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“GSSI New Global Playmaker China” - Prof. Dr. Celalettin Yavuz

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  • 29-03-2023, 10:36

    “GSSI  New Global Playmaker China” -

    The People’s Republic of China (PRC) or for short China, while taking the reforms it started in 1979 one step further every day, continues its moves that will keep the US awake in global competition without interruption. In recent years, China has been expanding its superiority, especially in the electronic devices and machinery industries, to almost every conceivable field such as the health-pharmaceutical sector, chemistry, arms and shipbuilding industries, space technology and artificial intelligence. China, which has continuously increased its foreign trade and domestic production has also begun to play the role of a “global order builder” through its role in improving relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Moreover, in the Middle East, The US, which is still staging unimaginable political manoeuvres in order to remain a “global power” on its own, has almost turned into its “backyard” by settling in with countless military bases. In this analysis, China’s unstoppable power is mentioned.

    China’s Revival

    China, one of the oldest settled countries in history and one of the countries that contributed to the enlightenment of Turkish history experienced the Western invasion that started before the Middle Ages until the end of World War II. When Japan attacked China in 1937, the nationalists of Chiang Kai-shek and the communists of Mao Tse-tung entered into a cooperation against this common danger. Throughout the war, the communists defended their country in the northern provinces of China and the nationalists in the southern provinces of China. After the surrender of Japan in 1945, the USA, fearing that the communists would dominate northern China, moved a nationalist force of 80,000 men to Shanghai, Nanking and Peiping, but in 1949 Mao Zetung proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. Shan Kai-Shek retreated to Formosa Island (Taiwan). The PRC’s influence on the “Non-Aligned” movement, which began with the Banduk Conference in 1956 and its conflicting relations with the Soviets overlapped with US interests. Consequently, in 1971, by a majority decision of the UN General Assembly, the PRC replaced Nationalist China (Taiwan) as one of the five members of the Security Council, representing China.

    With the appointment of Deng Xiaoping as the leader of the PRC in 1977, China embarked on a major expansion at home and in the international arena, its fortunes began to change. The 11th Central Committee meeting of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1978 opened the door to “epoch-making” reforms. Deng Xiaoping, who initiated a major reform and opening-up policy with the theme of “economy first”, left his mark as the architect of the “Chinese miracle” with a strong leadership until 1992, while reform was unheard of in the Soviet Union, another major communist country.

    The Development Adventure of China, Which First Said “Security of Borders and Economic Development”

    Although it is actually a communist country, the first step of the reform started with the privatisation of the agricultural sector. In addition to small-scale privatisation in this field, legal regulations supporting free entrepreneurship were also initiated throughout the country. Considering the inadequacy of the country’s own resources, foreign investments, which were mostly attracted by Western countries, were liberalised, unlike other communist countries. Towards the end of the 1980s, some of the large state-run industrial enterprises started to be privatised and the outsourcing system was introduced for the needs of the industrial sectors.

    Although protectionist industrial policies were abandoned for domestic production, strategic sectors such as banking and energy remained under state control. As a result of this “one-of-a-kind” economic restructuring that started in the 1980s, these economic reforms, which have enabled the country to maintain its economic growth almost uninterruptedly are also called “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.

    By the 2000s, more than two-thirds of China’s national income was generated by the private sector as a result of socialism with Chinese characteristics. From the beginning of the reforms until 2013, China’s national income growth ranked first in the world almost every year, reaching an annual average of 9.5 per cent, and became the second largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power, just behind the USA.

    During this period, China was particularly careful not to interfere in international disputes and its main priority was to preserve its territorial integrity and political stability. The territorial disputes in the regions to the east and south of China, including Taiwan, are of primary importance.

    The priorities in achieving the national goals set within the scope of the Chinese miracle were listed as “economic development, technological development, maximising military capacity, social development and the importance of stability”. The most important parameter determining and affecting its foreign policy is the internal stability of the country and the security approaches regarding Taiwan, which it considers as its own territory, as well as Tibet, Inner Mongolia and the East Turkistan Uyghur Autonomous Region are the most sensitive nerve endings of the PRC. It makes the most rapid and harsh statements to those who touch these issues.

    The first and by far the most important link in this delicate security strategy is domestic peace and stability. The second link is relations with the twenty countries with which China shares borders, and it strives to pursue a balanced and prudent foreign policy, especially with its powerful neighbours Russia, India and Japan.

