Page 1


001-002/LiMes/gerenza

6-10-2000

15:07

Pagina 2

HEARTLAND is a world partner of LIMES, the Italian Geopolitical Review, published by Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso It is registered in Hong Kong and in Rome, and published by Cassan Press-HK and by Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso For any information, please contact Limes, viale Castro Pretorio 116, 00185 Rome (Italy). Tel. 0039 06 4940432; fax 0039 06 4940403; e-mail: bema@limes.net HEARTLAND’s website address: http://www.heartland.limesonline.com Editors: Lucio Caracciolo and Michel Korinman Managing Editors: Francesco Sisci and Zhang Xiaodong Editing and Secretariat: Rosa Balfour, Huang Jianliang, Yu Shicun, Xiang Daiyun HEARTLAND IS PUBLISHED WITH THE SUPPORT OF

BIRINDELLI E ASSOCIATI studio legale


003-004/LiMes4/Sommario

6-10-2000

15:08

Pagina 3

contents no. 1/2000 5 Why Heartland 7 Romano PRODI - Building Bridges between Asia and Europe 11 ZHU RONGJI - Don’t Be Pessimistic about the Euro PART I WHAT CHINA STANDS FOR 17 31 47 57 71

WANG XIAODONG - The West in the Eyes of a Chinese Nationalist ZHANG XIAODONG - Geopolitical Changes in the Western Regions Francesco SISCI - The Pope in China: Still a Long Way to Go Fabio MINI - From the Rim to the Heart ZHANG JIE - The Foundationers Associated with Mr W.’s Funds

PART II FROM ASIA TO ASIA 93 Tommy KOH - ASEM is a Sunrise Organisation 97 Alison BROINOWSKI - All in the Same Boat? Australia’s Relations with Asia 107 Michel KORINMAN and Lucio CARACCIOLO - There is No Australasia 113 Marie-Sybille de VIENNE - What if Dr Mahathir Was Right? 121 Paolo COTTA-RAMUSINO and Maurizio MARTELLINI - The European Policy towards Korea PART III WHAT IS ASIA? 135 V.K. NAMBIAR - The Indian Bridge 141 YUMIKO YAMADA - Asia Viewed from Japan 149 Vitalij TRET’JAKOV - To Stay in Europe, Russia Must Become an Asian Power 153 Frédéric DURAND - A New World MORE HEARTLAND

159 Luca M. BIRINDELLI - China: One Country, Two Systems, Several Markets (“Go West”) 163 Leonardo DINI, Stefano CELLETTI, Franco CUTRUPIA - Doing Italian Business in China 165 Camillo DONATI - “We Behave Like the Church” 166


003-004/LiMes4/Sommario

6-10-2000

15:08

Pagina 4


005-006/Lim/Editoriale

6-10-2000

15:09

Pagina 5

A NEW SILK ROAD?

Why Heartland W

HAT IS GEOPOLITICS? GEOPOLITICS IS THE OPPOSITE OF THE “CLASH OF

civilizations” that the political scientist Sam Huntington made famous. It is more; it is the opposite of racism. It postulates the uniqueness of the human species. Every nation has a right to its historical representations and constructs. Every nation has a right to its arguments. Every nation has a right to its geopolitical projects. Geopolitics is also the opposite of exoticism, which in fact is a way of expelling from a literary point of view entire peoples from our mindset. Exoticism is a mild form of colonialism. Instead, for us distance is not significant: the geopolitical dialogue is in any case equal, even if the interlocutor is thousands of kilometres away. Before “globalisation”, Europeans could believe that the exotic approach served to marginalise Asia; and Asians could think that it served to restrain European influences in Asia. But now, to close up – and to impose closure on others – means to be lost. We have moved from exoticism to “endoticism”: we are all actors of one world. Each with his own way of thinking. Why Eurasia? Why are Europeans rediscovering Asia and Asians are increasingly interested in Europe? For Europeans, to project themselves in Asia is also a way of making Europe. Just look at how easily the Europeans who live in Asia group together. Also, single European states do not have the appropriate dimensions to establish an equal dialogue with their Asian partners. And it is evident that Asians are not interested in having the US as their only Western interlocutor.

5


005-006/Lim/Editoriale

6-10-2000

15:09

Pagina 6

WHY HEARTLAND

We know that today Eurasia does not exist. But it is necessary that the dialogue between Europe and Asia makes a qualitative leap. Economic and trade relations are important, but are not all. Via economics, relations must move onto geopolitics. The Silk Road grows through a geopolitical dialogue. Heartland, what for? This journal is a tool for the dialogue between Europe and Asia. It is not just a matter of exchanging ideas on the pages of Heartland, but of building a network for debate between Europeans and Asians. Nothing formal or diplomatic, but an open and promising path. As we all know, the Silk Roads are infinite.

6


007-010/LiMes/Prodi

6-10-2000

15:10

Pagina 7

A NEW SILK ROAD?

BUILDING BRIDGES BETWEEN ASIA AND EUROPE

by Romano

PRODI

A

T THE START OF THE NEW CENTURY,

the two major themes that have dominated the European political and economic scene in the past fifty years – the positive thrust of European integration, on the one hand, and the resolution of the limitations caused by the division of the continent into two opposing blocs, on the other – have changed the face of Europe completely. At the same time, the sustained growth of Asia’s economy has radically transformed the outlook for trade relations: the main axis of international trade may now be shifting not from the Atlantic to the Pacific – as some authors had predicted – but rather to the Asia-Europe route, from the South China Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, via the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal. Political developments like the peace process in the Middle East, the enlargement of the European Union and the independence of natural-resourcerich Central Asian countries are contributing to the growth of trade between Europe and Asia, as is the accelerating process of establishing a regional identity in a peaceful Asia. Against this background, relations between Europe and Asia are developing a growing momentum. When the challenging task of enlargement concludes, the Union will be able to project its influence far beyond its continental borders, and engage in a genuine partnership of mutual respect and mutual benefit with its friends in Asia. Economic growth in Asia (and in Europe) and economic integration in Europe (and in Asia), and the dense network of relations between “open” economies have created a genuinely global market, in which Europe and Asia are no longer isolated partners, but part of a wider system. These economic processes are increasingly driven more by direct investments from foreign sources than by traditional trading relations. Consequently, each country’s interest in the economies of the others has increased. Modern companies do not perceive distant countries solely as potential markets for their goods, but also as opportunities for investment, creating employment at the same time. And since companies with assets in multiple countries would oppose any attempts at protectionism, increasing liberalisation is almost irreversible.

7


007-010/LiMes/Prodi

6-10-2000

15:10

Pagina 8

BUILDING BRIDGES BETWEEN ASIA AND EUROPE

8

A healthy two-way flow of investments contributes to a country’s wealth; this gives the economy of each individual country a much greater stake in seeing other economies perform well. The increasingly substantial trade and flows of capital between Europe and Asia are as important for today’s economy as the Silk Road was in the 13th and 14th centuries. Europe has realised that it can no longer ignore a substantial section of the globe, one that includes great nations and will soon be the world’s largest economic region. Until it manages to be a player on the Asian stage, Europe will be unable to formulate a truly global policy. Trade between Europe and Asia has increased by over 100% more than trade between the United States and Asia. This is no accident, and was reflected in the regional policy framework developed at the ASEM summit (Asia-Europe Meeting). The problems that emerged with the Autumn 1997 crisis in the Far East are not, in my opinion, structural. Asian economies will continue to grow, as they have all the physical and human resources they need to do so. They will also continue to be attentive to the need for economic and financial reform, just as we in Europe must always be vigilant in maintaining a healthy economy. The major obstacles to progress in Asia are more political and social in nature: tensions between neighbours, concerns over security and the possibility of disastrous military conflicts – together with the need to meet the challenges of social and political change that come with rapid industrialisation. The development of economic relations can provide a strong incentive to avoid political and social conflicts, but the solutions to these problems must be political and social in nature. Matters such as human rights and transparent and accountable government are vital to meeting these challenges, and indeed are universal elements which all of us, in Europe and Asia alike, must address. China’s growth into a great power will have a substantial international impact. The international community should accept this development, rather than seeking to construct a network of local and global alliances around Beijing. China will play an ever-increasing role in regional and world diplomacy, and will make a constructive contribution to international politics and the global economy, thus developing interests favourable to the maintenance of stability. To defuse and isolate potential sources of regional instability, all the regional powers should join forces to establish a common definition of acceptable behaviour. The potential economic and security benefits of stability could reward the effort needed to moderate policies that are not acceptable to neighbouring countries. Europe’s ability to increase its diplomatic role in Asia depends not only on closer economic ties, but also on the experience it has acquired in building its institutions. Existing institutions, such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation, could be used to launch productive forms of cooperation. At the same time, Europe must not just focus on Asia’s economic importance. We must also work together in the political field, and we must also work to increase our mutual understanding and awareness.


007-010/LiMes/Prodi

6-10-2000

15:10

Pagina 9

A NEW SILK ROAD?

THE SILK ROADS

R U S S I A N F E D E R AT I O N

Istanbul Bursa TURKEY

2

Ulaanbaatar

K A Z A K H S TA N

1 3

MONGOLIA

SYRIA 4

IRAQ

5

Beijing

7 6

IRAN

CHINA

AFGHANISTAN

SAUDI ARABIA

PA K I S TA N INDIA YEMEN

OMAN

1234567-

GEORGIA ARMENIA AZERBAIJAN T U R K M E N I S TA N U Z B E K I S TA N TA J I K I S TA N K Y R G Y Z S TA N

Fuzhou

When Europe’s first overseas expansion began in the 16th century, Asia was by far the richest region in the world, and its civilisation was probably the most advanced. The spectacular growth of the last few decades, in spite of the recent crisis, has resulted in a situation in which it would not be unrealistic to expect a return to that happy state of affairs. I do not believe that there will be a “clash of civilizations”. There are opportunities to work together, as long as Asians and Europeans are ready to show each other commitment and goodwill. In the aftermath of the Cold War and its rigid divisions, the old fault lines have failed to give way to new ones. There has simply been a reaffirmation of the importance of diplomacy as a way of finding solutions to shared problems that sooner or later would hinder our progress towards a better future. In the same spirit of keeping channels of thought and debate open, I would like to wish Heartland every success in its endeavour. In our global economy, time and distance count for less and less. Geographical borders are increasingly meaningless. Isolation is the way of the past, not the way of the future. In a world of such rapid change, continued discussion of the issues that shape the destinies of so many people everywhere is absolutely essential, for the sake of stability, and for the sake of progress.

9


007-010/LiMes/Prodi

6-10-2000

15:10

Pagina 10


011-016/(occhLiMes/Int/ZhuRonji

6-10-2000

15:16

Pagina 11

A NEW SILK ROAD?

Don’t Be Pessimistic about the Euro Premier ZHU RONGJI’s Answers to Our Reporter’s Questions

HEARTLAND

Why is the euro in such a bad situation? What could the EU do to chan-

ge it? ZHU RONGJI I’m an engineer instead of an economist. However, I have been engaged in economic work for 50 years, and hence having some experience. I think EU is very promising and has actual strength as an economic entity. Of course, in comparison with the economic entity of USA, EU has not been as prosperous for such a long time and its economy has not developed so fast as USA. However, USA is only a country, while EU includes more than ten countries. There exist some differences between the economic developments of so many countries, and it is certainly not easy to coordinate the actions of these countries. As an economic entity and an economic community with great differences in economic development, I think it is quite an achievement for it to reach the current level of development. It indicates that the European politicians are quite skilled in organisation and management. Therefore, from a long-term point of view, EU’s economic development is quite promising and very hopeful. Of course, the euro has depreciated from 1.17 at the beginning to about 0.9 currently. I think this is a very specialised issue that needs to be analysed. There are a lot of causes for such a situation. I mean it is only a specialised issue but not a full reflection of economic strength. It is also very difficult to maintain a common currency involving more than ten countries and to maintain its stability. As per analysis of various conditions, it is entirely unnecessary to be pessimistic about the euro. I think that with the coordinated development of all EU countries, it is unavoidable for the euro to appreciate gradually. At the same time, China will never undersell its foreign exchange reserve, your euros. Never. HEARTLAND Can you tell me the amount of China’s existing euro reserve? ZHU RONGJI It does not mean I don’t want to tell you. I myself do not know the amount.

11


011-016/(occhLiMes/Int/ZhuRonji

6-10-2000

15:16

Pagina 12

DON’T BE PESSIMISTIC ABOUT THE EURO

HEARTLAND What’s the influence of IT development on China’s politics? ZHU RONGJI This question covers many other questions. I can not give

12

you an immediate and clear explanation. Do you mean the development of China’s ecommerce or the development of network economy or any other things? China’s networks have developed very quickly, and the number of Chinese Internet users is almost doubled every half year. China currently has over 10 million Internet users. With the development of networks, we have encountered many new things. Regulation and legislation are required in many aspects. We are wanting in experience in this aspect, and it’s a very serious issue on how to manage networks in a standardised way. HEARTLAND Do you think is it beneficial for the EU to strengthen its internal coordination? ZHU RONGJI That’s sure. But it is not the focus of what I mean. I mean the coordinated development of the economies of all EU members, since there is a great difference between the development degrees of them. EU includes some very developed countries and some moderately developed countries, and there are some very poor regions in some countries. Therefore, the economic policies of these countries are also quite different. These facts lead to their differences in other aspects and different requirements. HEARTLAND What do you think about the Taiwan issue? ZHU RONGJI Concerning our policies toward Taiwan, we remain unchanged. Our consistent policy is peaceful reunification and one country two systems, which were clearly explained in President Jiang Zemin’s “declaration of eight points”. It’s a pity that many countries fail to completely understand what President Jiang said. For example, what we mean by “reunification” and “one country two systems” is very liberal for Taiwan. We will neither change its current political and economic systems, nor interfere with any of their matters. Such a policy is more liberal that those for Hong Kong and Macao. In other words, Chinese government will not send army to Taiwan, and the leader of Taiwan may also hold an important post in the central government of China. Thereby, none of their vested interests will be damaged. However, we must admit that there is only one China and Taiwan is only a part of China. This is a clear-cut point. It’s a pity that the current Taiwan leader does not admit there is only one China, and he even dares not to admit that he is a Chinese. How can the reunification be realised in such a situation? Our requirement is very simple. We can negotiate about anything so far as you admit there is one China. However, after contacting many leaders of European countries, I find quite a number of them fail to have a full understanding of the one-China policy, and they do not know the true nature of Taiwan leader’s clamour for independence. HEARTLAND Some people say Taiwan’s direct election is very democratic. What do you think about it? ZHU RONGJI Is the so-called election in Taiwan really democratic? Why is it so highly estimated? In Taiwan, he (means Chen Shuibian) only got 40% of the votes. He has no experience of holding power at all. They themselves also admit that what


011-016/(occhLiMes/Int/ZhuRonji

6-10-2000

15:16

Pagina 13

A NEW SILK ROAD?

they are playing at is “black gold politics”. Therefore, such a kind of direct election is entirely meaningless. In addition, we are very clear that without Li Denghui’s playing of his personal roles, Taiwan would take a totally different standing point now. So we may say the so-called direct election can not lead to democracy. What is direct election? Even the election systems of those big Western powers are not completely same. I think French Presidents are directly elected, while USA Presidents are not. Are the Italian Presidents directly selected? Also no. Then, what kind of direct election you are peddling to me? The so-called direct election takes different forms in different countries. Both USA Presidents and Italian Presidents are not produced through direct election. While French President and Premier have different functions, respectively in charge of internal affairs and diplomatic affairs. For the difference of political, cultural and historical backgrounds between different countries, their political systems are also not completely same. There even exist some countries still carrying on the system of constitutional monarchy with kings and queens. According to our own conditions, China currently adopts the system of people’s Congress, according to which, the people’s deputies are selected first and the government is selected by the people’s deputies then. I don’t think such a system of people’s Congress is the most democratic one, and we will not ask the other countries to follow us. However, such a system is suitable for the conditions of China. We will neither evaluate, nor criticise any foreign country’s election system. But Taiwan is not a foreign country, and we know so much about it. While you say Taiwan Presidents are produced through democratic election, we think it’s quite a joke. HEARTLAND Does China have any new measures to propel its private economy? ZHU RONGJI Our formulation about private economy has been dramatically changed. In the past, we said private economy is a supplementation to the socialist economy, while at present, we say it is one of the integral parts of the socialist economy. We admit and encourage the development of non-public-owned and private economic sector. This sector has really seen great development in China in these years. The development would be greater when foreign-funded economy is included. Foreign-funded economy certainly belongs to private economy, and our relevant policies have been greatly liberalised. For example, in the aspect of credit policies, haven’t these private economic sectors developed under the support of credits? They could not gain any development without loans granted by the national banks. So far as they are beneficial for the development of the whole national economy, our attitude towards private economy and individual economy is to encourage and support their development. The development of this kind of economy also has a backward and illegal side. For instance, recently a Chinese TV station reported that some private enterprises in Zhejiang Province had employed a large number of child labourers. Such a phenomenon is absolutely illegal and must be resolutely eliminated. Certainly, this is only some particular phenomenon, and it will not influence our encouraging and supportive attitude towards the legal and healthy development of private economy.

13


011-016/(occhLiMes/Int/ZhuRonji

6-10-2000

15:16

Pagina 14

DON’T BE PESSIMISTIC ABOUT THE EURO

Would you please tell me the causes of the decline of trade volume between China and Italy? ZHU RONGJI I think it is not declining now. On the contrary, it dramatically increased in the period from January to May of this year. In the past two or three years, the foreign trade growth of whole China was null or even negative for the influence of the Asian Financial Crisis. However, China’s foreign trade saw great growth in the following five months, and our trade with Italy also increased to a high degree. We attach a great importance to the cooperative relations with Italy in economy and trade. Personally speaking, I have paid great attentions to cooperation with Italy. Because Italy boasts very good experience in technical promotion and technical reform of middle and small-sized enterprises, I cooperated with Italian parties in many projects in the ‘80s. Italian industries have their own features, which are very important for China. I believe the cooperation between China and Italy is very promising. Our purpose is to further improve the China-Italy cooperative relations in economy and trade, especially in the aspects of technical cooperation between middle and small-sized enterprises. HEARTLAND Concerning the issue of Vatican, when will you invite the Pope to visit China? ZHU RONGJI We have contacted the Vatican party for many times, and we have made it clear that our relations could only be established on the basis of only one China. It means that Vatican must admit that the People’s Republic of China is the only legal representative of China, and Taiwan is only a part of China. This is our principle and standing point. Of course, we also insist that the internal affairs of China should not be interfered in the name of religious freedom. Religious freedom has been included into our law, and hence we maintain and protect religious freedom. However, such a matter should not be used to interfere our internal affairs. I think we are just negotiating about this principled stand. The Pope will be invited to China after this issue is settled. “Is the negotiation underway”. I think probably yes. HEARTLAND

(by Barbara Alighiero and Francesco Sisci)

14


011-016/(occhLiMes/Int/ZhuRonji

6-10-2000

15:16

Pagina 15

A NEW SILK ROAD?

