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Yan Xuetong, “the country that displays more humane authority will win”

November 21st, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Professor of political science and dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, Yan Xuetong, recently had one of his Chinese essays translated by Zhaowen Wu and David Liu and published as an Op-Ed in the New York Times. Professor Yan is also the editor of The Chinese Journal of International Politics. He is a political realist and a ‘Chinese’ voice on matters of China’s rise, especially in relations to the United States. His essay below states that “the country that displays more humane authority will win” the world leadership race.

WITH China’s growing influence over the global economy, and its increasing ability to project military power, competition between the United States and China is inevitable. Leaders of both countries assert optimistically that the competition can be managed without clashes that threaten the global order.

Most academic analysts are not so sanguine. If history is any guide, China’s rise does indeed pose a challenge to America. Rising powers seek to gain more authority in the global system, and declining powers rarely go down without a fight. And given the differences between the Chinese and American political systems, pessimists might believe that there is an even higher likelihood of war.

I am a political realist. Western analysts have labeled my political views “hawkish,” and the truth is that I have never overvalued the importance of morality in international relations. But realism does not mean that politicians should be concerned only with military and economic might. In fact, morality can play a key role in shaping international competition between political powers — and separating the winners from the losers.

I came to this conclusion from studying ancient Chinese political theorists like Guanzi, Confucius, Xunzi and Mencius. They were writing in the pre-Qin period, before China was unified as an empire more than 2,000 years ago — a world in which small countries were competing ruthlessly for territorial advantage.

It was perhaps the greatest period for Chinese thought, and several schools competed for ideological supremacy and political influence. They converged on one crucial insight: The key to international influence was political power, and the central attribute of political power was morally informed leadership. Rulers who acted in accordance with moral norms whenever possible tended to win the race for leadership over the long term.

China was unified by the ruthless king of Qin in 221 B.C., but his short-lived rule was not nearly as successful as that of Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty, who drew on a mixture of legalistic realism and Confucian “soft power” to rule the country for over 50 years, from 140 B.C. until 86 B.C.

According to the ancient Chinese philosopher Xunzi, there were three types of leadership: humane authority, hegemony and tyranny. Humane authority won the hearts and minds of the people at home and abroad. Tyranny — based on military force — inevitably created enemies. Hegemonic powers lay in between: they did not cheat the people at home or cheat allies abroad. But they were frequently indifferent to moral concerns and often used violence against non-allies. The philosophers generally agreed that humane authority would win in any competition with hegemony or tyranny.

Such theories may seem far removed from our own day, but there are striking parallels. Indeed, Henry Kissinger once told me that he believed that ancient Chinese thought was more likely than any foreign ideology to become the dominant intellectual force behind Chinese foreign policy.

The fragmentation of the pre-Qin era resembles the global divisions of our times, and the prescriptions provided by political theorists from that era are directly relevant today — namely that states relying on military or economic power without concern for morally informed leadership are bound to fail.

Unfortunately, such views are not so influential in this age of economic determinism, even if governments often pay lip service to them. The Chinese government claims that the political leadership of the Communist Party is the basis of China’s economic miracle, but it often acts as though competition with the United States will be played out on the economic field alone. And in America, politicians regularly attribute progress, but never failure, to their own leadership.

Both governments must understand that political leadership, rather than throwing money at problems, will determine who wins the race for global supremacy.

Many people wrongly believe that China can improve its foreign relations only by significantly increasing economic aid. But it’s hard to buy affection; such “friendship” does not stand the test of difficult times.

How, then, can China win people’s hearts across the world? According to ancient Chinese philosophers, it must start at home. Humane authority begins by creating a desirable model at home that inspires people abroad.

This means China must shift its priorities away from economic development to establishing a harmonious society free of today’s huge gaps between rich and poor. It needs to replace money worship with traditional morality and weed out political corruption in favor of social justice and fairness.

In other countries, China must display humane authority in order to compete with the United States, which remains the world’s pre-eminent hegemonic power. Military strength underpins hegemony and helps to explain why the United States has so many allies. President Obama has made strategic mistakes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, but his actions also demonstrate that Washington is capable of leading three foreign wars simultaneously. By contrast, China’s army has not been involved in any war since 1984, with Vietnam, and very few of its high-ranking officers, let alone its soldiers, have any battlefield experience.

America enjoys much better relations with the rest of the world than China in terms of both quantity and quality. America has more than 50 formal military allies, while China has none. North Korea and Pakistan are only quasi-allies of China. The former established a formal alliance with China in 1961, but there have been no joint military maneuvers and no arms sales for decades. China and Pakistan have substantial military cooperation, but they have no formal military alliance binding them together.

To shape a friendly international environment for its rise, Beijing needs to develop more high-quality diplomatic and military relationships than Washington. No leading power is able to have friendly relations with every country in the world, thus the core of competition between China and the United States will be to see who has more high-quality friends. And in order to achieve that goal, China has to provide higher-quality moral leadership than the United States.

China must also recognize that it is a rising power and assume the responsibilities that come with that status. For example, when it comes to providing protection for weaker powers, as the United States has done in Europe and the Persian Gulf, China needs to create additional regional security arrangements with surrounding countries according to the model of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization — a regional forum that includes China, Russia and several central Asian countries.

And politically, China should draw on its tradition of meritocracy. Top government officials should be chosen according to their virtue and wisdom, and not simply technical and administrative ability. China should also open up and choose officials from across the world who meet its standards, so as to improve its governance.

The Tang dynasty — which lasted from the 7th century to the 10th and was perhaps China’s most glorious period — employed a great number of foreigners as high-ranking officials. China should do the same today and compete with America to attract talented immigrants.

