Home > Foreign Relations, General, Opinion, politics > China’s role in the international community

China’s role in the international community

I’d like to extend DeWang’s last post on the possible role of China in the resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict with a more generalized discussion of what China’s role should be in international affairs in the future.

China seems to be taking a more active approach in engaging with the world’s conflicts and affairs and other pressing issues and I think this is the right way to go. It has increased its role in the UN and provided peacekeeping troops. It has also taken up an active role in establishing law in jurisprudential debates, making its side’s perspective more known and defending the interests of other developing nations. By being more active here, it makes its own viewpoint and interests known to the world instead of being passive recipients of the rules that continue to govern the world. China has been more actively involved with disputes, economic, social, cultural, environmental, etc.

I think China should be more involved in issues such as resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict in the future along with other issues. There are several reasons for this. First, I think China has genuinely good things to add to the discussion. Viewpoints have been dominated by a narrow western or imperialistic mindset for far too long. It’s time for an alternative perspective on how to handle issues in a closer and more globalized world.

Second, I also think that the issues that come up are not mostly contained geographically. Many issues involve the international communities’ welfare as a whole such as global security, terrorism, environmental issues, cultural issues, economic issues, etc. You cannot isolate many of the issues that affect all of us. Pollution from the US or India or China affects everyone. What goes on in the Middle East, Africa, N. America, etc, affects everyone in a more globalized world and China cannot afford to put on blinders and ignore it because it affects the Chinese too. We see this with the collapse of the financial institutions of the world. China has done its best and so far it has done a very good job in blunting the negative effects from its people but the collapse has hurt China too.

Third, I think there are moral elements to it. I think China will be a positive force due to its cultural history. China is a good example to the world of a power that has been very dominant in the past without colonization and engaging in a slave trade. It’s a model for the west to look at and reflect on its own deficiencies.

When China became more isolated during the 19th century, it was at its weakest and became the victims of foreign aggression. I think had China taken a more active and involved role in the world before that, it would have realized the need to modernize and strengthen itself against foreign imperialism and it would have bettered its own welfare in trade and been a positive influence for the whole world. But instead it chose to isolate itself.

I am sure China appreciates the US for its role in defeating the Japanese in WWII (though I think the US’s involvement were mainly self interest) and I would hope China will come to the aid of others in similar circumstances from brutal foreign aggression.

Finally notice that active engagement should never been conflated with imperialism or military aggressive actions. Those who think that the only options on the table are either isolationism or what the west has done for the last 400 years and what the US continues to do i.e., foreign aggressive military interventions, need to think a little harder on the possibilities. It’s a false dilemma to think that those are the only options.

What I am saying is that China should take an active role in being a responsible member of the international community by fostering global cooperation and helping to solve the world’s problems. China can do this in many ways such as engaging in discussions, facilitating mediation, initiating conflict resolutions measures, finding creative enterprises to solve problems, establishing the rule of law through the UN and giving aid or volunteering help in international crises.

What do you think?

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  1. October 21st, 2011 at 21:06 | #1

    This is a good introduction to China’s changing role in the UN:

    http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/ID/680135/Stay-away-from-dubious-flattery-of-China.aspx

  2. October 21st, 2011 at 23:50 | #2

    China isn’t in danger of being colonised or threatened by anyone. They can still engage much of Asia without treading into the mess in the middle east. There’s nothing stopping China from building her navies and advancing her defences. There’s plenty to do in the Pacific.

    I don’t think the global community wants China’s help anyway. Not with anti-China kool-aid that has been running rampant for the last couple years. And you know what, fuck em. The US wants to be the world police, let them. I mean look at Japan they’ve been like loyal dogs to the Americans for decades, they don’t even get so much as a nod of acknowledgement from the most of the G7. Even Poland has more autonomy than Japan. SE Asia doesn’t even register for most of NATOs plutocrats. They are not going to give China any less warming reception.

    Let them burn themselves to the ground, starting with Israel. Western governments created the mess, let them lie in it. It’s certainly not getting any better so why put yourself in the middle of a civilization war between Muslims and westerners?

  3. October 21st, 2011 at 23:59 | #3

    Hi All,

    Thanks for chiming in the earlier thread. I’ve finally caught up. And thanks to melektaus for framing the issue nicely here.

    For those of you opposed to the idea that China should get more involved with our worlds affairs, I think that school of thought has many merits. Certain for what Jin Yongjian (金永健) said in the link Ray provided above, that China should not act out of dubious flattery. China acts in China’s interest and in pursuit of win-win with the world.

    And, indeed, I too feel the choice between interventionism vs. isolationism are false dilemmas. Everyone would agree isolationism is bad.

    For now, I’d like to quote Allen’s comment from the prior thread.

    I feel the West is on a crusade of ideological assault against the rest of the world. Many of their own ideologies are harmful to itself too.

    Allen :

    YinYang,

    I can feel your passion… Without taking sides, I can say that what is happening in the Middle East is a human tragedy.

    At some point, I think we ought to do a multicultural video. In China we have 56 ethnic nationalities living side by side for millenia. People can complain about “political” rights and what not – but for 56 different groups to still maintain their identity and live relatively peacefully side by side – and integrating in many cases – throughout all these years, that says something.

    In Israel/Palestine – we have groups that want to exclude each other. Israel won’t have a multicultural state because they are afraid Jews will be out-bred by Palestinians. Many Palestinians see Jews as a cancer – as invaders into their land. In such environments, there can be no win-win – only distributive bickering and the resulting violence.

    In Europe, despite talks of “multiculturalism,” we have similar clashes, with Europeans demanding a “European” identity / culture to the exclusion of those of immigrants (Africans, Middle Easterners, and to a lesser extent, Chinese and others, too) (see eg http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2011/02/13/the-death-of-multiculturalism/).

    The way out of cycles of violence is not us against them, with us or with them type attitude. It is not even seeking of “truce.” And no – “Human Rights” and “Freedom” do not solve these intractable problems.

    The way out is to embrace each other – through visions of a multicultural identity and polity. Whatever the warts of China, that is what it has stood for, that’s what it should stand for for the world…

    This is how China can lead, by embracing its own roots, rebuilding itself, and ultimately offering to the world its tradition of multiculturalism and harmonious society that has allowed its disparate peoples to not only live in peace – but to build one of the great civilizations of the world.

  4. October 22nd, 2011 at 00:38 | #4

    @Cockroach
    You said:

    It’s certainly not getting any better so why put yourself in the middle of a civilization war between Muslims and westerners?

    That’s a really interesting way to put it.

    China prizes a peaceful world for her own development too. Given that the current world order is dominated by the West, I think if China can show a better way forward for our world, that’d be the way to evolve that order.

  5. October 22nd, 2011 at 02:31 | #5

    YinYang :

    That’s a really interesting way to put it.
    China prizes a peaceful world for her own development too. Given that the current world order is dominated by the West, I think if China can show a better way forward for our world, that’d be the way to evolve that order.

    You know I have always had my doubts about Huntington-esque kind of world but western polemic is increasingly becoming more and more hostile, to the point where they are increasingly conflating politics with ethnic identity and culture itself. To be sure China isn’t the first victim and it’s not the first time but the stronger China grows and the more tentative westerners grasp on power becomes the more likely they will externalize hostility, especially as domestic politics becomes more and more polarized. I am not convinced that China can have peace, and I certainly don’t believe America will give China peace. I mean these (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MJ19Ak03.html ) are the kind of people who dictate America’s foreign policy, do you think these kind of men are willing to cede power just like that?

  6. October 22nd, 2011 at 04:06 | #6

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/MJ22Ad01.html
    http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2011/January%202011/0111pacific.aspx

    Two articles you might find interesting. It seems the international community has come calling.

  7. October 22nd, 2011 at 05:41 | #7

    @Cockroach #5 and #6,

    While I also share your sentiment that the West (lead by the U.S.) is taking an aggressive stance toward China, I think China should take a judo-esq approach to Western posturing. Don’t fight a fist with a fist.

    1. Don’t get dragged into a confrontation. The West is by no means monolithic. For every brutish hawk, there are also good, honest, peace-loving people. As long as China has the courage stand in the right, the West (I don’t think) will never gather enough war momentum to go for an all out war with China.

