of the People’s Republic of China: the Concept of «Harmonic World»
Автор: Daugulis M.
The People’s Republic of China (further in text – the PRC) is called a financial twin of the United States of America. While no one denies financial importance of the PRC on the world level, discussions on the PRC’s role in international political governance are mainly diminished till the level of mutual allegations – the “West” (includes mainly international society formed by the USA and Europe) considers the PRC’s ambitions to be a threat, while the PRC’s side reproach to the West absolute ignorance toward claims of the PRC for global governance [7, p. 14]. The core for such a dispute is quite simple – during the presidency of Hu Jintao (the President of the PRC) the PRC’s analysts has developed a chain of new foreign policy rules – presented by state officials as a new rules for International Society. Probably the most popular are the “peaceful rising”, “peaceful development” and “harmonic world concepts” [5, p. 5]. First two of them characterize the way, how the PRC should develop itself to become equally developed with the West. The concept of “harmonic world” is directly addressed to international society – it is a vision how international governance should be reorganized in order to give larger role to the PRC [2, p. 20]. The West sees these new rules for international society as an aggressive claim of the PRC to gain more power. Because of this the concepts of the PRC are not even broadly discussed [7, p. 15]. In this article author analyzes what the PRC understands as a “harmonic world concept” and should it be denied by the West without additional discussion. In the centre of the analysis are writings of Chinese constructivists (basically writings by Li Junru, Jiang Xiyan, Shi Yinghong, Liu Yongtao, Yang Jiemian) on China’s understanding of development of international system, who serves as a background for foreign policy rules presented by the PRC.
According to Chinese constructivists the ground thesis for the concept of “harmonic world” is common profit of all international society from the growth of the PRC. The first slogan of all proposals for reorganization of international system is “peace is the foundation for development, and the development is the foundation for peace”. The PRC sees that “harmonic world” should include developing states, not act as the existing system – where in the center are “old fellows club” of major powers of international system. This is the basic difference that the PRC makes – the development should be based taking into account the needs of developing states, not already developed. Nevertheless, the PRC itself from time to time refers itself both to developed and developing countries [2, p. 8].
Following postulates serve for the concept of “harmonic world”:
1) Democracy and equality should be supported by everyone to reach mutual cooperation and successful communication – with this point the PRC highlights the role of the United Nations as the only forum for discussions of global governance powers. “Win-win” result is in the focus of the PRC’s analysts. Nevertheless all views of the PRC toward the United Nations are based on negative precedent given by the USA and Iraq. By “unilateralism in decision making” the PRC means only this case. For “harmonic world” dominance of one state over others should not be accepted [8, p. 16].
2) There is need for harmony and mutual trust for common security – with this postulate the PRC tries to show that is against the Cold War mentality in the international system. The PRC shows its readiness to deal with new threats of security (terrorism, financial crisis etc.) as the equal partner to other states of global governance [2, p. 25].
3) In order to reach mutual development there is a need for mutual honesty and mutual profitability – this point in discourse of the PRC foreign rules emphasizes the gap between North and South, where by “North” are the wealthiest nations of the world. This is a very important point, because within this postulate the PRC shows its readiness to cross the line from developing state to developed state [9, p. 5].
4) To manage more effective dialogue between civilizations, there is a need for tolerance and openness between states – with this postulate the PRC highlights differences in political systems and seeking recognition from other states. Possibility to choose “own way” in development for any state – this is a slogan of the PRC foreign rules, which is based on the experience of the PRC itself [2, p. 26].