OVER the next decade, China’s new leaders will be drawn from a generation that experienced the hardships of the Cultural Revolution. They are resolute and will most likely value political principles more than material benefits. These leaders must play a larger role on the world stage and offer more security protection and economic support to less powerful countries.

This will mean competing with the United States politically, economically and technologically. Such competition may cause diplomatic tensions, but there is little danger of military clashes.

That’s because future Chinese-American competition will differ from that between the United States and the Soviet Union during the cold war. Neither China nor America needs proxy wars to protect its strategic interests or to gain access to natural resources and technology.

China’s quest to enhance its world leadership status and America’s effort to maintain its present position is a zero-sum game. It is the battle for people’s hearts and minds that will determine who eventually prevails. And, as China’s ancient philosophers predicted, the country that displays more humane authority will win.

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  1. Meletaus
    November 21st, 2011 at 14:48 | #1

    I tend to agree with most of what he says especially regarding the moral aspect of China. China must be a responsible citizen of the world community and that means reinstituting classical Confucian morality. That will be its strength in how it will dominate.

  2. zack
    November 21st, 2011 at 14:56 | #2

    great article, and Yan is correct; but i’d go further and state that the country that also most effectively develops its mass media/propaganda machine will benefit the most. Look at the US; consistently confident of its own moral rightness despite actions around the world showing otherwise. this is because of their large and effective cable and media stations being able to shape world opinion

  3. November 21st, 2011 at 15:01 | #3

    Some modern examples of this is China’s decision to help out South East Asia during the 1997 currency crisis where China maintained the RMB’s valuation to prevent further deterioration of the other currencies. Obviously, a stronger South East Asia makes for a stronger longer term trade partner that ultimately benefits China. China is expected to reach $400 billion in trade with ASEAN this year.

    China in fact lowered tariffs ahead of their ASEAN+China FTA schedule. And, in my view, this is true leadership, showing her trade partners she practices what she preaches.

  4. zack
    November 21st, 2011 at 15:09 | #4

    @YinYang
    those are noble actions but how many south east asians are aware of this, and moreover how many of them are grateful for such faovurable trade terms with China?
    compare this to how many south east asians have been sold on the US propaganda machine of the ‘China threat’ and how much they need the Americans? the gut desire to isolate China based on nothing more than a different political system is quite strong

  5. Charles Liu
    November 21st, 2011 at 15:24 | #5

    I’m not in complete agreement with Prof. Yan:

    – IMHO his thesis of a rising China, and America being a “declining power” is a little premature. Ebb and flow of geopolitics may be less predictable, however cyclical.

    – I disagree with Prof. Yan’s “realist” view that indeed seem somewhat fatalistic. Maybe I’m naive that healthy competition rising above politics is entirely possible.

    – His morality and this harkening back to Tang Dynasty seems a little dogmatic. From his mentioning of CR, I’d guess he’s an old guard type, at least ideologically (in the same vein as FLG, who makes claims about China’s Golden Age.)

  6. November 21st, 2011 at 15:28 | #6

    @zack
    Those are good questions. If you read Indonesian’s media, you will know that they are weary of the U.S. troop deployments in Australia. Think East Timor. So, I think if we just read Western press, our view of the world is extremely skewed. ASEAN is not interested in being caught in the middle between major powers. They don’t want to become territories where proxy competitions are waged.

    Look at Africa. The results speak for themselves. The narratives in the West may be neo-colonialism. That’s largely as far as it goes.

    I should clarify a bit about China’s ‘leadership’ – as long as it is done with the goal of win-win and NOT by do this and that otherwise I will stick my military up your behind, then is real and genuine leadership. People can naturally identify with that.

  7. November 21st, 2011 at 15:42 | #7

    @Charles Liu
    Remember too though that Obama continues to reaffirm a richer China is good for America. I believe that too. The relationship is very complex. As I have written in the past – it is a cooperatition.

    If we look at trade, number of students allowed to study in the U.S., Obama’s recent 100k initiative, and so on, the relationship is definitely ‘normalizing.’ If we only focus on what the U.S. media tell us, then of course the picture is absolutely bleak.

  8. Antioxidants
    November 21st, 2011 at 21:07 | #8

    China has an image problem and this has a detrimental effect on the soft power issue. This image problem is partly self-inflicted due to Mao’s China first 30 years of misrule and partly due to the smearing campaign of the West and India. The make-up issue of Tibet, for example, has done a great deal of damage in how the world at large perceived China. I am sorry to say but that the Tibetans are oppressed has now been an accepted truth world wide.

    India, on the contrary, has real human rights problems (Kashmir, Manipur…etc.) but India has successfully obfuscated the issues enough that these issues hardly registered a blip on the world stage. China should take a page from India in how to project its image.

  9. zack
    November 21st, 2011 at 21:35 | #9

    @Antioxidants
    India’s favourable image has more to do with western powers wishing to court India into their “coalition of the willing”; that’s why you won’t hear western leaders visiting India being pressured by the press to talk about “human rights”; compare and contrast obama’s visit to China and his visit to India and have a look at the vastly different media slants to those two stories. how many papers talked about human rights abuses in kashmir or asom or manipur? how many articles talked about tibet et al in the case of China?

    The Goebbels of the western media have decided to have India as an ideological ally (who cares if they flagrantly disregard human rights or won’t sign the NPT, they’re a supposed democracy!).

    What i believe the Chinese government ought to do is what it is already doing; it’s already commenced boosting its cable news services with a view towards mimicking al jazeera english’s success with CCTV9 and CNC World

  10. November 21st, 2011 at 22:29 | #10

    My problem with Yan’s piece is that it says very little. What is morally right? What is morally corrupt? Perhaps with the hindsight of history, we can tell, but not right now. I also think the victors (by brute force) of history get to write history – i.e. cast their story / narrative in a morally favorable light – even to the right of defining what is morally right.

