي والمطل على منطقة الهند الصينية. وقد تجدد تسليط الضوء على هذه النقطة بعد التصريحات الاخيرة للرئيس باراك اوباما والتي أعلن فيها تركيز الاستراتيجية العسكرية الاميركية في المرحلة المقبلة على منطقة شرق آسيا - الباسيفيك وهو ما اعتبر تشددا اميركيا جوهريا ضد بكين ساهم فيه الضغط الانتخابي وموقف الجمهوريين المتشكك من السياسة العسكرية الصينية. وحسب التصريحات التي تنقلها الصحف الاوسترالية تبدو الخلافات بين السياسيين والسياسيّات الاوستراليين ليس بين مؤيدين ومعارضين للارتباط بواشنطن بل لنسبة التأييد المطلوبة. فحتى وزير الخارجية الاوسترالي الاسبق كيفن راد الذي فقدَ قبل عشرة ايام منصبه كوزير خارجية بعد فشله في الصراع على زعامة حزب العمال مع رئيسة الوزراء جوليا جيلارد (لاسباب لا علاقة لها بالموضوع الصيني حصرا) والذي كان يعتبر المسؤول الاوسترالي الاول بل الغربي الاول والوحيد الذي يتقن اللغة "المندران" التي هي اللغة الوطنية في الصين... كيفن راد نفسه رغم اختصاصه الثقافي الصيني يُعتبر صاحب خط متشدد حيال الصين او ما يعتبره عديدون هنا "التحول الصيني الآتي نحو سياسات عدوانية في المستقبل"؟ هذا احد الاسئلة الاستراتيجية الكبيرة.

الامر الذي لا خلاف جوهريا عليه بين الخبراء الاوستراليين هو ان العلاقة الاقتصادية مع الصين كانت احد اهم عوامل النهوض والاستقرار الاقتصاديين لاوستراليا. لكن ما يؤكده ميكايل ويسلي في كتابه الصادر العام 2011: "هكذا تتغير الجيرة - اوستراليا وصعود آسيا" (منشورات نيوساوث) ان الاستيراد الصيني الكثيف ساهم في جعل اوستراليا تتفادى ازمتين ماليتين ضربت "نمور" آسيا واحدة عام 1997 - 1998 وأخرى عام 2000-2001 وثالثة اصابت الولايات المتحدة عام 2008 (وسيكون لنا لاحقا مراجعة لهذا الكتاب).

هناك سبعماية ألف صيني مُجنّس في اوستراليا في بلد يبلغ عدد سكانه الـ 22 مليونا ونيفا. أكثر من نصف هؤلاء المجنسين وُلدوا في اوستراليا وبعضهم سليل مهاجرين منذ اواخر القرن التاسع عشر. هذه الاشارة تتطلب ملاحظتين: الاولى معروفة وهي ان هذا البلد يستقبل مهاجرين من كل انحاء العالم. الثانية انه في قبوله للمهاجرين بدأ يشجع في العقدين الاخيرين هجرة النخب المالية والاكاديمية والمتخصصة. ولذلك فان ظاهرة الطلاب الآتين من الهند هي الثانية في الاهمية بعد الظاهرة الصينية التي تتقدم اساسا بديناميكيتها الاقتصادية وليس بالضرورة عدديا رغم كثافتها النخبوية المتزايدة. مع العلم ان وجود جاليات من أقليات صينية قوية تقليديا في ميانمار وتايلاند وكمبوديا واندونيسيا وسنغافورة وماليزيا وفيتنام والفليبين، وهي المنطقة الشاسعة "المجاورة" لاوستراليا، يُعتبر احدى حقائق الحياة الاساسية بمعطياتها الايجابية ومشاكلها العرقية والدينية معا.

النهار
2012-03-08​
 
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  • Picasso

    Picasso

    Legendary Member
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    الصين و"الربيع العربي": الحصار والحوار


    أي علاقة بين الاقتصادي والسياسي في الصين التي اصبحت المصدّرة التجارية الاولى الى الشرق الوسط والمستوردة الاولى للنفط السعودي والمستثمرة الاولى في ايران والتي يتحدث المنشقّون على نظامها عن "الربيع العربي"؟

    في السابع عشر من تشرين الثاني 2009 وخلال مؤتمر صحافي كان يعقده مع فريق اميركي في العاصمة الصينية بيجينغ خلال الزيارة التي كان يقوم بها الرئيسُ باراك اوباما للصين، وبهدف اعطاء الصحافيين الاميركيين المرافقين معلومات عن مجرى المحادثات، بدأ السفير الاميركي لدى الصين جون هانتسمان كلامه بالقول حرفيا:

    " لقد وصلت الى اقتناع ان تعبير "خبير في الشؤون الصينية" هو تعبير لا معنى له (oxymoron) وهؤلاء الذين يعتبرون أنفسهم خبراء في الشؤون الصينية هم نوع من البلهاء (morons)".

    كانت تلك على ما يبدو لحظة عبّر فيها سفير اميركي متابع للعلاقات الاميركية الصينية منذ ثلاثين عاما من مواقع مختلفة عن تحفظه على امكان فهم مأمون للمواقف الصينية. في عقر العاصمة الصينية تابع: " لذلك تأخذ(من الصين) ما تستطيع ان تأخذه، تتعلم ما تستطيع ان تتعلمه، وتبدأ بوضع كل قطعة من القطع مع بعضها البعض، ومع ذلك سيبقى مناخ مشوَّش".

    لعل كلمات السفير هانتسمان، الذي استقال اوائل العام 2011، تجددت صلاحيتها اكثر ما تجددت بعد تصويت الصين الثاني في مجلس الامن حول الموضوع السوري في ما سُمي "الفيتو المزدوج". وعبره منعت روسيا والصين اي احتمال لتدخل عسكري غربي في سوريا تتحمس له كثيرا المملكة العربية السعودية كوسيلة وحيدة متبقية لاسقاط النظام القائم بعدما تعثر خيار عسكرة المعارضة.

    لم يُقل الكثير عن أحد أكبر "ألغاز" هذا التصويت في حال نُظر الى العلاقات الصينية السعودية. فلقد بلغت هذه العلاقات في الاعوام المنصرمة الى اليوم حجما ضخما في التبادل التجاري. وخلافا للاعتقاد السائد كان استيراد الصين للنفط من ايران عام 2009 يأتي في المرتبة الثالثة بعد الاستيراد الصيني للنفط من السعودية وانغولا حسب دراسة لآرون موريس الخبير من مدرسة فليتشر في جامعة تافت. هذه العلاقة الاقتصادية الوثيقة مع السعودية منذ انطلقت في اواخر الثمانينات جعلت بعض المراقبين يصفونها في فترة ما قبل احتدام الصراع الدولي الاقليمي على سوريا بـ"العلاقة الناضجة" وهي تبلغ بلايين الدولارات سنويا. لهذا كان المسؤولون السعوديون مصدومين بشكل جدي من التصويت الصيني بعد الفيتو الثاني وكانوا على الارجح يعتقدون ان بامكانهم التأثير بشكل أقوى على القرار الصيني بسبب الحرص الصيني الاستراتيجي على تنويع مصادر المواد الاولية التي تحتاجها الآلة الصناعية الصينية الضخمة، ناهيك عن أن الصين اصبحت مؤخرا مع رقم صادرات بلغ 60 مليار دولار من البضائع الى الشرق الاوسط تحتل لأول مرة المرتبة الاولى في التصدير لهذه المنطقة بدل الولايات المتحدة الاميركية التي تراجعت الى المرتبة الثانية.

