Yang Jiemian: The rise of the East and the decline of the West are of significance to historical advancement
Selections of 217th issue of China International Studies, a bimonthly journal established by CIIS under MOFA
Hello! A few days ago, I posted a piece including a quick review and a translation of the Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs, which was held in Beijing from Dec. 27 to 28. The conference analyzed the current international situation and external environment for the period to come and made clear the goals and directions, guiding principles, strategic arrangements, and basic tasks of China's external work. Officials including Chinese ambassadors, ambassadorial-rank consuls general posted overseas and representatives to international organizations participated in the conference.
As I mentioned in that piece, Chinese foreign affairs work is highly systematic, so, in today's newsletter, I select a couple pieces from the 217th issue of《国际问题研究》China International Studies, a bimonthly journal established by China Institute of International Studies (CIIS).
CIIS is a professional research institute directly administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China. The Institute primarily focuses on issues associated with global politics and economics, providing opinions and suggestions for decision-making reference. In 2020, after review and approval by the Central Commission for Comprehensively Deepening Reform, CIIS was listed as a pilot unit for the construction of a high-end national think tank.
I selected three articles from the 217th issue of China International Studies, and selected three separated paragraphs from each article to translate them into English as a trial. If you like this topic and format, you can reply to the email to let me know. I have also included the link to the full-text Chinese version of all articles in the 217th issue here for readers who want to download and share.
The selections mainly cover China and the U.S., spanning from "Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy", "The New Washington Consensus", to "US-Japan Strategic Synergy". Below are the titles of the three pieces:
Creating a New Pattern of Major-Country Relations Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy (By YANG Jiemian 杨洁勉)
The New Washington Consensus and the Transition of U.S. Economic Strategy (by LI Wei 李巍)
U.S.-Japan Strategic Synergy in Southeast Asia and Its Limitations (XIANG Haoyu 项昊宇 & BAO Zhipeng 鲍志鹏)
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Creating a New Pattern of Major-Country Relations Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy 习近平外交思想指导构建大国关系新格局
By YANG Jiemian, contract research fellow of the Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy research center, senior fellow and chairman of the Academic Affairs Council, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies
美国及其紧随者英国和日本等在世界观和大国关系原则上的认知具有一致性和趋同性。拜登政府 2022 年 10 月发布的美国《国家安全战略》报告认为，美国正步入对其和世界来说具有决定性意义的十年，在此期间， 美国面临主要大国竞相塑造新世界秩序及严峻的跨国问题两大挑战。为此，美国要做的就是建立强大、广泛的国际联盟，与共享价值观的国家一起对抗那些提供“阴暗愿景”的大国，阻止它们威胁美国的利益，保持美国领导全球的地位。
The United States and its followers, including the United Kingdom and Japan, show uniformity and are moving towards convergence in their world outlook and principles of major-country relations. In its National Security Strategy released in October 2022, the Biden administration announced the U.S. is "now in the early years of a decisive decade for America and the world." During the period, the report says, the country faces two strategic challenges: a competition underway between the major powers to shape what comes next, and shared challenges that cross borders. The report then said building “the strongest and broadest possible coalition of nations that seek to cooperate with each other, while competing with those powers that offer a darker vision and thwarting their efforts to threaten our interests”, to maintain American leadership in the world.