Part I WHAT CHINA STANDS for


011-016/(occhLiMes/Int/ZhuRonji

6-10-2000

15:16

Pagina 16


017-030/LiMes/Wang

6-10-2000

15:18

Pagina 17

A NEW SILK ROAD?

THE WEST IN THE EYES OF A CHINESE NATIONALIST

by WANG

XIAODONG

T

O PROMOTE COMMUNICATION, DEEPEN

understanding and remove misapprehension between Chinese and Westerners would be to the happiness of all human beings. I feel quite abashed that I have taken so long to complete this article. One of the important reasons is that I really cannot find enough time, or build up enough writing passion to compose an article in terms of Western “academic norms”. Frankly, I think that Western “academic norms” often set up a barrier in the expression and communication of ideas. The so-called “rigid demands” do nothing but raise the “entry barrier”. Removing the “entry barrier” would require a large amount of spare time and money. In the Third World, at least in China, it would be very difficult for a researcher or thinker to have enough resources to meet the Western “academic norms” without the mighty patronage of Western academic institutions. One of the consequences is that what Westerners hear about Chinese ideas, or at least about those of the Chinese intelligentsia, is in fact born under Western auspices, and therefore to the Westerners’ liking; otherwise, the researcher might not benefit from those auspices another time. These “Chinese ideas” are far from genuine Chinese thoughts, and from these Westerners will never get to know the real ones. Even from a general point of view, leaving aside China, the socalled “academic norms” usually clash with freedom of thought and creativity, barring many intelligent minds from a charmed circle of mediocrities. In the long run, neither the works by Confucius nor the Bible fit in with “Western norms”. I do hope that the above digression about Western “academic norms” will not be edited, for this is an ideological exchange, which might not be without importance. First, I would like to introduce some of my ideas, but the introduction might not be comprehensive and profound enough due to the limited space. In fact, to help foreigners know Chinese nationalists comprehensively and profoundly, it is necessary to compile an anthology including the main thoughts of Chinese nationalists. Westerners have published a few, which, however, mainly include critiques of Chinese nationalists by Westerners and some pro-Western Chinese

17


017-030/LiMes/Wang

6-10-2000

15:18

Pagina 18

THE WEST IN THE EYES OF A CHINESE NATIONALIST

intellectuals.1 Given that few texts have been written by Chinese nationalists themselves, could those criticisms be serious, earnest and responsible to knowledge (here we can also see that the so-called “academic norms” of Westerners cannot guarantee the quality of research)? Of course, one of the important reasons for the absence of texts by Chinese nationalists is that they would not be published (by contrast with the claim by Western researchers that the Chinese government has been instigating and making use of nationalists). Fortunately, Internet provides Chinese nationalists with an unprecedented space to express their ideas. The texts of Chinese nationalists on Internet are a splendid sight.

The Oppression of China’s National Interests by the USA If people say that China was aggressive in Mao’s time, then, in the years after Mao’s death, China adopted a completely defensive posture, and even a tendency to follow the USA. China no longer has the inclination to challenge the US’s national interests. Therefore, the clash of national interests is caused mainly by the oppression of China by the USA. The oppression of China’s national interests by the USA is represented in a few aspects known to all. First, the issue of Taiwan. The USA has played a critical role in severing the state on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Had the USA not intervened, there would be no severed state. However, American efforts to attempt to break up China go well beyond the issue of Taiwan. Often Westerners use the excuse that the state has been severed for over 50 years and that the USA’s role is to maintain the status quo, without exerting further oppression of China’s national interests. Then American support of the separatists of inland Tibet and Xinjiang is, no doubt, aggressive and invasive. Some might say that the US government has not openly indicated its support for the separatists of Tibet and Xinjiang; at most, it has interviewed the Dalai Lama, or shown concern towards human rights in Tibet and Xinjiang. To this claim I answer that not only do the US authorities interfere, the USA does. I want to make a special mention of the Tibet issue. It is known to all that in recent years a movement in the USA to support the independence of Tibet is surging, in which Hollywood and the American media are involved. I remember an article in an American magazine (Time or Newsweek, I cannot remember clearly) saying that it has become fashionable in the American entertainment circle to support the independence of Tibet. Their excuses appear justifiable, saying that China suppresses human rights and the freedom of religious belief, and so on. Most of these are lies. I admit that there are serious human rights problems in China. I also know that, having been in contact with Western culture, the Dalai Lama has well familiarised himself with Western human rights ideologies, and

18

1. See for instance J. UNGER, Chinese Nationalism, New York 1996.


017-030/LiMes/Wang

6-10-2000

15:18

Pagina 19

A NEW SILK ROAD?

knows very well what he should say to fawn upon the Westerners. Viewed from Western standards, however, before the People’s Republic of China controlled Tibet, the state of human rights in Tibet under the theocratic reign of the Dalai Lama was much worse than in the areas dominated by Chinese people of Han nationality. In those days serfdom was practised in Tibet, which is not far from slavery. Well, the Westerners might argue that it is part of the unique Tibetan culture and religious belief. So why do Westerners claim that human rights are a universal value? Why has the Chinese substantial and obvious improvement of human rights in Tibet been distorted as a trampling of human rights? I also want to comment a view expressed in a letter by an American in the 1990s to Ma Lihua, a Han writer living in Tibet, which goes as follows: “The difference between assistance and intervention rests on whether the other side is seeking it. When Tibetans are seeking help to make progress, and only at this time, if one will and can offer help, will that assistance be understood as a kind of social progress and be readily received? Then one can become a helper, a knight with shiny armour and be considered the saviour. And if the other side has no receptive capability, all the assistance one hopes to give and all the well-meant motives will be dissipated in a hostile environment. Therefore, assistance must sought and hoped for”.2 The American’s view sounds very reasonable, but when talking about some Tibetans seeking assistance, which people of the area does the US refer to? Some Tibetans have sought assistance: I hear that in the heart of many late serfs, Mao Zedong is still a Buddha. But when the USA intervened in Kosovo, was it because the Serbs had asked for it?! Approaching this issue from the human rights perspective, I think Westerners do not have enough grounds to accuse China and give support to the Tibetan separatists. It appears that Westerners are full of a sense of justice, but they are completely under the influence of an ill-natured propaganda by the hegemonic media. When talking about national interests, the misleading propaganda by the West, the USA in particular, is obviously a threat to China’s national interests. To a great majority of Chinese, further improvement of human rights in Tibet is acceptable (and in the whole of China), but the attempt to separate Tibet from China is unacceptable and those who are conspiring to do this are no doubt an enemy of China. Viewed from the experience of other areas in the world, separatism has brought nothing but revenge and harm to human rights, though it might play to geopolitical interests of the USA or the West. American support of the separatist movement in Tibet and Xinjiang is closely connected to its geopolitical strategy. In the USA, some people’s hostility to China does not arise from human rights issues, but from geopolitical interests or racism – human rights are at most a pretext. In 1996, I had a talk with Mr. Ross H. Munro, author of The Coming Conflict with China. In his opinion, the USA’s concern towards human rights in China is uncalled for, and the key problem is that the 2. MA LIHUA, Fleeting Soul, Writer’s Press, 1994, p. 212.

19


017-030/LiMes/Wang

6-10-2000

15:18

Pagina 20

THE WEST IN THE EYES OF A CHINESE NATIONALIST

USA is an established super-power, while China is a growing super-power (although, few Chinese see their country as a growing super-power). From a historical perspective, the only solution to the clash between the two nations’ interests is to go to war. In addition, Mr. Samuel P. Huntington, the author of The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, listed the Chinese civilisation as an enemy of Western civilisation. I think that Mr. Samuel P. Huntington is a racist, whose “clash of Civilizations” is nothing but a euphemism used instead of the politically incorrect “clash of races”. Some Westerners insist that these ideas are not mainstream and that the US is not set to antagonise China. This is acceptable, as much as it is for China to be alert in case that tendency develops. What is more, the armament of the USA, such as National Missile Defence and Theatre Missile Defence, the latter in particular, including early warning radars, will be set up at the gate of China to cover Taiwan. Is this not a real threat to China from the USA? Recently, Westerners like to discuss the “threat from China”. But in our eyes, China makes no threat against Western countries, because it has neither the capability, nor the intention to threaten others, while the threat to China from the USA is obvious to all. On this issue, I think that the USA and other Western countries have no right to preach “morality and justice” to China. China is not powerful enough to compete with Western countries either in military strength or in control over the media, so we can only sit still while the Westerners demonise us. As Chinese nationalists, the lesson we have learned is not to listen to the morality and justice from the mouth of Westerners. In their system, it is strength that counts; consequently, China must aspire to gain more strength.

The Clash of Ideologies The clash of ideologies between China and America has two aspects: between the Chinese government and America, and non-governmental groups and America. The two aspects are strikingly different and must be dealt with separately. The clash of ideologies between the Chinese government and America focuses mainly on human rights and the system of democracy. In this clash, the Chinese government has a completely defensive position of which I can give a persuasive example. On October 19, 1996, the Strategy and Administration office sponsored an informal discussion with Chinese experts in international affairs, and Robert Hawke, former Australian Prime Minister, attended. In the discussion, Mr. Liu Ji, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said, “In modern history, no diplomacy directed by ideologies has succeeded”.3 Immediately Mr. Hawke retorted, “I cannot agree less to Professor Liu’s analysis. Historical facts show precisely the contrary: Western diplomatic policy has been dominated by

20

3. See Strategy and Administration, 1996, VI, p. 19.


017-030/LiMes/Wang

6-10-2000

15:18

Pagina 21

A NEW SILK ROAD?

ideologies, and this policy has achieved a general victory”.4 Mr. Hawke also said a lot and eloquently. At that time, the interpreter, Wang Yong, an Associate Professor from the Institute of International Affairs of Beijing University, did not dare translate the words to Mr. Liu Ji, so I decided to interrupt the discussion and translated the words to him. I noticed that Mr. Liu Ji was in great embarrassment. As a senior official of China, Mr. Liu Ji’s attitude was representative: the Chinese government does its best to avoid an ideological dispute with the West, and expects Westerners not to challenge their ruling with regard to human rights and democracy. The clash of ideologies between non-governmental groups and America is totally different. In the areas of human rights and democratic politics, the general public has no clash with Westerners. The serious human rights and democracy problems of China cause great suffering in the first place to the Chinese. Some Westerners think that Chinese nationalists disregard the human rights and democratic politics advocated by Westerners. With an air of racial superiority, they claim that since the Chinese do not want Westerners to strive for human rights and democratic politics for them, and are instead willing to be enslaved, then, why should Westerners bother? This is totally wrong. Chinese nationalism means nothing without human rights and democratic politics. Human rights, democratic politics and the protection of Chinese national interests can and should run parallel. It should be said that, with regard to human rights and democratic politics, the Chinese, or the Chinese nationalists, are not that different from Westerners or Americans. But together with the image of Western, and especially American, advocates of human rights and democratic politics, another image is in the heart of Chinese: they are the oppressors and exploiters of the poor, of the weakest groups and of states, and they are unjust. From this perspective, Chinese nongovernmental groups are not entirely defensive in the clash of ideologies with America. This has been fully proved by Che Guevara, a play recently staged in Beijing. First, Che Guevara, the enemy of America, was killed by government troops trained and directed by the CIA. He was chosen as the hero of the play to show that America is the oppressor. Secondly, the script is full of derision of the American capitalist values embraced by the upper class of China. The play, a big hit in Beijing, was produced 36 times in a row with full houses for every performance. By the way, although the upper class in China might be dissatisfied with talks about human rights and democratic politics by Americans, they are quite proAmerican. Those who revolt against America are usually the lower classes. The reason might be that the Chinese upper class has accumulated a great amount of wealth in economic dealings with America. Talks about human rights and democratic politics have no visible effect in threatening their interests and their control over Chinese society. On the other hand, the lower and middle classes of 4. Hawke’s words that I accounted here are not exactly the same as that in Strategy and Administration, 1996, VI. What I recorded is more accurate, for the equivocal words in Strategy and Administration might be due to political considerations.

21


017-030/LiMes/Wang

6-10-2000

15:18

Pagina 22

THE WEST IN THE EYES OF A CHINESE NATIONALIST

China have not found much benefit in communication with America and the West. Recently things are getting worse with increasing numbers of people made redundant and unemployed – and it could be well founded to ascribe this to the capitalism advocated by the US. The ideological challenge to America made by Chinese non-governmental groups is still very weak, but its significance is probably far-reaching. China is a relatively strong nation outside the Western club. None of the nations within the club will challenge the well-established international system dominated by the USA, for they are the beneficiaries of the system. While weak nations outside the club have no capability to challenge it, China is a comparatively powerful nation outside the club that has a large population and a long-standing civilisation. Therefore, once the ideological challenge by Chinese non-governmental groups grows powerful, it could be of worldwide significance. This will be good to human beings. Without any challenge, all the injustice and unfairness of human society would never be improved, and the progress of society would never occur.

Chinese Nationalism as a Response to Domestic Problems These trends in ideas, even if apparently with an anti-foreign taint, are firstly a response to domestic affairs. Chinese nationalism is in the first place a response to some domestic problems of the 1980s and 1990s. At the beginning, the name “nationalism” was not adopted; it is a label put on by Western academics and mass media, a point I made clear in the article “Nationalism in China and the Future of China”.5 Please forgive my repeating the main ideas of the article. The reason that the so-called “nationalism of China” is so eye-catching in the 1990s is that it contrasts strikingly with the “reverse-racism” of the 1980s (the original meaning of reverse-racism in English is the objective harm done by antidiscrimination to white people. Here, however, the author gives it a new meaning in the Chinese setting). Chinese “reverse-racism” is a spectacular phenomenon: it is a trend of ideas produced by mainstream Chinese intelligentsia, which deem that the Chinese culture and nation are inferior. The virtuous think that the Chinese nation is disqualified to live on earth until thoroughly changed, while those who are heavily influenced by racism think that this nation is so inexorably despicable that it is not worthy of being on this planet. In the 1980s this kind of “reverse racism” invaded the whole ideological, academic, literary and media fields, the educated broader public, and received even official encouragement. Few Westerners noticed or mentioned that the Chinese authorities encouraged “reverse racism” in the 1980s, yet they are rather sensitive to and make a big fuss over the so-called nationalism used by the Chinese authorities to “bridge the ideological gap” in the 1990s. This is not strange.

22

5. See China Road Under the Shadow of Globalization, November 1999, Chinese Social Sciences Press, pp. 81-106. Parts of the article were originally published in the September issue of Mingpao Monthly, with the title “From Reverse-Racism to Chinese Nationalism”.


017-030/LiMes/Wang

6-10-2000

15:18

Pagina 23

A NEW SILK ROAD?

CHINA R U S S I A N

F E D E R A T I O N

KAZAKHSTAN

HEILONGJIANG Harbin

Ulaanbaatar Ürümqi

M O N G O L I A

XINJIANG GANSU Yinchuan Xining

Under Chinese administration

QINGHAI

NINGXIA

SHAANXI

Claimed by India

Changchun JILIN Shenyang NORTH LIAONING KOREA P’yongyang Hohhot Beijing BEIJING Tianjin Tianjin Seoul Shijiazhuang SOUTH Taiyuan HEBEI SHANDONG KOREA Jinan SHANXI NEI MONGOL

Lanzhou

Xi’an

XIZANG New Delhi

Lhasa

NEPAL

BHUTAN Thimphu

Kathmandu INDIA

Dhaka

JIANGSU

Hefei Nanjing Shanghai SHANGHAI Wuhan ANHUI SICHUAN HUBEI Hangzhou Nanchang ZHEJIANG Chengda Changsha JIANGXI Fuzhou HUNAN Guiyang Taipei FUJIAN Kunming GUIZHOU Xiamen TAIWAN GUANGXI DONG NG Guangzhou YUNNAN Nanning Hong Kong Hanoi HENAN

GUA

BANGLADESH

Zhengzhou

MYANMAR

LAOS Vientiane

VI

Yangon

M

500 km

A

0

PHILIPPINES

ET

N

THAILAND

Firstly, the Chinese authorities’ encouragement of “reverse racism” was a peculiar and unusual phenomenon, and well beyond the Westerners’ imagination. Secondly, to give publicity to “reverse racism” in China would mean glorifying Westerners – and it is hardly credible that the Chinese government, which had antagonised the West for years, might encourage this. Thus, Westerners believe “reverse racism” was a trend of the intelligentsia, especially of dissidents. In fact, the Chinese authorities greatly supported “reverse racism” publications, sponsored and even organised seminars on the so-called “cultural strategy”, and broke the rules to promote some intellectuals to important positions in control of public opinion. The case of He Shang 6 explains it all. Although in showing this TV film 6. He Shang, the name of a TV series; “He” refers to the Yellow River, the symbol of Chinese civilization; “shang”, means “death before growing up”, so the literal meaning of the title is “death of the Yellow River” (translator’s note).

23


017-030/LiMes/Wang

6-10-2000

15:18

Pagina 24

THE WEST IN THE EYES OF A CHINESE NATIONALIST

the producers of He Shang talked about a political risk, it really was a publicity strategy (the Chinese knew that, at that time, there was no better advertisement than claiming a political risk). Indeed, the film would not have been made successfully without the authorities’ support; secondly, after it was shown, CCTV as well as other major official media headed by the People’s Daily dedicated attention and debates to it. The supporters of He Shang said: “The press in China has never paid so much attention to a television series like He Shang, publishing the commentary, writing reports, comments and discussions”. 7 Of course, given the anti-government position that some authors of He Shang held, the Chinese government accordingly changed its attitude. Even so, the “reverse racism” expressed in He Shang still found many supporters in the ideological officials in control of China’s media. How did this “reverse racism”, encouraged by the authorities and raved about by the intelligentsia (who called it “cultural hit”), come about? There are several reasons. The nihilism of national culture denies that its tradition and culture is part of a tradition of the Chinese intelligentsia. The May 4 Movement sometimes contradicted the patriotic calling of the Chinese Communist Party, though on the other hand, from the perspective of historical philosophy, responded to the antifeudal ideology of the Communist Party. It should not be forgotten that the “Cultural Revolution” began by “breaking the ‘four olds’, establishing the ‘four news’”, 8 and destroying the remains of Chinese traditional culture. After the “Revolution”, all the policies of that period were denounced, but the outlook of historical philosophy was completely inherited. I have pointed out once and again that the modes of thinking of many Chinese intellectuals who abhor the “Revolution” point to that as the main characteristic of the “Revolution”. As a consequence, once the “Revolution” that aimed at the destruction of Chinese traditional culture was over, all the blame, including that of the “Revolution”, was cast upon Chinese traditional culture, the wave of denouncing Chinese traditional culture was surging again, and no one ever thought about its absurdity. Apparently this time they went much farther than “May 4” and the “Revolution”. “May 4” ideas were tinted with a “nihilism of national culture”, but lacked such strong “national nihilism” or “reverse racism”, and the mainstream was nationalism. Yet from “nihilism of national culture” to “national nihilism” or “reverse racism”, the development was quite logical. “Reverse racism” was also encouraged because China in the 1980s needed to open its gates rapidly to the West for investments, technology, ideas or forms of entertainment. Viewed as a whole, “reverse racism” met the general policy requirements.