    2. Understand that China – by its geography (in the heart of Asia, bordered by 14 nations, 15 or more if you count Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, etc.), and by its own multi-ethnic multi-cultural makeup – must be a different kind of power that England or U.S. ever was. China is more geographically meshed with the world than U.S. or England (or Europe) never was. Any one of the 14 nations can at any one time cause trouble for it. It is only by being friendly with all 14 nations that China can develop and be at peace. While that can be an Achilles’ heel of China (faraway powers can always cause trouble for China by allying with any one of the 14 nations), it can also be one of its strength. The welfare of the world necessarily depend on China in a way that it does not depend on England of U.S. China is one nation that has to keep the interest of the world at large as its own interest. While the West may try to contain China, in terms of population and geography, China is the one true indispensable nation. If China plays its card right, it is naturally in the position to drive history, not have history dictated to it.

    3. Understand that the peace of the last few decades came from hardwork of leaders of China (playing the right strategic games in the coldwar, building strategic trust with (including ceding disputed territories to) neighboring nations, engaging with the world at large. The peace of the coming decades will also need to be actively sought. Just because China is provoked does not mean that China cannot continually to find ways to make for win-win – to seek peace. That is the act of a truly indispensable, responsible, globally-engaged power.

    4. While it is true that in Western eyes no dominant power has ever allowed rising powers to rise peacefully, China I really believe is a different case. A strong and prosperous China brings too much benefit to the world (including the West – just think of all the innovation that 1.3 billion can contribute for the good of the world) for the West to simply slap it down. A Western-dominated world is not stable nor sustainble (if it’s not colonialism, imperialism, or neo-imperialism as currently practiced by the U.S.). While there will be strains with the West, its rise will be tolerated, accepted, and ultimately welcomed by the West.

  8. October 22nd, 2011 at 10:51 | #8
  9. melektaus
    October 23rd, 2011 at 19:50 | #9

    Here’s an example of what I think China should do. This article talks about the US’s threat to withdraw annual funding to Unesco (about 70 million) if Palestine is accepted as a member state.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/24/world/middleeast/palestinian-bid-to-join-unesco-could-imperil-us-funds.html?pagewanted=1

    If the US comes through with that threat, China should take its place. This will send a symbolic message that China is willing to take the US’s spot and it will help support historic sites throughout the world including China and it will increase China’s standing in the world as a responsible citizen in the community of nations.

    Also notice the bias in the article, in true NYTs fashion of taking the US’s side in criticizing Unesco.

  10. Terry Chen
    October 23rd, 2011 at 21:03 | #10

    So far, imo the best quote that compares and contrasts the role in the international community that China and the US has is by Henry Kissinger:

    “American exceptionalism is missionary. It holds that the United States has an obligation to spread its values to every part of the world. China’s exceptionalism is cultural. China does not proselytize; it does not claim that its contempory institutions are relevant (or superior) outside China.”

  11. xian
    October 24th, 2011 at 02:33 | #11

    “Responsible” is relative. The general rule in diplomacy is that every time you befriend someone, you gain all his enemies. And people tend to have more than one enemy. It’s a losing game in the long run. Having a UNSC vote is good enough for me. Unless the regional issues has serious effect on China’s future, we should steer clear of that Israel/Palestine hornet’s nest.

  12. colin
    October 24th, 2011 at 09:29 | #12

    On a practical level, I disagree that China should get itself involved in issues it has no national interests in. It has enough of it’s own problems, let alone sticking it’s head into other peoples’.

  13. October 24th, 2011 at 11:43 | #13

    @Cockroach
    I think the West is willing to share responsibility provided the end-result is a win-win. For example, the IMF expanded voting shares for China and the BRICS, because frankly they need cash infusion and they need credibility.

    To be a bigger part of IMF, China and others will have to put in more cash. With the weight of the developing economies behind it, IMF becomes more credible.

    So, this is a win-win.

    If China took the route of establishing another IMF or WB equivalent and decide to compete head-on, that’d be a confrontational approach. I think leaders around the world recognize China’s approach is peaceful and non-threatening.

    This demonstrates China’s ‘values.’

    Of course, all this would just be talks unless China had the stability and economic growth to be able to participate in.

    One might counter – why participate in a system that is already unfair and stacked in the West’s favor? You seek peaceful means to evolve. That’s always the path within and without.

  14. October 25th, 2011 at 10:29 | #14

    http://reliefweb.int/node/452873

    BANGKOK, 12 October 2011 (NNT) – China has become the first foreign nation that offers help to flood victims in the country.

    A China Southern Airline plane carrying 50-million THB donations from the Chinese government is expected to arrive at Don Muang Airport on Wednesday evening. China’s aid includes high-speed motorboats and rowing boats, water purification equipment and water tanks. Recently Chinese ambassador to Thailand Guan Mu has also presented a cash donation of one million USD, or about 30 million THB, from the Chinese government to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

    China was the first nation to offer assistance to flood-torn victims by informing the Thai government of its wish at the end of August 2011. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has also sent a message of sympathy to the Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra over the devastating floods.

  15. October 25th, 2011 at 10:30 | #15

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-10/22/c_131206639.htm

    BANGKOK, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) — Three cargo planes of the Air Force of China arrived in Bangkok on Saturday morning to deliver the third batch of flood relief goods to Thai government.

    Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Guan Mu, along with Thai Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit, presided over the delivering ceremony at Don Muang Airport.

    China has donated 259 hovercrafts, 150 water pumps, 210 water filters and 1,300 tents among others worth about 40 million Chinese yuan (6.3 million U.S. dollars) as well as 1 million U.S. dollars in cash to Thailand, according to the press release of the Chinese embassy.

    At least 356 people were confirmed dead in the worst floods in five decades that have inundated the upper part of the country for almost three months.

  16. melektaus
    October 25th, 2011 at 13:15 | #16

    @xian

    China’s relationship with Palestine and Israel seems to be counter example to that. China has excellent relations with both Palestine and Israel and it also has good relations with many countries in the world that are at tension with each other.

  17. melektaus
    October 25th, 2011 at 13:19 | #17

    @colin

    It’s gonna become much harder to separate one’s own interest from the interests of others in the world of globalization. I also mentioned some moral difficulties with being isolationist.

  18. October 26th, 2011 at 02:06 | #18

    @Allen
    That all sounds very reasonable. If not for the fact that American foreign policy doesn’t operate on a rational level, otherwise you wouldn’t have Libya, Iraq 1&2, and many other equally perplexing fuck ups in the name of the empire. Anglos don’t follow, it’s not in their nature. They would rather burn it down than to follow someone else, much less a non-white led world. The British have a long history of hedging against continental Europe because they could never resign themselves to becoming subordinate to some greater continental power. The same mentality runs through Americans. If you have any doubts than there is always the Manifest destiny and Monroe doctrine; and the last decade to show that there has been no change in this thinking.

    @YinYang
    Sharing “responsibility”? Sure. Ceding power? Not so much.
    I mean what is sharing responsibility anyway? Where everyone agrees to bomb and starve brown people at the behest of America? Don’t want to? Well that’s being irresponsible in USAs book.

    Anyway, I don’t really think it’s possible for China to isolationist even if they wanted. The west is simply too intrusive to not use China as a bogeyman when it suits them. How and what China will do in the face of all this opposition will be interesting.

  19. zack
    October 26th, 2011 at 10:53 | #19

    @Cockroach
    the Western political mind, despite claiming to champion morality, respects only power; this was demonstrated when the allied powers betrayed the Chinese after WW1 and were about to given German concessions in Shandong to the Japanese.
    And you can see it today; the reason westerners respect China today is not out of admiration, but more out of fear; the Chinese had to pry respect out of those same westerners who still plot to undermine China at every turn.

    How should China respond?
    the thing is the CCP certainly know how to play the game; sure France, try to deny Chinese companies their rightful due in Libya? expect your pet project, the EU to go down in flames.
    Sure, USA, calling us out on the Yuan? we’ll devalue it even more and maybe sell a few Treasuries.

    that’s how you get respect out of the white man.