    من المعروف ان الصين مارست حق الفيتو في مجلس الامن الدولي للمرة الاولى (بعد دخولها المجلس عام 1971 خلال التحول التاريخي في علاقاتها مع الولايات المتحدة الاميركية)... مارسته عام 1972 ضد الاعتراف بدولة بنغلادش ارضاءً لحليفتها باكستان في مواجهة خصمها الهند. لكنها بعد عامين اقترعت لصالح عضوية بنغلادش الكاملة في الامم المتحدة. الفيتو الصيني الثاني كان متصلا بالصراع العربي الاسرائيلي ولصالح الموقف العربي اما الفيتو الثالث والرابع فكانا على صلة بمسائل متعلقة بتايوان اي الجزيرة الدولة التي تعتبرها بيجينغ جزءا من الصين وترفض استقلالها بشكل قاطع. وكانا ضد غواتيمالا(1997) ومقدونيا(1999) المعترفتين بتايوان. اذن اربعة فيتوات صينية بين 1972 و2002 مقابل 75 فيتو اميركياً و13 روسياً و14 فرنسياً و27 بريطانياً للفترة نفسها حسب رصد قام به الخبير صامويل كِم. وبينما حفلت سنوات الصين في مجلس الامن بعشرات قرارات الامتناع عن التصويت، جاء الفيتووان الاخيران مع روسيا حول الوضع في سوريا.

    ان مراجعة لحجم العلاقات الايرانية الصينية تلقي الضوء على جانب جوهري مهم من التطور الاستراتيجي الذي بلغته هذه العلاقات في مستوياتها المتعددة.وعام 1993، الذي تحولت فيه الصين من مصدّر للنفط الى مستورد له بسبب نموها الصناعي، هو العام المفصلي الذي وصل الى حد ان الصين الآن هي المستثمر الاول في ايران مع وجود مئة شركة صينية عاملة في البنية التحتية للقطاع النفطي بسبب تخلف بنية هذا القطاع وبعقود تقدِّرها دراسة آرون موريس بـ120 مليار دولار بين عامي 2005 و 2010. أضف الى ذلك الاستثمارات الصينية في الجسور وسكك الحديد والمطارات والطرق. ويذكر ان ايران هي المصدّر الاول للغاز الى الصين.

    انها ما بات يسميها الخبراء "طريق الحريرالمعاكسة" الجديدة التي تشقها الصين تجاريا واستثماريا نحو اوروبا ومرورا بسوريا. وليست ارقام التجارة الصينية السورية كافية وحدها باي تحليل جدي لتفسير "الفيتو الصيني" الذي يرتبط باعتبارات اكبر من ذلك بكثير جدا ومسرح هذه الاعتبارات يمتد من الخليج الى افريقيا واوروبا. لكن سوريا هي واحد من البلدان العديدة التي حققت فيها التجارة الصينية توسعات مهمة، وكانت مصر ايضا احدها. حتى أن الخبير الاقتصادي "بِن سيمبفاندورفر" في "رويال بنك اوف سكوتلاند" في محاضرة له في مركز الدراسات الاستراتيجية والدولية في واشنطن (CSIS) ذكر قبل حوالي عامين ونصف العام انه على مسافة اربع ساعات بالسيارة من مدينة شنغهاي تقع مدينة ايوو التي يتواجد فيها وحدها ألفا مترجم صيني الى العربية. وقدّم ذلك كاحدى الظواهر المثيرة المواكبة للنجاح التسويقي للبضائع الصينية. اذ يقول ان مئتي الف تاجر عربي يأتون سنويا الى ايوو ! وهو كاقتصادي ينظر الى هذا النجاح الصيني على انه اساسا نتيجة مبادرات الافراد في دول عديدة في العالم بمعزل عن سياسات الدول حتى لو كانت عوامل موضوعية ساهمت في تعزيزه ومنها أحداث 11 أيلول عام 2001 التي جعلت التجار العرب عموما يستشعرون صعوبة الحصول على تأشيرات دخول الى الولايات المتحدة الاميركية مقابل التسهيلات الصينية.

    رغم ما يبدو انه غلبة الاعتبارات الاقتصادية في الاستراتيجية الصينية للشرق الاوسط ومناطق عديدة من العالم خارج شرق وجنوب آسيا حيث الملفات الامنية والعسكرية الصينية المتعددة والمعقدة، فعندما يقرأ المراقب كلام المعارضين الصينيين للنظام داخل الصين وخارجها عن "الربيع العربي" او الانتفاضات التي حصلت، من الصعب أن لا يقتنع كم هذه المسألة مؤثرة في الحسابات الصينية العميقة. بكلام آخر كيف لن تستشعر القيادة الصينية خطرا فعليا على مستقبل النظام من حيث قدرة الغرب على استثمار الاحتجاجات الداخلية في الصين عندما يكرر بعض "المنشقين" كلاما من نوع ما ادلى به العالم اللغوي الصيني الشهير زو يوغ غوانغ الى صحيفة "النيورك تايمز" والمنشور في عددها الصادر في 3 آذار الجاري؟! قال زوغوانغ، وهو الذي قام بابتكار صيغة حديثة للغة الصينية القديمة سُميت (pinyin)، وعمره الآن 106 سنوات فقط، عن الوضع الصيني: "تستطيع ان تقيم نظاما ديموقراطيا بغض النظر عن مستوى التقدم" وأضاف: "يكفيك ان تنظر الى العالم العربي" ويقصد للتأكد من امكان ذلك. (بالمناسبة فان رأيه هذا بنا كعرب هو حمّال أوجهٍ كما يمكن ان تنم عنه هذه الكلمات القليلة جدا! فقد عنى على الارجح: أنظرْ كم العرب متخلفون ومع ذلك تبنّوا الديموقراطية). هذا غيض من فيض في بلد شاسع المساحة والسكان وسبق لنظامه السياسي ان اختبر "ربيعه الخاص" قبل عقدين في أحداث تيان آن مين ويتحسس من موقع الدولة الكبيرة كيف يمكن للدول الكبرى في الغرب ان تحوّل اي احتجاج الى مكسب سياسي مباشر. وهناك خبراء اميركيون يؤكدون ان احد الحسابات الصينية الجادة هو انتظار انتقال موجة "الربيع العربي" الى جمهوريات آسيا الوسطى المحاذية لمنطقة سنكيانغ الصينية المسلمة السكان (ستون مليونا بينما التيبت وكل ضجتها لا تتجاوز الستة ملايين تيبتي). وهذا عنصر مهم يجعل القادة الصينيين اكثر قابلية لرؤية الموضوع السوري في بعده المتعلق بالمخاطر الانفصالية. فاذا كانت الديموقراطية هي الموضوع في بيجينغ، فان الانفصال هو الموضوع في سنكيانغ المسلمة، مثل الفارق بين "هواجس" دمشق العربية وهواجس القامشلي الكردية!.