    I can see any ideologue in the West pointing to Yan’s article and nodding their head: yes it is a moral war we are fighting, a moral war against authoritarianism, and one we are winning and intend to win.

    The ideological conflict between the West and China – at least when viewed through the lens of the West – is about defining this moral norm. The West’s crusade – including White man’s burden to spread the world with Western civilization – can be argued to follow exactly Yan’s “Confucian” prescription. I think there’s no question that the West has the upper hand now. Throughout the world, people raise the flag of freedom and democracy to fight for change. Very few raise the flag of public order, harmonious society, and competent and strong government to fight for change. The West has friends everywhere – whether they are genuine or bought doesn’t matter. So it is for now…

  11. November 22nd, 2011 at 00:28 | #11

    Allen, I think we have seen enough in our modern history of the Western led world order to know that the order can be improved. We just ‘know’ somehow.

    The moral for the rich is that people should get what they earned. The moral for the poor is that the rich often enjoy special privileges, and as such, the rich’s wealth ought to be shared.

    The truth is that the rich and the poor will never fully come to terms. They will always struggle against each other.

    As Prof Yan says, which I agree, it will be a fight for people’s hearts and minds. The West is one very good propaganda machine. China has a lot of catch up to do.

    Human nature being what it is worships wealth and might. China is definitely trending stronger. That alone will accord it tremendous ‘authority.’ So, when you can do things in a much more humane way (i.e. not invade, not assassinate, etc. to solve our worlds problems), that would be very appealing.

    For China to have the world rally behind her as she brings her citizens to the same standards of living as the developed countries, she will have to demonstrate leadership that improves our current world order. So, I really like this idea of “humane authority.”

    For example, China showing a different growth pattern that doesn’t pollute at nearly the U.S. per capita level will give her humane authority on development. That authority would have real following; that as oppose to forcing non-differentiated responsibilities unto poor countries who haven’t done much pollution in the past.

  12. Rhan
    November 22nd, 2011 at 06:10 | #12

    Solely from history view, both Qin Shi Huang and Han Wu Ti brought China to it glorious moment but ensued in destruction. I often equal the era of Mao-Deng with GaoZhu-WenJing( 文景之治), both Mao / GaoZhu unify and consolidate China, while Deng / WenJing adopt a self-restrain, low profile, and let the people rest sort of policy (韬光养晦, 休养生息) that make China a strong (civilized?) state.

    After reading Yan peace, seem like China is now ready to compete and to challenge the world superpower, and he is pretty concern by mentioned “China’s army has not been involved in any war since 1984, with Vietnam, and very few of its high-ranking officers, let alone its soldiers, have any battlefield experience.” If China road ahead is to become another USA, to tell the world that Chinese values is the best, I think China is repeating history of Qin Shi Huang and Han Wu Ti. Hope my understanding is wrong.

  13. November 22nd, 2011 at 08:36 | #13

    zack :

    those are noble actions but how many south east asians are aware of this, and moreover how many of them are grateful for such faovurable trade terms with China?
    compare this to how many south east asians have been sold on the US propaganda machine of the ‘China threat’ and how much they need the Americans? the gut desire to isolate China based on nothing more than a different political system is quite strong

    This, and another one of your post a while back blaming ASEAN just rubs me the wrong way.

    First of all, why should one nation be “grateful” to another? Just as I disagree that China should feel grateful to the US for allowing them to join the WTO, as some US politicians have argued, I disagree that Southeast Asians should feel grateful to China. There is no morality in international relations, only interests. If you must pursue that argument, I’d say that China has been “rewarded” already for its role during the financial crisis with membership in the ASEAN+3 grouping.

    Also, you make it sound as if all Southeast Asians are guilty of the same crime. It’s important to remember ASEAN is not one entity but different countries with different interests. However, when we deal with a group like ASEAN we have to imagine a real life community, in it we will find a silent majority and a more vocal minority. When it comes to China-US-ASEAN relations, it just happens that certain countries, such as The Philippines, are strongly pro-US without comparably pro-China nations in ASEAN to balance them. With the US egging them on they are able to nudge the rest to adopt positions they would otherwise not make on their own.

    Not to mention, China at the present time, is not ready to replace the role of the US over here. Until China develops a large enough navy, and allows the RMB to float so it can be considered as a alternative reserve currency, it is unreasonable to expect ASEAN, and indeed any other country, to dump America for China.

    Specifically with reference to the TPP, why should ASEAN reject the US proposal given the fact that most nations in the group are export-oriented with much to gain and little to lose from free trade? Plus, they are only agreeing to TPP, it is not a military pact.

  14. silentchinese
    November 22nd, 2011 at 09:35 | #14

    Here is my main takeaway from his essay:

    “I am a political realist. Western analysts have labeled my political views “hawkish,” and the truth is that I have never overvalued the importance of morality in international relations. But realism does not mean that politicians should be concerned only with military and economic might. In fact, morality can play a key role in shaping international competition between political powers — and separating the winners from the losers.”

    To me this is the key part.

    Rest of it is his opinion of how one should obtain moral superiority.

    Morality is also an expansive term too, it encompasses the way how a social-political-economic system works all the way down to the behavior of the individual citizen.

    Chinese intellectual elite should spend some times re-define moral superority…
    for example, pivot more from the individualistic morality that western system espouces, to more of a collective or evolutionary morality that is more native and natural to the chinese thought.

    oh, where is Will Cooper when you need him!