Yang Jiemian, vice-president of Shanghai Institute of International Relations, gives an even more complicated description of the “harmonic world” concept. According to him, the core of harmonic world perception is in understanding the history of China. The idea as such about way toward harmonic world firstly was expressed in September 2005 by Hu Jintao in 60th anniversary of the United Nations [8, p. 100]. In the speech of Hu Jintao, the “harmonic world” at the beginning is the destination which we can reach if differences could be laid aside, tolerance and openness together with respect toward other civilizations, religions and values are maintained [3, p. 1]. After Hu Jintao mentioned harmonic world as a term, the constructivists of the PRC developed it further, and gave to this term a “scientific basis”. Yang Jiemian describes two ways how the concept of harmonic world is developed in the PRC. First group of the PRC’s constructivists sees harmonic world as a long-term goal. Second group sees the harmonic world also as an instrument to reach universal development [8, p. 100].
Nevertheless all groups of the PRC’s constructivists assume that “harmonic world” concept can be seen as a part of global governance mainstream, if we look at it from perspective of existing theories of international relations. Accordingly “harmonic world” is an antagonism to unilateralism and hegemony, and is definitely opposite to ideas of clash of civilizations [4, p. 20].
To reach the „harmonic world” as a goal, the PRC is ready to protect four approaches in the agenda of diplomacy. Firstly, for security and defense the PRC is ready to cooperate only on the basis of multilateralism and collective deal while solving conflicts. Secondly, multilateralism should be used also in market system [6, p. 23]. Thirdly, the building of harmonic world should be inclusive (any state of the world should be participant in decision making, ignoring its economic status) [1, p. 5]. And finally, all reforms that lead to strengthening of role of the United Nations in the global order should be maintained [8, p. 106].
Taking into account the growing role of the PRC in the world arena, main question is, whether the Western states should put under discussion the proposed new models of International Society, based on different concepts – one of them touched in this article – “harmonic world”. It is clearly visible that the PRC’s rhetoric is mostly China-centered – it means under cover of different new proposals there is one meaning – the PRC wants to be equal member of global governance club. Before blindly denying these ambitions, the West should take under consideration that together with recognition of some international actor there comes also a possibility to ask responsibility in several spheres from the recognized. Accordingly acceptance of the PRC’s proposals and discussion on them should give a chance to evaluate the PRC’s role in international society, and maybe even in the guidance of the West. If western countries could take into their rhetoric at least the elements from the PRC proposals, it would result in several benefits. First of all, the West could ask from the PRC to follow the rules that the PRC created by itself (for instance, conducting sustainable energy policy or rendering help to developing countries). Secondly, by recognition the PRC as the “architect” of the “harmonic world” in the region, it could be treated as a fully developed country, not a developing one, with full package of responsibilities toward international society. Till the both sides – the West and the PRC – will stay on different sides with different ambitions, “harmonic world” will stay “on the paper” both for the PRC and for the West.
1. 30 Years of China’s Reform: Through Chinese and International Scholars’ Eyes. China (Hainan) Institute for Reform and Development. Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 2008.
2. China’s Peaceful Development Road. Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. Beijing: New Star Publishers, 2005.
3. Hu J. From Glorious Past to a Bright Future: Building New Type of Strategic Partnership Between Asia and Africa // People’s Daily, Jakarta, April 23.
4. Jiang X. Theoretical Norms of Transformation of International System and China’s Choises Limitations . Shanghai Institute for International Studies, Publications: International Review, Summer, 2006.
5. Li J. The China Dream, Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 2006.
6. Li R. Institutional Suitability and Economic Development: Development Ecoconomics Based On Practices In China. Beijing: China Economic Publishing House, 2008.
7. Liu Y. American Neocons’ Discourse on China: Impacts and Limitations. Shanghai Institute for International Studies, Publications: International Review, Summer, 2006.
8. Yang J. China’s Perspective on International System: Soft Power and Public Goods. Shanghai Institute for International Studies, Publications: International Review, Summer, 2006.
9. Zhou D. China’s Energy Issue. Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 2006.
Ст. опубл.: Общество и государство в Китае: XLII научная конференция: Часть. 2 / Ин-т востоковедения РАН. - М.: Учреждение Российской академии наук Институт востоковедения (ИВ РАН), 2012. - 385 стр. - Ученые записки Отдела Китая ИВ РАН. Вып. 6. С. 216-218.