24

7. TIAN BENXIANG, “On He Shang”, Comments on He Shang, edited by Cui Wenhua, Culture and Art Press, 1988, p. 218. 8. This slogan was quite popular during the “Cultural Revolution”. The “four olds” was used to refer to “old ideas, old culture, old customs and old habits”; the “four news” were new ideas, new culture, new customs and new habits (translator’s note).


017-030/LiMes/Wang

6-10-2000

15:18

Pagina 25

A NEW SILK ROAD?

However, regardless of whether “reverse racism” was needed at the time or how its “historical effects” can be evaluated, it could not remain in Chinese consciousness. It would be very difficult for any nation to support ideas that maintain its own inferiority, more so for China, a great nation with a quite glorious and not so far away past, a population of 1.2 billion, and, though frustrated, showing no trace of decline. This does not need to be “proved” theoretically. Every life has a self-affirmative mechanism; otherwise its survival would be impossible. From the late 1980s onwards, the Chinese intelligentsia began revising “reverse racism”, which developed into a strong trend of “nationalism” in the 1990s. Nonetheless, “reverse racism” is still dominant in the Chinese intelligentsia, especially among those in control of the academic and educational fields. It must also be emphatically pointed out that the self-abusive “reverse racism” mania of the 1980s existed mainly among intellectuals and college students, while today it has lost much of its market and is confined to the dignitaries and the “liberal” intellectuals. The average public is influenced by this trend, but generally without the self-abusive mania. In fact, “the silent majority”, i.e. the average public, have been rebelling against it, as the “liberal” intellectuals clearly see. For this reason, they criticise “nationalism” and “populism” together. I have made similar points earlier in this article: in China, “nationalism” stems from the lower and middle classes, while “reverse racism”, pro-American and pro-Western attitudes are common in the upper class of dignitaries, many of whom are corrupt officials hated by the people. Leaving aside theories and ideas and moving on to facts, these corrupt officials often collude with foreign businessmen to sell off national interests and the interests of the general public. One example is provided by the tragedies of those sweatshops created with foreign investment, in which many women workers (sometimes a dozen, and sometimes over a hundred) were burnt to death. Women workers are locked in shops or dormitories like slaves with no escape in case of fire. In disagreements with foreign businessmen, or commercial disputes between foreign and Chinese businessmen, Chinese corrupt officials stand side by side with the foreigners for their own benefits. No wonder that the general public often thinks that Westerners are on the side of the corrupt officials, that their talk of human rights and democratic politics is hypocritical, and that the social politics and economic theories that Westerners thrust upon China only serve the corrupt upstarts in China. In this context it is no wonder that nationalism finds loud echoes among the lower and middle classes. From a certain point of view, nationalism in China is a response to the “reverse racism” embraced by those who believe in “meritocracy” and who scorn, revile and discriminate ordinary Chinese. It also is a response to the corruption of those who collude with foreigners and sell out the interests of ordinary Chinese.

25


017-030/LiMes/Wang

6-10-2000

15:18

Pagina 26

THE WEST IN THE EYES OF A CHINESE NATIONALIST

Freedom, Democracy and Hegemony 9 How can freedom be guaranteed? In 1944, Friedrich August Hayek, a wellknown liberal thinker, argued in The Road to Serfdom that in a competitive society, the freedom we choose is based on such freedom: if one refuses to satisfy our hopes, we may turn to another. But with a monopoly, we can do nothing but be at its beck and call. What Hayek referred to is an authority that monopolises the economic artery. Once such a monopoly arises, we have no freedom. Understandably, he could not discuss the super hegemony that came about 50 years later in international relations. If Hayek’s above judgement is a universal liberal principle (I think it is, and agree with it completely), obviously it will be applicable to the present international order. Such a monopoly has appeared or at least is appearing in the present international order with the hegemony of the USA. For the moment, none of other forces in the world may challenge this hegemony; we can turn to no other force that can counteract the US. In front of such hegemony, what freedom do you say we have? To a great extent, the fall of the Soviet Union foretold the coming of the day in which we would lose our freedom. Some say the Soviet Union was an evil empire that also had the wild ambition to be the lord of the world. And some even say that the threat from the Soviet Union to China was more hazardous than that from the USA. These ideas might be right, but unfortunately they miss the point. The key does not lie in whether the Soviet Union was better or worse than the USA, but whether we have more or less freedom in a unipolar world, compared with a bipolar or multipolar one. The liberal principle tells us that an authority that monopolises the artery of our subsistence entails our loss of freedom. Therefore, under the hegemony of the USA, the world has evidently lost its freedom: in the years since the fall of Soviet Union, the USA has started roughing up the world without scruple, promising a dark future. Some might claim that the several rough-ups of the USA, such as Gulf War and Kosovo, had been caused by brutal atrocities, which had to be stopped by the money, the arms and the people of the USA – a selfless act for the people in other areas of the world. Had the USA not rushed there to stop the atrocities, those who suffered would have been totally hopeless. The USA itself often puts on an air that “I don’t want to be the world guard, but whom else can you turn to when the world needs one?” Here I do not want to plunge into the dispute such as “whether Milosˇevic´ carried out ethnic cleansing or not”. In The Constitution of Liberty, Hayek says that coercion cannot be avoided completely, because the only way to prevent it is to threaten the use of coercion. A free society empowers the country to enforce the monopoly of coercion in order to restrict the use of the power on part of individuals.

26

9. In “Liberalism and Hegemony”, I discussed the relationships between freedom, democracy and hegemony. See China Road Under the Shadow of Globalization, Chinese Social Sciences Press, November 1999, pp. 58-72.


017-030/LiMes/Wang

6-10-2000

15:18

Pagina 27

A NEW SILK ROAD?

From the point of view of traditional international law, the USA’s assault on Yugoslavia was an outright invasion. Then, why do some “liberals” support it in the name of justice? In my opinion, consciously or unconsciously, they are willing to endure the US’s monopoly of power. In international relationships, how can the actions of the USA, a peremptory monopoly, be delimited? It must be kept in mind that democratic politics do not play any role here. We have no right to vote for the President of the USA or the members of Congress. If we cannot limit the actions of the USA – instead of relying on its self-restriction – the international order is exactly the same as a totalitarian system, not yet bad as that thanks to Russia, China and India. The emergence of a unipolar international order will never increase the freedom of the majority in the world except for the monopolising country. I have no intention of debasing the American civilisation and ideal, but the liberal principle tells us that the guarantee of freedom cannot come from the noble morality of the ruler, but from the restriction of the system. No matter how noble and free the American nation-founding ideal is, it cannot create a unipolar hegemony in the world, which would bring a horrible totalitarianism in the international order (intensive bombing on Yugoslavia by US-led NATO clearly shows how horrible such an international order is). It may even carry out, as Hayek puts it, “authoritative government acts according to liberal principles”. 10 But a liberal knows that the ruler is not reliable. In this case we would have “no one to turn to”. Freedom cannot rely on the ruler, but on another one we can turn to. Therefore, a liberal has to consider how to limit the hegemony of the USA in the world, and support those countries that are counterbalancing the hegemony of the USA. Liberalism does not only mean abstract principles. If these abstract principles were not put into practice according to concrete conditions, liberalism and the liberals would be worthless. Unfortunately, few “liberals” stand up to oppose the hegemony of the USA. Have I misunderstood liberalism and the USA, or have they betrayed the liberal principles and turned away from the decency that is essential to a liberal? I think it is the latter case. Of course, there are some reasons for which Western liberals do not protest (though some have done): they are in the club of world conquerors, or have no way to taste what it is like for those who are outside the club, or have selfish motives. But the attitudes of Chinese liberals are strange: when American hegemony is overshadowing the whole globe, they oppose Chinese “nationalism” instead of standing up to the US. I wonder whether they know the meaning of liberalism. If they are true liberals, they should oppose American nationalism instead of Chinese “nationalism”. But they don’t, they impudently support American nationalism and oppose Chinese “nationalism”. If an atrocity such as genocide really were to take place somewhere in the world, all the people in the world should try to find ways to stop it instead of 10. HAYEK, The Constitution of Liberty, 1960.

27


017-030/LiMes/Wang

6-10-2000

15:18

Pagina 28

THE WEST IN THE EYES OF A CHINESE NATIONALIST

looking over with folded arms. The “liberals”, however, should not forget their lectures to us in the past: under totalitarianism we might be less molested by criminals. But we’d rather discard such kind of “safety”, for the cost is too high. The actual example is the bombing on Yugoslavia by the USA. Though Milosˇevic´ was not totally clean-handed, I think American bombing did far more harm to Serb and Albanian civilians. If the international relations of the future are dealt with in this way, the cost that the world will have to pay will be far greater. If ethnic cleansing really were to take place in the present world, do we have other substitutes? In dealing with this kind of issue, a few better ways than intervention in the internal affairs of a state can be found. It is also unacceptable for civilised people to stand by and look onto genocide with folded arms. Human beings in the future should have better solutions, something like a world with GreatHarmony or the like. Why not use the UN? The excuse of the USA is the noncooperation of Russia and China, which would exercise their right to veto in the Security Council. But why wouldn’t Russia and China cooperate? Does the USA have adequate reasons to intervene in Yugoslavia by force? If it does, why not try it in the Security Council so that all people of the world, including Chinese, can see the “hideous acts” of “abusing power” and how “irresponsible” Russia and China are? In fact, China has been very responsible in voting at the UN, especially careful when using its veto power and Russia did not intend to shield Yugoslavia completely (it lacks the capability as well). Obviously, the USA’s purpose in putting aside the UN and invading Yugoslavia in the name of NATO was to establish a new international order with US-led NATO to dominate the world by force. For the rest of the world except the USA or NATO countries, this kind of new order is totally incongruous with freedom. Over half a century ago, Hayek wrote his famous book, The Road to Serfdom. Now the kind of country he referred to no longer exists, and the kind of thought he referred to is in low tide. Since his time, this world has been through great changes. Have the liberals today noticed the changes, the threats from new freedoms, and the different sources of threats to freedom in international relations and internal politics? If the answer is no, the liberals today are unworthy of the glorious word “liberty”. If none of us can realise this, then, a new totalitarian international order will descend on this planet, which is a sure new road to serfdom.

Conclusion: The Prospect of a New International Order

28

An essential world problem is the distribution of natural resources. In order to scramble for natural resources and living spaces, many bloody wars have broken out in history: World War II, for example, which is still fresh in our memory. After the War, the new argument was that in the postwar free trade system, natural resources and living spaces are not so important: anyone who wins the commercial competition may have a happy life. Those who have discarded


017-030/LiMes/Wang

6-10-2000

15:18

Pagina 29

A NEW SILK ROAD?

hypocrisy and are thinking seriously about the problems on this planet will never agree with such a fallacy. If one goes to and has a look at the Chinese inland where natural conditions are extremely inclement but the population extremely dense, he will see that people in those areas are virtually living in despair: the extremely inadequate natural resources doom them to failure in any commercial competition. The inclement living conditions also deteriorate their social relations: when everyone is scrambling for natural resources, tolerance, freedom and democracy find no foothold, and environmental protection is out of the question. Their only hope is to escape to a place where natural resources are plentiful. Recently in Britain a human smuggling incident scored the highest death toll of stowaways. On the early morning of June 19, when British landing waiters were checking a Dutch-registered lorry at the port of Dover in the South of Britain, 58 (54 male, 4 female) corpses of illegal immigrants from East Asia were found in a container, and two survivors were rushed to hospital for emergency treatment. They probably were from China.11 I have read too much news of this kind, and every time I feel a gnawing in my heart. Some Westerners as well as some Chinese who are used to derogating China to fawn Westerners might say that these stowaways were “fleeing a dictatorial regime”. However, every objective and fairminded person knows they were fleeing insufficient natural resources and congested living spaces. Others might say that these stowaways were not very poor, otherwise they couldn’t have afforded the expenses. It has become part of Chinese group subconscious to flee from deficient natural resources and congested spaces. Every year countless Chinese go through innumerable trials and hardships to try to enter areas where natural resources are not so limited and space is not so crowded, and the best places are North America, Europe, and Australia. If not, Russia, Eastern Europe, Latin America will also do, and even some parts of Africa. The examples of the argument that natural resources and living spaces are not important and any winner in a commercial competition may enjoy a good life can only be applied to a few small and very special countries and regions, such as South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Japan seems to be one of the examples, but Japan gained its original capital by defeating China in wars and plundering its natural resources. Natural resources and living spaces are never unimportant. But how are the distribution of natural resources and living spaces determined? No doubt, they have been distributed by wars. The rich nations today, mainly the white and Japan, have lived happily by defeating or even exterminating other races (such as in South and North America) and robbing abundant natural resources and living spaces. This issue can never be evaded. Without mentioning this, it is hypocritical to talk about “human rights”, “freedom”, “environmental protection” and “peace”…. while those sanctimonious intellectuals and politicians avoid this issue. 11. Telecommunication from Reuters on June 19, 2000.

29


017-030/LiMes/Wang

6-10-2000

15:18

Pagina 30

THE WEST IN THE EYES OF A CHINESE NATIONALIST

Even if the issue is evaded, it still lingers in people’s heart, especially of the Chinese, Indians, and peoples of other races in the world. Another essential problem is that the fate of such a large a population is held in the hands of a few who do not know or care about them. From the perspective of internal politics, this is an issue of despotism; from the perspective of international order, it is an issue of hegemony of the club of the USA and other Western powers. I appreciate the democratic system of the USA and other Western countries to the utmost. However, from the perspective of international relationships, it is quite similar to that of ancient Rome. In my view, another group cannot control the destiny of the Chinese, even if the people in that group made the decision through a democratic procedure, for in this procedure, the Chinese were not involved. This is where the difference lies between those pro-Western Chinese intellectuals and myself. Without solving these problems, it would be very difficult for “human rights”, “freedom”, “environmental protection” and “peace” to exist. What really exists is what human beings have done in the long river of history: a group of people with strong fists wipes out another group with weak fists to seek their own benefits. In this case, what is the use of those fair-sounding words? If Westerners really care about these things such as “human rights”, “freedom”, “environmental protection” and “peace”, why not think more about how to distribute the natural resources and living spaces fairly and how to establish a democratic system with all human beings involved notwithstanding race, countries, religious beliefs and sexes. (translated by Yao Ximing)

30


031-046/LiMes/Xiaodong

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 31

A NEW SILK ROAD?

GEOPOLITICAL CHANGES IN THE WESTERN REGIONS

T

by ZHANG

XIAODONG

HE FIRST TIME I GOT TO KNOW “THE

Western Regions”* was at the end of the 1970s, when I took the first College Entrance Examinations after the “Cultural Revolution” and had to stuff my head with a jumble of things I had never heard of. At that time, “the Western Regions” was a geographical name in history that I had to remember. Later, when I studied in the History Department of a university, more and more information about the Western Regions began to accumulate in my mind: Qin’s Moon and Han’s Pass, the exotic pipe and flute, the shining spears and armoured horses, the single column of smoke and the setting sun…1 and also messengers in Han and monks of the Tang Dynasty who were trekking in the flying sand as well as the indefatigable camel train and trade caravan. Although the Western Regions were still remote and obscure, the great spatio-temporal vicissitude had sealed it inside the vast accumulation of historical data. However, since the 1990s the image of the Western Regions gradually began to become clearer and more concrete in the depth of my mind. First, since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, a large number of ethnic nations have mushroomed in the Asian hinterland, a place that is customarily called Central Asia or Transcaucasia. Soon a region that is closely related in geopolitics, security, religion, ethnicity, culture and economy looms into our view. For such a large area that includes Western Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus and parts of South Asia, only the name “Western Regions” can embrace it all. Second, bordering Chinese Xingjiang and Tibet, this region not only affects our national security and stability of the Great Northwest, but also relates to the development of the West of China, * According to Word Ocean (1979, condensed version, Shanghai Lexicographical Press), after the Han Dynasty, the region west of Yumen Pass (Northwest of Dunhuang, Gansu Province now) was generally called the Western Regions. The word has two meanings: in a narrow sense, it refers to the area East of Congling; in a broad sense, it refers to the regions that can be reached through the area East of Congling, and includes the Middle and West of Asia, the Indian Peninsula, the East of Europe and the Northern parts of Africa. In this article, the Western Regions refer to the Middle East, Central Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and the Caucasian region, which is a little different from the broad meaning. But while a better word is yet to be found to include the above four regions, “the Western Regions” is not a bad choice (author’s note). 1. These are the widely known descriptions of the Western Regions by ancient poets (translator’s note).

31


031-046/LiMes/Xiaodong

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 32

GEOPOLITICAL CHANGES IN THE WESTERN REGIONS

as well as the economic development of China as a whole in the 21st century. Here only the word “Western Regions” can evoke our grand sense of honour and our sense of crisis. The region must be recognised de novo and the influences of the changes in this region on our country must be understood. All of these constitute the main motives of my retrospection on the Western Regions (please forgive my using a word that had been forgotten for over 100 years) at the turn of the millennium.