  15. silentchinese
    November 22nd, 2011 at 09:39 | #15

    Rhan :Solely from history view, both Qin Shi Huang and Han Wu Ti brought China to it glorious moment but ensued in destruction. I often equal the era of Mao-Deng with GaoZhu-WenJing( 文景之治), both Mao / GaoZhu unify and consolidate China, while Deng / WenJing adopt a self-restrain, low profile, and let the people rest sort of policy (韬光养晦, 休养生息) that make China a strong (civilized?) state.
    After reading Yan peace, seem like China is now ready to compete and to challenge the world superpower, and he is pretty concern by mentioned “China’s army has not been involved in any war since 1984, with Vietnam, and very few of its high-ranking officers, let alone its soldiers, have any battlefield experience.” If China road ahead is to become another USA, to tell the world that Chinese values is the best, I think China is repeating history of Qin Shi Huang and Han Wu Ti. Hope my understanding is wrong.

    actually on a historic note GaoZhu-WenJing( 文景之治), was a rather bad time for Han Dynasty, the central authority was fragmented by the local prince and nobility and the vaulted Han central state only had control over fraction of what nominally is Han. The two emperors , Wen and Jing had to work really hard and only after a serious of wars to finally cut down the local nobility.

    it is natural that for chinese to pivot to a period of history they can relate to. but in reality WenJing( 文景之治), was not a good time for central authority of china.

  16. silentchinese
    November 22nd, 2011 at 09:46 | #16

    in another news…

    two things that’s really interesting that is going on in chinese blogsphere/websphere, that NYT/WPo/VoA would never, ever, report.

    1) kong qingdong and the almost overwhelming blast he recieved from the “liberal” chinese media after he cursed out the “journalists”. and the almost overwhelming support he received from ordinary masses…. a clear disconnect between the silent majority and the “liberal” media in china.

    2) During Repub’s FP debate, John Huntsman’s comment how he can build “constituencies” with bloggers in china and so bring about change in china so that the change would “Take China Down” and give Americans economic prosperity. given his position as a “china hand” and a former ambassador to china, for some this pretty confirms the intent of US hostile attitude and the length that they would go to capitalize on discontent in china.

    comments?

  17. November 22nd, 2011 at 10:36 | #17

    @silentchinese #46

    Regarding 2: I’ve been in a pigeon hole the last few months. I didn’t even hear about this.

    Anyways, here appears to be a video clip of Huntsman talking about “Taking China Down.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6O20dcJONQ

    Here is Global Times’ response. We can definitely have a response here as well… http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/ID/684720/US-elites-mulling-how-to-take-China-down.aspx

  18. November 22nd, 2011 at 10:50 | #18

    @silentchinese
    William Hooper is around. His blog link in on our blog roll.

    I recall in an earlier comment you brought up John Huntsman’s comment on ‘taking down China.’ I’ve been thinking about it.

    I think he is more talking about changing China’s political system. In fact, he’s tried Weibo. I’ve heard (from an American who witnessed first hand) the U.S. Embassies in China essentially actively promoting underground churches – which is a violation of Chinese law.

    These sort of things are vastly different than what the CIA used to do – namely to train separatists and to arm political opposition.

    Many former students at the 89 protest spoke of VOA as something they actively listened to. Look at the imminent demise of VOA targeting China today. So, I think the Chinese government are much better at censoring politically motivated anti-China speeches; Huntsman’s Weibo included.

    With that in mind, I think the ‘danger’ is largely behind. China has really good momentum.

    America is still relatively a very open society. My hope is that at some point, things just ‘click’ and Americans wake up to the idea that there are things in China they could learn. America is a confluence of influences from everywhere. China needs to remember America’s behavior can be influenced too.

  19. jimmy
    November 22nd, 2011 at 11:42 | #19

    The US, for one, is getting less and less humane and more aggressive. The spirit of warring and killing is taking over the whole of the US nation.Read http://www.scribd.com/doc/73208079 for more details.

  20. silentchinese
    November 22nd, 2011 at 13:14 | #20

    @YinYang
    Yes he was talking about changing china’s political system.
    but the interesting thing to me is this: the implication of changing china’s political system, from his standpoint to his audience, was that the change will neutralize china’s manufacturing and economic growth. and bring prosperity and economic growth back to america

    2 things one must note in that statement.
    1) he thinks (at least speaks as if he thinks) this is a zero sum game between America and China, which clearly and factually baloney. but he felt compelled to sell that as zero sum.

    2) and what I think is more interesting: he is stating he believes that a political change in china would slow down china economically… which means, one, current system is actually good for chinese prosperity and growth. and two, his hopeful alternative for the chinese state, a chaotic, pseudo-democratic, post-soviet era like state for China, would means economic dislocation and disruption for chinese prosperity and growth.

    Do I hear an implicit endorsement of chinese state? that he is actually acknowledging the current chinese state, which he is so desperately trying to dislodge with all his help “constituencies” in china, is working for china?!

    such rare admittance from former US ambassador to china and republican presidential hopeful, a moderate at that.

    this should give all the starry eyed “democrats and liberals” in china a clear spalsh of cold water.
    or may be not, may be they knew all along the plan to dislocate the current state. and the economic dislocation it would entail… may be they are not thinking in the best interest of china, may be they are ….. gasp… hanjian.

    ha.

    p.s.

    oh I am very sure US is trying all it could to dislocate the current political system. the very fact that china is on such a trajectory now, and is fast becoming in US political elite’s eye an dangerous existential threat to US economic/political/military hegemony, AND thus multifront efforts are being spent to dislocate the very political system that has brought china this far. … is ample enough proof that, despite all the bad about chinese political system (and there are plenty), in a macro-historic standpoint, the system is actually working for china.

    which brings me another gloomy observation:
    carthago delenda est
    sinae delenda est.