发展中大国的兴起为大国关系注入了时代进步意义。习近平总书记指出：“国际力量对比发生深刻变化，新兴市场国家和一大批发展中国家快速发展，国际影响力不断增强，是近代以来国际力量对比中最具革命性的变化。”美国和发展中大国的矛盾是多方面的，但其中最主要和最本质的在于对历史进步和时代趋势的认知和行为分歧。世界力量对比的东升西降具有重要的历史进步性，正在纠正 500 年以来殖民主义和资本主义造成的历史不公。而且，世界力量对比的逆转已经体现在国际体系和全球治理的体制机制变革上，从二十国集团的升级、金砖国家机制的扩容到亚洲基础设施投资银行和金砖国家新开发银行的诞生， 国际秩序和国际体系迈向更加公正合理的趋势不可逆转。在世界的经济基础和上层建筑双重变化的作用下，以美国为首的西方掌控世界事务的能力日益式微，为此充满了旧时贵族的失落感，也产生了大权旁落的焦虑感。
The rise of major developing countries was significant for the advancement of the times in major-country relations. The international balance of power is undergoing a fundamental shift, said Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, at a study session of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in October 2015. The most revolutionary change in the international balance of power since modern times, Xi said, was rapid development of emerging economies and a large number of developing countries and their increasing influence in the international community. The contradiction between the U.S. and major developing countries is multifaceted, but the most important and essential aspect involves a divergence of views and behaviors on historical progress and the trend of the times. The rise of the East and the decline of the West in the international balance of power are of significance to historical advancement, as it is redressing the historical injustices caused by colonialism and capitalism over the past 500 years. Besides, the shift in global power is also reflected by the reform of the international system and global governance system and mechanism. The international order and system are becoming fairer and more reasonable in an irreversible trend, from the upgrading of the Group of 20 (G20) and BRICS expansion, to the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB). Driven by changes in both the economic base and the superstructure of the world, the West led by the U.S. is becoming less capable of controlling world affairs, which has generated a strong feeling of the old nobility-style frustration and a sense of anxiety over the decline of great power.
On creating a pattern of major-country relations, General Secretary Xi underscored the importance of transforming the world in addition to understanding the world. “All countries need to demonstrate a strong commitment to their global responsibilities in the face of daunting global challenges. Indeed, we need to determine a decisive direction for humanity at this juncture. We must take action instead of simply watching as bystanders, and endeavor to shape the future of humanity.” The current international landscape is experiencing an increasing number of challenges. Provoked by the U.S., a Cold War mentality is on the rise, bloc confrontation sees a resurgence, geopolitical games are intensifying, and there is even a direct military conflict happening between Ukraine and Russia supported by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In this context, China strongly promotes creating a new pattern of major-country relations featuring peaceful coexistence, overall stability, and balanced development among major countries.
Comment: If you are a close Chinese diplomacy watcher, you must know 杨洁勉 YANG Jiemian's elder brother, 杨洁篪 YANG Jiechi, former director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee and Minister of Foreign Affairs of China. I found an interesting story back in 2007 from ifeng.com titled "杨门双杰外交虎将" "Yang Brothers and Chinese Diplomacy", to brief the "Yang Brothers" and their significant connection to Chinese diplomacy:
Both Yang Jiechi and his younger brother Yang Jiemian have a career in Chinese diplomacy. In his fate, Yang Jiechi seems to have a connection with tiger. He was born in 1950, the year of the Tiger according to the Chinese Zodiac. The last character of his name "篪" contains a variant of the Chinese character for the tiger "虎". And he is called Tiger Yang by U.S. politicians.
Yang Jiemian, one year younger, was born in 1951, the year of the Rabbit. And the last character of his name "勉" contains the strokes of the Chinese character for the rabbit "兔". Yang Jiechi is directly engaged in diplomacy decision-making, while Yang Jiemian’s role is to provide ideological and theoretical support for China’s diplomacy.
The phrase "东升西降" “the rise of the East and the decline of the West" in the context of international power dynamics mentioned by Professor Yang Jiemian in his article is indeed a perspective that might be familiar to some China watchers, but seeing it characterized as "具有重要的历史进步性" a significant historical advancement in official or quasi-official Chinese documents is noteworthy.
The latter part of the statement, which mentions "正在纠正 500 年以来殖民主义和资本主义造成的历史不公" "redressing the historical injustices caused by colonialism and capitalism over the past 500 years", is intriguing. To understand the reference to 500 years, we need to look back to the year of 1523. I asked ChatGPT about what changes the world was undergoing around the year of 1523 and here are its answers:
Europe: The Renaissance was in full swing, leading to major advancements in arts, science, and thought. The beginning of the Protestant Reformation, with Martin Luther's activities, was also around this time.
Asia: In China, the Ming Dynasty was in power, known for its cultural prosperity and maritime exploration (e.g., Zheng He's voyages). The region was relatively stable and prosperous.