  20. vokoyo
    October 26th, 2011 at 19:07 | #20

    當我們看中國的外交,卻發現她很多時會在違背自身價值觀和利益的情況下,向各國妥協。可見中國外交的失敗。

    中共所實行的睦鄰政策,可說是徹底的失敗。中共現在的領導人奉行鄧小平那套所謂的「韜光養晦」政策。但其實,這只是一種逃避挑戰的鴕鳥政策。當今中國所面臨的惡劣國際環境,則決定了這種鴕鳥政策必然失敗。

    在這種鴕鳥政策主導下,中國外交不僅畏首畏尾,更胸無大志,既沒有系統的外交戰略,也沒有長遠的外交目標。這種頭痛醫頭、腳痛醫腳式的外交政策,直接導致中國外交在面對各種挑釁時束手無策,盡顯軟弱之態,面對大好機遇時,也因毫無戰略準備而無所作為。

    對朝鮮對印度對日本甚至是越南,中國都是畏首畏尾,一昧退讓,實行韜光養晦。本來,鄧小平的韜光養晦,是指平時積蓄力量,關鍵時刻果斷出手,是一種積極進取的外交思維。但現在,卻成了一種鴕鳥政策,令人無奈。

    其實,按照中國現在的實力,根本不用如此讓步,中共對東南亞國家,對日本,甚至是越南朝鮮,都讓得太多。完全顯示不到大國風範,畏首畏尾的外交政策,只會令中國人蒙羞!

    至於對印度和越南的外交處理手法,中共簡直令人覺得恥辱。情況就好像當年清政府打贏法國,但仍然賠償法國一樣。令人覺得是絕大的恥辱。

    中國在和日本,越南,俄羅斯,印度等周遍強國的政治經濟往來中,沒有佔到多少便宜,也沒有讓這些列強放棄對中國崛起的偏見和敵視,自身利益不斷被侵占,不能不說中國的外交政策有很大缺陷,這是中國國家佈局計劃和外交政策慘敗的最佳體現。

    中國常常想成為一等一的大國,但他的外交卻事事以懦弱的方式勉強了事,實在不能給人任何強國的風範。

  21. Terry Chen
    October 27th, 2011 at 08:09 | #21

    vokoyo,

    China sticks to its own business. Although it might seem cowardly to seem, China DOES stand up for its national interests, e.g. protecting its own natural resources.

    Apart from that, China’s recent veto prevented Nato from commiting further atrocities in syria.

  22. October 28th, 2011 at 13:10 | #22

    @vokoyo #20,

    In general please do not post a comment (the same exact comment) in multiple threads…

    My response to you in another thread can be found here http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2011/09/fudan-university-professor-and-director-of-center-for-american-studies-shen-dingli-a-blow-to-sino-us-ties/#comment-45724.

    Thank You.

  23. October 28th, 2011 at 13:45 | #23

    @Cockroach #18

    I agree that many in the West feel comfortable with an Asian-led world. However, that type of attitude can change soon enough…

    Before the 17th century, Europe held China in high regard. Then with industrialization and China being left behind, it soon began to be regarded as “backward.”

    Things change quickly to match reality…

  24. zack
    October 28th, 2011 at 17:27 | #24

    @Allen
    becuase of everything that’s happened these past 3 centuries, i think a lot’s changed; westerners are more comfortable with the prejudice that their culture and ways are superior to China’s, hence the consistent demands for China to westernise and christianise and democratize.

    i’ve heard a lot of westerners say something to the effect that they’d rather die or go to war, than have to defer to China as their hegemon; pride is something that blinds ppl into making racist and prejudicial statements.

    you can see something of this superiority complex when it comes to China; when China makes a scientific advancement, it’s a ‘copy’ of a western item, probably Russian; copious articles on forbes.com wax lyrical about ‘why can’t Chinese innovate, but copy, copy, copy’etc etc, never mind that Chinese have been innovating for the past 5000 years.
    so it comes as a deep sense of shock to these same westerners when China surpasses them in scientific study, in quantum research or stealth technology.

  25. October 28th, 2011 at 21:20 | #25

    @zack #24

    All true…

    But I still think these are short-term prejudices that can be fixed up inh one or two generations ….

  26. zack
    October 28th, 2011 at 22:03 | #26

    @Allen
    we can only hope;
    it certainly doesn’t help things when the most celebrated historian of the West-Niall Ferguson- used to be quite the cheerleader for the Bush doctrine; i hazard a guess he always wanted to see a return to an anglophone empire of the 19th century. Of course this was before his ‘Chimerica’ theory which can be summed up as ‘China saves and works for the US, Americans benefit’ as a sort of neo-imperialistic relation between nations.

  27. silentvoice
    October 29th, 2011 at 10:15 | #27

    @Allen
    I suggest IP banning vokoyo. The same comments appeared in more than 4 pages of google searches all over the internet, in both traditional and simplified chinese. This “person” is probably a bot.

    @zack
    Yep the central theme of Niall’s book ‘Colossus’ is that the American empire is a benign one and the US should openly embrace that role.

  28. xian
    November 2nd, 2011 at 17:00 | #28

    @melektaus
    But that would change if China were to openly back either one, that’s the point

  29. November 2nd, 2011 at 18:46 | #29

    @xian

    No, you’re missing the point. China has always backed Palestine with no repercussions. Take a look at its UN voting history including the most recent Unesco vote. The reason it does that is because it takes a pragmatic approach and does not mince words with Israel. That’s the kind of attitude the world (especially the US) should take towards Israel. China is a counter example in that it can maintain good relations with Israel and still vote in accord with international law and the rest of the international community. Israel has no choice if it wants to do business with China.

  30. xian
    November 2nd, 2011 at 19:47 | #30

    @melektaus
    I know, but those are decisions on an international platform. The UN vote is enough for me, like I said. I’m talking at a more grassroots level. The reason China has good relations with both is because there is no emotional bias between these parties. Most Chinese I know regard the region as troubled, but there is no political allegiance/enmity in their hearts and minds. I’d guess the same is true over there, they’re more concerned with the whole West/Israel vs Islam thing. Maybe our ideas of “engagement” different, but neutral feelings don’t last if a country starts making political statements and/or offering material support. That’s what China needs to avoid.

  31. November 3rd, 2011 at 14:25 | #31

    @xian

    I know, but those are decisions on an international platform.

    That’s what this whole thread is about. That’s why it’s called “China’s role in the international community”.

    I’m not saying that China should have “enmity” towards either side. There is a difference between supporting justice and law and having “enmity.”

    Again, I am saying that China should go further in supporting international justice, law and conflict resolution. That doesn’t mean it should have enmity for anyone. It may mean that it would have to support one side (the side that is the just side) at the expense of another (the unjust side) in many ways. So again, I’m not sure that you understood my points.

  32. xian
    November 4th, 2011 at 02:02 | #32

    @melektaus
    That’s a rather rosy view IMO
    Justice is relative and law is what the countries make of it, and international law is flaunted all the time. It’s only easy to go along with international guidelines if it suits needs or isn’t too detracting. If a China-friendly nation were to run afoul of some Israel/Palestine-like controversy, it would be unwise for China to pressure them with international norms at the risk of losing a supporter. In the end it is still about realpolitik. Pride and feelings far supersede any sort of reasoning, law or logic in international relations. What is just or aggressive only depends on which side people are standing on. So unless there is money at stake, I don’t really see why China needs to bother with any of this.

  33. November 4th, 2011 at 14:25 | #33

    xian :
    @melektaus
    That’s a rather rosy view IMO

    But in this case, it’s also the reality.

    Justice is relative and law is what the countries make of it, and international law is flaunted all the time.

    Sometimes it is (sometimes it’s not) which is exactly why China should speak its voice to defend its interesting and those of other developing countries. It needs to assert itself and be an active participant and also help enforce the laws already in existence when they are violated.

    It’s only easy to go along with international guidelines if it suits needs or isn’t too detracting.

    If a China-friendly nation were to run afoul of some Israel/Palestine-like controversy, it would be unwise for China to pressure them with international norms at the risk of losing a supporter.

    That’s where good diplomacy would come in handy. China is getting better at that and that is in the direction which it will need to develop if it is to become a successful member of the international community (and that is the direction it is currently moving toward).

