(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2019)
Every great state has several paths among which it can choose, each consist with its governing ideology and culture. One might imagine, for example, that over the last several centuries in Russia, those paths tilted it east toward the Stepppe cultures and Mongolia, or the south toward Central Asian Islam and the Ottoman Turks, or west toward (northern) Europe and the Prussians. The results are quite distinct Rissia's now constantly in tension with each other and manifested in shifting strategies for identifying, valuing, and interacting with the non-Russian world (including the non-Russian world within Russia).
For the Americans the choice is quite different, between socio-racial hierarchies and isolation within a continent sized nation, or toward the embrace of the ideal of the United States as the embodiment of the world and all of its cultures, in both cases providing a basis for global leadership. In the 20th and 21st centuries these tilts produced both the Washington Consensus and contemporary economic globalization and variations of America First, both under the leadership of the United States as the global vanguard nation.
Ironically, China's paths appear along lines similar to those facing the United States, though of course with Chinese characteristics. On the one hand, Chinese paths point inward toward a self referencing and self contained unit that deals with the rest of the world through carefully controlled entry and exit points and from which it develops paths toward relations of use to it. The current manifestation (and variation) of this path is the Belt and Road Initiative, perhaps. The other cluster of paths point outward toward a more robust integration in the world in which though relations are hierarchical, they tend to be open and interactions are deeply integrated. The "Go Out" Policy and the process of Reform and Opening Up (at least practiced for a generation) might point in this direction.
For both China and the United States, then, their respective vanguard "leadership core" [领导核心] have sought to manage the choice of paths grounded in a calculation of the respective interests of each state (within a global system in which isolation is no longer an object) and constrained by their respective governing ideologies. The choice on both sides had been stable until the time of the current "leadership core" [领导核心]. Over the past several years both have sought to rethink the parameters of what had been a dynamic but relatively stable relationship as each embraced the idea that they both operated at the moment of the start of a great "new era" [新时代]. This New Era [新时代] was to be manifested in the most important sector of national engagement--its economic model within globalization.
It ought to come as no surprise (at least in retrospect), that the flash point for choosing the new path in the "new era" [新时代] would find expression at the core of the framing relations that drives global economic activity--the China-US economic and trade negotiations. It is here that both states have been playing out the process (mostly internal and opaque except to the leadership and their servants) of choosing their respective paths consistent with their ideologies which in turn will define not just their bilateral relations, but also the way in which both states approach the world in the context of a globalization that cannot be avoided. China, especially, appears to face a choice. Having spent the greater part of the time it had embraced the "Reform and Opening Up" period deeply integrating its economy with that of the world--a choice accelerated with China's Accession to the WTO and its more robust engagement in the institutions of then dominant global economic principles--China appears now to be considering the value of a new path. That path would be grounded on the disentangling of its generalized connection with an unstructured environment of production and substituting in its stead a much more focused and directed set of streams of activity over which it will preside. To that end, the principal task is to disentangle the Chinese and U.S. economies. And the trade negotiations provide the perfect cover for the development, articulation and implementation of that choice (formally connected to the receding system but effectively substituting another). In that respect, of course, the Chinese are also providing substantial (and critically necessary) support to the leadership core of the United States who, within the structures of their own governing ideology have also faced this choice and appear as well willing to follow suit.
The Working Group on Empire (WGE) of the Coalition for Peace and Ethics
looks to study and theorize the construction
of systems of management and control of human activities, that is of
empire in the 21st century. In a series of essays that will be made available form time to time (CPE EmpireSeries
) WGE considers the
re-construction of Empire shorn of its old glosses (which elites
everywhere have been taught to conflate with the form and thus to
amalgamate a normative judgment about technique with an evaluation of
the form of empire) in the context of the now heated contest for the
control of the structures of global economic trade within which these
new forms of empire might be developed. WGE is composed of members of the Coalition for Peace and Ethics of whom Flora Sapio, Larry Catá Backer, and James Korman have taken a leading role; its work product is collaborative.
This post is the first of a series of four (4) posts in which the CPE WGE examine the question of paths to empire performed
through the choices being made by the U.S. and Chinese leadership cores [领导核心
] within the theater of the U.S.-China bilateral trade negations. To that end it critically examines China's State Council
] White Paper,
entitled China's Position on the China-US Economic and Trade Consultations ; <关于中美经贸磋商的中方立场>; 原中国语言版本. The White Paper was distributed by the State Council Information Office on Sunday 2 June.
For this Part I the critical analysis is embedded in the English text of the White Paper Annotation in RED
(original in black). The original Chinese version [关于中美经贸磋商的中方立场]; then follows--原中国语言版本如下印刷.
Part 1 may be accessed HERE
Part 2 may be accessed HERE.
Part 3 may be accessed HERE
Part 4 may be accessed HERE