  21. November 22nd, 2011 at 15:35 | #21

    @silentchinese
    I understand your view.

    Just I don’t think Huntsman actually believes in what he said. No sooner than he was able to get few sentences out, his Weibo account was shut down.

    It does indeed show how much hostility and ill-will exist in America towards China.

  22. November 22nd, 2011 at 17:10 | #22

    @YinYang #21

    I don’t understand why you comment on what Hunstman actually believes in. In this case, I don’t think there was a slip of the tongue – nor was his statement taken out of context. The fact taht his Weibo account was shut down doesn’t indicate one iota what he believes in or not…

  23. November 22nd, 2011 at 17:16 | #23

    @silentchinese #20

    You beat me to what I wanted to say with this comment!

  24. Rhan
    November 22nd, 2011 at 17:51 | #24

    Zack, China should be ‘grateful’ to Malaysia and Indonesia for restraining USA presence in the Straits of Malacca that would have the effect of limiting China’s access to oil, other raw materials, technology and industrial equipment. 🙂

  25. Rhan
    November 22nd, 2011 at 18:28 | #25

    silentchinese, either one of us have to go back and re-read China history 🙂

    Wenjing build the foundation for Han Wu Ti to spend lavishly on his military expansion. Both Wen Ti and Jing Ti improve the economy and settle the fragmented authority issue by a war during the Rebellion of the Seven States, to shift and centralize the power back to the Emperor. All this policy facilitate HWT to bring China to the peak of Han golden age, however, dynastic rule cannot solve the problem of bad leader, or perhaps no political system including democracy is an answer to this.

  26. November 22nd, 2011 at 18:45 | #26

    @Allen
    I feel funny defending that Huntsman speech about ‘taking down China.’ Perhaps I am mainly hoping what he said is not representative of the entire U.S. foreign policy towards China.

  27. Wahaha
    November 22nd, 2011 at 19:35 | #27

    This means China must shift its priorities away from economic development to establishing a harmonious society free of today’s huge gaps between rich and poor. It needs to replace money worship with traditional morality and weed out political corruption in favor of social justice and fairness.

    *****************************************

    (1) This should be one of the major jobs of journalists and media, government is only partially responsible for that.

    (2) Please dont think an employee of CCTV will work for CCP automatically, that is simply not the case.

    (3) http://news.yahoo.com/top-0-1-nation-earn-half-capital-gains-172647859.html

    (4) Dont compare the rich in Shanghai to the poor in SiChuan, that is stupid, as lot of areas in Sichuan are out of reach of roads, there is little to nothing government can do for them.

    (5) The gap between poor and rich I like to see is the gap within Shanghai, gap within XiAn, etc. Does anyone have a link for such comparison ?

  28. zack
    November 22nd, 2011 at 20:47 | #28

    @silentvoice
    perhaps ‘grateful’ is the wrong term; my intention was that south east asian countries ought to understand that war in south east asia is the last thing China wants and that they ought to appreciate the efforts the Foreign Ministry has made to pacify the region. Belligerant actions by vietnamese and filipinos may not be indicative of all of ASEAN but there’s definitely something wrong when despite all this posturing the US media again has the nerve to accuse China of belligerence (when it’s actually US actiosn in south east asia that are the source of instability)

  29. November 22nd, 2011 at 23:01 | #29

    @zack #28:
    It takes two to tango. Yes, the Vietnamese and the Filipinos have become much more aggressive in their territorial claims, but so have the Chinese. If we looked at each case individually, almost in every case, China could have resolved disputes much more diplomatically than it did. The fact is that China is nowadays more willing to use its naval and air assets to demonstrate support for its claims.

    Many Southeast Asians are suspicious of China’s motives by insisting that territorial disputes be resolved bilaterally. Why shouldn’t they? That approach almost guarantees an advantage to Beijing due to the disparity in size and economic influence. Hence all the other claimants prefer a multilateral forum. This makes sense since the claimants like Malaysia and Vietnam have claims against each other too. As far as I know, nobody (except the US) said the US ought to be part of it.

  30. silentchinese
    November 23rd, 2011 at 08:45 | #30

    Wahaha :This means China must shift its priorities away from economic development to establishing a harmonious society free of today’s huge gaps between rich and poor. It needs to replace money worship with traditional morality and weed out political corruption in favor of social justice and fairness.

    I think he meant more than economic focus.
    a social-political-economic system that is actually inclusive and can endure over time.
    I was thinking this morning driving… if China could modify its current political system to one that is actually flexible and inclusive enough, while STILL RETAIN the Strong technocratic leaning and leadership of the current system. China would be essentially un-stoppable.

    because US has essentially gave up on containing china economically. it is focused on essentially a jasmine revolutions type of approach, destabilizing china politically.

    So I think Yan’s Essay and Huntsman’s comments are essentially the two side of the same coin.

  31. silentchinese
    November 23rd, 2011 at 08:46 | #31

    Rhan :silentchinese, either one of us have to go back and re-read China history
    Wenjing build the foundation for Han Wu Ti to spend lavishly on his military expansion. Both Wen Ti and Jing Ti improve the economy and settle the fragmented authority issue by a war during the Rebellion of the Seven States, to shift and centralize the power back to the Emperor. All this policy facilitate HWT to bring China to the peak of Han golden age, however, dynastic rule cannot solve the problem of bad leader, or perhaps no political system including democracy is an answer to this.

    Jian Bozang’s classic work on History of QinHan really made clear how fragile WenJing is.