    In the end it is still about realpolitik. Pride and feelings far supersede any sort of reasoning, law or logic in international relations.

    No, not always. That may be how some nations do things but most are usually law obeying, sincere and rational actors. China is also among this group.

    What is just or aggressive only depends on which side people are standing on.

    This is silly. No Chinese would ever say that Japan’s evil invasion of China “depends on which side people are standing on.” No. It was wrong through and through. Anyone who doesn’t see that is clearly morally deficient. Anyone who doesn’t see the Nazi invasion as morally and legally unjust is clearly morally deficient.

  34. xian
    November 4th, 2011 at 16:45 | #34

    @melektaus
    I’m afraid that’s moralist thinking. It only seems natural to take those positions because there is a large consensus and overwhelming support for those views on the Japanese invasion, the Nazis, and to a lesser extent the Israel/Palestine matter. But what if there isn’t? What if there were many Jewish nations who take Israel’s side? What if Japan is a larger, more influential country with more voices and more backers of an apologist history? Taking sides would create real enemies. China has only avoided this by carefully picking what is acceptable to support (i.e. internationally popular), and its position as an ‘outside’ 3rd party not too invested in regional politics. That neutrality needs to maintained at all costs.

    Or to use real examples: Should China bring Turkey to task on Ottoman colonialism or the Armenian genocide? Should we be vocal about human rights abuses in Myanmar? Should China condemn the Iranian leadership for making anti-semitic remarks? Do we want to make a huge fuss to Pakistan about harboring Uighur terrorists? Or play up the narrative about crony oligarchs and rising nationalism in Russia? Or take Sudan, a trading partner, to international court for engaging and abetting genocide? No, and Beijing doesn’t – because that doesn’t suit interests.

    You say that most nations are sincere and rational, yet I can think of none barring small, insignificant countries. All people care for and act in the interests of their own people, their nation, and those most similar to them. 99% of the time ‘justice’ and ‘morals’ are only excuses for their actions, and weapons to wield against competitors. Even truth is selective.

    There have been Western speculation on when China will “join the international community” and “be a responsible member”, but I find it to be shaded commentary – an attempt to pull China into acting according to their moral norms. The hard truth is that no nation is obliged to interfere with any other no matter how evil a situation may seem, and those that do only provide a good excuse for their enemies to point fingers. So outside its functions at the UN, I don’t believe it’s prudent to take any sort of role in international politics.

  35. November 4th, 2011 at 17:04 | #35

    @xian

    Your denials of the existence of morality is simply unconvincing. You are probably the type to first complain and whine at any sign of injustice to yourself or people you know. Your kind of moral nihilism is a very naive view and I’ve seen it often in freshman college students who have never thought about the issues hard enough.. Like I said, the Japanese invasion was immoral and the Nazi actions were too, public opinion has nothing to do with it. I think that basic confusion lays at the heart of it.

    That neutrality needs to maintained at all costs.

    This is the fallacy of neutrality in international affairs. there is no such thing anymore. Not taking a hard stance is taking a stance.

    Even truth is selective.

    Which means that everything you said was “selective” and hence, not true in any sense that refutes anything I said. Let’s think a little harder, shall we?

    You say that most nations are sincere and rational, yet I can think of none barring small, insignificant countries.

    Then you should learn more about the world.

    All people care for and act in the interests of their own people, their nation, and those most similar to them.

    The problem with your view is is that often acting in one’s own interest is acting to benefit others. Acting in a selfish immoral way often hurts one’s own interests. You should read up on the work that has been done in the last 50 years in evolutionary biology and in behavioral economics.

    You can begin with these:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism_in_animals

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_morality

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_ethics

    There have been Western speculation on when China will “join the international community” and “be a responsible member”, but I find it to be shaded commentary – an attempt to pull China into acting according to their moral norms.

    This is a very silly quote. China is already a member of the international community.

    The hard truth is that no nation is obliged to interfere with any other no matter how evil a situation may seem, and those that do only provide a good excuse for their enemies to point fingers

    And on what basis do you find this “hard truth”? Certainly not “selectively” I hope?

  36. xian
    November 4th, 2011 at 19:01 | #36

    @melektaus
    I am seeing a lot of personal jabs but not too many arguments. I am not denying morality exists, I am saying they play little part in politics. Group dynamics and personal relationships are not the same as international diplomacy. If anything it is the moralist view that is promoted by those too naive to see the world realistically, something I find less common amongst Chinese than Westerners.

    Public opinion has everything to do with it, in fact. If we lived in a world with less Chinese and less ideological allies, you could find the majority of humans concluding that China staged an illegal invasion of Tibet, because that is the selective truth they believe in. If there were only a few million Chinese and a billion Japanese, who twist, whitewash, downplay or pull some sort of “we were liberating Asia from Europeans” narrative, then what? If they cast the resistance in a negative political light, “they were oppressive/backwards/violent”, “most deaths were from famine”, and repeated this over the world until it became a legitimate viewpoint, then what? The truth is what people make of it, to suit their own interests. Just because there are some strong positions doesn’t mean you should take moral conclusions for granted.

    I agree that no country is truly neutral, but it’s a safe bet that China is not as partial as other major powers in terms of actions. That’s a good thing. If you believe there are really countries that act virtuously and not just out of self-interest, then you can name some and we’ll discuss them.

  37. November 5th, 2011 at 00:08 | #37

    @xian #36

    Agreed.

    I strongly oppose viewing international politics / laws in moral / normative terms. Such approach is for the consumption of the naive masses.

    Seeing politics / laws in moral terms is a result of the false propaganda of Just Wars – when there are no such things (not that there is such things as unjust wars either – just wars).

    I reserve “moral” issues that concern common humanity – that cuts across cultures.

    When we talk about politics, the best we can do is to evoke notions of “justice” – which evokes notions of what is “fair.” Is it fair for Japan to unite / lead / colonize / conquer Asia? (many Asians believe otherwise). Or we can simply appeal to basic notions of politics: we don’t want Japan to rule us even if they are good for us, simply because we want another polity.

    But I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with a Japanese-led Asia. None of the issues there really involve “morality” – or ethics.

    I have written extensively in the last 3 years or so against seeing the world in moralist terms. That’s the Christian way of looking at things – or justifying wars … of justifying colonization (white mans burden).

    Take a clear look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict we recently discussed: it’s ultimately not about ethics, it’s ultimately just about politics. Being anti-war (any war, not just specific wars) is taking a true ethical stand. Anything less – I believe – is simply using ethics to sugarcoat hard politics (see e.g. War is a Lie).

  38. November 5th, 2011 at 12:55 | #38

    @xian

    Actually, I have offered arguments but you haven’t substantively responded. You’ve only managed slogans and vague pronoucenements much like Otto and many of the pro-Tibet camp has.

    I am not denying morality exist

    Of course you are. If you’re not then what you have said is simply nonsense (but I already knew that). The fact remains that japans invasion was wrong. Your blind denials notwithstanding simply are baseless. We need international law and justice at the international level to try to prevent actions like that from ever happening. And international law (with China’s participation) is moving in that direction and that is a good thing.

    If anything it is the moralist view that is promoted by those too naive to see the world realistically, something I find less common amongst Chinese than Westerners.

    I am beginning to think that your “disagreement” is based on a fundamental misunderstanding what I am saying. You seem to think that “moralizing” is what the western powers have done in international affairs in the last 400 years including imperialism and colonialism and slavery and aggressive wars they have waged.

    If sop you have completely missed the boat. That is NOT what I meant when I say that China should get more involved in international affairs and be a supporter of justice at the international level. In fact, the western power DID NOT moralize in the sense I am using. They did the opposite of imposing morality (and justice) at the international level. They harmed justice at the international level with imperialism and so forth. I made this very clear in my original post.

    You are confusing rhetoric with fact. Western pronouncements of “moralizing” at the international level was just that, rhetoric used to impose decidedly immoral acts. You now admit that there is such things as right and wrong (i.e. morality) and I would also presume you see the Japanese invasion and Nazi regime as immoral as most of humanity including most Chinese. The question is whether there are means to prevent actions like that from happening again. I am arguing that the best means towards that end to through participation in the international community through peacekeeping, conflict resolution, and the international courts and also debates within international community issues. You simply haven’t even touched on that main claim I was making. You’ve merely made vague claims about “morality” and “truth” being “selective” and so forth. I think once this is better understood, you’d see that you are not even understanding what I am saying at some fundamental level and your “objections” are baseless.