    مع ذلك وعملا بقاعدة السفير هانتسمان: حذار الاطمئنان لأي توقع حول الصين سوى ما اظهرته الى الآن: تعاون واعتراض في آن معا. لكن لا شك ثمة جديد فعلي يحدث في النظام الدولي.

    جهاد الزين

    النهار
    2012-03-10​
     
    Picasso

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    A Point Of View: Making sense of China




    China's growing importance on the world stage means that the West needs to start speaking its language, says economist Martin Jacques.

    My son has been learning Mandarin Chinese since he was five; he is now just 14.

    It has not been easy. Learning Chinese has required a deep pocket and the determination of an Olympic athlete.

    For nine years, he fed on the scraps of a veritable army of part-time tutors, each one lasting a year or so if we were lucky. The reason? Until 12 months ago it wasn't possible for him to learn it at school - French, Spanish German, Latin, even Ancient Greek, no problem. But not Chinese.

    Even now, alas, it is very much a second-class subject. His lessons take place during the school lunch break.

    The reluctance of the educational system - public and private - to grasp the Chinese nettle is a metaphor for a much wider problem: our ignorance about China and our failure to appreciate just how much it will change the world and transform our lives.

    More...

    Sima Qian: China's 'grand historian'

    Kublai Khan: China's favourite barbarian

    Li Bai and Du Fu: China's drunken superstar poets

    Chinese author Mo Yan wins Nobel Prize for Literature
     
    Picasso

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    What kind of superpower could China be?

    China is on course to becoming a superpower - but not in the way many expect, writes economist Martin Jacques.

    Beijing these days is positively throbbing with debate. It may not have the trappings of a western-style democracy, but it is now home to the most important and interesting discussions in the world.

    When I addressed an audience of young Chinese diplomats at their foreign ministry a year ago, it was abundantly clear that a fascinating debate is under way about what kind of foreign policy might be appropriate for the global power China is in the process of becoming.

    What will China be like as a superpower? You might think it is already - it is not.

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    Jane7

    Jane7

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    Can China Be Described as 'Fascist'?
    By DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW
    Published: October 31, 2012


    BEIJING — Chinese politics is controlled by the Communist Party and its powerful families and factions, so when the son of a former party chief says the state is virtually “fascist,” it’s worth listening.

    That’s what Hu Deping, son of the late Hu Yaobang, the party general secretary forced to resign in 1987 for being too reform-minded, said to a group of mostly Chinese businesspeople and environmentalists in late 2005, in the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square. (Because of his father’s fall, Mr. Hu is outside the mainstream of power, dubbed a “nonprinceling,” but his pedigree still makes him a party aristocrat.)

    Seven years later, with pressure for political reform mounting and a new generation of leaders to be announced in that same Great Hall of the People at the 18th Party Congress, which starts next Thursday, Mr. Hu’s words continue to reverberate. What is China today, and where is it headed?

    Here’s what Mr. Hu said, according to my notes: “No matter how authoritarian this society is, even fascist, the people of this country still want justice. One thing they seek is profit, and the other is justice.”

    Is today’s China fascist?

    To cite a few characteristics, starting with the one-party state: Since the economic reforms that followed the death of Mao Zedong, it has grown immensely wealthy through its state-owned companies, some of which rank among the world’s richest. What was once a poor, authoritarian state has become a rich, authoritarian state.

    The rights to speak and associate freely remain tightly hobbled despite some relaxation, and some top officials openly scorn democracy. The courts obey the party’s directives.

    Official slogans increasingly exhort nationalism and “national rejuvenation,” a concept rooted in a mystical sense of nationhood popular with fascist thinkers in the last century.

    “The signs have long been there,” said Wang Lixiong, a prominent writer and scholar. “I feel there is a very clear trend toward fascism, and the source of fascism comes from the ever-growing power of the power holders.” China is “a police state,” he said, where power rules for power’s sake.

    The passing of Mao did not lead to power-sharing, it just stripped China of its Communist ideology, and no convincing value system has filled the gap, he said.

    “Power has become an interest group,” Mr. Wang said.

    “Today the interest groups have no ideology,” he said. “Their goal is to protect their own profit and power. They can only rely on power to rule, because they have no goal that convinces the people. So the state relies on power to suppress society and attain its objectives. I think there’s no other route the power holders can go.”

    These are large issues. On a more human scale, I was reminded of Mr. Hu’s words on Monday when five men, several of whom said they were police officers, came to our Beijing apartment to check our passports, visas and residence permits, almost certainly part of the stepped-up security before the Party Congress.

    Seconds after they left, a loud argument erupted in the corridor outside. Through the spy hole I watched a Chinese neighbor loudly berate the police for meddling. The checks are intimidating and resented — and people increasingly are not afraid to say so.

    For sure, terms other than “fascism” are also used to describe what’s going on. Xu Jilin, a leading intellectual and history professor at East China Normal University, in Shanghai, for example, writes that “statism” has grown dominant in the past decade.

    In an essay last year, Mr. Xu warned that in an atmosphere where the Communist Party and the state claim the sole right to represent the “universal interest,” China may “re-tread the broken road of 20th-century Germany and Japan.”

    For John Delury, a professor at Yonsei University, in South Korea, there are important differences between classic fascism, such as Nazi Germany’s, and what is happening in China today.

    “Absolutely the critical thing is how to define fascism,” he said by telephone from Seoul.

    “One of the strongest objections to using the word fascism is that a central element of fascism was mass mobilization,” which included the symbolism and choreography associated with, for example, Hitler’s rallies at Nuremberg, Mr. Delury said. While Mao did that, the current leadership does not, he said, a sign that the term does not exactly fit.

    “I think still this leadership is very post-Mao, if not anti-Mao,” said Mr. Delury.

    Yet for Mr. Wang, fascism is a threat, even without Mao’s charismatic leadership. He points to rising nationalism at home, increasingly directed overseas.

    Does it surprise him to hear what was once a taboo word, an epithet to be hurled at the enemies of Communism, used by a member of China’s elite — even if a critical member — to describe China’s political direction?

    “I’m not surprised to hear it, because they know, the people in these ruling circles, they don’t think it’s strange, they know what’s happening,” he said.


    Link : http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/01/world/asia/01iht-letter01.html
     
    Picasso

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    With Great Demographics Comes Great Power
    Why Population Will Drive Geopolitics

    By Nicholas Eberstadt

    Demographics may not be destiny, but for students of geopolitics, they come close. Although conventional measures of economic and military power often receive more attention, few factors influence the long-term competition between great powers as much as changes in the size, capabilities, and characteristics of national populations.

    The United States is a case in point. In 1850, the United States was home to some 23 million people, 13 million fewer than France. Today, the U.S. population is close to 330 million, larger than the British, Dutch, French, German, and Italian populations combined. For more than a century, the United States has had the world’s largest skilled work force, and by measures such as mean years of adult schooling, it has long had among the world’s most highly educated populations. These favorable demographic fundamentals, more than geography or natural resources, explain why the United States emerged as the world’s preeminent economic and military power after World War II—and why it still occupies that position today.