  32. silentchinese
    November 23rd, 2011 at 08:51 | #32

    silentvoice :@zack #28:It takes two to tango. Yes, the Vietnamese and the Filipinos have become much more aggressive in their territorial claims, but so have the Chinese. If we looked at each case individually, almost in every case, China could have resolved disputes much more diplomatically than it did. The fact is that China is nowadays more willing to use its naval and air assets to demonstrate support for its claims.
    Many Southeast Asians are suspicious of China’s motives by insisting that territorial disputes be resolved bilaterally. Why shouldn’t they? That approach almost guarantees an advantage to Beijing due to the disparity in size and economic influence. Hence all the other claimants prefer a multilateral forum. This makes sense since the claimants like Malaysia and Vietnam have claims against each other too. As far as I know, nobody (except the US) said the US ought to be part of it.

    so when Philippine and Vietnam use their naval and air assets to assert control it is ok for them to do it but not for china to use its naval and air assets? because why? china is bigger? so it can afford to carve territory to other countries? essentially Aquino’s argument that china can wait Philippine can not?

    China is not responsible for the laggard state of economic growth in Philippines or Vietnam. It is not in the business of giving alms especially with its territorial claims.

    the very fact that chinese claim (9-dash line) is putforth in 1947 and no one really objected until 1970s. really shows who is the one that is greedy.

  33. silentchinese
    November 23rd, 2011 at 09:05 | #33

    yinyang :@silentchinese I understand your view.
    Just I don’t think Huntsman actually believes in what he said. No sooner than he was able to get few sentences out, his Weibo account was shut down.
    It does indeed show how much hostility and ill-will exist in America towards China.

    which part of what he said you think HUntman don’t actually believe? the part that He can use internet to influence political discourse in China an steer it to his aims? or the part where he believes Political change would “take china down”?

    for the former Clearly US can influence chinese websphere. heck an advertising company that wants to push certain stars can do it, why not US government? they are already in cahoot with the sothernweekend folks. just take a look at the extensive communication wikileak uncovered, that was the CEO of southern media group. He can get his Weibo shut down, but his friends runs webportals!.

    for the latter part. I think he believes he can “take china down” by induce a political change. or else he wouldn’t be trying. by “he” I really meant US, because what he did in china, communicating with Web Media, the liberal opinion makers, etc are exactly in line with the playbook obama’s state dept used for North Africa and Middle East… google “public diplomacy” and “Activist training US Arab Spring”… it is the same stuff CIA/KGB Does but with internet/facebook/twitter/weibo and with nice sounding names like NED.

  34. silentchinese
    November 23rd, 2011 at 09:10 | #34

    Actually if you go onto FYJS and site like those…
    one of the favorite passtime for some of these guys in the political BBS is called “fishing”

    basically you would post an article that sounds very much like a slammer for the chinese state, but in reality it has nothing to do with chinese state, usually an situation that occured in somewhereelse on the planet.
    they would wait for these IDs to show up, that are essentially spammer iIDS. these spammer IDs would follow the debate, sometimes with wacky non-sensical one liners that basically shows they completely misread the situation. and they would make joke out of them.
    In another word: they “Fished” Spammer IDs with an article that looks like it is against the chinese state.

    basically some of these Spammers IDs are robots, some are real people. some are real people operating armies of robots.

    this phenomenom shows the extent which “organized webuser” are being used to influence online debates in these BBS. often against the chinese state.

    what does that tell you?

    yinyang you still think this world is nice and People would play nice?

  35. Melektaus
    November 23rd, 2011 at 12:12 | #35

    @zack

    This is true, India is no better than China at projecting a favorable image of itself. The problem is that the greatest propaganda machine the world has ever seen (the US media) is on the side of India and against China. That’s what is making India look like a peaceful and ethical nation and China as an evil empire, both claims that are contrary to the historical facts.

  36. Melektaus
    November 23rd, 2011 at 12:25 | #36

    Allen :
    My problem with Yan’s piece is that it says very little. What is morally right? What is morally corrupt? Perhaps with the hindsight of history, we can tell, but not right now.

    Sure there are some gray areas but there are also black and white areas. Surely the Nazi regime, the Japanese invasion of China, the Israeli brutality in Palestine, the US invasion of Iraq was morally wrong and that it was obvious that it was morally wrong to any moderately self-reflective, non sociopathic individual. There are many issues that are black and white. India’s invasion of China in 1962 was also wrong. There is almost universal agreement among those who know history that these are wrong. The reason many people in the public may not know them as wrong is because they are ignorant of the historical and moral facts (with the help of distorting propaganda, not the facts). Most people are ignorant of scientific facts as well but surely you don’t want to say, “well, someday in the future we might know what the truth is but why bother doing science at all now?” We do know lots of scientific truths and we also know lots of moral truths. Invasion from the motive of territorial expansion, genocide, mass killings, etc are all wrong. We know that now just like we know that gravity obeys certain laws. Sure, someday we may find out that these laws are wrong but they are approximately correct as experimental data shows. Our moral truths are also known to be true because we have good evidence for their truth in that they are almost universally agreed on by all societies and that they have been instinctively imbued into our nature by natural selection. A moral sense make sense because it has helped human beings to survive very harsh conditions and that is a fact about us. Someday some of our moral accepted truths may turn out to be false but our current idea approximate the truth and approximation and degrees of truth is sometimes the best we have to go on. That is how all empirical knowledge works.

    I also think the victors (by brute force) of history get to write history – i.e. cast their story / narrative in a morally favorable light – even to the right of defining what is morally right.

    This is an absolutist statement and like most absolutist statements, warrants qualification. Sometimes it is true and sometimes it is false. Sometimes the victors’ claims do not correspond to the truth but sometimes they do correspond to the truth and I gave some examples of this. But this point is irrelevant because no matter what the victors do, people will always have to fiund the best way towards the truth and there is no way around that. People will just have to do the best we can and saying, we have to give up all morality is a defeatist attitude.