    You are wrong about the Japanese invasion being wrong as “selectively true.” You are wrong about China’s “occupation” of Tibet as being “selectively true”. It is not true. China does not occupy Tibet. The fact that the earth is round is not “selectively true”. It is just true. That much is obvious and any denial to these basic facts are based on contradiction.

    If you believe there are really countries that act virtuously and not just out of self-interest, then you can name some and we’ll discuss them.

    That’s incredibly easy. China. China continuous to act virtuously even *at the cost* of self interest. It’s humanitarian missions in third world countries (recent incidents which has been posted by other posters) demonstrate this clearly. China doesn’t have any immediate self interest in Somalia or the Caribbean. Yet it has donated millions in grain ($70 million which is the largest of any country) worth to Somalia. China has sent medical teams to the poor Caribbean nations when these nations have little in the way of offering a large powerful nation like China in return. China now has the largest peacekeeping force for the UN. Again, that is just one example, there are millions of others. I suggest you read up on world affairs.

    The fact is (not a “selective” fact) that China is moving towards more involvement in the international arena and this is partially or even mainly motivated by its wishes to be responsible and for international justice (understandable because it was victim to large injustice in the past). China’s leaders and I see that China cannot afford to be isolationist and only self-interested. Isolationism and mere self-interest got China into its century of humiliation. It’s a shame that some people refuse to see that fact.

  39. November 5th, 2011 at 13:28 | #39

    Allen :
    @xian #36

    I reserve “moral” issues that concern common humanity – that cuts across cultures.

    Again, I fear that you and xian have massively misunderstood what I have said. What do you think I mean by morality, justice and international law? Do you think that I actually deny that moral issues should be “reserved for issues that concern common humanity-that cuts across cultures?” If so where have I said I denied it?

    But my claim is based on that understanding. But I would add that law, by its very nature, is moral. Why ought murder be illegal? Because it is bad for business? No. Because it is immoral. Granted, some law have no moral basis but the entire conception of law is by its nature a moral one. That much is so obvious to me that it’s not even worth arguing about. Why ought genocide and aggressive military invasion be illegal at the international level? Because it is bad for business? No. Again, because it is immoral. Why ought there be environmental law protecting the world from pollution? Because polluting is bad for business? Clearly not (often the opposite is true). So I’m not sure on what ground your claims are based on. they seem to be wholly confused and groundless.

    When we talk about politics, the best we can do is to evoke notions of “justice” – which evokes notions of what is “fair.” Is it fair for Japan to unite / lead / colonize / conquer Asia? (many Asians believe otherwise). Or we can simply appeal to basic notions of politics: we don’t want Japan to rule us even if they are good for us, simply because we want another polity.

    What are these “basic notions of politics”? Give me an example of a “basic notion of politics” that invokes no notion of justice as *I understood it* in my post. Like I said, you simply misunderstood what I have meant by justice. I don’t mean what some particular group thinks is justice (but really are acting in self-interest etc) but what we can agree on at the international level and which we can live with given all the considerations we have given to each other in the form of reasons. But that is how international politics through the rule of law works. So for you to say that this isn’t justice at work is like for you to say that bachelors are not single. But that’s just what people (including myself) mean by justice, not some parochial, culture specific, view based on nothing more than self-interest and worthy of cynicism.

    But I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with a Japanese-led Asia.

    But who said anything about “inherent” “Japanese-led Asia”? I don’t even know what that means. I was talking about the *actual invasion* not Japanese *leading* any country. The *invasion* resulted in millions of dead Chinese that were unjustly killed by aggressive foreign invasion.

    Do you think that this was unjust in a broad sense or not? If so do you not see that this contradicts what you have said? Would you also deny that it would have been right and just (again, in a broad sense) that had some country helped China in fighting the Japanese and helping the Chinese to prevent atrocities like the Nanjing massacre that would have been the right thing to do? If you deny this (and it seems you are) then on what ground do you have to complain that japan shouldn’t have committed all those atrocities? Or do you support Japanese atrocities? Or maybe you have no feelings whatsoever about it? If you agree that it would have the been the right thing to do if a foreign power (or a developed system of international law) had stepped in to help China then that would contradict what you have said.

    None of the issues there really involve “morality” – or ethics.
    I have written extensively in the last 3 years or so against seeing the world in moralist terms. That’s the Christian way of looking at things – or justifying wars … of justifying colonization (white mans burden).

    No, you are confusing Christian “morality” with morality. What Christians say isn’t always the truth. There is such a thing as morality developed by China or other religions and philosophies. Christian “morality” is not morality at all but immoral beliefs and behavior (or at least much of it. Some of it is moral, however).

    Take a clear look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict we recently discussed: it’s ultimately not about ethics, it’s ultimately just about politics. Being anti-war (any war, not just specific wars) is taking a true ethical stand. Anything less – I believe – is simply using ethics to sugarcoat hard politics (see e.g. War is a Lie).

    I think you are just playing word games. What I meant by “morality” and “justice” may simply be what you mean by “politics.” So you’re not even touching on my claims.

    I am using “morality” in a broad sense, not in a Christian sense. Both Chinese and westerners can usually agree that murder, torture genocide and aggressive invasion such as seen from imperial Japan and Nazi Germany was wrong. It’s not just a “political” perspective that it is wrong (I don’t even know what that means to see something as *wrong* politically but not morally). It’s not a Christian idea that it is wrong (in fact, Christianity does not forbid Genocide and aggressive wars but often prescribe it. Read the Bible). It is a human idea. If you agree that it is wrong then what do you have against the idea that there should be some form of international body using legal enforcement or using conflict resolution and other methods either preventive or punitive to prevent it? That is really the heart of the matter.

  40. November 5th, 2011 at 13:44 | #40

    I’m beginning to think that there should be a new word invented to replace “morality” and “justice” because it seems to cause so many people top get confused. What I meant by the term is what secular moral philosophers (which is to say almost all philosophers east and west) have meant by it, not what Christians mean by it. Perhaps we need to incorporate a Chinese cognate from Chinese ethical systems so as to avoid confusion. But the content will be the same, it is simply a way to avoid verbal confusion. Chinese philosophy has lots of resources for this. Many moral concepts and terms are already in existence from Chinese philosophy.

  41. xian
    November 5th, 2011 at 15:15 | #41

    @melektaus
    No, I am not confused. I think you need to calm down and go easy on the passive aggressiveness. You’re intent on injecting morals and ethics into politics, where they don’t really belong. I didn’t say morality doesn’t exist, your claim that I did rests on little more than “YES YOU DID”. For the record I do think what Japan and Germany did was wrong, not sure how you interpreted otherwise. The question is, does everyone think it was wrong? Most people do, but a minority don’t. Valid or not, they have their own reasons and they may find them true. And what if they were not a minority? I’m sure you know what moral relativism is.

    I’ve been saying this whole time that countries use morality as an excuse to exercise their self interests, which you seem to agree with. What is the problem? I think the issue is that you are separating rhetoric from fact, which it usually isn’t. Especially not in politics.

    There are people in the US who believe it’s right to block Palestine from statehood. There are people who genuinely believe invading Iraq or bombing Libya was doing justice for the world. Do you? So what makes you think your version of justice will be seen as justice around the world and not unwelcome interference? It’s easy to say under current circumstances that backing Palestine is the moral thing to do, and that we’ve faced little backlash, but only because most of the world shares that sentiment. What if they didn’t? China has selected to back them because 1. it’s safe 2. it suits interests. Would you like to take a moral grandstand against oppression/human rights issues in the Islamic world? Or in a China-friendly country like Myanmar? Or tell Turkey they should yield their stolen land back to the Kurds? Beijing doesn’t, because it would turn the Muslim world against China – and they’re not stupid. If you are implying that your justice is true justice while someone’s opposing view of justice is only a mask for self-interest, that’s just absurd. It could be either one, both ways (usually the latter).