    Yet past performance is no guarantee of future results. Thanks in large part to demographics, rival states such as China have become genuine great-power competitors over the past few decades. The United States, meanwhile, has eroded or squandered its demographic edge in a number of ways, even as its traditional allies in Europe and Asia have struggled with population stagnation or decline. So far, the damage to U.S. power has been limited by the fact that the United States’ main geopolitical rivals face serious demographic problems of their own. Gazing further into the future, however, population growth and rising levels of education may propel new countries toward great-power status.

    Demographics offer a clue to the geopolitical world of the future—and how Washington should prepare for it. To maintain the United States’ edge, American leaders must take steps to slow or reverse the negative demographic trends now eating away at the foundations of U.S. power. They must also begin to rethink Washington’s global strategy, recognizing that the future of the U.S.-led international order lies with the young and growing democracies of the developing world. With wise domestic policy and farsighted diplomacy, U.S. leaders can ensure that their country’s still considerable human resources reinforce American power long into the coming century.

    PEOPLE POWER

    For premodern empires and kingdoms, a larger population meant more people to tax and send off to war. But thanks to modern economic development, demographics are more important now than ever before. Since the Industrial Revolution, technological innovations and other improvements in human productivity have led to a long-term decline in the price of natural resources and basic commodities such as food. At the same time, they have greatly increased the returns to skilled labor. In fact, most global economic growth since World War II can be attributed to two factors: improvements in human capital—a catchall term for education, health, nutrition, training, and other factors that determine an individual worker’s potential—and favorable business climates, which allowed the value of those human resources to be unlocked. Human capital, in particular, has an extraordinary impact on economies. For each year of increased life expectancy today, for instance, a country sees a permanent increase in per capita income of about four percent. And for each additional year of schooling that a country’s citizens obtain, the country sees, on average, a ten percent increase in per capita GDP.

    Vast disparities between human capital development in different countries have produced gaps in economic productivity that are larger today than at any previous point in history. For example, in 2017, according to World Bank estimates, Ireland’s per capita GDP was roughly 100 times as high as that of the Central African Republic (when adjusted for relative purchasing power). Yet such disparities are not set in stone: thanks to technological breakthroughs, nations can now augment their human capital faster than ever before. It took Sweden from 1886 to 2003 to raise its life expectancy from 50 years to 80 years; South Korea accomplished the same feat in less than half the time, between the late 1950s and 2009.

    Despite the possibility of such rapid and often unexpected improvements in human capital, demography as a whole is a fairly predictable social science. Unlike economic or technological forecasts, population projections tend to be reasonably accurate for at least a few decades, since most of the people who will be living in the world of 2040, for example, are already alive today. And although such projections cannot predict the future, they can offer a rough guide to the emerging contours of international politics—the changing realm of the possible in world affairs. Policymakers who want to plan for the long term should be paying attention.

    POPULATION PROBLEMS IN THE PRC

    Today, the international arena is dominated by one superpower (the United States) and two great powers (China and Russia). Recent U.S. misadventures abroad and political turbulence at home have naturally led some to suggest that American power is on the wane. A look at demographic projections for China and Russia, however, suggests that fears that the United States will lose its position of primacy anytime soon are misplaced.

    China is the United States’ main international rival, and at first glance, it is an impressive rival indeed. It is the world’s most populous country, with almost 1.4 billion people, and over the past four decades, it has seen the most rapid and sustained burst of economic growth in human history. Adjusting for relative purchasing power, the Chinese economy is now the largest in the world. China’s growth since the 1970s is usually attributed to the policies of Deng Xiaoping, who pushed the country in a more market-friendly direction after becoming the paramount leader in 1978. But demographics also played a critical role. Between 1975 and 2010, China’s working-age population (those aged 15–64) nearly doubled, and total hours worked grew even faster, as the country abandoned the Maoist policies that had made paid labor both less available and less appealing. Overall health and educational attainment rose rapidly, as well.

    Given this impressive record, many—apparently including China’s leadership—expect that China will surpass the United States as the world’s leading powersometime in the next two decades. Yet the country’s longer-term demographic prospects suggest otherwise. Over the past two generations, China has seen a collapse in fertility, exacerbated by Beijing’s ruthless population-control programs. The one-child policy, introduced in 1979, was ended in 2015, but the damage had already been done. China’s total fertility rate (TFR) has been below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman since at least the early 1990s. According to the UN Population Division, China’s TFR now stands at 1.6, but some analysts, such as Cai Fang, a Chinese demographer and member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, believe it may be as low as 1.4—more than 30 percent below replacement. In major cities such as Shanghai, fertility may stand at one birth per woman or less.

    With decades of extremely low fertility in its immediate past, decades more of that to come, and no likelihood of mass immigration, China will see its population peak by 2027, according to projections by the U.S. Census Bureau. Its working-age population has already been shrinking for the past five years, and it is set to decrease by at least 100 million between 2015 and 2040. The country will see a particularly large decline in its working-age population under 30, which may plunge by nearly 30 percent over these years. Although this rising generation will be the best educated in Chinese history, the country’s overall growth in educational attainment will slow as the less educated older generations come to make up a larger and larger share of the total population. The Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital estimates that by 2040, China’s adult population will have fewer average years of schooling than that of Bolivia or Zimbabwe.

    As China’s working population slumps, its over-65 population is set to explode. Between 2015 and 2040, the number of Chinese over the age of 65 is projected to rise from about 135 million to 325 million or more. By 2040, China could have twice as many elderly people as children under the age of 15, and the median age of China’s population could rise to 48, up from 37 in 2015 and less than 25 in 1990. No country has ever gone gray at a faster pace. The process will be particularly extreme in rural China, as young Chinese migrate to the cities in search of opportunity. On the whole, China’s elderly in 2040 will be both poor and poorly educated, dependent on others for the overwhelming majority of their consumption and other needs.

    Taken together, these unfavorable demographic trends are creating heavy headwinds for the Chinese economy. To make matters worse, China faces additional adverse demographic factors. Under the one-child policy, for instance, Chinese parents often opted for an abortion over giving birth to a girl, creating one of the most imbalanced infant and child sex ratios in the modern world. In the years ahead, China will have to deal with the problem of tens of millions of surplus men, mostly from disadvantaged rural backgrounds, with no prospects of marrying, having children, or continuing their family line.

    China will also face a related problem over the next generation, as traditional Chinese family structures atrophy or evaporate. Since the beginning of written history, Chinese society has relied on extended kinship networks to cope with economic risks. Yet a rising generation of urban Chinese youth is made up of only children of only children, young men and women with no siblings, cousins, aunts, or uncles. The end of 2,500 years of family tradition will be a departure into the unknown for Chinese civilization—and Beijing is manifestly unprepared for this impending great leap.

    THE RUSSIAN PARADOX

    For Russia, the demographic outlook may be even worse. The Kremlin sees itself as helming a global power, yet its grandiose self-conception is badly mismatched with the human resources at its disposal. From the standpoint of population and human capital, Russia looks like a power in the grip of all but irremediable decline.

    In some respects, Russia is a typical European country: it has an aging, shrinking population and difficulties assimilating the low-skilled immigrant work force on which its economy increasingly depends. When it comes to human capital, however, Russia faces an acute crisis. After fully half a century of stagnation or regression, Russia has finally seen an improvement over the last decade in the overall health of its people, as evidenced by measures such as life expectancy at birth. But the situation is still dire. In 2016, according to the World Health Organization, 15-year-old Russian males could expect to live another 52.3 years: slightly less than their counterparts in Haiti. Fifteen-year-old Russian females, although better off than the males, had a life expectancy only slightly above the range for the UN’s roster of least developed countries.