The Changes in Geopolitics of the Western Regions since the End of the Cold War In the vast expanse of the Western Regions, the end of the Cold War was mainly symbolised by a series of great historical events, such as the Soviet troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Gulf War, progress in the peace talks in the Middle East and the successive independence of the countries in Central Asia and Transcaucasia, which have not only changed the balance of power and broken the Cold War set-up formed since the World War II, but also ignited momentous rearrangements in geopolitics in this region in over 100 years. First, due to the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russian influence in Central and Western Asia has shrunk on all fronts. From the planned large-scale expansion (1700) of Peter the Great to the annexation of Crimea, Caucasus, Central Asia and so on into the domain of Tsarist Russia (Russians entered Pamir in 1891),2 it took the Russians about 190 years. After the October Revolution, the Soviet Union not only inherited the territory of the Tsarist Russia but also gradually picked up its external policy in Asia. In order to compete for supremacy with the USA, as well as break the encompassing of the USA in the South wing, the Soviet Union took as its main objective the access to the Indian Ocean, snatching strategic points and achieving an advantage in geopolitical competition. In its heyday, the Soviet Union set up military bases in the African Horn and South Yemen, and maintained close ties with some radical Arab countries such as Syria and Libya. From the mid 1980s, under the leadership of Gorbachev, the country undertook a general political and economic reform, which, more like a disaster than a reform to the whole nation and the people, solved none of the substantial problems that the country faced at home and abroad, and instead caused the worst chaos in economic order and the ultimate disintegration of the Union. However, this was good news for the USA, the Western camp and those countries that had been under the Russian threat over the past 100-odd years. Through the Gulf War in 1990-1991, the USA established its dominance in the whole Middle East. In other words, it became impossible to solve any problems in Middle East without the active involvement of the USA, while the Soviet Union (and its heir Russia) turned

32

2. ZHAO CHANGQING, A Survey of Five Central Asian Countries, Economic Daily Press, Beijing, April 1999, p. 30.


031-046/LiMes/Xiaodong

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 33

A NEW SILK ROAD?

into an on-looker of Middle Eastern affairs and an endorser of the American scheme. In the North of the Middle East, countries such as Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, which had been under tight Russian pressure, may slightly relieve the taut nerve at last. The Soviet troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and the successive independence of three nations in Transcaucasia and five nations in Central Asia not only drove the threat further North for several hundred and even over one thousand kilometres, but also provided these countries with more space to exert greater influence in regional politics. Second, an immense political vacuum appeared in the hinterland of Asia. No matter how the conquest of Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union in Central Asia and Transcaucasia is evaluated, a fundamental fact is that the successive independence of the three nations in Transcaucasia and the five nations in Central Asia essentially presupposes a total renunciation of the Soviet politics, economics, social system, culture and ideology. In view of this, the so-called political vacuum is represented in the thorough “non-Sovietisation” and “non-Russianisation” in the nations of Central Asia and Transcaucasia. In the next place, due to the disintegration of the Soviet Union, in an instant, Central Asia and Transcaucasia turned from being a Russian exclusive domain into a “derelict enclave” in international politics. No effective influence from any international and regional political power fell upon this region, and these nations themselves are standing in bewilderment, unable to ascertain their identity and future. Just like those nations that have experienced ethnic migration or suffered foreign invasion, the ethnic nations have to make a settlement about the past and a choice about the future. Put another way, the future politics, economy and society of these countries are characterised by great uncertainty and plasticity. Whatever choices are ultimately made, the consequential influence (upon the peripheral countries in particular) will be immense. As a result, nearly at the same time of these countries’ independence, a geopolitical competition with the aim to affect the orientation of the countries in Central Asia and Transcaucasia began to unfold. Turkey, which is close to Central Asia and Transcaucasia in language as well in ethnicity, aspires to establish a Turkish community stretching from the Adriatic Sea to the Great Wall of China.3 The interests that Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and others are pursuing contradict each other to a great extent, but all of them aspire to restore Islamic features in this region. While the USA and other Western countries take it as a matter of course that after casting off the shackles of the Russians who had tied them for over 100 years, the countries in Central Asia will “throw themselves into the arms of the Western-coloured freedom and democracy without hesitation”,4 and therefore their main goals are to “promote democracy”, “establish a liberal economy” and 3. WU CHUANGUN, “On the Developmental Prospect of Pan-Turkism”, Russia Studies, IV, 1993. 4. DONG FANGXIAO, Islam and Post-Cold War World, Social Scientific Literature Press, Beijing, June 1999, p. 190.

33


031-046/LiMes/Xiaodong

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 34

GEOPOLITICAL CHANGES IN THE WESTERN REGIONS

“help this region merge with international society” 5 and so on. To a great extent, the important strategic position of this region, the abundant petroleum and gas resources in the Caspian Sea area further stimulate the desire and enthusiasm of all kinds of powers to fill up the political vacuum. To achieve its strategic aim, the USA not only is planning to compromise with Iran, but also does not have reservations in making use of the “Taliban”, an Islamic extremist organisation, to open up the passage to Central Asia through Afghanistan.6 The Japanese lay special emphasis on “seizing the opportunity to peek the Chinese and Russians from their back” and attempt to avoid “a gap in politics and economy” in Central Asia.7 Third, power integration that crosses regional boundaries. In the 2000 years prior to the mid 18th century, the political, economic and cultural communication among the people in the expansive region that we call Central Asia, Western Asia and South Asia was probably far more complex and frequent than we know. Comparatively the artificial obstruction of the Russian conquest on the regions of Central Asia and Transcaucasia lasted for only 100 years, which might not cause much damage on the longstanding historical connections. However, the past 100 years is a period that characterised not only the rapid growth in economy and technologies in human history, but also extreme clashes in ideologies and national interests. These, on one hand, have made an immense difference in material well being, but on the other have widened the gap in spiritual and political life. It should be specially noted that, as a result of the formation of the two great camps (East and West) and the breakout of the Cold War after World War II, all the differences and gaps widened. The end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union removed the artificial communication barrier between the various regions, and provided the possibility for other international and regional powers to exercise their influence. At the same time, the general emphasis of every country on accelerating economic development and improving people’s living standards has produced sustained stimulation for the integration of cross-regional powers. The first kind of power integration in the Western Regions is the whole-scale expansion of Islamic influence. As part of the traditional Islamic world, the region of Central Asia is covered with fertile soil for an Islamic revival. Furthermore, a large number of Muslim countries (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and others) add fuel to the fire for the revival of Islam in Central Asia through investments, religious donations, sponsorships for pilgrimages and cultural exchanges. With the very help from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab countries, Central Asian countries successively joined in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference

34

5. GU GUANFU, “The US Intervention in Central Asia and the Security of China”, Institute of China Strategy and Administration, Analytic Report of International Affairs, 1997-1989, p. 52. 6. As above, p. 54. 7. DAIKAKU NAOYA, “Diplomacy along the Silk Road – A Back View of the Strategies of China and Russia”, Japan: Yomiuri Shimbun, February 5, 2000. Quote from: Xinhua Agency, To¯kyo¯, February 5, 2000, Japanese telecommunication.


031-046/LiMes/Xiaodong

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 35

A NEW SILK ROAD?

(OIC), 8 thus accomplishing the return to Islam on the official level. Meanwhile, under all kinds of influences from within and without, the religious enthusiasm of the general public in this region is continuously surging, and also Islam is gradually becoming an effective weapon of quite a few political opposition groups.9 The second kind of power integration in the Western Regions is the PanTurkism mainly promoted by Turkey, which actively pushes ahead the relations with Central Asian countries in all fields, and established and held a “Turkish Summit Conference”. Turkey can make use of ethnic and language relations as well as the eagerness of the Central Asian countries, in search for a new course of development and to accomplish a “non-Russianisation” at the beginning of their independence. It is not easy to establish a “Turkish Community”, “Great Turkestan” or any other Pan-Turkish entity, but the geopolitical shift engendered in the whole Western Regions by such activities and its influence upon Xinjiang in Chine can never be neglected. The third kind of power integration is probably the most significant and problematic: the economic cooperation of the whole region. In 1992, the “Economic Cooperation Organisation” (ECO, formed in 1985) founded by Turkey, Iran and Pakistan was expanded to include the five Central Asian countries, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan, formally starting the regional economic operation stretching over Central Asia, Transcaucasia and the Northern part of the Middle East. In spite of the summit conferences held in the few ensuing years and quite a number of agreements reached in the fields of banking and infrastructure improvement, few of them have been put into practice. The activities of ECO have virtually stopped, especially when Turkey and Iran placed more attention respectively on the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Association (BSEC) and Caspian Sea Users, two organisations focused respectively on each of the countries. Fourth, the Eurasian continent crossroads. Prior to Russia’s complete control over Central Asia and the Caucasus, this region, the core of the Eurasian continent, had played a unique role in the whole ancient world. For one thing, the “Silk Road” leading to the West from China went through this region, the cities on the way were not only the distributing centres of all kinds of goods, but also posts that maintained the security and smoothness of transportation; secondly, this region was also the only passage for the nomadic ethnic nations in the North of Asia to go down to Mesopotamia, Iran and India. Of course, not all of those who were trudging along the “Silk Road” were travelling merchants, not all of those who were galloping on the Central Asian prairie and in the harsh desert were the cavalry of the barbarian ethnic groups. The region of Central Asia and the Caucasus had in fact grown into a crossroads where the politics, economics and cultures of a few cultural areas on the ancient Eurasian continent converged and 8. DONG FANGXIAO, Islam and Post-Cold War World, Social Scientific Literature Press, Beijing, June 1999, p. 177. 9. MIR ZOHAIR HUSAIN, Global Islamic Politics, Harper Collins Publishers, 1995, pp. 255-256.

35


031-046/LiMes/Xiaodong

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 36

GEOPOLITICAL CHANGES IN THE WESTERN REGIONS

interacted. As René Grousset, a French scholar, described in his monumental work The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia, “along this road, trade was going on and religions were spreading; along this road, came the Greek arts of the Alexandrine successors and the people who preached Buddhism from Afghanistan. From this road, Greek-Roman merchants went to and tried to take control of Saraga (a name used by Ptolemaeus to refer to Luoyang, which he also called Thinae, author’s note), a place Ptolemaeus had mentioned to be plentiful with silk, and the generals in Eastern Han Dynasty of China had ventured to establish communications with Iranian world and the Eastern part of the Roman Empire”. 10 In the 1990s, having been out of view of the world politics and international communications for over one hundred years, the region of Central Asia and the Caucasus once again resumed its geographic advantage of linking the continents of Europe and Asia. If increasing globalisation were taken into consideration, its geopolitical advantage would probably be far more prominent than in the past. Obviously the leaders of the Central Asian countries have realised the close tie between the geopolitical advantage and the future development of their countries. “As a result, all countries have eagerly declared their desires one after another to become the new ‘tie’ and bridge”. 11 Of course their performing capability has been seriously hindered by underdeveloped economies, fragile infrastructures, complicated religious and ethnic conflicts, but their potential advantages in geography, strategy and even economics cannot be indiscreetly brushed aside. This might be the important reason for which Russia is re-establishing its presence in the region and for which the USA, European Union and NATO are getting involved.

The Western Regions and the National Security of China On the Eurasian hinterland and bordering the Pacific Ocean in the East, China was troubled by the invasion of the nomadic ethnic nations in the North and Northwest in the past feudal dynasties. Hun during the Qin Dynasty, Turk during the period of Sui-Tang, the Northern chaos caused by war during the Five Dynasties, the confrontation between Northern Song and Nuzhen, and later, the successive entrance in the Central Plains of Mongolians and Manchurians, all accounted for a simple fact: the invasions of the nomadic ethnic nations were the major threat to the external security of past dynasties. The rock-firm Great Wall that has been standing for hundreds and thousands of years vividly interprets China’s focus and main orientation in security. With the establishment of the Western maritime hegemony and the rise of capitalism, the main threat against the

36

10. R. GROUSSET, The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia, translated by LAN QI, Commercial Press, Beijing 1999, pp. 10-11. 11. SUN ZHUANGZHI, Foreign Relations of Five Central Asian Countries, Contemporary World Press, Beijing, April 1999, p. 35.


031-046/LiMes/Xiaodong

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 37

A NEW SILK ROAD?

security of China shifted from land to sea. During the 110 years from the Opium War in 1840 to the foundation of the People’s Republic of China, there were numerous invasive wars against China launched from the sea, and China’s capital was captured and ransacked three times: in 1860, the Allied Armies of Britain and France burnt Yuanming Garden; in 1900, the Eight-Power Allied Forces occupied Beijing; and in 1938, Japanese Devils caused a blood bath in Nanjing. It should be noted that even in this period, threats from the North and Northwest had by no means subsided. The territory and borders in the depth of the continent had undergone tremendous changes, from which the threat had not been felt until the 1960s-1970s: from the utmost Eastern part of the Wusuli River to the Pamirs in the Far West, China was half enveloped by the Soviet Union from North to West; the three provinces in the Northeast, the base of China’s heavy industry, were between the hammer and the anvil, and even Beijing, the capital, was within the range of a lightning war. By 1991 the threats from the West and the North had generally undergone two stages. The first stage started around 221 BC and ended in mid 19th century, when the main threat against China came from regular invasions of the Northern nomadic ethnic nations. When the central dynasties were comparatively strong, the invasion caused no more than wars on the Northwestern frontiers; when the central dynasties were vulnerable, the whole Northern regions would fall in the chaos of war including the Central Plains under foreign occupation. Fortunately, although the well-developed civilisation in the Central Plains “had been conquered, yet in the end, it conquered the barbaric and uncivilised victors by inebriating and doping them, and ultimately wiped them out”. 12 From the mid 19th century, the threat from the Northwest underwent substantial changes. First, Russia replaced the nomadic nations and became the main invader from the North, for the expansion of territory cast a spell over Tsarist Russia; second, both the Tsarist and Communist reigning groups were frequently under strong fanatical impulses to launch large-scale invasions and military strikes against China; and third, unlike the regular invasions of the nomadic nations, Russian pressure on the security of China was overwhelming and longlasting. The disintegration of the Soviet Union in December of 1991 and the following independence of the Central Asian countries marked the dawn of a new era in which the security environment in the West and North of China would undergo great changes. Optimistically, the disintegration of the Soviet Union relieved China of the most intense military pressure along the continental border, and in the foreseeable future, there will be no threat of large-scale military invasion in the North and West of China. Even the possibility of border clashes also dropped to the lowest point in history, for China has not only solved the majority of border issues with Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and other countries, but also achieved a common view through dialogue and negotiation au pair on border disarmament 12. R. GROUSSET, The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia, translated by LAN QI, Commercial Press, Beijing 1999, p. 18.

37


031-046/LiMes/Xiaodong

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 38

GEOPOLITICAL CHANGES IN THE WESTERN REGIONS

and reliance establishment. “The Shanghai Five” in particular, has become a cooperative paradigm in the security field of international society. Nevertheless, it should not be neglected that security in the West and North of China still faces serious uncertainties. The first is related to Islamic extremism and ethnic separatism. Viewed from the whole, the international and regional environments since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 are propitious to the promulgation of Islamic extremist and ethnic separatist thoughts. From the international perspective, the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the frustration suffered under Socialism have not only provided space for the overflowing of all kinds of political and religious trends, but also helped their natural justification: as long as they are trying to shake off Russian control and influence and oppose the Soviet political and economic pattern, they will earn wide support and acclamation in international society. What is more, with the Kosovo war as the turning point, the new interventionism of the USA and NATO has come into shape, represented especially in their support to the “Kosovo Liberation Army”, an extremist faction, and their position on the later Chechen issue. This will stimulate all kinds of separatism. From the regional perspective, both Pan-Islamism and PanTurkism have a ready market in Central Asian regions. One reason for this is that some countries studiously preach and hawk these thoughts in pursuit of their own interests; the other reason is that, to a great extent, these thoughts filled the ideological vacuum during the post Soviet era, and provided a certain ethnic and cultural identity and authenticity. In such great a setting, all kinds of religious extremisms with an Islamic colour and ethnic separatism became active as never before, from the Balkans to the Caucasus, from Central Asia to Afghanistan and Kashmir, that is, along the boundary between the Islamic world and the Eastern camp. To sum up, the Islamic extremism and ethnic separatism active in this region have some common characteristics. First, without exception they lump religious, ethnic and political issues together to evoke widest international sympathy and support; second, while constantly advocating noble religious and political goals, they take up kidnapping, assassination, explosion and other terrorist practices without hesitation as means to achieve their goals; third, in order to acquire reliable resources, the area they control has become a workshop of drugs. It is reported that opium produced in Afghanistan is three times the total amount produced in other areas in the world. In 1999 only, the opium produced in Afghanistan was 4600 metric tons, double the 1998 output. 13 In China there are 10 ethnic groups that believe in Islam, with a population of about 18-20 million, who mostly live in the Northwestern regions. If it was true that during the Cold War, China could cut off the tie between Xinjiang and Central Asia through tight border controls and other security measures, at present it is impossible: in ethnicity, language and religion Xinjiang has a far-reaching

38

13. AHMED RASHID, “The Taliban: Exporting Extremism”, Foreign Affairs, November/December 1999, p. 33.


031-046/LiMes/Xiaodong

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 39

A NEW SILK ROAD?

connection with the Western Regions. The bi-directional flow of people, information and materials into and out of the Western Regions is not only the outcome of Xinjiang’s opening to the outside world, it is also the prerequisite of further development. It has been proved that Xinjiang has become the coveting object of extremist religious factions, terrorists and drug dealers, as well as the main infiltration target of “Pan-Islamism” and “Pan-Turkism”. The security and stability of Xinjiang has aroused the unusual attention of the Chinese academic community and governmental departments. The second uncertain element in security that the West of China faces is related to the clash between India and Pakistan. Centred on the dispute of Kashmir, the clash between India and Pakistan has lasted for 50-odd years. Unlike the situations in the past, it is possible that Kashmir will trigger a general war between India and Pakistan. Owing to the disappearance of the Soviet Union, Pakistan has lost its weight in the global strategy of the USA. In the eyes of many Americans, the former strategic ally and hero, which resisted the southward expansion of the Soviet Union, has degenerated into a sheer ruffian: corrupt politicians, the servicemen are unbridled in their truculence and extremist Islamism overspreads; in international politics, the country recklessly develops large-scale weapons, brazenly acts in collusion with Islamic extremist forces, and gravely jeopardises regional stability and peace. On the contrary, India, in the past a “spoiler” in the eyes of the Americans, becomes the exemplary citizen: India is the largest “democratic country” in the world, so it can become the motor of democracy; India puts forth no territorial claims on its neighbours, so it is the protector of the regional order in Southern Asia; even when India risked everyone’s condemnation to conduct nuclear tests, its action was considered a reasonable security demand, and Americans believe that, unlike North Korea and other countries which attempt to possess large-scale antipersonnel weapons, India is one of the most responsible.14 In Southern Asia, India is an absolute leading power. The balance with Pakistan was maintained for over half a century because that the big powers conditioned each other. The collapse of the Soviet Union and especially the adjustment of the USA in its policy concerning Southern Asia have seriously broken the fragile balance in this region. It should be especially noted that, when talking about the so-called “China threat”, the USA and India found a common topic. This might cause India to have an illusion that it has acquired enough freedom and strength to act in Southern Asia, and can solve once and for all the dispute with Pakistan. Unlike before, the dispute probably will lead to serious nuclear confrontation: in the dry tree, Pakistan may fight desperately, while India, holding all the trumps, may well catch the ball before the bound and perform a surgery on Pakistan. It seems that Kashmir has become the “one of the most perilous places in the world” as Clinton, the American President, puts it.15 14. MOHAMMAD AYOOB, “India Matters”, The Washington Quarterly, 23:1, Winter 2000, pp. 27-39. 15. XINHUA AGENCY, UN, April 16, 2000, English telecommunication.