Americas: Pre-Columbian civilizations like the Aztecs and Incas were dominant in their respective regions. This was just before the extensive European colonization began in the Americas.
Africa: African empires like the Songhai in West Africa were powerful. The continent hadn't yet experienced the full impact of European colonization and the Atlantic slave trade, which would escalate significantly in the following centuries.
Middle East: The Ottoman Empire was a major power, controlling large territories in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Europe.
The reference to 500 years seems to point to the early stages of European exploration and colonization, which significantly altered global power dynamics. This period marked the beginning of widespread European influence around the world, often at the cost of indigenous cultures and societies, setting the stage for the development of modern colonialism and capitalism.
Feel free to leave your comments if you have any thoughts on this matter.
The New Washington Consensus and the Transition of U.S. Economic Strategy “新华盛顿共识”与美国经济战略的转型
By LI Wei, Professor at the School of International Studies, Renmin University of China (RUC), and director of the Center for American Studies, RUC
The core of the so-called New Washington Consensus is the U.S. will abandon the excessive faith in and bright expectations for the free market the old one had, and will instead seek to employ the power of the state machinery to fully revitalize the domestic industrial ecosystem and technological innovation capacity through domestic industrial policies and international economic coalition, in order to achieve the strategic goals of "outcompeting" its strategic rivals globally and rebuilding a powerful middle class domestically. The new consensus represents not only a macro guide for the country’s domestic and foreign economic policy in the future, but also a summary of the practices adopted by the Biden administration in the past two years.
But on the other hand, although the Biden administration seems to have made a great whoop and a holler about its economic diplomacy, there are still great uncertainties over how many of its policies and measures could finally materialize. In the past, quite a few of the country’s diplomatic initiatives ended up with nothing significant despite a great deal of propaganda. Through its economic diplomacy, the U.S. aims to contain China together with its allies. But for most countries, containing China is not in their interests, and worse, comes at a very high price. So they will not completely follow the leadership of the US. Many countries, not entirely willing to ride the US “chariot”, are just acting with the carrots and sticks from the U.S.
美国战略精英提出和践行的“新华盛顿共识”所带来的美国经济战略大转型确实给中国带来了严重挑战，无论是经济发展还是经济安全，中国都将面临更为险峻的外部环境。但也应看到，拜登政府企图通过国内产业政策和国际经济外交来强行改变市场格局犹如逆水行舟，毕竟市场的主体是企业而不是政府，企业以追求利润为宗旨，未必会完全遵照政府指挥而违背市场规律。同时，改革开放 40 多年来，中国在基础设施、市场规模、人才储备和产业集群等方面积累了巨大的优势。这些优势对于全球商业力量而言，已然形成一种强大的“磁场效应”，会对拜登政府经济竞争战略构成强大的对冲之势。中国需要通过对内进一步深化改革，对外加强构建最广泛的经济伙伴关系网络，来化解美国施加的经济竞争压力。
Admittedly, a big shift in the U.S. economic strategy resulting from the New Washington Consensus proposed and followed by U.S. strategic elites has brought grave challenges to China. China will face a more severe external environment in terms of both economic development and security. But one irrefutable fact is that the Biden administration is sailing against the current by attempting to change the market landscape in a forcible way through domestic industrial policy and international economic diplomacy. After all, businesses, not the government, play a principal role in the market. Profit oriented, businesses will not necessarily follow the orders of the government completely and defy the laws of market economics. Besides, in the past 40 years since its reform and opening up, China has built enormous advantages in infrastructure, market size, talent pool, and industrial clusters, among other aspects. These advantages have produced a powerful “magnetic field effect” on the global business circle, and are expected to be a big offset against the economic competition strategy of the Biden administration. What China needs to do is to deepen reform domestically and to build the broadest economic partnership network externally to defuse the economic competition pressure from the U.S.
Comment: I am curious about how friends in the American academic community among GRR's readers view Li Wei's interpretation of the New Washington Consensus.