    In addition to its health problems, Russia is failing in knowledge production. Call it “the Russian paradox”: high levels of schooling, low levels of human capital. Despite an ostensibly educated citizenry, Russia (with a population of 145 million) earns fewer patents each year from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office than the state of Alabama (population: five million). Russia earns less from service exports than Denmark, with its population of six million, and has less privately held wealth than Sweden, with a population of ten million. And since Russia’s working-age population is set to age and shrink between 2015 and 2040, its relative economic potential will diminish, too.

    Ambitious revisionist states such as Russia can, for a time, punch above their weight in international affairs. Yet for all of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign meddling and military adventurism, his country is facing demographic constraints that will make it extraordinarily difficult for him and his successors to maintain, much less seriously improve, Russia’s geopolitical position.

    THE AMERICAN ADVANTAGE

    Relative to its principal rivals, the United States is in an enviable position. This should come as no surprise: the United States has been the most powerful country in the world since World War II, and its demographic advantages—its large and highly educated population, relatively high fertility rates, and welcoming immigration policies—have been crucial to that success.

    The United States’ most obvious demographic advantage is its size. It is the world’s third most populous country, and it is likely to remain so until 2040. No other developed country even comes close—the second and third largest, Japan and Germany, have populations that are two-fifths and one-fourth the size of the U.S. population, respectively. Between 1990 and 2015, the United States generated nearly all the population growth for the UN’s “more developed regions,” and both UN and U.S. Census Bureau projections suggest that it will generate all of these regions’ population growth between 2015 and 2040. In fact, excluding sub-Saharan Africa—the only region where the rate of population growth is still increasing—the U.S. population is on track to grow slightly faster than the world population between now and 2040.

    The United States benefits from what might be called “American demographic exceptionalism.” Compared with other developed countries, the United States has long enjoyed distinctly high immigration levels and birthrates. Between 1950 and 2015, close to 50 million people immigrated to the United States, accounting for nearly half of the developed world’s net immigration over that time period. These immigrants and their descendants made up most of the United States’ population growth over those decades. But U.S. fertility is also unusually high for an affluent society. Apart from a temporary dip during and immediately after the Vietnam War, the United States’ birthrates after World War II have consistently exceeded the developed-country average. Between the mid-1980s and the financial crisis of 2008, the United States was the only rich country with replacement-level fertility. Assuming continued levels of immigration and near-replacement fertility, most demographers project that by 2040, the United States will have a population of around 380 million. It will have a younger population than almost any other rich democracy, and its working-age population will still be expanding. And unlike the rest of the developed world in 2040, it will still have more births than deaths.

    Yet the United States’ demographic advantage is not merely a function of numbers. For over a century, the United States has benefited from a large and growing cadre of highly skilled workers. Research by the economists Robert Barro and Jong-Wha Lee on educational attainment suggests that between 1870 and 2010, Americans were the world’s most highly educated people in terms of average years of schooling for the working-age population. In 2015, by their estimate, 56 million men and women in the United States aged 25 to 64 had undergraduate degrees or graduate degrees: twice as many as in China and almost one-sixth of the global total. The United States leads the world in research and development, as measured by international patent applications and scientific publications, and in wealth generation, with Americans having accumulated more private wealth since 2000 than the Chinese have in recorded history.

    THE TASK AHEAD

    Despite these advantages, all is not well for the United States. Warning lights are flashing for a number of key demographic metrics. In 2014, U.S. life expectancy began slowly but steadily dropping for the first time in a century. This drop is partly due to the surge in so-called deaths of despair (deaths from suicide, a drug overdose, or complications from alcoholism), especially in economically depressed regions of the country. Yet even before the decline began, U.S. progress in public health indicators had been painfully slow and astonishingly expensive. Improvements in educational attainment have also been stalled for decades: as of 2010, American adults born in the early 1980s had, on average, 13.7 years of schooling, only fractionally higher than the average of 13.5 years for their parents’ generation, born in the early 1950s. Meanwhile, employment rates for American men of prime working age (25–54) are at levels not seen since the Great Depression.

    Further, it is possible that consensus projections for U.S. population growth are too optimistic. Such projections generally assume that U.S. fertility will return to replacement levels. But U.S. fertility fell by about ten percent after 2008 and shows no sign of recovering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, the United States’ TFR stood at 1.77, the lowest level since the 1970s and below those of European countries such as France and Sweden. Most demographic projections also assume that the United States will maintain net immigration at its current level of roughly one million per year. But immigration is an intrinsically political phenomenon. In the past, the United States has decided to all but shut off immigration in response to domestic turbulence, and it may do so again.

    Even with these troubling signs of decline, no rival is likely to overtake the United States in terms of raw human potential anytime soon. China and India, for instance, may have more college-educated workers than the United States does by 2040, but the superior quality of U.S. higher education will weigh heavily in the United States’ favor, and the United States will almost certainly still have the world’s largest pool of workers with graduate degrees. If U.S. demographic and human resource indicators continue to stagnate or regress, however, Americans may lose their appetite for playing a leading role in international affairs. Isolationism and populism could thrive, and the U.S. electorate could be unwilling to bear the considerable costs of maintaining the international order. There is also a nontrivial risk that the United States’ relatively disappointing trends in health and education will harm its long-term economic performance.

    To avoid these outcomes, the United States will need to revitalize its human resource base and restore its dynamism in business, health, and education. Doing so will be immensely difficult—a far-reaching undertaking that is beyond the powers of the federal government alone. The first step, however, is for Americans of all political persuasions to recognize the urgency of the task.

    AGING ALLIES

    Even as they try to put U.S. demographic trends back on track, American policymakers should also begin considering what U.S. strategy should look like in a world in which demographic advantages no longer guarantee U.S. hegemony. One appealing solution would be to rely more on traditional U.S. partners. Japan’s GDP is nearly four times as large as Russia’s on an exchange-rate basis, and although its total population is slightly smaller than Russia’s, it has a larger cadre of highly skilled workers. The current population of the EU is around 512 million, nearly 200 million more than that of the United States, and its economy is still substantially larger than China’s on an exchange-rate basis.

    The trouble is that many of Washington’s traditional allies face even more daunting demographic challenges than does the United States. The EU member states and Japan, for instance, all have healthy, well-educated, and highly productive populations. Yet the EU and Japan have both registered sub-replacement fertility rates since the 1970s, and their fertility rates began to drop far below the replacement level in the 1980s. In both the EU and Japan, deaths now outnumber births. Their working-age populations are in long-term decline, and their overall populations are aging at rates that would have sounded like science fiction not so long ago. The main demographic difference between the EU and Japan is that Europe has embraced immigration and Japan has not.

    Both approaches have their drawbacks. For EU members, immigration has postponed the shrinking of their work forces and slowed the aging of their populations. Yet the EU’s record of integrating newcomers, particularly Muslims from poorer countries, is uneven at best, and cultural conflicts over immigration are roiling politics across the continent. Japan has avoided these convulsions, but at the cost of rapid and irreversible population decline. As in China, this is leading to an implosion of the traditional Japanese family. Japanese demographers project that a woman born in Japan in 1990 has close to a 40 percent chance of having no children of her own and a 50 percent chance of never having grandchildren. Japan is not just graying: it is becoming a country of elderly social isolates, with rising needs and decreasing family support.