39


031-046/LiMes/Xiaodong

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 40

GEOPOLITICAL CHANGES IN THE WESTERN REGIONS

To China, an India-Pakistan clash would definitely bring tension and disorder in the Western frontier of China, and even a disastrous influence on the economic development in the area. However, the real danger lies in that it is possible that China will be beguiled into an unexpected clash in which it did not intend to be involved in at all.

The Western Regions and the Security of China’s Energetic Source Over the past 20 years, China has been one of the countries with fastest economic growth. When we are proud of the economic achievements and enjoy the convenience brought along by them, we must give enough attention to one of the important elements that support economic growth – the production and supply of petroleum, and the consequent security issue of the energetic source. In 1993 China became an importing country of crude oil, but strains in its production and demand had appeared before this. As early as in 1978, China’s oil output exceeded 100 million tons (reached 104.05 million tons), while by 1990, output had only increased to 138,3 million tons, which meant that the output only increased 34.25 million tons in 12 years, with an annual increase rate of no more than 2.7%. Compared with the annual increase rate of 11% 16 before 1978 (from 1952 to 1978), there really was a world of difference. There are various indications that the room for oil increase in China is very small. It is virtually impossible for China’s oil output to get onto a new stage unless there are big breakthroughs in oil prospecting. In the meanwhile, the tempo of the opening and reform of China is continually accelerating, and due to the rapid economic development, the demand for oil increasingly swells up. In 1980, oil consumption was 87,574 million tons, in 1985, 91,688 million tons, and in 1987, exceeded 100 million tons and reached 103,122 million tons.17 Throughout the 1990s, the conflict between supply and demand was not relieved, on the contrary, it became worse than ever. In the light of statistics, Chinese output of crude oil in 1995 was 149,064 million tons, in 1996 and 1997 they were respectively 157,292 and 160,441 million tons. From 1998, however, output has been decreasing: in 1998, 160,256 million tons; in 1999, 158,786 million tons; 18 and it seems that even at its best, the oil output in 2000 is hardly more than a return to a little over 160 million tons. In striking contrast with the fluctuation of oil output, its demand repeatedly broke the record. According to the statistics and forecast of IEA, the demand for petroleum in China in 1996 was 3.70 million barrel/day; in 1997, 4.10 million barrel/day; in 1998, 4.20 million barrel/day; and in 1999 and 2000 it will reach 4.40 million barrel/day and 4.60 million barrel/day respectively.19 Put another way, the insufficiency between oil production and demand in China will be as high as 70 million tons.

40

16. MA XIUQING, Petroleum-Development-Challenge of the Economy of the Middle East — Ahead for the 21st Century, Petroleum Industrial Press, Beijing, February 1995, pp. 200-201. 17. China Statistical Yearbook, 1988; 1994. 18. International Petroleum Economics, vol. 8, no. 2, March 20, 2000, p. 55. 19. IEA, Monthly Oil Market Report, February 11, 2000.


031-046/LiMes/Xiaodong

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 41

A NEW SILK ROAD?

With the improvement of people’s living standards and the expansion of the Chinese economic scale, and the acceleration of the structure readjustment in energy resource due to the increasing pressure of environmental protection, oil demand in China will further increase. According to the forecast of a report entitled “Studies of the Tendency and Countermeasures of China’s Petroleum Importation” issued by the Economic Research Centre of the China State Commission of Economy and Trade, in 2005, the consumption of crude oil in China will reach 243 million tons, and in 2010 and 2015, 296 million tons and 360 millions respectively.20 If no large oil fields are discovered and the oil output remains at 160 or 170 million tons, the insufficiency of supply will be as large as 200 million tons. The estimation of IEA is more alarming: by 2020, China will daily import more than 8 million barrels of crude oil, or 400 million tons in a whole year. No matter how huge the discrepancy in the estimates on Chinese oil demand in the forthcoming 20 years, a simple fact is that the enormous gap between supply and demand has to be made up by imported oil, while in the present world, the main source of the imported oil is in the Middle East, the Gulf in particular. It is unnecessary to provide the already well known figures on reserves, output and export volume of oil in the Middle East. A glance at the figures in the following table 1 will make one understand more than enough the role played by petroleum from the Middle East in meeting China’s oil demand. At present, the influence of Middle Eastern oil on the energy security of China is limited because, though since 1996 China has become a pure importing country of crude oil, the proportion of the imported petroleum in the total demand is not very high. At the same time, China annually exports some crude oil to the USA, Japan and some Eastern Asian countries. Thus, on balance the proportion of imported petroleum will be much lower. In 1998 for instance, China imported 27,322.90 thousand tons of crude oil, 13% of the total demand (210 million tons, 4.20 million barrels/day). In the same year, China exported 15,600.70 thousand tons to Japan, the USA, South Korea, Singapore and others. On balance, imported crude oil is 11,722.20 thousand tons, taking 5.58% of the total demand. Suppose that it was impossible to import crude oil (16,668.30 thousand tons) from the Middle East for some reason, if the worst comes to the worst, China would stop exporting crude oil to Japan, the USA and others, thus the actual insufficiency would be only 1,060 thousand tons. Obviously this would be far from enough to endanger China’s energy supply and economic security. Nevertheless, the alarm bell is ringing, and oil from the Middle East will ultimately become the critical element in affecting China’s energy security. In 1999, when the amount of imported crude oil increased considerably, the export amount decreased by a large margin (only 7,166.60 thousand tons). With the domestic oil price gradually coming in line with that in international market, this tendency will be strengthened. If the forecasts are accurate, in the 20 years ahead 50% of the 20. http://cn.yahoo.com/headlines/000803/busi/huasheng/20000803jjgjtxt2.html

41


031-046/LiMes/Xiaodong

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 42

GEOPOLITICAL CHANGES IN THE WESTERN REGIONS

Table 1. (Unit: thousand tons) Year

Total importing amount

From Middle East

1996 1997 1998 1999

22,616.90 35,469.70 27,322.60 36,613.70

11,962.00 16,781.60 16,668.30 16,903.90

Percentage of Middle East %

52.89 47.31 61.00 46.16

Source: International Petroleum Economics, vol. 8, no. 2, March 20, 2000, p. 7.

demand in China will have to be provided by imported petroleum, of which at least half will be from the Middle East. Chinese policy-making institutions and academic circles have fully recognised the significance of Middle Eastern oil in meeting China’s demand, and also realised the hazards of excessive reliance on it. Therefore, while strengthening domestic prospecting and production, China takes the diversification of importing sources as its main strategy in risk-spreading. Statistically, Africa and some Southeast Asian countries are two additional importing regions besides the Middle East. However, given the frequent chaos of wars, booming local demand, or the limits in production increase and importing volume, it will be difficult for the two regions to exercise a decisive influence on China’s reliance on the Middle East. By this token, petroleum from Central Asia, and Caspian region in particular, should be given an important position in China’s diversifying strategy. In other words, to strengthen petroleum cooperation with Central Asia, the Caucasus and Russia might be of potential significance. First, the high petroleum reserves and low exploration are advantageous to cooperation between China and related countries. In the light of statistics, the proved oil reserves in the Caspian Basin are as much as 15-29 billion barrels, which, though not a match with the Gulf region, is on a par with the USA (22 billion barrels) and the oil fields in North Sea (17 billion barrels). During the Soviet period, the oil capacity in the Caspian region had not been fully developed, while nearly all the reserves in Azerbaijan, 30-40% in Kazakhstan and Tadzhikistan are under the sea.21 Second, the countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus are particularly interested in international cooperation in the petroleum field. After their independence, these countries have austere situations in economic development. To introduce foreign capital and strengthen international cooperation in the field of energy is one of the few choices to cast off economic crises. What is more, these countries also face problems in national economic security: to get rid of dependence on Russia in

42

21. IDE SPOT SURVEY, The Caspian Basin Oil and Its Impact on Eurasian Power Games, MANABU SHIMZU (ed.), Institute of Developing Economies, To¯kyo¯, June 1998, p. 5.


031-046/LiMes/Xiaodong

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 43

A NEW SILK ROAD?

technology, production and transport, a variety of partnerships in energy have become a common policy trend. Lastly, China and Central Asian countries are geographically connected, which greatly facilitates Sino-Central Asian cooperation in the field of energy. Of course, at present there are more hindrances than conveniences in cooperation, such as incessant religious and ethnic clashes, unstable politics, underdeveloped infrastructure and so on in Central Asia. But from a long-term point of view, cooperation in energy with Central Asia ought to and surely will exercise considerable influence on the security strategy of China’s energy source.

On China’s Policy Concerning the Western Regions The end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resulting series of large-scale geopolitical shifts all help China’s establishment of a continental passage to Central and Western Asia, Southern Asia and even to Europe through the traditional “Silk Road” and the Eurasian heartland. The Western Regions, a word that sparked the imagination of the ancient literati and was buried in oblivion for over 100 years, sailed into the view of the Chinese policy-makers with an entirely new connotation. With the accelerating development of China’s economy, and especially with the gradual unfolding of the development strategy in Western China, the ties with the countries in the Western Regions will be much closer, and China’s interests in this region will be represented on numerous levels. Therefore, the academic community and the government departments should well notice such a diplomatic strategy by evaluating accurately and taking hold of the relationships between China and the Western Regions and the developing trends. At the present, however, the issues of national security, triggered by religious extremism and ethnic separatism, and of energy security due to oil supplies, are two key areas in Chinese diplomatic policy in the Western Regions for the next years. With regard to national security, Chinese diplomacy should unfold on three levels. First, it should have good relations with the big countries, such as Turkey, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan. These countries hold the balance in regional relations, including in the security and stability of the West of our country. Turkey is the main base of Xinjiang ethnic separatist exiles, India is the headquarters for the Dalai Lama to instigate Tibetan independence, Saudi Arabia and Iran have wide influence in the Islamic world, while Kazakhstan shares the longest border with China and is the largest Central Asian country with both Islamic and Turkish characteristics. Developing relations with these countries should be the main focus of our diplomacy in the Western Regions. If these countries stick to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and fully understand the regional harm of religious extremism and ethnic separatism, this would exercise a positive influence upon the improvement and development of bilateral relations and on regional security and stability. To the regular communication of the cross-border ethnic groups, China bears no objection and it would welcome

43


031-046/LiMes/Xiaodong

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 44

GEOPOLITICAL CHANGES IN THE WESTERN REGIONS

heartily a constructive dialogue on the basis of the principle of mutual equality and respect. But under all circumstances, China strongly opposes intervention into other country’s internal affairs under the pretext of ethnic and religious issues. Second, China should strengthen cooperation with Russia and other Western Region countries. It should be acknowledged that the difference in political systems and ideologies, the complexity of religious and ethnic composition, the imbalance of economic and social development and the national interest conflicts in various fields severely impair mutual trust between China, Russia and other countries in the Western Regions. It should also be acknowledged that China, Russia and most countries in the Western Regions are the victims of religious extremism, ethnic separatism, terrorism and cross-border crime, which, as a result, undermine the cooperation potential of these countries in the field of security. China and Russia ought to be the active participants in the security cooperation. Without a full understanding and cooperation between China and Russia, the rampant growth of religious extremism, ethnic separatism and international terrorism cannot be effectively checked. In the meanwhile, China and Russia should also encourage more Western Regional countries to join this form of cooperation. Only through a larger scale of information exchange, personnel training and concerted efforts can the reticular connections of these international criminal organisations be cut off, especially their come-and-go in funds, personnel and trans-national traffic in ammunitions and drugs. At the recent Summit conference of “the Shanghai Five”, great progress was made between China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tadzhikistan and Kyrgyzstan, united against religious extremism, ethnic separatism and international terrorism. Just as Putin, the Russian President, put it, “the Summit between China, Russia and the Central Asian countries that aimed to solve border problems became a Summit for the prevention of international terrorism and to promote cooperative relations”. 22 The historical change of “the Shanghai Five” indicates that an increasing number of countries have realised the importance of cooperation in security. Third, China should watch out for the strategic intentions of the Western countries in this region. While China, Russia and other countries have discarded the Cold War mentality and are exploring new paths in international and regional security structures, the US-led Western countries still cling to bygone dreams and are infatuated with patching up and just modifying the decade-old Cold War machine: the NATO and Japan-US alliance attempts to contain China and Russian strategically. In the West, NATO’s tentacles have extended to the Caucasus and Central Asia; in the East, to consolidate the alliance with Japan, the USA has attached great strategic importance to the improvement and development of relations with Vietnam, and India in particular. Through the war in Kosovo and the 50th NATO anniversary, the US-led Western countries made an attempt to establish a new form of interventionism. We are more than willing to take their motivations

44

22. XINHUA AGENCY, To¯kyo¯, July 6, 2000, Japanese telecommunication.


031-046/LiMes/Xiaodong

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 45

A NEW SILK ROAD?

and goals as kind and noble, but the outcome of the war in Kosovo and the double standards in human rights have shattered our imagination and a severe reality lies in front of us. We would rather believe that this judgement is far from true: when the influence of the USA and NATO infiltrates Central and Southern Asia and begins to harangue human rights, large-scale of chaos in Xinjiang and Tibet will not be very far. The second diplomatic key question for China in the Western Regions is to ensure the stability and security of oil supplies. It must be made clear that the interests of China, the USA, Europe, Japan and other countries are exactly the same in obtaining petroleum supply from the Middle East, and the Gulf in particular. Consequently, China should not only give active support to but also try its best to be involved in any suggestions and efforts aimed at the promotion of regional security and stability in the Middle East and the Gulf. It has to be pointed out, however, that there are divergent opinions on how to bring peace and stability in the Middle East and the Gulf, and ensure the continuous flow of oil from the Middle East to the international market at an acceptable price. Therefore, China’s policy on the Middle East should first focus on multilateral cooperation and opposition to irresponsible unilateral action. Second, multilevel cooperation with oil-producing countries in the Middle East should be substantially strengthened to realise the best combination of economic interests of oil supply and production. Chinese policy-makers should bear in mind that a single tie of petroleum supply and demand, or a high complementarity in trade, would be insufficient to ensure that oil-producing countries sell petroleum to China under any circumstance. Only full-scale cooperation in oil prospecting, production, transportation, refining and related petrochemical fields can ensure the security of oil supplies from the Middle East. Third, the Middle East and the Gulf are unstable regions, as much as the sea route from the Gulf to the Far East through the Indian Ocean, Malacca Strait and South China Sea is unsafe. Thus, the maintenance of security in transport should also be addressed. The prospect (or rather reality) of importing most oil from the Middle East is an even greater challenge to the security of China’s energetic source. Were there another major potential supplier in the Caspian region, it would be pressing to develop a wider ranging policy. Presently, China is not a powerful competitor in the development of Caspian oil: we have neither the favourable geographical position of Russia, nor the abundant financial resources of Americans and Europeans. Therefore, it is not easy to pick the first fruits. Nevertheless, China has potential advantages that other countries lack: among those that can reach the Caspian Sea without passing a third country, China is the one with the fastest growth in the economy and in oil demand. For the countries in the Caspian and in Central Asia that want to achieve economic and social development through developing resources, China is more appealing than the pure petroleum developers. Furthermore, Pacific Asia is a region with great potential in the coming decades. In China, the Central Asian countries can find not only a most reliable

45


031-046/LiMes/Xiaodong

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 46

GEOPOLITICAL CHANGES IN THE WESTERN REGIONS

buyer of oil and other resources, but also the most convenient track for their economies to integrate into Pacific Asia. If the Central Asian countries considered the potential capability of the second Eurasian continental bridge and the immense influence of China’s Western development, surely they would think over the role China could play in the development of the energy source in the Caspian Sea and in Central Asia. In view of this, China should not worry about present difficulties, or abandon its fundamental positions in order to pick the first fruits. For the Chinese government and enterprises, the two fundamental principles in energy cooperation in the Caspian Sea and in the Central Asian region are a far-reaching strategy and commercial feasibility.

46


047-056/LiMes/Sisci

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 47

A NEW SILK ROAD?

THE POPE IN CHINA: STILL A LONG WAY TO GO

by Francesco SISCI

T

HE HISTORY OF RELATIONS BETWEEN

China and the Vatican is fraught with misunderstandings. It is fascinating, especially from the Catholic side, but ridden with mistakes with far reaching consequences for both sides. Just recall the controversy of rites that pulled the Jesuits out of China in the 18th century, or the war of attrition between the Pope, committed to an anti Communist crusade in the 1950s, and Mao’s comrades, which ended with the expulsion of foreign missionaries from China. Over the past two years, two men with very different personal backgrounds and ambitions put a completely different spin on bilateral ties, starting a new and crucial phase in this sensitive relationship and drawing in the rest of the world. The two men are Li Hongzhi, head of the Falungong cult, and Chen Shuibian, president of Taiwan.

