June 19, 2017

Historical Experience and Innovation in China's Politics in the Context of Current Geopolitical Changes

Part 1. “Cherishing his old knowledge, so as continually to be acquiring new, he may be a teacher of others)” — Confucius

 

Oleksandr Lebid, a Military and Political Expert

These are the features which Confucius attributed to the urgent characteristics of the behavior of a person who can become a leader and retain the primacy in a difficult struggle. This ancient wisdom quite fully characterizes the diversity of processes in today's China, which enabled it to claim the role of one of the global centers of decision-making, taking into consideration the profound changes in the countries of Western civilization.

The democratic principles of the existence of the West, especially the political parties' equal opportunities for their representatives to be elected leaders of the states, ensure the constant renewal of political leadership in Europe and North America. The formation of the modern establishment is under the influence of a strong negative attitude of citizens of Western countries to individual manifestations of globalism.

Such sentiments contributed to strengthening the positions of political populists, which resulted in D. Trump's coming to power in the United States, and in the populist parties' increased influence on political processes in Europe.

Such shifts in the structure of political forces have created prerequisites for changing relations between the countries of the conditional “power triangle”, to which influential international experts include Western countries led by the United States, Russia and China. Thus, former National Security Advisor for the President of the United States (1977–1981), Zbigniew Brzezinski proposed to consider the achievement of global stability at the present stage through the cooperation of the USA, RF and PRC in the sphere of security.

Triangle of power — USA, Russia and China
Triangle of power — USA, Russia and China

The essence of the changes in international relations is that new leaders of Western countries are compelled to abandon the practice of solving foreign policy problems that has developed over the past fifteen years, in favor of finding a way out of the crisis situation in domestic politics. The United States and the European Union, which for a long time have been the “locomotives” of globalization, the leaders of scientific and technological development and formation of information society, deliberately limits their participation in international projects and resolving armed conflicts. This is evidenced by the USA's refusal to participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was carefully built by the previous US administration. In the settlement of the Syrian conflict, Washington allows more active participation of Russian troops. Besides, one can see a decline in the USA's interest to the Transatlantic trade and investment partnership, which was due to D. Trump's election promises.

It should be noted that the implementation of election promises in foreign policy is fraught with difficulties in fulfilling international obligations. Thus, the European countries' refusal to conclude bilateral trade agreements with the United States bypassing the EU has led to the fact that during the meeting of US Secretary of Commerce W. Ross and European Commissioner for Trade S. Malstrom in April 2017, a decision was made to resume negotiations on a partnership that probably will happen at the end of 2017.

Besides, the United States is compelled to fulfill its obligations to the allies, as demonstrated by D. Trump's talks with the leaders of Japan and South Korea.

It should be noted that the implementation of election promises in foreign policy is fraught with difficulties in fulfilling international obligations. Thus, the European countries' refusal to conclude bilateral trade agreements with the United States bypassing the EU has led to the fact that during the meeting of US Secretary of Commerce W. Ross and European Commissioner for Trade S. Malstrom in April 2017, a decision was made to resume negotiations on a partnership that probably will happen at the end of 2017. Besides, the United States is compelled to fulfill its obligations to the allies, as demonstrated by D. Trump's talks with the leaders of Japan and South Korea.

 

The increased need to focus on domestic development objectively makes the USA abandon a part of its role of a “world leader” and allow the possibility of building relations with Russia and China on new terms. This development of the situation fully meets the interests of Putin's Russia. In particular, at the International Security Conference in Munich in 2007, V. Putin declared the Kremlin's intention to seek a multipolar world and to prevent NATO from expanding eastward (thereby seeking to reestablish Russian influence on the countries of the former USSR). And now, ten years after the Russian leader's tough speech in Munich, the world has come close to the emergence of a new mighty center of world power.

In this situation, Ukraine needs to have an accurate picture of possible influence of each country of the “triangle of power” on the development of international relations in the near future. Taking into consideration that the United States will remain a world political, economic and military leader for a long time, and Russia has chosen an aggressive path to achieve its strategic goals, China's emergence as a world leader needs the most attention. Especially as the economic strengthening of the PRC makes Beijing closer and closer to Europe and, consequently, to Ukraine.

It can be assumed that Confucius' quote mentioned at the beginning of this article, is used by the Chinese leadership to develop key elements of the internal potential in order to make Beijing a world leader.