    I can see any ideologue in the West pointing to Yan’s article and nodding their head: yes it is a moral war we are fighting, a moral war against authoritarianism, and one we are winning and intend to win.

    There will always be ignorant people everywhere. There will always be people in the public ignorant of science but that doesn’t mean we should stop doing science and that there are no scientific facts to be known. We have to do the best we can to know and though always fallible and always imperfect because of some ignorant people in the public, that is no good reason to not try our best.

  37. November 23rd, 2011 at 12:56 | #37

    silentchinese :
    @YinYang
    Yes he was talking about changing china’s political system.
    but the interesting thing to me is this: the implication of changing china’s political system,

    Actually, the Chinese state is doing exactly what he is saying. It is moving in that direction already. What he is saying is not that China should do such and such, he is justifying what China has already been moving toward (that is, a view that avoids the might makes right strategy and the zero sum thinking of political economic strategy in favor of a more moral and virtuous and cooperative sensibility). This paragraph (along with the paragraphs before that talks about China’s ancient philosophical tradition and its influence on today’s CCP leaders) is what I take to support this:

    OVER the next decade, China’s new leaders will be drawn from a generation that experienced the hardships of the Cultural Revolution. They are resolute and will most likely value political principles more than material benefits. These leaders must play a larger role on the world stage and offer more security protection and economic support to less powerful countries.

    from his standpoint to his audience, was that the change will neutralize china’s manufacturing and economic growth. and bring prosperity and economic growth back to america
    2 things one must note in that statement.

    I don’t think that his words has any obvious implications for China’s manufacturing.

    1) he thinks (at least speaks as if he thinks) this is a zero sum game between America and China, which clearly and factually baloney. but he felt compelled to sell that as zero sum.

    Actually, he never said that it was a zero-sum game for manufacturing or economic growth. He said that the moral strategy of China is in a zero-sum game in relation to the strategy of the US to “win people’s hearts and minds”. In other words, either the strategy that morality matters will win or the prevalent US strategy of might makes right and economic, social coercion will win people’s future thinking throughout the world in how to operate in international affairs.

  38. November 23rd, 2011 at 16:32 | #38

    @silentchinese
    I think Huntsman thinks there is a chance Internet can be used to influence political discourse in China and steer it to his aims. But I think he knows the Chinese government has been effective in countering such nonsense.

    In his comment about Political change “taking China down,” I honestly thought he slipped his tongue. Even White supremacist would rarely be so blunt (and stupid) in public in saying their mission is to lynch all Blacks.

    My key concern is people in China taking the diarrhea of anti-China rhetoric emanating from the U.S. and taking them for real. The warmongers in the U.S. precisely want the Chinese people to do that.

  39. Rhan
    November 23rd, 2011 at 17:37 | #39

    Thanks silentchinese, I will find time to read Jian Bozang. However, I also wish to emphasize a point, we know history can have different perspective depend on who wrote it, readers have to draw their own conclusion and opinion. Earlier writing by Jian, similar to Guo Moruo, were relatively objective until CCP come into power (shall include Yanan period), we can sense their work become more ‘bias’ by referring to Mao thought and his interpretation of history during that period, I think some of their writing were to serve Mao and party.

    Here are a few titles to have a different version of Han history:
    钱穆- 秦汉史/ 國史大綱
    周天- 秦汉帝王与百家争鸣/点击帝国兴哀

  40. November 24th, 2011 at 01:00 | #40

    silentchinese :
    so when Philippine and Vietnam use their naval and air assets to assert control it is ok for them to do it but not for china to use its naval and air assets? because why? china is bigger? so it can afford to carve territory to other countries? essentially Aquino’s argument that china can wait Philippine can not?

    Unfortunately, yes. If China wants to gain influence and respect in the region, it needs to lead by example and be the adult in the room. Responding with military assets plays into the hands of the provocateurs and the US government which is all too willing to park a few aircraft carriers in Southeast Asia. When the Vietnamese and Filipinos were found to establish facilities on those disputed islands, China could have gone to ASEAN and leveraged Malaysia, Brunei, and other claimants against the offenders. Afterall, every nation in ASEAN plus China had signed the “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea” in 2002 and both Vietnam and Philippines must abide by it. If that fails, it could bring the issue to the International Court of Justice. Both Singapore and Malaysia have resolved their territorial dispute over Pedra Branca through this route.

    With Aquino, I believe the tour bus massacre incident in which HK demanded the Philippines to make an official apology poisoned the atmosphere between the two nations. This is why Aquino was much more willing to challenge China in the Spratlys. Earlier Chinese reactions to incidents involving South Korea’s Lee Myung-bak and Japan’s Seiji Maehara, both *well-known* pro-US politicians, also lacked finesse which contributed to the impression that China is becoming more assertive or even aggressive in recent years.

    To improve that image, China’s diplomatic corp needs to develop the sophistication as well as the tools needed to confront the 21st century. Hitherto it’s been acting as if we are still in the Maoist era. It needs to learn that releasing statements of condemnation and/or participating in gunboat diplomacy rarely achieves anything, even though they might be great for domestic consumption. In that regard, Yan Xuetong is correct. China needs to speak softly and carry a big stick, not the reverse.

  41. vokoyo
    November 24th, 2011 at 03:55 | #41

    International Recognition Of China Sovereignty over the Nansha Islands

    1. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and the Northern Island

    (a) China Sea Pilot compiled and printed by the Hydrography Department of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom in 1912 has accounts of the activities of the Chinese people on the Nansha Islands in a number of places.

