Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A Report on Empire in the New Era: <共建“一带一路”倡议进展、贡献与展望> ["The Belt and Road Initiative Progress, Contributions and Prospects"]--China's Belt and Road Initiative in the Shadows of the Empire of Contemporary Globalization

(Pix credit:"Belt and Road Bedtime Stories" series episode 3)

The tides of world development roll on. The Belt and Road Initiative mirrors the general trend of history. The values and development concepts manifested in the initiative fulfill the demands of human society to form a global community of shared future. (2019 Report: The Belt and Road Initiative: Progress Contributions, and Prospects [共建“一带一路”倡议 进展、贡献与展望], pp. 64) . 

世界潮流浩浩荡荡。共建“一带一路”倡 议顺应历史大潮,所体现的价值观和发展观符 合全球构建人类命运共同体的内在要求,也符 合沿线国家人民渴望共享发展机遇、创造美好 生活的强烈愿望和热切期待。(
[共建“一带一路”倡议 进展、贡献与展望], pp. 61))

I have been suggesting how the international system of law, governance, trade, human rights, and development, have been shaped in key regions by two distinct forms of empire ("In the Shadow of Empires—Latin American Perceptions of Development and International Law"-- Summary of Presentation for ASIL 2019 Proceedings).  
These two imperial systems, have provided a master narrative from out of which . . . states have sought to develop a common approach to international law, to development, and to the their own regional integration. On the one side is a narrative of vertically arranged  and centrally planned organization; on the other side is a loosely organized aggregation of arrangements bound together by regulatory effects of markets and organized according to relative market power. ("In the Shadow of Empires).
Shorn of judgments about their respective failures in light of modern normative sensibilities (e.g., here from the left), these two distinct forms, epitomized by the Spanish Colonial system in Latin America and the American Commercial system, provided coherent visions of the way in which society, the state and the international system could be organized around the exploitation of productive forces. Indeed, the forms of contemporary globalization before 2016 might well be understood as the effort to internationalize the American system of commercial empire better aligned to changing baseline international societal norms.

This study is part of a larger project undertaken by the Working Group on Empire of the Coalition for Peace and Ethics.  The aim of the Working Group on Empire is to study and theorize the construction of systems of management and control of human activities, that is of empire in the 21st century. A caveat: Do not mistake analysis for criticism.  That one calls these projects imperial is not meant to suggest that all of the negative baggage of imperialism ought to be imported into the conversation. One goes back here to much older notions of empire that focuses on the organization and management of human activity among autonomous but dependent communities and the allocation of authority, responsibility and rights among them

 China now offers us a glimpse at the possibilities of a new and distinct form of empire. This new era approach is already quite visible in Chinese self descriptions of its "Belt and Road Initiative."  On April 22, the Office of the Leading Group for Promoting the Belt and Road Initiative [推进“一带一路”建设工作领导小组办公室] issued its 2019 Report: The Belt and Road Initiative: Progress Contributions, and Prospects [共建“一带一路”倡议 进展、贡献与展望]. 
We believe that with the passing of time and the synergy of all parties, Belt and Road cooperation will definitely become deep and concrete, steady and extensive. The Belt and Road will become a road of peace, prosperity, opening up, green development, innovation, connected civilizations, and clean government. It will make economic globalization become more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all. (Ibid; Part III, Prospects pp 49).

我们相信,随着 时间的推移和各方共同努力,共建“一带一路” 一定会走深走实,行稳致远,成为和平之路、 繁荣之路、开放之路、绿色之路、创新之路、 文明之路、廉洁之路,推动经济全球化朝着更 加开放、包容、普惠、平衡、共赢的方向发展。(Ibid;
三、展望, pp. 47)

In this new era of global historical development, China appears to be offerings a means of combining key elements of the command and control features of the traditional colonial models with the allocation and self regulatory features of the markets based commercial empire model.  It seeks to develop an "all around" approach to the construction of highly managed flows of human activity around trade but affecting all of the key societally normative elements that might be turned to align social, religious, and cultural flows with those of trade and commerce.   
The Belt and Road Initiative originated in China, but it belongs to the world. It is rooted in history, but oriented toward the future. It focuses on Asia, Europe and Africa, but is open to all partners. It spans different countries and regions, different stages of development, different historical traditions, different cultures and religions, and different customs and lifestyles. It is an initiative for peaceful development and economic cooperation, rather than a geopolitical or military alliance. It is a process of open, inclusive and common development, not an exclusionary bloc or a “China club”. It neither differentiates between countries by ideology nor plays the zero-sum game. Countries are welcome to join in the initiative if they so will. (Ibid; Preface pp 2)
共建“一带一路”倡议源自中国,更属于 世界;根植于历史,更面向未来;重点面向亚 欧非大陆,更向所有伙伴开放。共建“一带一路” 跨越不同国家地域、不同发展阶段、不同历史 传统、不同文化宗教、不同风俗习惯,是和平 发展、经济合作倡议,不是搞地缘政治联盟或 军事同盟;是开放包容、共同发展进程,不是 要关起门来搞小圈子或者“中国俱乐部”;不以 意识形态划界,不搞零和游戏,只要各国有意 愿,都欢迎参与。(Ibid., pp. 2).
This post includes portions of the English and Chinese version of the Report.  The analysis of the CPE Working Group on Empire will follow shortly. A key to understanding the self reflexive character of BRI can be found in Part II of the Report ("Contributions") [贡献].


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