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China’s “soft power” is the power of money

  • Author:naky
  • Source:www.diecastingpartsupplier.com
  • Release on:2015-07-02
A month ago, in the largest military parade held on Red Square since the days of Stalin, one foreign guest drew as much attention as the fearsome hardware on display. While leading the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of victory in what Russians call “the Great Patriotic War”, Vladimir Putin had by his side the congenial Chinese president, Xi Jinping.
President Putin hoped Xi’s presence would symbolise a new, multipolar world order, with Moscow and Beijing playing leading roles. Ultimately, Russian strategic thinking continues to assume, as it has since the days of the Tsars, that military and geopolitical power precede and largely determine a nation’s wealth and prestige.
The Chinese have nothing against the Kremlin approaching power this way. Beijing sees a strong and ambitious Russia as another front for the US to worry about and expend strenuous diplomatic efforts on. As the US and Europe prepare more sanctions against Moscow, opportunities open up for China to access Russia’s mineral and energy resources, and to exert its influence on the Kremlin in matters involving the crucial Eurasian landmass.
Yet while Beijing may indulge Moscow’s concept of a “new multipolar order” it also has its own ideas of what “multipolarity” means: namely, an exclusive G2 power condominium with the US and China as central players – the former, the Chinese believe, in decline, and the latter on the rise. While this perception is rarely voiced by the top leadership in Beijing, it can increasingly be perceived in the attitudes and worldview of China’s government and business elite.
Until recently, China had a pretty clear project for itself: the rapid rise of GDP per capita through an economic model emphasising exports and the accumulation of large stocks of savings and investment. It also presented a clear conception of what the role of the elites should be: to drive socio-economic gains in an atmosphere of thin democratic oxygen and to work vigorously towards strengthening competitiveness in economic, scientific and technological terms.
China also knew what it wanted “from the world”, adapting to a global scenario in which the country was not to be distracted from its race towards economic superpowerdom.
On the one hand, China never welcomed other nations replicating its socio-economic model. Ultimately, to emulate China is to compete with China. On the other, Beijing found comfort in a politico-strategic framework that did not compel China to join ad hoc military coalitions abroad – not even those mandated by the UN Security Council – as long as what it saw as its geopolitical sphere of influence remained unchallenged.
But had China drafted a detailed superpower project, the one big missing piece was what it wanted “for the world”. It lacked a well-structured notion of how the world should be shaped and therefore function. How the global order should work and China’s role in engineering it increasingly permeate Beijing’s diplomatic words and actions.
Whereas the US oscillates between “hard power” (its undeniable military prominence) and “soft power” (its traditional but worn-out discourse in favour of market economies and representative democracies), the Chinese know very well where its “niche” in the G2 resides: to foster strategic partnerships across the globe by means of its massive economic might.
China owes a big part of its economic success to an extraordinary ability to execute a trading-nation strategy. This generated a marked disproportion in the way China participated in different areas of international economic relations. Its central role in global trade – in 2013 China became the world’s largest exporter and importer – was not accompanied pari passu by the country’s significance as a source of infrastructure financing, foreign direct investment or credit provision. This, however, is changing.

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