    (b) The Far Eastern Economic Review (Hong Kong) carried an article on Dec. 31 of 1973 which quotes the British High Commissioner to Singapore as having said in 1970: “Spratly Island (Nanwei Island in Chinese) was a Chinese dependency, part of Kwangtung Province… and was returned to China after the war. We can not find any indication of its having been acquired by any other country and so can only conclude it is still held by communist China.”

    2. France

    (a) Le Monde Colonial Illustre mentioned the Nansha Islands in its September 1933 issue. According to that issue, when a French gunboat named Malicieuse surveyed the Nanwei Island of the Nansha Islands in 1930, they saw three Chinese on the island and when France invaded nine of the Nansha Islands by force in April 1933, they found all the people on the islands were Chinese, with 7 Chinese on the Nanzi Reef, 5 on the Zhongye Island, 4 on the Nanwei Island, thatched houses, water wells and holy statues left by Chinese on the Nanyue Island and a signboard with Chinese characters marking a grain storage on the Taiping Island.

    (b) Atlas International Larousse published in 1965 in France marks the Xisha, Nansha and Dongsha Islands by their Chinese names and gives clear indication of their ownership as China in brackets.

    3. Japan

    (a) Yearbook of New China published in Japan in 1966 describes the coastline of China as 11 thousand kilometers long from Liaodong Peninsula in the north to the Nansha Islands in the south, or 20 thousand kilometers if including the coastlines of all the islands along its coast;

    (b) Yearbook of the World published in Japan in 1972 says that Chinese territory includes not only the mainland, but also Hainan Island, Taiwan, Penghu Islands as well as the Dongsha, Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha Islands on the South China Sea.

    4. The United States

    (a) Columbia Lippincott World Toponymic Dictionary published in the United States in 1961 states that the Nansha Islands on the South China Sea are part of Guangdong Province and belong to China.

    (b) The Worldmark Encyclopaedia of the Nations published in the United States in 1963 says that the islands of the People’s Republic extend southward to include those isles and coral reefs on the South China Sea at the north latitude 4°.

    (c) World Administrative Divisions Encyclopaedia published in 1971 says that the People’s Republic has a number of archipelagoes, including Hainan Island near the South China Sea, which is the largest, and a few others on the South China Sea extending to as far as the north latitude 4°, such as the Dongsha, Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha Islands.

    5. Viet Nam

    (a) Vice Foreign Minister Dung Van Khiem of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam received Mr. Li Zhimin, charge d’affaires ad interim of the Chinese Embassy in Viet Nam and told him that “according to Vietnamese data, the Xisha and Nansha Islands are historically part of Chinese territory.” Mr. Le Doc, Acting Director of the Asian Department of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry, who was present then, added that “judging from history, these islands were already part of China at the time of the Song Dynasty.”

    (b) Nhan Dan of Viet Nam reported in great detail on September 6, 1958 the Chinese Government’s Declaration of September 4, 1958 that the breadth of the territorial sea of the People’s Republic of China should be 12 nautical miles and that this provision should apply to all territories of the People’s Republic of China, including all islands on the South China Sea. On September 14 the same year, Premier Pham Van Dong of the Vietnamese Government solemnly stated in his note to Premier Zhou Enlai that Viet Nam “recognizes and supports the Declaration of the Government of the People’s Republic of China on China’s territorial sea.”

    (c) It is stated in the lesson The People’s Republic of China of a standard Vietnamese school textbook on geography published in 1974 that the islands from the Nansha and Xisha Islands to Hainan Island and Taiwan constitute a great wall for the defense of the mainland of China.

  42. November 24th, 2011 at 12:27 | #42

    @silentvoice
    I actually have to disagree with your analysis. It is China’s military weakness that is provoking the adventurism of Vietnam and the Philippines. Imagine China having 1/3 the military of the US. That and an economy that is several times bigger is the ONLY solution to the S.China Seas issue.

    At that time, the dispute would be over without a shot being fired. That’s what China is doing now.

    PS: I am travelling and might not be able to make a timely comment.

  43. Rhan
    November 24th, 2011 at 18:53 | #43

    Ray, if that is the case, get China to resolve ther dispute with Japan applying the same strategy, why double standard when come to Asean country?

  44. November 24th, 2011 at 22:40 | #44

    @Rhan
    The PRC has named the hotel suites for foreign dignitaries in Beijing, Diaoyutai since the 1950s. The PRC always asserted this claim as with the S. China seas. There is no double standard.

    When a mainland fisherman was arrested and charged by the Japanese authorities the PRC almost started a diplomatic and trade war with Japan. The latter simply backed down and the US was nowhere to be seen.

    The PRC can simply complicate things to its advantage by supporting Malaysia’s claim against Vietnam and Philippines. Or backing Indonesia’s claim against Australia or vice versa. The situation in S.China seas and Diaoyu is actually very simple as I see it. Conversely, the PRC can also backed Korea’s claim against Japan. China has not played any single of these card yet.

    However, China has shown that it is willing to negotiate if a permanent settlement and peace is guaranteed as in the territorial dispute with the Central Asian countries, Myanmar etc.

  45. melektuas
    November 26th, 2011 at 12:29 | #45

    @Ray

    I’d prefer a diplomatic solution. I think a diplomatic solution within international law is the most fair way for everyone involved but for that to happen all parties must be willing.

    What China is now doing with their military is to further establish their claims to the region by continued patrolling and saber rattling rhetoric. That is a strategy that all nation including the other claimants to the region also employ to further affirm their territory in contested regions. This is worrisome as it is basically games of brinkmanship that could easily devolve into war. China likely realizes this but I think they will use diplomacy at the last moment. They realize from their experiences with India that if you simply employ diplomacy and no military strategy giving the other side an inch, they will take a yard. So diplomacy will have to be used together with military posturing. I see this as very worrisome but I see no way out of it.

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