    Confucian Tradition in China’s Foreign Policy and Global Approaches

    China’s foreign policy and global political approach are explained by four main factors: (a) The first factor is the Confucian tradition, in which the Chinese are extremely uncomfortable with interference in their internal affairs and believe in the virtue of self-governance. (b) Another factor is the collectivist approach, i.e. Socialism, which can be seen in many of China’s foreign policies behaviours. (c) The third factor lies in the collective mood of the Chinese people, who have struggled with poverty and underdevelopment for hundreds of years. (d) The last factor is the antipathy towards the double-standard practices of the US in global politics, first after World War II and then in the post-Cold War period.

    The “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence” advocated by the PRC since its establishment are also worth emphasising and are as follows (a) mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, (b) mutual non-aggression, (c) non-interference in internal affairs, (d) equality, and (e) mutual benefit.

    China emphasises the following four aspects for “World Political Harmony”: (a) multilateralism in international collective security; (b) international cooperation based on mutual benefit and taking into account the interests of each state; (c) a non-exclusionary world order that allows all civilisations to coexist in harmony; (d) rational reforms of the UN to ensure its effectiveness in the face of new threats and challenges.

    It is also argued that China’s behaviour in favour of developing countries in Security Council votes is not a matter of principle, but of creating a perception in this direction. On the other hand, China, like Russia, is in favour of the use of force through the UN if there is a request from the governments of the countries concerned.

    China’s “soft power” and its hard power when necessary

    While the US started to classify China as one of the most important threats to its global power in the early 2000s, China has tried to realise its economic development through investment and trade colonies on a global scale without reacting as much as possible. Especially in this field, where its gradually developing economic power was the locomotive, it also received the support of the Confucius Institutes it opened in every country it reached. With more than 500 of these institutes on a global scale, including METU and Boğaziçi universities in Turkey, China’s soft power found an opportunity to establish itself in Africa and central Asia.

    China, which has become more vocal about global issues in proportion to the increase in its economic power, displayed a blocking attitude during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Afterwards, China, together with Russia, was instrumental in ending the US embargo against Iraq earlier than expected. In order to increase its economic and political influence in the region, it established the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) with Russia as a partner. Even India, with which it had problems, became a member of the organisation. In the following periods, it tried to curb the aggressive attitude of the USA, which is in violation of international law in the manner of “I am strong, therefore I am right!”, usually together with Russia. In this context, his anti-American views of countries such as Iran, Burma, North Korea and Sudan were particularly noteworthy in the votes at the UN.

    In response to China’s efforts to curb the US, it has started to invest not only in Central Asia and Africa, but also in the economic assets of these countries. In Africa, China even seized the economic assets (airports, railways, etc.) of some countries that could not pay their debts by the set date. Thereupon, the British press likened China’s behaviour to the colonialism of European countries in Africa resembling “wild capitalism” that started in the last quarter of the 19th century.

    In fact, this analogy could not be considered inaccurate. Chinese companies importing oil from the Turkestan countries of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, while building pipelines extending from these countries to China, have also become politically powerful by becoming partners in the energy sector of these countries to a great extent. For this reason, these Turkic states are unable to react to the assimilation and depopulation of the “East Turkistan Uyghur Autonomous Region” in the east of China.

    Peaks Reached by China

    China is the world’s largest producer country and also the largest exporter. With around 1.4 billion people, it has the world’s largest population and ranks second in terms of foreign trade volume. In 2014, it ranked first in the world with three trillion dollars of foreign currency reserves and second in terms of direct investments. With its breakthroughs in the defence industry, it has risen to 4th place in arms exports in recent years. In 2040, it is expected to be in first place by far with its economic power that will reach 123 trillion dollars. As China has been running a large foreign trade surplus for a long time, the US even launched the “Trade War” in 2018. However, the US suffered more than China as a result.

    China, which carries its economic and soft power to political and military power is building facilities under the pretext of the security of sea routes in the South China Sea, while not backing down in disputes with Japan over maritime jurisdiction.

    Although it does not directly or indirectly support Turkey’s “The world is bigger than five!” statement, it has been characterised itself as the “protector and leader of developing countries” for a long time and frequently repeats that these countries should be given more say and authority in the international system. China, which has recently started to add the characteristic of a “conflict-solving” country for its actions, has initiated diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. In addition to this development, which annoyed the US, China also proposed a 12-point ceasefire proposal on the anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine war. The rejection of China’s “peaceful” proposal characterises the US rather than Ukraine as the intransigent party.

    In recent years, the US has been trying to solve problems in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Libya, and even indirectly in Ukraine only with its hard power, but without much success. Undoubtedly, the “belt and road” project planned and implemented on a global scale facilitates China’s work in this regard. While time is working in China’s favour, the US is losing its global power day by day, becoming more and more belligerent in the meantime and scaring away friendly countries.

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