    Population decline does not preclude improvements in living standards, but it is a drag on relative economic and military power. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the United States’ working-age population is set to grow by about ten percent between 2015 and 2040. Over the same period, Germany’s and South Korea’s working-age populations are expected to shrink by 20 percent, and Japan’s, by 22 percent. The number of young men aged 15 to 24, the group from which military manpower is typically drawn, is projected to increase over that period by three percent in the United States but to fall by 23 percent in Germany, 25 percent in Japan, and almost 40 percent in South Korea.

    This decline, combined with the budgetary politics of the modern welfare state—borrowing money from future generations to pay for the current benefits of older voters—means that most U.S. treaty allies will become less willing and able to provide for their own defense over the coming decades. The United States, in other words, will become ever more valuable to its aging security partners at the same time as they become less valuable to Washington—all while the United States’ own demographic advantage is beginning to erode.

    MAKING NEW FRIENDS

    Yet even as population trends sap the strength of traditional powers in Europe and East Asia, they are propelling a whole new set of countries, many of them potential U.S. allies and partners, toward great-power status. By courting these rising powers, U.S. policymakers can strengthen the international order for decades to come.

    Washington should begin by turning its attention to South and Southeast Asia. As Japan and South Korea lose population, for instance, emerging democracies such as Indonesia and the Philippines will continue to grow. By 2040, Indonesia could have a population of over 300 million, up from around 260 million today, and the Philippines’ population could reach 140 million—which would be possibly larger than Russia’s. Both countries, moreover, are young and increasingly well educated. In 2015, China had almost four times as many people aged 20 to 39 as Indonesia and the Philippines did combined; by 2040, it is projected to have only twice as many. Both Indonesia and the Philippines are likely to come into increasing confrontation with an expansionist China, and as they do, they may discover an interest in deeper security cooperation with the United States.

    Indonesia and the Philippines, however, pale in comparison to India. India is on track to overtake China as the world’s most populous country within the next decade, and by 2040, India’s working-age population may exceed China’s by 200 million. India’s population will still be growing in 2040, when China’s will be in rapid decline. By that time, about 24 percent of China’s population will be over 65, compared with around 12 percent of India’s. India has its own demographic and human resource problems—compared with China, it still has poor public health indicators, low average educational attainment, and egregiously high levels of illiteracy. Despite years of attempted reforms, India still ranks 130th out of 186 countries on the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. Yet by 2040, India may have a larger pool of highly educated workers aged 20 to 49 than China, and its advantage will be increasing with every year. The United States and India have already begun defense cooperation in the interest of countering China; American leaders should make it a priority to deepen this partnership in the years ahead.

    The United States today has many advantages over its international rivals, thanks in no small part to its favorable demographics. Yet U.S. power cannot be taken for granted. It would be a geopolitical tragedy if the postwar economic and security order that the United States built really were to fade from the scene: no alternative arrangement is likely to promise as much freedom and prosperity to as many people as the U.S.-led international order does today. Thankfully, it is a tragedy that can be averted. If the United States can begin to repair its human capital base and forge new alliances for the twenty-first century, it can strengthen—with the aid of demographics—Pax Americana for generations to come.

    Foreign Affairs ~ July/ August 2019
     
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    A World Safe for Autocracy?
    China’s Rise and the Future of Global Politics

    By Jessica Chen Weiss

    The Chinese people, President Xi Jinping proclaimed in 2016, “are fully confident in offering a China solution to humanity’s search for better social systems.” A year later, he declared that China was “blazing a new trail for other developing countries to achieve modernization.” Such claims come as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been extending its reach overseas and reverting to a more repressive dictatorship under Xi after experimenting with a somewhat more pluralistic, responsive mode of authoritarianism.

    Many Western politicians have watched this authoritarian turn at home and search for influence abroad and concluded that China is engaged in a life-and-death attempt to defeat democracy—a struggle it may even be winning. In Washington, the pendulum has swung from a consensus supporting engagement with China to one calling for competition or even containment in a new Cold War, driven in part by concerns that an emboldened China is seeking to spread its own model of domestic and international order. Last October, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence decried China’s “whole-of-government” effort to influence U.S. domestic politics and policy. In February, Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, went further: the danger from China, he said, was “not just a whole-of-government threat but a whole-of-society threat.” Such warnings reflect a mounting fear that China represents a threat not just to specific U.S. interests but also to the very survival of democracy and the U.S.-led international order.

    This fear gets the challenge from Beijing wrong. Not since the days of Mao Zedong has China sought to export revolution or topple democracy. Under Xi, the CCP has promoted “the Chinese dream,” a parochial vision of national rejuvenation that has little international appeal. China’s remarkable economic growth under previous leaders came from experimentation and flexibility, not a coherent “China model.”

    Since 2012, China’s growing authoritarianism and resurgent state dominance over the economy have dashed Western hopes that China would eventually embrace liberalism. And China’s actions abroad have offered alternatives to U.S.-led international institutions, made the world safer for other authoritarian governments, and undermined liberal values. But those developments reflect less a grand strategic effort to undermine democracy and spread autocracy than the Chinese leadership’s desire to secure its position at home and abroad. Its efforts to revise and work around international institutions are the result of pragmatic decisions about Chinese interests rather than a wholesale rejection of the U.S.-led international order. Beijing’s behavior suggests that China is a disgruntled and increasingly ambitious stakeholder in that order, not an implacable enemy of it. In seeking to make the world safer for the CCP, Beijing has rejected universal values and made it easier for authoritarian states to coexist alongside democracies. And within democracies, the CCP’s attempts to squelch overseas opposition to its rule have had a corrosive influence on free speech and free society, particularly among the Chinese diaspora.

    These are real challenges, but they do not yet amount to an existential threat to the international order or liberal democracy. Successfully competing with China will require more precisely understanding its motives and actions and developing tough but nuanced responses. Overreacting by framing competition with China in civilizational or ideological terms risks backfiring by turning China into what many in Washington fear it already is.

    NOT MADE FOR EXPORT

    Although Xi has proudly advertised in his rhetoric a Chinese example that other societies could emulate, he has also qualified such statements. In 2017, two months after touting China’s modernization at the 19th Party Congress, he told a high-level gathering of foreign leaders that “managing our own affairs well is China’s biggest contribution to building a community with a shared future for humanity.” He went on: “We will not ‘import’ a foreign model. Nor will we ‘export’ a China model, nor ask others to ‘copy’ Chinese methods.” That statement was a reiteration of the Chinese leadership’s line ever since it began to reform and open up the economy in the late 1970s. Chinese officials have consistently stressed the unique character of China’s development path.

    And no wonder: neither China’s economic nor its political model is well suited for export. As the economist Barry Naughton has noted, China has benefited from at least three unique economic conditions: an enormous internal market, abundant labor, and a hierarchical authoritarian government committed to a transition away from a planned economy. None of these conditions will be easy for other developing states to copy.