The Falungong Threat On 25 April 1999 over 10,000 Falungong followers held an unprecedented demonstration around Zhongnanhai, the residence of Chinese top leaders in Beijing. The Chinese Communist Party was challenged for the first time not by spontaneous protests, but by a large, well organised, semi-clandestine organisation with clear political ambitions, a strong religious ideology and whose leader was residing outside China. Moreover, Chinese leaders realised they had not heeded the many alarm signs against the sects and cults that were mushrooming all over the country. They had underestimated the political dangers posed by the sects, had not received accurate intelligence on them, and genuinely theorised a policy of greater tolerance towards religions. Many senior officials were followers of the new sects and did all they could to cover up their actions. The end result was that the many warnings from all quarters passed unnoticed. In the spring of 1999, Chinese leaders discovered that the previous year a senior Buddhist priest, Chen Xingqiao, had written a book to refute the Falungong (Foujiao qigong yu falungong, The Buddhist Qi gong and the Falungong). Not only. Discreetly but clearly all “traditional religions” – those recognised by the state and including the official Catholics – had warned against

47


047-056/LiMes/Sisci

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 48

THE POPE IN CHINA: STILL A LONG WAY TO GO

48

the spread of new cults. But until the demonstration, the leadership would rather trust the new sects than the “old enemies”, the traditional religions that had been fought by the old Chinese Communist Party. The CCP had been reading the signs wrongly, thinking that the hostility of traditional religions towards the Falungong and their likes stemmed from normal animosity in the face of the competition. The new challenge of the cults did not drastically change the CCP’s suspicion towards traditional religions, but put it into a different perspective. The CCP began to realise it had lost its old appeal on people’s mind. The Communist Party in the past 20 years had become secularised and no longer claimed to provide a total answer to people’s problems. Its appeal to Maoist Communists had been watered down by Deng’s new dogma “no matter if the cat is black or white as long as it catches rats”, i.e. be pragmatic and cast aside highflying theories. Its hold on power had been kept by running the country well. Deng’s approach reversed the priorities of Maoist times: he would manage the country well, improve people’s life and gradually loosen old ideological bonds. This policy received praise from everywhere but left a spiritual vacuum, as Communist leaders realised already in the early 1980s when they launched the first of their campaign against “spiritual pollution” against the dangers of Western ideas pouring in, unhindered, through the open door policy. They did not pay any attention to the new Qi Gong wave that spread in China. On the contrary, masters of the old breathing technique, were given ample coverage on TV and radio. Official papers gave credit to the miracles they could perform and even elderly leaders sought their advice and cure for ailments. Youngsters taught themselves Qi Gong by reading old and once forbidden books or by looking for old monks. Incredible stories were circulating of masters capable of flying, passing through walls, and materialising miles away within seconds. As early as 1988 there were unheard calls for prudence. Young students experienced physical and psychological problems while practising Qi Gong without the supervision of trained masters. Taoist and Buddhist monks, who had been preserving the technique for centuries, warned that Qi Gong could turn out to be dangerous. Officials did try to pay attention to these calls but they did so in a way that ultimately made matters even worse. The government kept an eye on the phenomenon by having Qi Gong associations registered under the Sport Commission, implicitly leading many people to believe Qi Gong was a harmless sport rather than a new religion. In the early 1990s dozens of masters appeared from nowhere and organised their styles, and also brought in new beliefs filling the vacuum left by traditional Communism, accompanied by new organisations that collected money for the master and spread the technique. The diffusion of those ideas was so powerful that hardly no one can claim to have never practised any Qi Gong. It also contributed to bringing back a tradition worth preserving, and appeased millions of Chinese with an important part of their cultural legacy. Last but not least, the new Qi Gong wave provided spiritual support for people who


047-056/LiMes/Sisci

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 49

A NEW SILK ROAD?

had lost faith in everything and felt deeply disoriented in a fast moving society where old values were dying out. The people and government preferred trusting new Qi Gong masters rather than old Buddhist and Taoist monks or Protestant and Catholic priests. Traditional Taoists or Buddhists were also associated with the Guomindang tradition of the Nationalist party, the sworn enemy of the Communists for almost a century. Buddhism was dangerously close to the religion practised by the Dalai Lama, spiritual head of the Tibetan ethnic group with many grievances against Beijing. Compared to Buddhism, newly founded Qi Gong sects appeared quite tame and manageable. The objective of the Beijing government, in line with the imperial tradition, was to hinder the growth of organised religions that aspired to share power with the State. China has never known wars of religion and has seldom had conflicts of interests and power in any way comparable to those between the Pope and the European sovereigns. Given China’s tradition of religious tolerance, the policy up to 25 April was to keep traditional religions, considered more dangerous, under firm control and let other sects develop. This policy was first reviewed in 1998 when the Falungong held many demonstrations against the media, radio stations and newspapers, guilty of criticising the cult. In all instances the media retracted their allegations, and the writers and scientists who had discreetly attacked the sect were warned by the Propaganda department. The pattern was clear: the government did not want any conflict with the Falungong or any other sect and saw those criticising the sect as stirring up trouble by upsetting the social balance the sects had somehow contributed to maintain. However, the growing number of people complaining with the authorities about their relatives being swayed and harmed by the sects, and the increasing number and dimension of Falungong demonstrations drew the attention of the official departments. At the end of 1998 the government estimated that those practising Falungong were tens of millions, though not all as blind followers. The Falungong had reached the army and the security department, which had introduced Qi Gong practice as part of their martial arts training. Its organisation was tightly knit, with a clandestine pyramidal structure, emulating the Communist Party’s, with a kind of politburo and central committee and many local branches. Now the party suspects that as early as 1998 the Falungong was actually preparing for a struggle with the party. Although far from illegally, Li Hongzhi had left the country to the US that year, and had organised, according to official reports 1 three levels of clandestine leaders, so that anybody arrested could be easily replaced. Officials said that until the 25 April demonstration the government had no intention of cracking down on the Falungong. On the other hand, I have been told by followers that a repression was in the offing since early 1998 and that they were simply trying to resist it, citing Li Hongzhi’s flight to the US as proof of his personal 1. See People’s Daily Commentary, October 28, 1999.

49


50

CATHOLICS IN THE WORLD (1997)

SOUTH AMERICA Population: 313,354,000 Catholics: 276,090,000 Percentage: 88.10%

WORLD Population: 5,687,374,000 Catholics: 989,366,000 Percentage: 17.39%

AFRICA Population: 725,850,000 Catholics: 107,077,000 Percentage: 14.84%

ASIA (MIDDLE EAST) Population: 198,430,000 Catholics: 3,152,000 Percentage: 1.58%

OCEANIA Population: 28,200,000 Catholics: 7,760,000 Percentage: 27.51%

ASIA (SOUTH - FAR EAST) Population: 3,257,850,000 Catholics: 98,058,000 Percentage: 3.00%

15:20

CENTRAL AMERICA Population: 123,541,000 Catholics: 115,721,000 Percentage: 93.67%

ANTILLES Population: 35,890,000 Catholics: 22,941,000 Percentage: 63.92%

EUROPE Population: 711,497,000 Catholics: 288,953,000 Percentage: 40.61%

ASIA 3,456,280,000 101,210,000 2.92%

6-10-2000

NORTH AMERICA Population: 292,762,000 Catholics: 69,614,000 Percentage: 23.77%

AMERICA Population: 765,547,000 Catholics: 484,366,000 Percentage: 63.27%

047-056/LiMes/Sisci Pagina 50

THE POPE IN CHINA: STILL A LONG WAY TO GO


047-056/LiMes/Sisci

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 51

A NEW SILK ROAD?

danger. But in this case the official version seems more credible. The 25 April demonstration appears to be a pre-emptive defensive attack in by the cult. The party was unprepared for confrontation with the Falungong, as demonstrated by the two feverish months the party took to ban the sect. Furthermore, most of the arrests and identifications of followers occurred during the demonstrations: were the party planning a crackdown, it would have long prepared lists of names to keep under surveillance. The subsequent repression on the Falungong and all other “creepy” Qi Gong sects creates a different environment for traditional religions, in particular for Catholicism.

The Catholic Opportunity Chinese leaders became genuinely frightened of the Falungong, which has repeatedly shown signs of intolerance, by protesting against foreign journalists even mildly critical of the sect. The Party feared it because of its organisation, its structured ideology/faith, its experience of confrontation with the Party, and its leader safely outside the country – all the elements that had made the success of the CCP over half a century before. The Falungong could reap the benefits of social discontent due to economic reforms and it could, if unchecked, constitute a threat to the country’s stability. The government’s analysis is sound from the socio-political point of view, but a repression of the Qi Gong sects would leave yet again a spiritual vacuum. In spring 1999 the party launched, without much success, a science and Marxism campaign to cater for the spiritual needs of society. Chinese scholars were soon sceptical of its possible results. The people craved for a spiritual bond with the world, with the after life and the cosmos, and science so far has been unable to satisfy this craving. The most fanatical form of Marxism, which claimed to provide an exhaustive answer to human needs, is now out of question in China. As the country is set to join the club of the developed nations, and conduct its affairs according to the international standards of the World Trade Organisation, a return to Maoism is impossible. This leaves no choice but reconsider the policies towards traditional religions, which, because of their history and their now proven integration in the Party apparatus, could become reliable partners in what the state considers its duty to manage the people’s spirituality. Catholicism could stand out as the most interesting among the traditional religions. Thanks to their strong organisation, Catholics could be tough adversaries, but also reliable allies. It would be best to join hands with the most organised religious group that is most likely to follow Party directions once an agreement with its leaders has been reached. The path is not easy but things are changing rapidly. The Catholics of the Patriotic Church, loyal to the Party, have been slowly moving towards reconciliation with Rome. Catholic officials admitted that the Patriotic Church is conducting a dialogue with many bishops of the underground church, who could join the official Church once ties with the Vatican

51


047-056/LiMes/Sisci

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 52

THE POPE IN CHINA: STILL A LONG WAY TO GO

are normalised. Catholics, along with other traditional religions could then expect to enjoy more freedom to do missionary work in the country. Of course this will not come without a price for the Vatican, which perhaps is higher than expected. Vatican officials claim to be informed that tougher regulations will be applied on the Catholics’ activities in China after the normalisation of ties. They are privately worried that these new regulations are aimed at stopping religious activities while cashing the international points Rome could offer to Beijing, which will be discussed in the next paragraph. In a way the Vatican seems to miss the logic of the reconciliation for Beijing. The new relationship can work on purely utilitarian grounds because there is a possible win-win solution. The Party has an interest in Chinese people becoming Catholic rather than Falungong, once and if the Catholics guarantee that they will not use the strength gained through the new converts to destabilise the country, but to stabilise it. But how can the party be sure of the honesty of the Vatican’s intentions? The answer is by imposing a close monitoring of the Catholic activities. The Falungong grew because it went unchecked by Beijing, but government tolerance created a direct challenge to its legitimacy, and greater intolerance towards intellectuals, who had grown far more fearful of the Falungong than of the party censorship. The Falungong went unchecked until it decided – unprovoked – to move against the party leadership, grossly overestimating its strength. This is a mistake party leaders cannot afford again, lest loose the country. As a matter of fact, from a structural point of view the Catholics are just the same as the Falungong: well organised, a structured ideology/faith, an experience of confrontation with the Party, and their leader is safe outside the country. The Party can and has an interest to do business with the Vatican, but cannot underwrite a blank check to the Pope. Certainly the Pope can claim none of Li Hongzhi’s weird ideas, and can positively affirm to head an organisation known for its reliability. While these are good enough reasons to start talks, guarantees, i.e. strong checks, are necessary in a new venture, especially for the CCP. On the other hand Beijing appears definitely interested in opening a dialogue with Rome, which represents the only religion that can offer an internal solution as well as an external advantage.

Taiwan

52

The election of Chen Shuibian as president of Taiwan last March has further complicated Beijing’s sentiments about the island. Since the mid 1990s Beijing has been very worried about Taiwan’s drift toward a formal declaration of independence. Several steps taken in Taiwan were perceived as moving to this end. President Lee Teng-hui’s visit to the US in 1995 was followed by the vocal presidential election of 1996, when Lee was elected and the American intervened in the Taiwan Strait with two aircraft carriers groups. In 1999 the controversial announcement of the “special two state theory” was considered by Beijing as a further move to independence and, finally, the


047-056/LiMes/Sisci

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 53

A NEW SILK ROAD?

candidate of the pro independence Progressive Democratic Party Chen, was elected in March 2000 despite the Mainland’s stern warnings against him. Since 1996 economic relations between the two sides of the Strait have improved but political distance has increased. Bilateral trade increased from $18.9 billion dollars in 1996, to $19.8 billion in 1997 and to $20.4 billion in 1998. But during the same period Chinese scholars perceived a growing cultural distance between the two sides, denouncing a “taiwanisation” of culture. The authorities of the island tended to emphasise the local cultural identity in contrast with the Mainland. Minanyu, the language of the majority of the island’s population and in the Mainland’s province of Fujian, is gaining more prestige at the expense of Mandarin, seen as the language of unification. Museums feature a new history of Taiwan, illustrating the island’s individual culture, first inhabited by people of Malay stock, rather than the Han origin of the present population. Beijing has little hope of influencing “taiwanisation”, and does not appear to have started thinking about a counter cultural strategy. In the mid 1990s the dominant idea was that better economic ties would reverse the drift toward independence. But the experience of recent years proves that other means must be found. Taiwan’s bid for greater independence could be contrasted by reducing its diplomatic room for manoeuvre and proving to public opinion that “taiwanisation” will lead nowhere. At the moment the Vatican is the most important of the 28 governments holding diplomatic ties with the island. Taiwan is the big prize at stake in the normalisation of relations between China and the Vatican. New ties could convince some Latin American governments to switch sides in the diplomatic tug of war between Beijing and Taipei. They could also improve China’s image in the US where the Catholic Church is very influential and, within a couple of decades, with the growth of the Hispanic population, could command the loyalty of the majority of voters. The ties would have huge positive impact in Europe and in the rest of the world, and would further isolate the Dalai Lama’s position. It would be more difficult for his people to understand why the Dalai cannot reach an agreement with Beijing if the Pope could. It would have a positive impact on China’s human rights record. In other words better relations with the Vatican could trigger the start of a badly needed tidal change in China’s image abroad. In China there were past fears of very close links between the Pope and the US. Suspicions of an American-Vatican alliance to bring down the East European block have grown weaker for many reasons. In the past 10 years the agenda of the Vatican and that of the US have increasingly diverged. Moreover, neither wants to bring about the collapse of the Communist party, which could cause an even greater implosion of the country than the one experienced in the former USSR. The US administration has proved its best intentions by signing a ground breaking WTO agreement in November 1999 and by campaigning with Congress to extend the Permanent Normal Trade Relations treaty to China. The NPTR is a major step in building better relations on the two sides of the Pacific.

53


047-056/LiMes/Sisci

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 54

THE POPE IN CHINA: STILL A LONG WAY TO GO

54

The intentions of the Vatican are less apparent and certainly need to be clarified to the Party. Despite the risks, the benefits for Beijing could be huge. The risks should not be underestimated because China’s leadership tends to be very cautious on issues touching yishixingdai, ideology in a very broad sense. If Beijing is interested in this big prize it must act swiftly. In the Vatican there is no consensus on the benefits of normalising relations with Beijing. Allegedly Pope John Paul II is personally in favour of the re-establishment of relations, but not everybody agrees with him. With a new Pope and agenda, China might have to start all over again. A strong constituency in Rome thinks the Holy See cannot trust the Chinese Communists, and certainly the CCP has no particular interest in or sensitivity to Catholic issues. Dealing with the Communists would be a new ball game for cardinals and bishops, used to relate to political leaders who show sensitivity if not outright respect or worship for their religion. The pros and cons would have to be measured in purely geopolitical terms, without the plus of religious influence, which can be played worldwide in most occasions. It would certainly be a challenge new to many princes of the Church, and arguably something John Paul II, because of his personal experience in Communist Poland, is more ready to deal with. However, not even in Poland or former USSR was there the deep rooted, almost callous, insensitivity to Catholic issues one can experience now in China. Catholicism per se is not a problem: four million Catholics are well organised in a established Patriotic Church, the other four million of the underground Church are less important compared to the Falungong and represent a small fraction of the 1.3 billion population of China. The Catholic issue becomes important for Beijing only in geopolitical terms. But the Vatican might think it is not worth the effort. Rome has waited 50 years for China, it could just as well wait another 50 and respect the sacrifices of the millions Chinese who upheld their faith in dire straits and never gave up their loyalty to the Pope. Cutting a deal with Beijing could seem a betrayal towards those people, who are the backbone of Catholicism in China. If the time is ripe for the Vatican, because of the present Pope, things may change rapidly in China. In a couple of years both the Taiwan and Falungong issues might be under control by different means and without the Vatican. In which case a deal with Rome may appear less interesting for Beijing. Historically, the Catholics had an important chance at the beginning of the Qing dynasty in the 17th century that Rome did not understand and missed. There now is a broad consensus in the Church that in the 17th century Rome made a mistake with China, so the logical outcome would be avoid another mistake and strike a deal now. In a few years, without formal ties with the Vatican, the underground Church could stop being Catholic altogether. It is currently experiencing serious problems. In the 1980s, because of the anti Christian persecution that made it impossible for Rome to monitor events in China closely, the Pope granted the right to appoint their bishops without his approval to the Chinese underground Church, but the situation is allegedly getting out of hand,


047-056/LiMes/Sisci

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 55

A NEW SILK ROAD?

and in ten or twenty years what now is the backbone of the Church could become very unreliable for Rome. Both the Party and Rome are fully aware that bilateral relations are a new policy of opening up. Through what might appear just a small opening, new water will flood into China. No matter how small the opening is initially, the water pressure will naturally expand it. The trend will continue even if, as it is likely, the Chinese authorities intervene to reduce the opening, which might grow to become an internal cleavage. In other words, the agreement for the Vatican could be on how to create an opening and how to keep it of a reasonable size. With the ecumenical aspirations of the Church, can the Holy See afford to miss a second chance in China? It is important to focus on the entire picture rather than on the many tricky details. For both parties it is worth thinking of Deng Xiaoping. It is important to open the window, though remembering that once the window is open flies will come in along with the fresh air. In mid September bilateral relations took an unexpected twist. Cardinal Roger Etchegaray was invited – after a seven years’ absence – to China to discuss religion, but was then received with courteous yet firm protest about the Vatican’s decision to “sanctify” 120 Chinese martyrs on the following 1 October, China’s national day. China saw the ceremony as a provocation, and objected to the choice of martyrs. Many of the martyrs were killed during the boxers’ uprising, which China considers a first anti colonialist movement. The Vatican delegation in Beijing appeared genuinely surprised by this fierce reaction. This proves that the Vatican did not mean it as a provocation, but also shows the great distance in understanding between Beijing and the Vatican. On 6 January 2000 Beijing ordered six new bishops: it was a clear provocation by Beijing that chose the traditional Catholic day for their appointment. Was then the October celebration a tit-for-tat? It will still take weeks to clarify what happened, but it is certainly clear that bilateral relations, although in theory helpful to either side, are hampered by reciprocal misunderstandings. Beijing is not clear about the Vatican, and somehow the Vatican has many misconceptions of Communist China. The first bridge to establish relations is therefore understanding, which for the Chinese means first that Catholic missionaries have to become more Chinese, and not vice versa. Today this means that the Catholics have to understand fully the trappings of the Chinese Communist system (very Chinese and little Communist), which is ingrained in society, and is not just a veneer. It is a matter of nationalist sovereignty for Beijing. This takes us back to Matteo Ricci and the controversy on the rites. Understanding the Chinese Communist system could be seen as a betrayal of the true faith and as an easy concession. How to strike a balance? Or is it necessary to strike a balance at all? The other road for the Vatican is to wait for the fall of Communism in China. But who knows when this will happen and if the next government will be less nationalist than the present one.

55


047-056/LiMes/Sisci

6-10-2000

15:20

Pagina 56


057-070/LiMes/Mini

6-10-2000

15:21

Pagina 57

A NEW SILK ROAD?