    Ah, aid. Every country that can gives aid, and none ever give so much as to dent their GDP. I won’t deny there is populist compassion for those suffering far away, but that’s as far as it goes. On a government level, it is at most a gesture, if only to keep up reputation amongst other donor nations. The Americans show up with aid and money every time something happens, yet I think we both agree it hasn’t stopped them from acting in their own interests when serious geopolitical events occur.

    I believe you have confounded material and economic isolationism with political isolationism, I hope that was not intentional?

  42. November 5th, 2011 at 16:13 | #42

    xian :
    @melektaus
    You’re intent on injecting morals and ethics into politics, where they don’t really belong.

    You are definitely confused. First of all, you cannot “inject” morality into politics because politics is already by its nature a moral venture. Again, I am using morality in very broad terms, terms which you have misunderstood.

    You said that morality and ethics don’t belong in “politics”. but then any system of politics is as good as any other. there would be no reason to pick one over the other. the reason why people choose one system of politics or politcal action over another is due to broadly speaking moral reasons.

    The fact remains that Japan’s invasion of China was wrong (in a moral sense). If you say that it is wrong in a moral sense, that is making BOTH a moral AND a political claim. Why? because war and invasion are political actions waged by political bodies (states). If you say that it is NOT wrong, you are either denying ethics or saying that it was morally correct to invade and kill millions of innocent people. So again, I am asking you which is it? Are you denying morality or are you saying that japan did the right thing in invading and killing millions of Chinese?

    I didn’t say morality doesn’t exist, your claim that I did rests on little more than “YES YOU DID”.

    That’s because you did deny it existed. You just don’t know what I mean by morality. If I say that “I am a bachelor” and you deny that I am a “single adult male” you have denied what I said even though you did not specifically used “bachelor” in your denial. That’s because you have failed to understand what the term “bachelor” even means. I think your confusion is stemming from a misunderstanding of what I mean by morality and justice and maybe even politics. What I mean by politics is just what political scientists and philosophers have meant by it, that is, it is already a moral and ethical venture.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_philosophy

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_science#History

    So I am rightly annoyed by your ignorance and refusal to acknowledging that you are not understanding the terms I am using. If I am denying one of your claims, I should at least try to understand what you mean by your claims. Or else my denial is baseless. Since your counter claims simply are based on a different (and I would say confused) understanding of what I meant in my post, your simply not really understanding the issue.

    For the record I do think what Japan and Germany did was wrong, not sure how you interpreted otherwise.

    Then you have also made a political claim. Their actions were political actions. Invading a sovereign country militarily is a political action based on political decisions and morality is at the heart of politics. Which is why your argument that morality shouldn’t be involved in politics doubly silly.

    The question is, does everyone think it was wrong? Most people do, but a minority don’t.

    Again, you are confused. This isn’t about what a minority thinks. You affirm that there is morality and that the Japanese invasion is wrong. Do you also affirm that states ought to have intervened or maybe a system of international law ought to prevent it or similar cases from happening in the future? That is the million dollar question. Any reframing the issue into vague and nebulous concepts you are using is to throw red herrings into the issue.

    I am saying that systems of law and other international bodies ought top be in place to prevent such actions in the future by punitive or other methods (such as conflict resolution etc) because such actions are wrong and ought to be prevented. I also claimed that China ought to participate as much as it could in that. I think you have misunderstood these basic claims for something else and this confusion is at the heart of all your “objections”. What specifically do you object to these basic claims I have made?

    There are people who genuinely believe invading Iraq or bombing Libya was doing justice for the world. Do you?

    Of course not. But again, you miss the whole point. If invading Iraq was wrong (and we both seem to agree that it is) what should be done about it? That is the million dollar question. What ought to be done about invasions and genocides and killings of innocents such as the Chinese by the imperial Japanese. you say “nothing”. I say that the best way to reduce the chances of these kinds of things happening in the future is to establish bodies of governing such as international legal institutions and conflict resolution and that China needs to participate in the creation and the maintaining of those institutions and bodies. What do you have against THAT basic idea? Keep in mind that China is already doing this at a massive level and sees the need to continue to further do that. What specifically do you have against that?

    You’ve keep managing to build strawman arguments and use vague language and evasion of the issue.

    What if they didn’t?

    What if the sky fell? What if they become angry at China for NOT doing anything? What if some state invades China for its being isolationist like during the 19th century? What if by China being isolationist and not participating in the international community some other countries impose laws and regulations detrimental to China well-being like it has happened the last 200 years? These are far more relevant questions you need to ask.

  43. November 5th, 2011 at 16:23 | #43

    Here’s the million dollar questions for “xian”.

    1. Do you think that the Japanese invasion of China or similar military invasions are wrong?

    2. If yes, what do you wish to do about it to prevent similar invasions in the future?

    I said that I think the best way to avoid this is through building up of international law and other international conflict resolution bodies and that China ought to participate in that creation and maintenance to better insure that its position is heard.

    Now what is your objection to this?

  44. November 5th, 2011 at 17:05 | #44

    Another important question for “xian” which I have asked but you have yet to respond.

    You said that truth was “selective.” Now are your claims in this thread “selectively true”? If so why should any one heed to your “selective truth”?

    Why should China heed to your recommendations (as opposed to mine) to isolate itself if your recommendations are only “selectively true” (from your perspective only)?

  45. xian
    November 5th, 2011 at 17:25 | #45

    @melektaus
    I am afraid what is actually vague is your equation of politics and morality, which you seem to base your entire argument upon. Since you claim greater understanding, please explain to me, without abstractions, how the two are one and the same. I don’t see where I denied the existence of morality, so you may want to point it out instead of resorting to analogies.

    You seem to be throwing up some kind of false dichotomy where either I agree with you, or I’m supporting the Japanese invasion. I didn’t say China should do “nothing” when Chinese people are being slaughtered either, how did you arrive at this?

    I believe it is you who are missing the main point. You say “-if #### was wrong, then…”, but the real question is, what do you do when others don’t think it’s wrong? Force your conclusions on them? You’re not really addressing moral relativism, or why China doesn’t do any of the things I’ve listed.

    I doubt the sky will fall, but I find that anger is more directed at the participating sides than a neutral party. They’re less likely to come to harm as well. I am not supporting isolationism in the Ming-Qing sense, you have again confused that with political isolationism. Should someone try to act in detriment to China, then it concerns China, thus China is free to act.

    Here are the answers to your questions:

    1. Yes
    2. An international framework like you said will deter aggressors via collective threat, and being a wealthy, powerful nation doesn’t hurt either

    So we are in agreement. But what does that have to do with what I said? I’m saying pressuring countries through international fora will make you enemies, even if you believe the cause was just. Enemies are not something you want. Just because you call it “international involvement”, which you advocate in the first post, doesn’t mean those on the receiving end won’t resent you for it. I’ve been saying China should represent itself at the UN as a point of duty, but go no further lest it gets entangled in some regional conflict and turns one or more groups into an anti-China mindset. Now what do you have against that?

  46. xian
    November 5th, 2011 at 17:31 | #46

    @melektaus
    It doesn’t need to. I’ve highlighted what I believe to express my opinions, much as you have. Whether or not either of us will have an impact depends on who’s listening and who’s agreeing.

  47. November 5th, 2011 at 17:53 | #47

    @xian

    xian :
    @melektaus
    I am afraid what is actually vague is your equation of politics and morality,

    The problem is I never “equated” the two. I said that politics is inherently moral concept. That doesn’t mean they are the same things. Politics is just morality (as I am using the term) at an organized social level. the concept of bachelor is inherently a male concept. There is no such thing as a female bachelor. But does that mean that the concept of “bachelor” and “male” are equal? No. They mean very different things.

    which you seem to base your entire argument upon. Since you claim greater understanding, please explain to me, without abstractions, how the two are one and the same.

    I already did:

    Politics is just morality (as I am using the term) at an organized social level.

    I believe it is you who are missing the main point. You say “-if #### was wrong, then…”, but the real question is, what do you do when others don’t think it’s wrong?