    If there is a general principle underlying China’s development, it is pragmatism and a willingness to experiment, rather than any particular economic orthodoxy. In the words of the political scientist Yuen Yuen Ang, “directed improvisation,” rather than state control, brought about China’s economic miracle. The introduction of markets and competition into a state-run economy drove much of China’s growth before 2012, when the state began reasserting its dominance over the economy.

    Other authoritarian-minded leaders may look to the CCP’s long reign with envy, but they will have trouble emulating China’s political system. Xi and his predecessors have relied on the CCP’s pervasive reach in Chinese society to maintain their rule, backstopped by an internal security apparatus that by 2011 cost more than the Chinese military. Despite its Marxist-Leninist roots, the CCP has been ideologically opportunistic, embracing capitalism and alternately rejecting and celebrating traditional Chinese philosophies such as Confucianism. Responsiveness to public criticism has also helped the CCP survive policy mistakes and improve governance. But the party’s recent moves to dominate society and curtail public discussion risk returning China to a more brittle past.

    Last year, the Chinese leadership proclaimed “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism With Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” as its guiding ideology, enshrining it in the Chinese constitution and promoting it to Chinese citizens with a smartphone app. Xi’s signature “Chinese dream” is a nationalist vision focused on delivering wealth and power to the Chinese people, with the CCP in command. As the legal scholar Margaret Lewis has written, “China’s Party-state structure is rooted in a particular history that does not lend itself to an easy copy-and-paste abroad.”

    A HELPING HAND FOR AUTOCRATS

    Yet China has still made it easier for authoritarianism to thrive elsewhere. The country’s four decades of rapid economic growth have demonstrated that development does not require democracy. In the words of the political scientist Seva Gunitsky, “Material success . . . often creates its own legitimacy: regimes become morally appealing simply by virtue of their triumph.”

    Beijing also supports autocracies in more direct ways, especially through international institutions. Along with Russia, China has regularly used its veto in the UN Security Council to shield other authoritarian countries from international demands to protect human rights and to block interventions that would force governments to end abuses. China has styled itself as a conservative defender of international norms, protecting state sovereignty against what it sees as unlawful humanitarian interventions. China’s growing economic clout has also led other states, particularly those in Africa and Latin America that trade heavily with China, to join Beijing in opposing human rights resolutions in the UN General Assembly.

    But China has not always used its power in the UN Security Council to defend authoritarian states from international pressure. It has voted several times for UN sanctions resolutions against Iran and North Korea and has pushed other countries, including Myanmar and Sudan, to curb political violence. “Despite its equivocations,” the political scientist Joel Wuthnow has pointed out, “China cannot be simply described as a patron of rogue regimes.”

    For example, in the early years of this century, when the Sudanese government was carrying out a campaign of genocidal violence in Darfur, China sold weapons to the regime and tried to temper international sanctions. But under international pressure in advance of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China prevailed on Khartoum to accept a peacekeeping force that included Chinese peacekeepers.

    In 2011, Beijing surprised many international observers by voting for sanctions against Libya and in favor of referring the Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi to the International Criminal Court. China then chose not to block a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the military intervention in Libya that led to Qaddafi’s violent ouster. Having learned from that experience, during the civil war in Syria, China has reserved its veto for those resolutions it believes threaten forcible regime change. China’s overall approach to the UN reflects a conservative position on the balance between sovereignty and human rights, tempered by a desire to avoid the political costs of taking unpopular stands.

    Critics often accuse Beijing of supporting authoritarian countries by providing them with unconditional loans and aid. There is some truth to this claim, but the picture is more complicated than critics usually suggest. China’s official development assistance tends to follow its political interests rather than target particular types of governments according to their level of democracy or corruption. China also provides an attractive alternative source of finance to governments unable or unwilling to meet the requirements of other international lenders. Indeed, compared with other international sources of finance, Chinese loans may actually operate more effectively in badly governed places, as they are often tied to specific infrastructure projects, such as new roads, schools, power plants, or sewage systems. Complaints that Beijing’s lending props up dictators can also ring hollow given the long record of the U.S. government, international banks, and multinational oil and mining corporations sustaining strategically important or resource-rich dictatorships.

    China has also begun to introduce requirements on Chinese companies aimed at reducing the negative effects of investments on local communities and curtailing vanity projects, although Beijing’s diplomatic and strategic interests can still override these concerns. Under international pressure, the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has adopted norms about the environmental and social consequences of its policies similar to those in developed countries. In April, Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, applauded Beijing’s announcement of a debt-sustainability framework in response to international criticism of Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative. Chinese aid and finance may not improve governance in the developing world, but it’s not clear that they will worsen it either.

    China also rightly gets heat from Western observers for exporting surveillance and censorship technologies. China’s heavy investments in these technologies have made it cheaper for other authoritarian and would-be authoritarian regimes to monitor their citizens. Chinese companies have sold surveillance systems, including AI-powered facial recognition technology, to several countries, including Ecuador, Iran, Kenya, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. Some government officials around the world look to China’s example when it comes to managing the Internet and social media. As Tanzania’s deputy minister for transport and communications noted in 2017, “Our Chinese friends have managed to block such media [Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram] in their country and replaced them with their homegrown sites that are safe, constructive, and popular. We aren’t there yet, but while we are still using these platforms, we should guard against their misuse.”

    Yet as with Chinese lending, the story of Chinese technology is more complicated than it first appears. The diffusion of digital authoritarianism is not the same thing as an intentional effort to remake other governments in China’s image. And repression is not the only use for many of the technologies China exports. The Chinese telecommunications company ZTE, for instance, has been criticized for helping develop Venezuela’s new national identity card system, which the Venezuelan authorities realized, after a visit to Shenzhen in 2008, would allow them to monitor citizens’ behavior. But China isn’t the only exporter of electronic identification systems. A recent article published by the Council on Foreign Relations, for example, praised British-made electronic ID cards that would “allow Rwandans to efficiently access government services.” When the U.S. Commerce Department considered banning the export of technology that could be used for surveillance, many U.S. technology companies pointed out that such technology also protects digital networks from intruders.

    Although these systems can help governments monitor and control their people, how exactly they are used depends on local politics. Cameras can replace more brute-force methods of surveillance, as in Ecuador, which, beginning in 2011, installed a monitoring system with China’s help. But as The New York Times reported, many Ecuadorians have complained that the system hasn’t done enough to cut crime, as the authorities haven’t hired enough police officers to monitor the footage or respond to crimes caught on camera. And the Ecuadorian administration that came to power in 2017, which has pledged to reverse some of its predecessor’s autocratic policies, has begun an investigation into alleged abuses of the monitoring system, including inviting the Times to review its records.

    Ultimately, the political effects of technology can cut both ways. Just as the Internet did not bring democratic freedom to every country, so surveillance technology does not magically enable governments to control society. Technology can empower the state, but strong democratic institutions can also constrain the power of technology.

    Many Western leaders also worry that Beijing is working to undermine democratic systems. The openness of democratic societies has allowed their adversaries, primarily Russia, to sow discord, paralyze debate, and influence elections. Although there is no evidence that China has illegally interfered in U.S. elections, despite allegations by U.S. President Donald Trump, some of the CCP’s overseas activities have stifled open discussion, particularly among the Chinese diaspora. Yet Beijing’s aim is to advance its interests and portray Chinese actions in a positive light, not to export a particular form of government.

