By Maryam Khormaee

The world in the shadow of regional hegemons/ how does china beat the U.S.?

October 5, 2019

TEHRAN - Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of China is an opportunity for Trump to learn that more than a slogan needed to revive a country’s majesty.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the military event called “the mother of all parades” on Tuesday this week. It is the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and is a powerful representation of the President’s desire to revive the country’s glory in the field of world’s leadership. 

The magnificent parade, attended by 15,000 military forces, more than 160 planes, and 580 defense systems from 59 military units, is being held while Donald Trump obsesses about such ceremonies, but he will be busy fighting with domestic adversary, with the hope to get rid of “Ukraingate” scandal. 

While the Democrats do not allow Trump to repeat the slogan of “make America great again”, Xi, with the help of military authority and political unity of the state, is showing everybody that he is eager to revive China’s majesty and form the future of the world.

Just a week ago, Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi said that the country is seeking a strategic role to represent an international order emphasizing national interests and preventing foreign influence. 

Wang also pointed to the historic milestone in strategic collaboration with Russia, which is not a good news for Americans who see the alliance of Washington and international partners as a mean to compete with China. 

China and the world in the new era

Two days ago, on the eve of the great parade, the State Council Information Office of China released a detailed report titled “China and the world in the new era” to describe the major approaches of the country’s foreign policy.

What is most emphasized in this document is the focus on China’s development without being a threat to others.

  The economic growth of China has also been defined as an opportunity for the whole world, and it has been claimed that it will not seek supremacy over others.

In the released document by the Chinese State Council information Office, imitating Western countries’ development is rejected.

What is remarkable in the detailed document is Beijing’s emphasize on peaceful development of China without seeking hegemony, expansionism or creation of influence. 

The document referred to China as “the most important stability factor and the power source of global economy”. A country that its development is a model for developing countries. 

In the document, China has stated its desired model in international relations as a new model based on mutual respect, equality, justice, and bilateral cooperation. 

These are positive points that the audience will learn from newly released document. More delicate and thoughtful look on the form of words will lead us to a different direction that makes it possible to predict the confrontation of China and the U.S., as another claimant of universal order. 

Differences with Washington and partners

In a part of the document, China introduces itself as the world’s largest “developing” country, while less than two weeks ago, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison named China as a “developed” country and claimed that the rules of World Trade Organization need to be changed to accommodate China’s new position as a developed economy. 

According to the WTO, referring to China as a new developed economy points to a fundamental difference with Beijing’s self-called position as a developing economy - a position that benefits from exclusive privileges such as longer deadlines to fulfill agreed promises.  

These conditions accompany Australia with a campaign, running by U.S. President Donald Trump, to remove China as a developing economy. On April 7, 2018, Trump wrote in a Twitter message that China is a “great economic power” but has received “enormous benefits and privileges” especially from the U.S.

In another part of “China and the world in the new era “document, the entry of the country into WTO on 2001 is considered as a starting point for greater engagement in international economy and commercial cooperation. The U.S. President assailed Beijing in a speech at the 74th meeting of the UN General Assembly held last week, and said, ”the WTO should be reformed. China did not applied the WTO reformations. Globalism and past leaders have prevented U.S. national resources from being considered, so I imposed $500 billion tariffs on Chinese goods, and I hope that we can reach an agreement with China that benefits both parties.” 

We can read in another part of the document that: China seeks fair development, and as the largest developing country in the world, helps small countries passing this stage without any political consideration. U.S. officials claim it is China’s method that makes you indebted, then plunders your national resources. They also state that the idea of “a belt and road” by China has lots of consequences, and is in line with the country’s interests. Americans say that the idea of “a belt and road” does not provide countries with proper loans or international aid, but rather they make a loan based on free market rules with high interest rate. Borrower countries have to work with Chinese companies and use their equipment and workforce to build their ports and railways.

 The collapse of American hegemony in the shadow of peace

In the document, China use sarcasm in case of the U.S. without mentioning its name, and calls into question its supremacy over the universal order. As a part of this report, China brags that it has never launched a war in the past 70 years, and has not even occupied an inch of a single country. Meanwhile, the U.S. has destroyed countries from Vietnam to Afghanistan over these years. 

At the same time, Beijing assured that it is not seeking to be hegemon, and these accusations fuel the fear from China. So, how Beijing will end the U.S. control over the world? 

Maybe the answer should be sought in the speech of Xi on June 15, 2019. On the sidelines of the fifth Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, the Chinese president called for a regional security structure with Asian features to achieve common security.  

In this regard, Xi asked Asian countries and their partners to form a common, comprehensive and sustainable security viewpoint, and pursue a regional security structure with Asian features to reach collective security in Asia. 

The comment by Xi, which is limited to Asia, reveals the prospect of Chinese solution for challenging the U.S.

Xi’s remarks is the realization of the prediction of the founder of the constructivism theory Nicholas Onuf. He once said, “I do not believe that we are currently in a modern universal order”. The modern order emphasized by the U.S. is just rhetoric. I believe “regional orders” will emerge instead of universal order. The dominant of the influence of these regional orders will be at various “hegemonic” levels. But some of these levels will be more influenced or less by possible universal hegemonic order. Thus, the relative power of the U.S. in military and economy terms is reducing. This remarkable decrease in power will negatively affect the notion of the country’s position in the world. 

It should not be imagined that the U.S. cannot compete with China, and as it is clearly affirmed in “China and the world in new era” document, Beijing is facing some challenges that Washington will properly take advantage of them. Population aging, slow economic growth, Hong Kong’s protests, and Taiwan separatism are some of these challenges. Washington and London’s support for protests in Hong Kong, and U.S. insistence on providing Taiwan with arms indicate the U.S. determination to undermine Chinese unity by challenging the fundamental principle of “united China”. 

 

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