    No, I’am asking YOU what do you do when someone does something morally wrong? that is the million dollar question. I said that we should use compromise, law, rational debate at the international level and conflict resolution. These are, in my usage, moral moves. You have yet to even respond to this which is why my charge that you are confused and misunderstood what I have said is 100% accurate. Without these moves what is left? Wars and “forcing” one’s own views on others (which is not moral). So it is really your claims that would produce forcing one’s own conclusions on others, not mine.

    Force your conclusions on them? You’re not really addressing moral relativism, or why China doesn’t do any of the things I’ve listed.
    I doubt the sky will fall, but I find that anger is more directed at the participating sides than a neutral party. They’re less likely to come to harm as well. I am not supporting isolationism in the Ming-Qing sense, you have again confused that with political isolationism. Should someone try to act in detriment to China, then it concerns China, thus China is free to act.

    Who said that you were advocating “isolationism of the Ming era”? But isolationism is what you are indeed advocating.

    Here are the answers to your questions:
    1. Yes
    2. An international framework like you said will deter aggressors via collective threat, and being a wealthy, powerful nation doesn’t hurt either
    So we are in agreement.

    Then what specifically do you object to what I have said? remember it was YOU that objected to what I said. What does anything you have said have to do with what I have said?

    But what does that have to do with what I said?

    Nothing apparently which makes all your objections baseless and makes my claim that your objections are based on a misunderstanding of what I mean by politics, morality and international law and justice..

    I’m saying pressuring countries through international fora will make you enemies, even if you believe the cause was just.

    It will also make you a lot more friends. It will also make your own interests protected.

    Enemies are not something you want.

    You keep repeating yourself. The problem is what should be done to reduce enemies and increase friends. I said that it is to support justice and law at the international level and to increase humanitarian missions and conflict resolution measures. Law protects oneself as well as others and conflict resolution and humanitarian missions etc will make lots friends. If you agree with this THEN YOU AGREE WITH WHAT I AM SAYING FUNDAMENTALLY.

    Just because you call it “international involvement”, which you advocate in the first post, doesn’t mean those on the receiving end won’t resent you for it. I’ve been saying China should represent itself at the UN as a point of duty, but go no further lest it gets entangled in some regional conflict and turns one or more groups into an anti-China mindset. Now what do you have against that?

    I already explain several times what additional measures beyond mere “duty” should be done (and what China is currently doing) and why they should be done. read what I said above.

  48. November 5th, 2011 at 18:48 | #48

    @melektaus #43

    1. Do you think that the Japanese invasion of China or similar military invasions are wrong?
    2. If yes, what do you wish to do about it to prevent similar invasions in the future?

    Yes, but I can’t find the reasons why. I don’t think the mere action of Japan launching its military forces against China make it wrong. I mean there was resistance in Germany against U.S. and Russian forces, yet today, history is written as if Germany was liberated.

    If they had won WWII and subdued China, its actions would be known today as the liberation of Eastern Asia from the corrupt and backward and anachronistic polity that was once known as China – not some sort of savage attack by a military empire.

    You characterized in an earlier comment the “Japanese invasion and Nazi regime as immoral” – but why? If they had won, don’t you think they can write a version of history in which they were not “immoral”? I don’t think it’d be that difficult.

    I said that I think the best way to avoid this is through building up of international law and other international conflict resolution bodies and that China ought to participate in that creation and maintenance to better insure that its position is heard.
    Now what is your objection to this?

    I have no objection to this, if the international law is just. We’ve got to remember, from the Western perspective, the Opium war was legal and just – taking into account all the circumstances at the time. Law can work for justice, but can also be an impediment to justice as well. It’s just a tool that can be manipulated. It may be just me, but I don’t have too much faith in it.

    You might ask of me: so what is my notion of “justice”? Where does my notion of “justice” come in?

    I don’t know.

    Some might argue that I think of whatever is good for China to be just…. Even that might not be so bad an idea. I mean, something that is good for all 1/5 can’t be that bad, can it?

    It might stem from some sort of omniscient empathy, where we see all of humanity as one – where each of us feel the pain and suffering of our “enemies” as well as our “friends.” Once we have that, we can have a sense of justice.

    But now I may be going into the deep end. No one – except saints – sees and feels the world through such lens…

  49. xian
    November 5th, 2011 at 19:10 | #49

    @melektaus
    Well now you’re just obscuring the language on already amorphous concepts. There’s no need to get emotional, sometimes in life people disagree with you. Alright, then explain to me, without abstractions, how exactly politics is just morality at an organized social level.

    Should someone do something morally wrong to China, then it is up to China to react. Should some injustice happen between others, then China should weigh its odds and act according to long-term interests – which usually entails not getting too involved. Was this not clear before?

    I’d say passing moral judgment on someone and/or acting on that judgment would be forcing one’s views much more than simply staying neutral. Not sure why you spun that backwards.

    I am definitely advocating political isolationism, but you keep harkening back to “19th century isolationism” as an argument, even though it seems you understand that brand of isolationism goes far beyond politics.

    I don’t agree that it would make more friends, I find resentment to be a more lasting force than gratitude. Those on the same side might find it a friendly gesture, but hatred runs much deeper. And that is assuming said country has more friends than enemies, which isn’t always the case.

    You appear to understand that non-violent “involvement” will cause political antagonism, yet you still fail to see my objections? Is this intentional? I think you are not grasping the problem because the risk is currently small. If China were to go mediate sincerely between Israel and Palestine, and resolved in favor of Israel, what do you think the world will say about China? It wouldn’t happen this time, but do you imagine the law will always align with popular views? Your reasoning for “additional measures” is only based on moral grounds, not realpolitik. If not, why doesn’t China seek justice to the countries I’ve listed?

    So what exactly do you have against non-interventionism?

  50. November 6th, 2011 at 12:55 | #50

    Allen :
    @melektaus #43

    1. Do you think that the Japanese invasion of China or similar military invasions are wrong?
    2. If yes, what do you wish to do about it to prevent similar invasions in the future?

    Yes, but I can’t find the reasons why.

    The reason is that it is morally wrong. Human beings are by nature moral creatures. Evolution has selected that we be a certain nature to better insure survival and a strategy that involves moral behavior was better than amoral or immoral behavior. The need for morality at the international level is all the more severe in the age of modern warfare and so forth. Besides that, somethings are just naturally bad. Needless suffering, violation of people’s rights without good reason and so forth. I think anyone that denies that ought to think deeply about how they would react if they were subject to certain kinds of victimhood like the Chinese at the immoral invasion of Nanjing etc or having one’s children raped and murdered as it happens to many people throughout the world. Then would they say that they “could not find a reason” why they should be so angry? Or would the reasons by obvious to them at that point?

    I don’t think the mere action of Japan launching its military forces against China make it wrong. I mean there was resistance in Germany against U.S. and Russian forces, yet today, history is written as if Germany was liberated. If they had won WWII and subdued China, its actions would be known today as the liberation of Eastern Asia from the corrupt and backward and anachronistic polity that was once known as China – not some sort of savage attack by a military empire.

    That’s highly doubtful. The United States has invaded many countries in the past and also been engaged in many immoral acts and yet we today even in the US believe these acts evil. Slavery, the Vietnam war etc and not only see as immoral, unjust by academics such as philosophers who deal with moral issues but by the general public.

    You characterized in an earlier comment the “Japanese invasion and Nazi regime as immoral” – but why?

    There’s several ways to cash this out such as in the fact that they causes tramendous needless suffering or the fact that they violated the human rights of the Chinese and the Chinese state’s sovereignty and so forth. I take it as axiomatic that unjust causing of suffering and murder is immoral, unjust etc. That needs no more explanation. To further try to “explain” “why” is to go more than needed; it’s like the child that keeps asking “why” something happens. It leads no where. Most humans want the world to be just and moral and do not want to suffer and be unjustly killed. That should be reason enough for most purposes to see that it would be wrong to inflict such evils on them. The fact remains, that we must build a world that avoids the evils of Japan and Nazi Germany and almost all people of the world desire a world without such evils. The question is not whether that universal desire is correct, the question is how do we institute such a world without such undesirable events? You or xian may opt for a no-holds-bard, lawless, might-makes-right, approach but that approach has never worked in the past. I suggest law, discourse, compromise, conflict resolution, building of caring inter and intra-national relationships through humanitarian courses. That is the approach I tried to explain in the first post.