In particular, there is renewal of the political leadership, which introduces novelty in the development of the country, excluding doubts about the leading role of the Communist Party of China. For this, the country's legislation and the CPC's governing documents enshrine the changeability of the country's political leadership. The PRC President has no right to hold office for more than two five-year terms. The arrival of new people to the country's leadership ensures modernization of domestic policy, economic development model, as well as foreign policy activities, taking into consideration changes in the military-political and economic situations in the world. At this, for the entire period of reforms there has been a change in the quality of political leaders. The charismatic leaders, who with their personal qualities demonstrated the necessity of the chosen course and ensured the irreversibility of the reforms, are being replaced by pragmatic functionaries who choose the most acceptable tactics for continuing the country's modernization. In other words, today China is completing the formation of the state management system, which will be stable to changes in the personal composition of the leadership and will ensure the country's further development.

Without questioning the “guiding role” of the Communist Party and the strategic goals of China's development, each generation of the leadership of the PRC introduced something new into the implementation of strategic goals. Thus, Deng Xiaoping, a representative of the second generation of leaders, put forward a theory of building socialism with Chinese characteristics that created conditions for improving the PRC's relations with the rest of the world. In accordance with Jiang Zemin's concept (he belonged to the third generation of leaders) of the “triple representation” of the CCP, representatives of the bourgeoisie got the right to be members of the Communist Party of China. So, the “system of social elevators” was updated and tensions in the Chinese society were removed. Hu Jintao (fourth generation) put forward a “scientific concept of development” of the country and ensured a moderate foreign policy that was aimed at eliminating tension in relations with the USA and Europe, especially in the economic sphere. Hu Jintao's position meant the need to “borrow useful fruits of the political culture of the mankind” without rash copying of the Western model of the political system.

Four generations of Chinese leaders: Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, Xi Jinping
Four generations of Chinese leaders: Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, Xi Jinping

With Xi Jinping coming to the post of the President of the PRC in March 2013, a new stage in the country's development began, during which efforts have been focused on fighting corruption, ensuring the rule of law in the Chinese society, and China’s entering the global economy on equal terms with developed countries. Certain results of implementation of these complex tasks, which significantly affect the way of life of the Chinese society, testify to the strong character and will of the current Chinese leader. Despite the tangible opposition of party and regional groups, under the leadership of Xi Jinping continues the creation of a state system in which social elevators will be the determining factor in the development of the Chinese society. This position of Xi Jinping makes him one of the strongest political figures of modern China.

At the same time, the PRC continues to take advantage of the Chinese labor market, which has become the basis for China's economic success, supporting its competitiveness. To maintain the attractiveness of Chinese labor force and prevent increase of labor costs, China is making efforts to raise labor productivity and product quality by improving the workers' skills. Besides, the low level of the cost of the labor force is maintained thanks to letting inhabitants of agricultural areas work in the industry. At the same time, the problem of the rapid aging of the PRC population and the retention of the number of the able-bodied population at the necessary level is solved by changing the demographic policy. From January 1, 2016, amendments to the Law on Population and Family Planning entered into force, according to which the number of children in Chinese families will increase. By such actions, the Chinese leadership expects to weaken the consequences of the increase in the number of the aging population, which, according to official figures, by 2050, may amount to 30 % of China's total population.

Disproportions between the workable and aging population in China
Disproportions between the workable and aging population in China

The intention to sustain a rational proportion between the workable and aging population that will support the competitiveness of the labor market will lead to a further increase in population density in China. For this very reason, there is a high probability of intensifying of Chinese citizens' migrating to the deserting territory of the Russian Far East. Already today, the population of the north-eastern part of China, which is one of the main the source of migrants, exceeds the number of Russian citizens of the Far East by more than six times. Such a ratio cannot be changed even by Moscow's new policy of stimulating the development of agriculture and increasing the Russian population in the Far East, which has been led since May 2016. Almost a year after the entry into force of the law on the “Far Eastern hectare”, not many Russian Federation's citizens are willing to use it. Under these circumstances, Beijing, while strategically planning its demographic policy, is looking narrowly at the Russian Far East with the view to settling there the surplus Chinese population. This means that the Chinese-Russian relations will soon face the problem of regulating the status of Chinese migrants in the Far East.

In general, the above-mentioned approaches to solving the main issues of domestic policy allow the leadership of the PRC to create conditions for the stable development of the Chinese society and strengthening its national potential.

 

To be continued…