FROM THE RIM TO THE HEART

by Fabio

A

MINI

LMOST ALL THE GREAT GEOPOLI-

tical forecasts have fallen short of the mark. Models of the remote past linked to geographic considerations have not been of any great benefit in making predictions, even though they did rationalise possible scenarios. The inability to foresee the collapse of the Soviet bloc was the greatest demonstration that, notwithstanding an enormous intelligence apparatus and teams of dedicated analysts, reality is always uncertain. Today, no one hazards any grand projections and many experts limit themselves to detailed examinations of the present or the recent past, at times making it seem as if the present were the past and vice versa. With respect to Asia, a good exception is the study by Cass and Schwarz (C&S) 1 who in 1993 analysed three hypothetical main scenarios for the next decade. These scenarios are worth outlining, as they are still plausible. In fact, one of them, the least favourable, prognosticated the Asian economic crisis along with some of its related political and social consequences. The two experts identified some of the driving forces of Asian development in the following factors: • resources and influence of the overseas Chinese network; • the constraints of a rapid economic growth; • the uncertainty of regional security; • the increasing importance of intra-regional commerce and flow of capital; • the emergence of sub-regional development; • the affirmation of Asian capitalism (defined as “monolithic capitalism”) as the dominant socio-political-economic model. An analysis of each of the above factors had lead to some interesting deductions that in many ways are still valid today, seven years from their initial formulation. Specifically, Cass and Schwartz identified some of the limitations to Asian economic growth in the education and qualification of the work force. With the growth rate that existed during that period, it should have been clear that the national educational systems would not be able to assure a qualitative replacement 1. S. CASS and P. SCHWARTZ, From Silk Road to Silicon Road-Managing the Challenges of Success in the Asia Pacific During the 1990s. This work is the result of a project conducted by Global Business Network in 1992 to study future scenarios for the Asia-Pacific region.

57


057-070/LiMes/Mini

6-10-2000

15:21

Pagina 58

FROM THE RIM TO THE HEART

and renewal of the productive force. Indeed, given that the field of mass production into which Asia plunged rapidly exhausts markets and, at the same time, makes them more sophisticated in their requirements, it should have been obvious that without an adequate educational system, competitiveness would fall short and growth would either slow down or stop altogether. This phenomenon is still in full development and is truly a limiting factor, especially for China. Another factor of deceleration would have been the excessive urbanisation of development. The examples of the megalopolis of Bangkok, Djakarta, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo anticipated a certain type of structural collapse. In material terms this collapse has yet to take place, but we have witnessed the collapse of real estate prices and a consequent reduction of returns on investments. Furthermore, the implosion of the megalopolis is pre-announced by the overcrowding of suburban areas. Today, in China, a huge mass of people lives on the outskirts of large cities, yet officially resides in the country and is computed as rural work force. Another trend that should have had a positive influence on development was the Asian model of capitalism. Cass and Schwarz defined it as a monolithic model – although not much is monolithic in Asia – and viewed it as substantially different from Western models since it was not based on the relative “laissez faire” of the American system and was far removed from the European welfare system. The principal characteristics of this capitalism were viewed as: • high level of government/business integration both in the definition of economic objectives and in policy implementation; • relatively weak multi-party systems, with a tendency toward favouring the soft authoritarianism of a predominant party or a charismatic leader, whether this be the Chinese Communist Party or Suharto; • a relative lack of concern for social welfare or for “safety-net” mechanisms compared to European or North American models. These characteristics are still largely valid, as much as Cass and Schwarz’s observation on the fact that while the United States are incapable of integrating national and foreign policy with economic and military policy to reach common objectives, their Asian counterparts have no difficulty in achieving this. In addition, Asian capitalism is little influenced by ideology or politics or by what in the West are called civil liberties or individual rights. According to the prevalence of one or more of the aforementioned driving forces, the two experts of the Global Business Network foresaw three interesting scenarios: regional integration, in which there is a strong connection between Asian economic and political forces; sub-regional integration, in which this phenomenon is limited to lower level economic areas; of dis-integration, in which nationalist forces and protectionism prevail over designs of coordinated power and the Asian economy does not succeed in assuming a guiding role on a global level.

58

Regional integration. In this scenario the dominant forces are the network of the Chinese diaspora and the growth of intra-regional market of capital and trade.


057-070/LiMes/Mini

6-10-2000

15:21

Pagina 59

A NEW SILK ROAD?

Together with an open world market, the Asian region maintains a high growth rate and becomes highly integrated. On a global level, commercial blocs such as NAFTA and the European Community resist protectionist pressures and become supporting elements of an even more integrated global economy. The Chinese diaspora practices a type of capitalism never before seen in the West: authoritarian and Confucian, accepting economic freedom but neglecting democracy, despite the increasing role of a growing middle class. Sub-regional integration. If the dominant driving forces are sub-regional development and a weak regional security structure, Asia, according to Cass and Schwarz, can reject integration in favour of a more localised approach to development and cooperation. In this case Asia develops into 4 sub-regions, from North to South: (1) The Sea of Japan (or Greater Korea) based on the $30 billion project of the Tumen River (TRADPT – Tumen River Development Program) which incorporates the areas of the two Koreas, Northeast China, Siberia and Japan. (2) Greater China, which includes the Southern provinces of China (Guangdong, Fujian, Guanxi, Hainan, Hong Kong) and Taiwan. With a population of 120 million inhabitants and a GNP of $320 billion (1991), this Greater China already has a pro capita GNP of 2700 dollars, compared to the $200 of the interior provinces. 75% of direct foreign investments come from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Other provinces that could become part of this zone are Zhejiang, Shanghai, Jiangsu, followed by Hunan, Jiangxi and Anhui. (3) Greater Indochina, centred on Thailand and inclusive of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, Burma, the Chinese province of Yunnan and Singapore. (4) An insular Southeastern Asia based on the development triangle of Singapore, the Malaysian state of Johore and the island of Batam in Indonesia. This area includes Brunei and the rest of Indonesia as well as Papua New Guinea. This sub-division appears to be the natural evolution of a process of synergy between sources of capital, labour, raw material and productive capacities to maintain rapid growth and reduce the effects of infrastructure bottlenecks in transport, communication, energy and labour. In this scenario, there is no clear political regional leader and the US presence continues to be crucial for the area. But China’s security policy toward the exterior and its doctrine of external defence becomes increasingly superimposed onto the need to ensure resources and commercial routes. China’s movements towards the South China Sea appear even more threatening. Only American presence and naval cooperation with Vietnam would make China more reasonable. This initial fear of China leads ASEAN to become a significant political and economic force. Military cooperation accelerates, as does the sale of weapons. ASEAN becomes a military alliance with an anti Chinese and anti Japanese function. This scenario also contemplates a potent player in a subsequent phase: a unified Korea, causing Japan and China to reconsider their relations.

59


057-070/LiMes/Mini

6-10-2000

15:21

Pagina 60

FROM THE RIM TO THE HEART

The reunification of Korea would be the first result of sub-regionalisation. But given the German experience, South Korea is in no hurry to ally itself with the poor economy of the North. As part of its strategy to achieve development prior to unification, South Korea invests in the North and in the Tumen project. Subregional development becomes diversified and triggers a new investment market in the region.

60

Dis-integration. This is the final scenario. The driving forces indicate that there is another possible future, one in which Asia does not succeed in managing the challenges of success. In a world of growing protectionism, if obstacles to development are not confronted appropriately, growth in the Asia-Pacific area slows down. The limited development of qualified labour, excessive centralisation and urbanisation, restrictions imposed by energy requirements and environmental deterioration become real impediments to the economy. The social result is the growth of nationalism and militarism. In this context economic problems begin to generate political friction. The new “ideological” conflict and nationalism emerge from the global competition of different models of capitalism. Protectionism develops as soon as the breaking point with Asian economies that refuse to “play according to the rules” is reached. Europeans raise protectionist barriers to halt immigration and preserve the politics of welfare that are so dear to them. The Asians are confused and distressed by European and US insistence on “opening” and other issues like the environment, the rights of workers, copyrights and a number of other intangible factors that lead only to greater problems for Asian affairs. Triggered by the deceleration of regional economy, Chinese political relations also suffer. A repressive foreign and security policy and the lack of security in Asia nourish each other in a downward spiral of intra-regional political tensions. China moves to fill the gap created by American and European isolationism in Southeast Asia and sets its sights on the Indian Ocean. Japan increases its military role in Indochina to secure resources and markets. Soon China is perceived by other Asian nations as an arrogant power in search of regional hegemony. South Korea, Japan and Singapore lead the effort to contrast Chinese expansion but are hampered by their own economic and social problems. While China expands into the South China Sea, towards the Senkakus Islands and up to the Indian Ocean for resources, environmental confrontation escalates due to the increase in CO2 and the problem of water supplies. Because of its identification of the Asian structural problem and its vision of the consequences of a global economic break down, this final scenario has something prophetic. Today we are witnessing many of the signs and factors of this scenario, though its catastrophic effects are not yet visible. For example: Indonesia is falling apart, China expands, India itself is looking for a way to the South China Sea, the “fear of Asia” is driving Australia towards a “sheriff’s role” that is not recognised by anyone and is far from stabilising the situation.


057-070/LiMes/Mini

6-10-2000

15:21

Pagina 61

A NEW SILK ROAD?

With respect to China, this latter scenario is as likely as the others. China possesses the potential to guide the region or a sub-region or even to find its own way in the general chaos. But since 1993, the year of the Cass and Schwarz study, the Asian geostrategic picture has changed significantly and China’s position merits new consideration.

A New Geostrategic Framework for China Even though the Cass and Schwarz scenarios are excellent examples of strategic analysis, they limit China to the Asian context, and, most important, view the latter in a marginal framework with respect to the rest of the world. Attention is still centred upon the United States and the Western world. But something is changing and perhaps this viewpoint is no longer appropriate to interpret global geostrategic phenomena. There are a great many areas of tension in the world today and it is absolutely and unquestionably true that the United States are at the very centre of all of them: their global interests and the divine mission they have taken upon themselves to keep the world from sin place them at the centre of the world. It is nevertheless a centre that is strictly political; a centre that is involved out of interest, not survival: no one is threatening the territory of the United States, no neighbouring country is having tantrums or seeking to remove itself from their control. This attribute has led the United States over the past few years to develop a mania for extraterritoriality. Since US territory is not threatened it must defend US interests wherever these may be, without regard to the sovereignty or the will of others. It is a role that historically is so anomalous that it cannot last for long and is destined to set off new balances or imbalances of power. In this sense, China’s position is totally different, and, if we will, historically more comprehensible: at the moment it is the only country that is in the direct centre, and in contact with, development, trade opportunities, tensions and conflicts of any nature and of a global scope. What has happened and what could happen? From the “rim” to the “heart”. Communist China has for decades been placed at the periphery of the developed world. This was something downright offensive, not so much due to China’s marginal economic role but by reason of its political significance, since it was and is a member of the United Nations Security Council. Even in periods of greatest external influence, when it exported revolution to Third World countries and fomented extremist movements in Western countries, China did not succeed in assuming a global dimension. The vision of a tripolar world as contemplated in the 1970s was a pure academic exercise. The power factors upon which China based its presumed race toward hegemony, or at the very least the consideration of the powerful, were completely anachronistic or scarcely credible. Anachronistic was the demographic factor. To base the extent of one’s power upon the number of mouths to feed was a concept the West had abandoned at least a century before. Anachronistic was the economic factor based

61


62 Buddhist Japanese

African

Islamic

Source: S. P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, pp. 26-27 - New York 1996

Orthodox

Latin American

15:21

Hindu

Sinic

6-10-2000

Western

HUNTINGTON’S CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS

057-070/LiMes/Mini Pagina 62

FROM THE RIM TO THE HEART


057-070/LiMes/Mini

6-10-2000

15:21

Pagina 63

A NEW SILK ROAD?

on agriculture when the world had already gone on to industrialisation. Anachronistic and superfluous was mass industrialisation when the world had already graduated to advanced technology and the development of service industries. Scarcely credible were factors of military power based on a people’s army and a militia that was ill equipped and incapable of carrying out any concerted operation outside of its own territory. In fact, until the 1980s the great Chinese military exercises consisted of biblical movements of men on trucks or on foot for the classic 10,000 li (5,000 kilometres). Scarcely credible, as a threat against the exterior, was the strategic concept of a people’s war or guerrilla warfare or of the “you fight your way I’ll fight my way and I’ll always beat you” method. Following years of support for Vietnam in a strictly anti-American and anti-Russian function, when the Chinese army decided to teach a “historical lesson” to that country, winner but martyred nevertheless, it revealed its total strategic and tactical inability to conduct conventional operations of the pre-modern type. And this was 1979. Scarcely credible also was the strategic nuclear threat. A strategy of deterrence based on a confrontation of thousands of warheads and highly sophisticated systems to provide either party with the ability to react or survive a surprise attack – exactly four intercontinental missiles, perfectly identified by satellites and of a technology that could be easily downed in flight – did not represent a serious threat to anyone. Unless the “first use” was to apply. But China always rejected this possibility increasing suspects and decreasing its already weak credibility. Overcome on the continent by the Soviet Union, thwarted at sea by American power, forced to autocracy not by political choice but by social and economic conditions, uninfluential in the economic marketplace and limited along its internal border by the impossibility of acting upon its external one, until the 1980s China was the suburb of the world – exotic, idealised, but non-existent as a power. It was in this China that the United States could allow itself the luxury of installing intelligence gathering posts, the USSR could acquire territories and Taiwan and other Asian tigers freely draw upon low cost labour and young virgins for their brothels. With the end of Maosim and the advent of the reforms of Deng Xiao Ping the picture begins to change. Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia shift economic attention to the Pacific Rim, the “border” of the Pacific Ocean, of which however, the United States remains the principal manager. China is gradually, but at an increasingly accelerated pace, integrated into this economic picture and up to 1989 becomes one of the countries of the Rim, one of the players, if for no other reason that the market absorption it can offer other countries. The crisis of Tiananmen was at once a consequence of this new international Chinese dimension (the students did not wish to bring down the government or the Party but wanted a little democracy and commercial freedom as in the other Asian nations) and reason for the freezing of the process of internationalisation. Tiananmen however turned out also to be the good fortune of

63


057-070/LiMes/Mini

6-10-2000

15:21

Pagina 64

FROM THE RIM TO THE HEART

64

the Chinese system in a political sense. The isolation to which China was subjected by the international community, and which China imposed upon itself, allowed it to come to grips, without any restrictions and external interference, with the global changes taking place at that very moment: the breakdown of blocs and the end of the Cold War. During the years of probation and supervised sovereignty brought about by Tiananmen, China had the time to reflect on the failure of the Communist system and the collapse of the Soviet empire, on the effects of the Perestrojka and the wild development that China itself had set off. Thus it was able to re-organise its leadership, make plans, tighten up, encapsulate its centrifugal forces and develop a new nationalistic conscience by re-launching the great themes of reunification. This is the period of the establishment of a leadership that allied the murderers of Tiananmen with the moderates and cast aside those who, like Zhao Ziyang and Yang Shangkun, had supported democratic appeals in order to subvert a tottering power system. However, the system itself became stronger and even from a military perspective China grasped the occasion to tear down old schemes no longer suitable either to managing internal power or facing up to external challenges. During the Tiananmen crisis the weakness of the military had become apparent as military regions and army corps commanders refused or hesitated in following Beijing’s orders. The armed police forces had demonstrated their ineffectiveness; there were no rapid reaction forces within the army or in the police. Tiananmen brought about significant changes both on the political and the military sides, while on the front of conventional warfare, the Gulf War demonstrated clearly and without the shadow of a doubt what type of military instrument any power had to have to participate in the global political-diplomatic game. And it was an instrument the Chinese did not have and which they realised they would not have soon. But the upgrading of the entire apparatus does begin during those years. The cadres of the Yang clan, asserting local power on the basis of personal acquaintances, were purged; the regularisation of the armed forces began, as did the reduction of conventional forces, the strengthening of strategic forces, and the development of collateral activities connected to the acquisition of technology and funds required for modernisation and the establishment of rapid reaction forces. Command and control is concentrated in the central military commission not only in political terms but in operational ones as well. The military begin to make national, economic and foreign policy. It is a veritable social, economic and military revolution that goes almost unnoticed because Europe and the United States are apparently satisfied with the Madrid sanctions, fully intending to ignore them if it is a question of making money. From the ashes of Tiananmen emerged a new China, fully conscious that it must and can take on a new regional and global role, even though it is not yet sure which, and aware that it needs the economic, political and military instruments to exercise this role. The primary political instrument, in this sense, is the affirmation of a search for stability along its borders as well as domestically. Stability becomes a slogan


057-070/LiMes/Mini

6-10-2000

15:21

Pagina 65

A NEW SILK ROAD?

that tends to reassure the exterior and prevent any dangerous deviations from the interior. The China of today, while the Madrid or Washington sanctions are still active, but Tiananmen almost completely forgotten, is no longer simply one of the countries along the Pacific Rim but is the centre of a vast area of global geostrategic significance. Notwithstanding the claims of a search for stability, China is at once the centre and the container of tensions, conflicts, positive ferment and instability. And all these things are not limited in causes and effects to local and regional factors but involve the entire world. In this sense, China has once again become the Kingdom of the Middle (Zhong Guo) of the imperial period of 2000 years ago. Centre of continental power. The new central Chinese dimension is not connected to the old imperial power, which was essentially one of protecting the interior from the exterior while expanding its influence, but the exact opposite: the new imperial power of attraction of the exterior. In this sense China is expanding its influence. At the same time it is like the bordering areas into which investments and exploitation of the West may be poured, greedy and on the constant look-out to safeguard its own standard of living by exploiting those who have no such standard. China itself is the centre of this vast continental area that possesses enormous resources yet is not capable of exploiting them properly. It is surrounded by a Russia undergoing a profound crisis, but which is also another unnatural black hole into which the resources and investments of the immense surplus of the Western world may be poured. It borders with Central Asia, which is just waiting for investments to return twice what was put in. To the Northeast, the great project of the economic zone of Tumen stagnates even though large investments had already begun. The Siberia of Vladivostok is flooded with approximately 300,000 Chinese operators while the province of Heilongjiang becomes the conquered land of Russian operators. Mongolia depends almost entirely on its commerce with China and is not at all happy with this state of things. To the West, the area of Central Asia is the site of an economic boom without precedent. Immense resources and the ability of new governments to avoid social and international tensions place this area among those with the highest potential for growth. China has more than one interest in the area and has developed both agreements and infrastructure networks that allow for osmosis with neighbouring countries. It is nevertheless an area of turbulence because the greatest Chinese player in this new frontier of economic development is the province of Xinjiang, with a majority of Uygur separatists and breakaway groups, and a new generation of native sons (heirs of the Chinese transplanted by force) that is centrifugal or at the very least federalist. To the South is the great Indian sub-continent with its human resources, culture, intelligence, productivity and immense consumption potentials. And Southeast Asia itself, connected to the continent, one peninsula behind the other, like branches in an ocean that itself becomes a continent, with its myriad islands and enormous reserves of energy. China is the centre of this great pole of

65


057-070/LiMes/Mini

6-10-2000

15:21

Pagina 66

FROM THE RIM TO THE HEART

attraction and it is also the only country that can, at this time, ensure the security of the sole great continental route that connects the world of the satiated with that of the hungry.