U.S.-Japan Strategic Synergy in Southeast Asia and Its Limitations 美日在东南亚的联手拓展：战略协同与影响限度
By XIANG Haoyu, specially appointed research fellow in the Department for Asia-Pacific Studies, China Institute of International Studies, & BAO Zhipeng, assistant research fellow in the Department for Asia-Pacific Studies, China Institute of International Studies
美日联手拓展东南亚的成效主要取决于美国的投入，但当前美国受制于国内矛盾以及全球其他方向的精力牵扯，对东盟的实质性投入有限。尽管美国在“印太战略”中提升了对东南亚的重视程度，但依然缺乏对东南亚专门战略谋划和全方位布局。有日本学者指出，拜登政府上台以来对东南亚的政策信号是混乱的，在价值观、对华态度、多边主义等诸多方面的态度自相矛盾。2022 年 5 月，美国邀请东盟十国领导人到华盛顿参加美国—东盟特别峰会，最终仅宣布向东盟投资 1.5 亿美元，用于加强东南亚清洁能源、海上安全和抗击新冠疫情等领域 , 此举令东盟国家感到失望。
The U.S. and Japan are working together to expand their presence in Southeast Asia. How the move will work mainly depends on U.S. engagement, but at present the U.S. isn’t doing much for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries as it has to deal with its domestic issues and problems involving other regions in the world. Although the U.S. has displayed an attitude of placing more importance on Southeast Asia in its Indo-Pacific Strategy, no special planning and all-round arrangement have been in place. A Japanese scholar pointed out that since taking office, the Biden administration has sent out mixed signals about the U.S. policy on Southeast Asia — being self-contradictory in its values, its attitude towards China, multilateralism, and many other aspects. In May 2022, the U.S. invited leaders of the ASEAN countries to a US-ASEAN Special Summit, held for the first time in Washington DC. But in the end, the U.S. only promised to spend 150 million US dollars on clean energy, maritime security, pandemic preparedness and other efforts, a move that disappointed the ASEAN countries.
从执行层面看，美日对东南亚投入依然缺乏战略层面的统筹协调。古贺庆（Kei Koga）认为，美国和日本在其“印太”框架内都缺乏对东盟战略定位的清晰愿景。尽管美日在外交姿态上表达了对东盟的支持，但两国间缺乏 一套明确的协同战略，难以有效赋能东盟。从美日与东南亚的官方合作清单来看，合作项目多侧重于人员培训等能力建设、技术标准制定等领域，虚大于实。在互联互通等基建领域缺乏大手笔项目，突出体现了美日想“花小钱办大事”的功利取向。
At the execution level, the U.S. and Japan still lack strategy-level coordination in their commitments to Southeast Asia. In a paper, Kei Koga said "Neither the United States nor Japan have a clear vision for ASEAN's strategic role in the Indo- Pacific." Despite their supportive diplomatic posture to ASEAN, the author noted, they have not developed a clear set of coordinated strategy to effectively empower ASEAN. The official list of areas for cooperation between the two countries and Southeast Asia mainly covers less-important areas like capacity building through personnel training, and creation of technical standards. There are no large infrastructure projects such as interconnectivity projects, reflecting their utilitarian logic of “doing more with less”.
And there exist differences in values between the US-Japan alliance and ASEAN. The former advocate Western democratic values, while the latter embraces diversity and coexistence. The U.S., especially, always tends to promote Western democratic values in its diplomatic engagement with Southeast Asia. In an article published in Foreign Affairs, Kishore Mahbubani, a Singapore-based scholar, said "ASEAN has helped forge a cooperative regional order built on a culture of pragmatism and accommodation. That order has bridged deep political divides in the region and kept most Southeast Asian countries focused on economic growth and development." The US should not interfere in the political systems of different countries. It is wrong for US President Biden to describe world politics as a battle between democracy and autocracy, the author said.
Comment: In September and December, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping visited Vietnam, a member of ASEAN, in turn. The international community is highly interested in the two countries' diplomatic activities in this region. China may have disagreements with some ASEAN countries on the South China Sea issue, but culturally and geographically, China is undoubtedly closer to ASEAN countries than the United States. This includes Laos and Vietnam, whose political systems, like China's, are socialist. The future diplomatic efforts of China and the United States in this region will certainly remain a hot topic of external attention for a long time.