    Beijing has devoted resources to improving China’s image, sometimes in worrying ways. Since 2004, Beijing has funded several hundred Confucius Institutes, which teach Mandarin, around the world. Concerns that the institutes infringe on academic freedom have led universities to close a number of them and academics to call for greater transparency in their operations. Beijing has also strengthened what it calls its “discourse power” by investing in English-language print and broadcast media, including the China Daily insert in The Des Moines Register that Trump criticized last year. The danger is that many people may not notice that the news they are reading or watching is paid for by the Chinese government. Beijing has become more aggressive in its use of what the National Endowment for Democracy experts Christopher Walker and Jessica Ludwig have called “sharp power.” It has threatened to ban airlines, hotels, and other international corporations from operating in China unless they toe the party’s line on Taiwan and Tibet. Last year, for example, American Airlines, Delta, and United all removed references to Taiwan from their websites at the insistence of the Chinese government.

    Beijing has also used a variety of tactics to co-opt and intimidate the Chinese diaspora. In particular, it has bought or leaned on Chinese-language media outlets abroad in order to suppress criticism of the CCP. Some of the most alarming evidence of China’s influence has come from Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, a storm of controversy around Beijing-linked political donations, pressure, and compromising relationships recently resulted in new laws against foreign interference.

    These efforts to coerce the Chinese diaspora, combined with Beijing’s campaign to shape the international media narrative about China, go well beyond so-called soft power. Although the CCP’s primary purpose is not to undermine democracy, its activities threaten the healthy functioning of democratic civil society and the public’s access to alternative sources of information. Yet Western countries should recognize that the threat comes from the CCP, not the Chinese people or the Chinese diaspora. If governments pass and enforce laws against foreign interference, Chinese efforts need not constitute an existential threat to liberal democracy.

    HOW THE PARTY HURTS ITSELF

    In making the world safer for the CCP’s interests, Beijing has projected a parochial, ethnocentric brand of authoritarian nationalism. That vision may be intended to help preserve the CCP’s domestic rule, but it is more likely to repel international audiences than attract them. Xi’s signature slogan, “the Chinese dream,” reflects a self-centered CCP rhetoric that is likely to prevent Chinese political concepts from gaining universal appeal.

    Growing repression at home is also tarnishing China’s image abroad. Over the past two years, the CCP has built a dystopian police state in the northwestern region of Xinjiang and a network of internment camps to detain as many as one million of the Muslim Uighur community. The scale and intensity of the CCP’s attempt to “re-educate” the Uighurs have drawn condemnation from the international human rights community, as well as statements of concern from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and political leaders in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Turkey, all three of which are Muslim-majority countries important to Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative.

    Polls of global public opinion suggest that most people around the world still prefer U.S. leadership to the prospect of Chinese leadership. In a survey of people in 25 countries conducted by the Pew Research Center last year, respondents were asked to state whether U.S. or Chinese leadership would be better for the world. An average of 63 percent said they would prefer U.S. leadership; just 19 percent opted for Chinese leadership.

    Even within China, many Chinese citizens are dubious of the CCP’s heavy-handed nationalist propaganda and the personality cult growing around Xi. In 2012, the year Xi took the helm, a massive wave of anti-Japanese protests swept China. Since then, the Chinese government has kept a tight leash on grass-roots activism and promoted state-led nationalism in its place. The CCP has rolled out new holidays to commemorate World War II, blockbuster films to celebrate China’s military prowess, and a smartphone app, Study the Great Nation, to promote “Xi Jinping Thought.”

    Blanketing the airwaves and the Internet with propaganda may foster the appearance of conformity, but it can also hide public disenchantment. In my conversations with Chinese citizens and scholars, many said they felt paralyzed by the political climate; one scholar in Beijing even said that he was afraid of speaking honestly for fear of retaliation in “a new Cultural Revolution.” An extensive crackdown on corruption has also stifled policy initiatives at lower levels of government, as officials fear that taking any action will lead to retribution. Echoing the dismay of many Chinese elites at Xi’s move to scrap presidential term limits, the Chinese law professor Xu Zhangrun published an online critique of Xi’s turn toward one-man rule, which led to Xu’s suspension from Tsinghua University. Xu wrote that “people nationwide, including the entire bureaucratic elite, feel once more lost in uncertainty about the direction of the country” under Xi and warned that “the rising anxiety has spread into a degree of panic throughout society.” Despite this discontent, opinions polls in China show that the public is still quite hawkish, putting pressure on the leadership to stand tough in international disputes.

    Overseas, China’s policies are arousing fear and suspicion in the very societies whose goodwill China needs if it is to maintain access to foreign markets, resources, and technology. In the South China Sea, Beijing has artificially enlarged islands to support advanced military capabilities and claimed the right to fish and extract oil and gas, stoking resentment and anti-China protests in the Philippines and Vietnam. Its actions have even aroused suspicion in countries, such as Indonesia, that do not have competing territorial claims in the South China Sea.

    China’s state-directed efforts to dominate emerging technologies, such as its Made in China 2025 program, have added to fears that open trade, investment, and research will undermine U.S. national security. In the United States and Europe, trade deficits and a backlash against globalization have made China an easy target for resurgent nationalism. Many politicians, especially those who otherwise support free trade, have found it convenient to bash China.

    GETTING CHINA RIGHT

    If Beijing were truly bent on destroying democracy and spreading authoritarianism, containment might be the right response. But a U.S. strategy of countering Chinese influence everywhere it appears in the name of fighting an ideological battle against a hostile civilization would be dangerously misguided. Such a strategy would damage U.S. economic growth and innovation, limit the freedom and openness of U.S. society, and risk becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Democracy has retreated across the globe, but critics often exaggerate Beijing’s role in that trend. The CCP welcomes democratic dysfunction abroad, as it makes the party look better by comparison. But democratic backsliding does not reflect a grand strategic plan in Beijing. The best approach for those who wish to counter the spread of authoritarianism is to defend and restore democracy. The United States should recommit itself to certain basic principles: the rule of law, fair elections, free speech, and freedom of the press. Where Chinese actions violate those principles, the United States should confront those responsible and join other like-minded governments to protect shared values. By recommitting to working with democratic allies and multilateral institutions, the United States could renew faith in its leadership.

    When Chinese actions do not violate democratic principles, the United States should work with China to address common problems. Other countries will not be able to solve the greatest challenge humanity faces—climate change—without China’s help. Under Xi, the Chinese public has acquired a taste for international leadership. Governments should welcome that trend when Chinese leadership promises to advance the global good, while criticizing Chinese actions when they fall short. Such a strategy has the added benefit of being more likely to win support from those within China who are seeking change.

    At home and abroad, the CCP is fighting a defensive ideological battle against liberal norms of democracy and human rights, but so far at least, it is not engaged in a determined effort to spread autocracy. In order to respond to Beijing’s actions effectively, the United States and its allies will need to be more precise about what exactly China is doing. In the end, the best way to respond to China is to make democracy work better. That would set an example for others to follow and allow the democratic world to compete with the true sources of China’s international power: its economic and technological might.

    Foreign Affairs ~ July/ August 2019
     
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