    If they had won, don’t you think they can write a version of history in which they were not “immoral”? I don’t think it’d be that difficult.

    They could always write a history. The question is is it factual. Now look at Japan. At first, they denied all their atrocities in China (because they knew they were immoral). But such denials could not be sustained and it was mainly Japanese historians, historians that have the best access to the war records that made the historical case that these atrocities did indeed occur. One historian had to sue the government for trying to censor his textbooks dozens of times, winning every time. He won because the truth was on his side. Those atrocities left physical and eyewitness evidence. His books are now standard in Japan. Now there is still denial of the use of “comfort women” in Japan’s textbooks because of government censorship but the Nanjing massacre and all its details are now widely accepted among historians and even the general public in Japan. Their government has repeatedly apologized and acknowledged the atrocities. Japanese historians continue to offer evidence and try to get the facts as supported by evidence that Japan used comfort women.

    ALso look at the Turkish genocide of Armenians. The evidence that there was a genocide contrary to Turkish government denials was presented by Turkish historians. So no, you can’t just write whatever kind of history you like because that is not how academia works. There is such a thing as the peer review process, etc and evidence does come into the equation. The truth comes out because it tends to have more evidence to support it than falsifications of history.

    I have no objection to this, if the international law is just. We’ve got to remember, from the Western perspective, the Opium war was legal and just – taking into account all the circumstances at the time.

    How would you define “just”? What do you mean that from the western perspective it was “just”? I am not talking about western perspectives. I am talking about what is just. You seem to acknowledge that there is such as thing as justice beyond what people think (because they can be wrong) when you say that international law should be just. I assume that you mean that international law should not be “just” according to only what westerners only think or what Japanese only think but according to general principles that everyone can live with? Granted everyone will never completely agree but there is surely such a thing as improvement in the law and the building of further and further consensus and surely that is a desirable thing especially when compared to its alternative which is millions of dead innocent people in wars and genocies and so forth?

    International law must be democratic which helps to ensure its justice. By taking into account everyone’s conceptions of justice and working to get at a conception that everyone can live with by presenting reasons, evidence, and compromising, you arrive at a universal conception of justice. It takes a lot of work and it is a continual process but it is a process that avoids the might -makes-right worldview that has got the world to so many wars including the Nazis and the imperial Japanese invasions. We have no choice but to use non violent and democratic methods as I outlined to do avoid them. If you have a better idea of how to ensure justice in the world PLEASE TELL EVERYONE what they are. I’m sure every single person in the world would like to know and you may get the Nobel Peace prize.

    Law can work for justice, but can also be an impediment to justice as well.

    Yes, that is correct. But the question is what better option do we have? I suggested other ways in addition to law. I suggested compromise and conflict resolution. I also suggested preventive methods like humanitarian trips that build on goodwill. I also suggested that much of the weaknesses in the current laws and legal system ought to be perfected through working within the law through jurisprudential debates and said that China has important viewpoints to contribute. Do you have any better suggestions than these views? If so then I would gladly accept your solution over mine if you can prove to me and the world that your alternative is better. But as I see it, my suggestions are definitely the best option.

    It’s just a tool that can be manipulated. It may be just me, but I don’t have too much faith in it.
    You might ask of me: so what is my notion of “justice”? Where does my notion of “justice” come in?

    I have tremendous faith in the rule of law. Despite the fact that law doesn’t seem to be working that well at establishing justice in the US and the world, that is only because good law is presupposed on good people (those who make them and those who practice them). the problem with the west is that it has only focused on law as a mindless process that can work without benevolence. That is myth. It takes both good people and good law to make the world work. If you have a better suggestion that law may be totally avoided then I’d like to hear it. But if you suggest that some law must be required to make the world work, to ensure some degree of justice that can never be obtained otherwise then you have no issue with what I have said.

    Some day, all law may be obliterated (or at least all punitive laws) and the world is only composed of moral sages who do not need any law but that is not a realistic goal for the foreseeable future. I’m being a realist.

  51. November 6th, 2011 at 13:03 | #51

    xian :
    @melektaus
    Well now you’re just obscuring the language on already amorphous concepts. There’s no need to get emotional, sometimes in life people disagree with you.

    It’s not your disagreement, it’s your constant misconstruing my claims. You are confused by what I have said but instead of acknowledging this as a deficiency in your understanding, you pass the blame.

    Alright, then explain to me, without abstractions, how exactly politics is just morality at an organized social level.

    You’re just playing childish word games. Every adult and most children know the answer to this question. Politics organizes society through laws, institutions (both formal and informal) and that these institutions are for the overall good of the population. I know that this may be a little “abstract” for you but you need to deal with life as it has abstractions. Physics can be abstract and math can be abstract and philosophy and law can also be abstract but should these smart people stop what they are doing because some people like you cannot fathom the abstractions?

    So what exactly do you have against non-interventionism?

    Again, you are committing the false dichotomy fallacy I explain in the first post. I am for non interventionism in the sense of being against aggressive wars and so forth, just not isolationism. You are confusing these very different concepts. The question is how best to stop aggressive wars. isolationism did not work for China and in fact it made it vulnerable to aggressive wars.

  52. xian
    November 6th, 2011 at 16:50 | #52

    @melektaus
    Let me get this straight: you won’t give a clear relation between politics and morality, or address moral relativism, or say why Beijing doesn’t do the things I’ve listed, or name any nations that act morally, but you seem to understand that politics is a form of interventionism, that political isolationism isn’t 19th century isolationism – yet you argue based only on your definitions of the above…? It is most perplexing.

    Contrary to what you feel, I am not your enemy. So take it easy with the accusations and passive aggression.

    You are not alone either. This is a conversation I’ve had dozens of times. There are many people who take China’s position and progress for granted, refuse to acknowledge, let alone defend the moral sacrifices it took, all because they’re afraid it will make them “look bad”. When forced for argument they back into lofty ideals and try to pull me into an endless philosophical tangent. No thanks.

    Repeating those niceties about morals, laws and international responsibility is a fine strategy for building image. But at some point someone needs to handle the hard politics. When that time comes, do you act in your interests first, or do you buy into your own hype? All nations will claim to be on the side of justice. The words you are echoing are meant to placate the masses. There is a reason why the old men at Zhongnanhai don’t try to play diplomatic Superman around the world. They know it doesn’t end well.

    Thus far China has been soft spoken on outside events, voicing opinions expected of formality, offering words as a part of decorum, etc. It has served us well. Let’s keep it that way.

  53. November 7th, 2011 at 13:12 | #53

    xian :
    @melektaus
    Let me get this straight: you won’t give a clear relation between politics and morality, or address moral relativism, or say why Beijing doesn’t do the things I’ve listed, or name any nations that act morally, but you seem to understand that politics is a form of interventionism, that political isolationism isn’t 19th century isolationism – yet you argue based only on your definitions of the above…?

    I already gave very clear answers that most people understand. It’s not my problem that you cannot understand them. That is a problem with your lack of understanding, not my I said. You keep confusing and conflating very different concepts and that shows your lack of understanding. It’s really a lack of education and that is not “perplexing” at all. You OTOH, keep using vague terms (such as “hard politics” and “moral relativism”) This is a strategy to avoid making clear and substantive points because of a lack of substance. I;m dealing with reality. You with confused fantasy.

    I know that a world as we know it cannot manage without just laws. A world without laws is anarchy. You unfortunately don’t understand that basic fact as even most children understand it. Because I am a realist and know that if law is required, you better have the best laws you can make. You would rather have the world be totally isolationist and use a might-makes-right strategy which as we have already seen, causes the world to go into genocide and war. But you probably don;t care about that unless the victims are you or someone you care about (which makes a a severe hypocrite).

  54. wwww1234
    November 8th, 2011 at 05:55 | #54

    @xian
    “yet you argue based only on your definitions of the above…? ”

    Xian, your point is succinct. You dont agree with his definition so it is you who “dont understand”. But you should have adopted his definitions as by evolution, you would have developed the same “morality”.
    I am also one of those who is a mutant, by his definition. We all need to read up on “biology” to see why it is so.

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