66

Centre of ferment and economic instability. China is at the centre of a vast economic area of great turbulence as well. The Asian crisis that has struck Japan, South Korea, the “Tigers�, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and others, has been too superficially defined as a financial crisis and too simplistically treated with financial and currency measures. In an all too banal manner, this crisis is considered to have no influence on China itself simply because China does not participate in the mechanisms of global financial markets. Superficial also is laying the blame on Asia for the so-called domino effect that the Asian crisis supposedly would have set off in world financial markets. A chain reaction is the most natural effect of speculative investments, on callous private and public, international, multinational and supranational interventions that view government and geospolitical systems in transition only as an opportunity for a quick profit. It is these investments that draw the attention of these same states away from real problems and tempt leaders with the chimeras of easy wealth and participation in global politics. Crises, on the contrary, are symptoms of the great difficulties in which Communist or former Communist systems, or those with centralised economies (such as Russia and almost all the other Republics of the dissolved USSR) and systems without planning and control (like Latin America) find themselves in their transition to a market economy. This transition is the condition imposed by the Western world and by international monetary bodies to grant funds and guarantee investments. It is the condition for achieving what the Clinton administration maintains is the highest expression of democracy: market democracy. All these countries in transition, or en route to constructing a stable economic model, had clearly perceived only the immediate advantages of that passage: those resulting from financial speculation, and they are now feeling the mid-term effects they had neglected in their race to easy money. Thus the Asian crisis is the first issue to come to light, followed by the Russian one and Latin America. In reality it is a profound structural crisis that involves systems of power management (politics), development management (economy and social policy), and security systems (defence and geostrategic balance) and that provokes social imbalances that become more dangerous as they become more evident. This structural crisis has struck and will make itself felt increasingly in China unless appropriate measures are taken. Because this is the crisis of governmental systems of production freed of the economic reality of the market (the most serious problem in China). It is the crisis of priorities in development with excessive emphasis on services infrastructure (which in China is somewhat macroscopic, given the growing number of 5-star hotels and obsolete factories). It is the crisis of production unfettered by research (something which in China is shameful as research is understood to be simply the acquisition of the technology of others). It


057-070/LiMes/Mini

6-10-2000

15:21

Pagina 67

A NEW SILK ROAD?

is, furthermore, the crisis of a social system that bears no burden because it excludes welfare (in China social costs are not borne by the government but by productive units and new high technology companies still bear no costs as they have hired only young people, have almost militarised production and foresee no union movement). It is the crisis of a generation renewal in the leadership of political and economic systems (something that has occurred only marginally in China). In fact, there has been no political change in most of the countries touched by the crisis: power is in the hands of the same people and, above all, is managed using the same logic. It is the crisis of employment because this has never been considered a social factor and can now no longer be ignored. It is the crisis of the banking and credit system used to great risks in favour of the powerful (as is dangerously becoming obvious by the bankruptcy of the Guangdong International Trust and Investment Corporation and the suspicions of insolvency that now weigh upon other financial institutions and on the “red chips”) and no risk to assist the small (translated into enormous suffering for the state and no incentives for new businesses). Finally it is the crisis of a fiscal system unable to collect in accordance with contribution capacity. Today much praise is being heaped upon China for its resistance to the devaluation of the yuan or restraints placed on the liberalisation of money. The United States, Japan, Korea and dozens of other countries thank them. 2 China assumes the role of saviour of the world to increase its international influence, acquire global recognition and the power to influence the decisions of others. These are the true Chinese objectives and to attain them, China, as always, is ready to sacrifice its resources and even the life of its people. If these objectives may be reached by also allowing the Chinese abroad who support the economic policy of the PRC, and the mainland Chinese, who have invested widely in Wall Street rather than Shanghai, to make a few deals, so much the better. The fact that the financial crisis in Asia emerged in the countries supported by the capital of the overseas Chinese, precisely when Communist China re-launched infrastructure investments throughout its territory and wished to contain Japanese and Korean commercial pre-eminence, is symptomatic rather than accidental. It is also singular that the social upheavals taking place in Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia this time have only marginally involved Chinese expatriates. In 1969 a similar situation in Indonesia lead to the massacre of more than 200,000 Chinese, considered the “Jews of the East”. The fact that the greatest effects of the Asian crisis (or the Russian one) are visible in the financial markets is due to the extremely dynamic nature of this market which, thanks to global computer technology reacts quickly to any pressure and is, in fact, able to precede pressures to the point of actually provoking them. Indeed this factor also is cause for further reflection on Chinese involvement: it is no accident that the crisis occurred at the exact moment in which the greatest 2. “We also appreciate what China and Hong Kong have done and the price that has been paid to stabilise the situation”, Statement by Bill Clinton in Honk Kong, South China Morning Post, July 3, 1998.

67


057-070/LiMes/Mini

6-10-2000

15:21

Pagina 68

FROM THE RIM TO THE HEART

technological and commercial battle in the world concerned the acquisition of the Chinese telecommunications market first, the Asian one second and finally the global one. Nor is it an accident that over the past few years the Chinese have dedicated themselves body and soul to developing a communications network and to exploiting space launches for telecommunications. The 55 million Chinese of the diaspora who control 75% of the capital market in Asia and who are massively present on Wall Street began only a few years ago to entrust their own transactions to cellular and computers rather than couriers and to evaluate the potential of other regional markets.

68

Centre of geostrategic instability. This Chinese centrality of a financial and economic nature corresponds, in an even greater measure, to a geostrategic centrality on political and military issues. China has become the “centre of gravity� for tensions that have an explosive potential. Regions that China perceives as internal are in fact buffer zones, in contact with others that are already highly unstable. The explosion of conflicts in these areas may extend outwards, just as external conflicts may extend to the interior of China or threaten its system by provoking reactions that would be extremely dangerous to global security. In addition to Xinjiang, which has connections with Afghanistan, Kashmir, Pakistan and India, there is inner Mongolia in which a Mongolian minority demands autonomy and towards whom Mongolia, and even Russia, are not indifferent. Then there is Tibet which, following the resurgence of hostility between India and Pakistan and the dangerous nuclear show, has once again become crucial to Chinese control of the Indian sub continent. The Dalai Lama sees it as the nerve centre from which peace in Asia may be achieved. This is true and not only for religious considerations. To the South there is the question of the Spratley Islands, considered Chinese territory by the Chinese but also claimed by Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam and others. The province of Yunnan has become the throughway for organised crime from the golden triangle and a theatre of local instability due to the drastic measures that the Chinese periodically, but alternatively, adopt with respect to a population consisting of more than 26 nonChinese ethnic groups. The Southern and Eastern China Seas have become a theatre of piracy that for the moment is commercial, but which neighbouring nations accuse of being nurtured by units of the Chinese navy. To the South, the question of Taiwan, stubbornly considered by the Chinese as one of its rebel provinces, is explosive in the truest sense of the term: the echoes of the missile launches of 1995 and 1996 can still be heard and the development of political relations based only on common interests presupposes that there are advantages to be attained rather than crises to share. To the East, China’s support of the North Korean regime is perhaps lukewarm but not over. Among other things, Chinese influence on North Korea is the only way the rest of the world has to dialogue with a disagreeable interlocutor. To the Northeast, border problems with Russia for the territories of the Amur-Ussuri appear subdued, but the district of Vladivostok and


057-070/LiMes/Mini

6-10-2000

15:21

Pagina 69

A NEW SILK ROAD?

the Cossacks of the Transbaikal do not forgive the Duma in Moscow nor do they forgive Gorbachev for ceding the territory of “Great Mother Russia�. In addition, the entire area of Manchuria (provinces of Heilongjiangm Jilin and Liaoning) is one of the most unstable from a social and economic perspective. It is the traditional area of the great Chinese government industry; which is now presented as failing and deficient, which is induced to bankruptcy, to reconversion and to dismissing hundreds of thousands of workers. This area feels victimised by Beijing and is increasingly turning to Russia and to Japan. Centre of international relations. This new central dimension is strongly perceived by the Chinese who, to tell the truth, had never stopped considering it even when the world was going in the opposite direction. It is obvious, from political and diplomatic relations and from the position China holds with the rest of the world, that it considers only a few countries as privileged interlocutors and not all of them for reasons of objective power. With Europe its relations are unfocused, one of the reasons being that Europe, for the Chinese, is not even a geographic expression. The European Union is an interesting entity only for its commercial aspects, but bilateral relations with each member country are favoured. Germany and Italy receive priority consideration, the first for its quality products, the second for its culture and design. France enjoys excellent cooperation, which, however, it pays dearly with a policy of acquiescence. Great Britain has been, and will for a long time to come, be identified with the coloniser, the arrogant one of the opium wars, the power that has oft times humiliated China and whose original sins shall not be forgiven, not even by returning Hong Kong which, nevertheless represented the first of many signs of a national reawakening. Eastern Europe still has close ties with China, and the former Yugoslavia still manages somehow to maintain its current regime thanks also to Chinese support. In this instance the Chinese position is not so much in defence of the Serb regime as it is in defence of non-interference and resistance to NATO, viewed as the armed wing of American and Western political and economic power. In North Africa, relations with Algeria, Libya and Egypt are good but not significant. More important are its relations with Israel with which it has a true technical and political military association by virtue of which China acquires technology and is, in return, viewed as placatory with Syria and Iraq for Israeli interests. With Iran and Iraq cooperation is important and respect is mutual. In Asia, relations with India continue to be tense and those with Pakistan of total support. Traditional cooperation in the area of armaments was only tempered by recent Pakistani acquisitions in Eastern Europe, in particular of T80 tanks from the Ukraine. But this has not prevented China from openly defending its old ally during the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests. The prospect that Pakistan may become radical and align itself with Afghan Taliban and Iranian fundamentalists is another factor that prevents China from changing policies with this ally or with India. Good

69


057-070/LiMes/Mini

6-10-2000

15:21

Pagina 70

FROM THE RIM TO THE HEART

relations with Pakistan, Iran and other central Asian republics are for China the sole guarantee that the enormous region of Xinjiang will not escape them. In Latin America, China has long had great commercial interests with oil and mineral producers in Argentina. With Australia, its relations are good even though the Australian defence white book cites China as a potential threat from the North. With Japan, cooperation continues and although the scenario of a regional triad between China, the US and Japan has not yet come true, this is only due to Japanese economic and political difficulties. The leadership of the two countries is slowly being assumed by leaders who have little or no memory of the past and of the wounds China suffered at the hands of Japan. This will aid cooperation and a pragmatic industrial and commercial synergy, apart from any atavistic diffidence, cannot be excluded. With South Korea and other countries touched by the Asian crisis, the attitude is one of superiority. The same, but with more caution and refinement, holds true with respect to Russia which is adequately considered for opportunities of industrial cooperation, especially in the field of armaments and as a counter-balance to the United States, but is no longer feared. The dissolution of the USSR was a great lesson for Beijing. But the evolution of power in Russia is now followed with great interest and concern and no longer with the arrogance of 1990, when the Chinese viewed the failure of real Communism and the strengthening of their own characteristics with such satisfaction. As can be seen from this rapid and incomplete chronicle, today’s China believes it has only one interlocutor at its own level: the United States. And even the US is perceived as a “virtual� centre of political and military power; an important dimension, but not as important, to Chinese eyes, as the geostrategic and geospolitical continental centrality represented by the world of Sino-centric instability. This instability is at the moment an instrument of political power, but shortly it could evolve into a controlled ferment of development. At any rate, if the technological brains and the purse strings are in the West, the heart of the world, today as hundreds of years ago, throbs in Asia, and China is perhaps the centre of gravity of this new continental dimension. It has nothing else to teach, nor ideologies or technologies to export. It has, however, an immense attraction potential that can succeed in obfuscating and seducing the brain as it can loosen the purse strings, especially for those who require the circulation of money (any kind, anywhere and for any purpose) to permit the survival of their own ideology and way of life. China, for the moment is also the only nation that is succeeding in managing this potential of attraction by itself. And not always under peaceful conditions, on the contrary, often by fighting on several fronts. If its culture is not further exportable, if its political system is at the very least non-reproducible and largely not proposable, its example of independence and stubbornness may become the conduit for reawakening the entire continent and make it again the Heartland.

70

(translated by Jo Di Martino)


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 71

A NEW SILK ROAD?

The Foundationers Associated with Mr W.’s Funds by ZHANG JIE

Not all artists are the same. History and the strategic conditions of their countries heavily weigh on their behaviour, as well as on their work, causing clashes of personalities almost as loud as those of civilisations. A geopolitical comedy by one of China’s greatest writers on the backdrop of a Western arts foundation naively convinced that all artists are equal.

A

LTHOUGH THE DOCTOR HAD NOT

told him anything, Mr W. sensed the imminence of his end. He was not ill, he was just about to leave this world. Folks tend to name such doom “a natural death”. Except for a few sketches which were still affixed to the walls of his old house, he had already donated to national museums his entire collection – including paintings, sculptures, manuscripts left behind by some 18th or 19th century authors, and relics (such as spectacles, tufts of hair, pieces of music, batons) belonging to some deceased composers. The only thing he was not at peace with regarded the way to dispose of his immense fortune. He had a sadly transient married life that left him issueless, apart from some, not lasting amorous experiences. And it was not incumbent on him, he calculated, to bequeath anything to his nephews or nieces. Remembrances of his bygone days did occur to his mind, though! Life for him was literally all plain sailing. However, in the privacy of his thoughts he was haunted by only one gnawing suggestion that all his exertions towards making himself an art expert remained forever unrequited. He was in love with art as a man would be with his beloved woman. But, to his bewilderment, art seemed to have never requited him with the same passion. In his youth he learned to play the piano, practised painting, and tried to mould a writer out of himself.

71


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 72

THE FOUNDATIONERS ASSOCIATED WITH MR W.’S FUNDS

72

For all his immeasurably great fortune, he took to living the way of a penniless artist, finding shabby accommodation, without curtains on the window. He threw away an old air conditioner, as large as a printing machine, with the body filled of many years of dust; he fed himself on a low-priced diet, and sometimes he went as far as collecting lunch or dinner from one of those places dispensing free meals to the poor. Especially in emotional moments like at Thanksgiving or at Christmas he would go and collect those kinds of meals. Many of these institutions bore the name of his family and its merciful deeds, so that well brought up parents could not say or think anything strange about it. He drove a second, or even a fourthhand car, the engine of which would stop even when it was not too cold. Then Mr W. would start the car with the winch, which he carried on his shoulders. He wore second-hand duds bought at three kg per buck. He was happily at one with pauperism, so long as he was obsessed with the craving for fashioning himself into an artist. That was just the line of conduct in vogue with some of his contemporary young people who, being fervently dedicated to art, would care for nothing in life but art. To tell the truth, these people, so unceremoniously addicted to art to impose themselves almost as an eyesore upon the local community, could exist only in Mr W.’s days. Although usually arrayed in second-hand duds got at the price of three kg per dollar, Mr W., a billionaire, was after all not likely to be reckoned as socially on a par with those artists dressed in duds worth 0.33 cents per kg because that was all they could afford. Museums were his everyday haunt. “If you can’t find me in the cafe”, I must be just on my way there.” This is a popular saying about cafe addicts and is most fit for characterising Mr W., if the wording is aptly modified: “If you can’t find me in the museum, I must be just on my way there.” Each time some allegedly unique exhibition or show was scheduled to take place in a museum, he was bound to be there exactly out of the reason of broadening his professional horizon. Sometimes he would keep waiting in unwearied patience at a place, yearning to be met by and have some professional exchange with an art celebrity. (It goes without saying that his endeavour to meet a star in the realm of art had nothing in common with stardom-cult-motivated antics of some fans.) Moreover he was constantly on the lookout for a chance that would enable him to patronise a prospective art star, having little scruple about whether the patronised would be interested in accepting his favour. In a word his ardour in promoting art and real effort to improve his artistry were most probably more intense than that of some dedicated artists. But he remained, after all, an outsider to art circles for all his lifelong devotion to art. Then a miracle happened. There were people saying: “Oh, Mr W. I’m very embarrassed to say this... But you really look like that famous writer Hemingway.” To This Mr W. politely smiled. There are all kinds of people on the theatre of life, but few are the ones who act on purpose. Mr W. was one of those few who had taken an acting part in full conscience. Mr W. knew this imagination was stronger than any literary


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 73

A NEW SILK ROAD?

comparison, and if it did not come from the soothing intentions of a friend it came from the worship inspired by his money. Mr W. was very generous. In the world there are plenty of people who don’t get anything – isn’t it just fair if you let them have something? So he didn’t bother if he really looked like Hemingway, and carried on his life as usual. In the course of time his family fortune accrued unfailingly, and it stung his ears to learn that his position in the national GDP had moved up and his wealth had grown like a pestilence. Yet Mr W. wanted to be a normal person with his whole soul, and in those long days he would just shake his head. At the beginning he would stop longer and longer in front of the mirror, but then his eyes were quite objective, he hadn’t become like Snowhite’s stepmother. He could draw a good comparison in front of the mirror; no matter how he moved his long face, he had little to share with Hemingway’s square profile. Afterwards, almost carelessly, he let his beard grow on his chin, had a half an inch stub, and cut his long hair. In this way he felt that he looked like Hemingway. Although the mirror was the same one, the image he saw in it was somewhat different. Then when people told him he looked like Hemingway he silently accepted it. However, even if other people or Mr W. himself felt there was something in common between him and Hemingway, Mr W. could not become an artist; no matter how hard he tried he didn’t know where the problem was. In the end, he gave up his art pursuit and fell back on looking after his enormous fortune and making business. In the business world the ebbs and flows of various “curious” trades were simply unmanageable. To cope with them he was virtually compelled to do the impossible since he fared even worse than he did in following art. In the realm of art, however ungifted he was, he could be rated as appreciably professional in his approach to artistic creation. His art collection could cogently attest to this. He never treated his fortune with the scrupulous care he would lavish on art. But, however carelessly he handled his property and however mindlessly he made his investments, his fortune accrued unfailingly; and he prospered irrevocably. Very apathetically, he perceived his fortune multiply; and money cascaded into his wallet without him knowing it. To put it another way, he could so totally effortlessly have all the returns from his investments that in the twilight of his career he felt even a sense of revulsion at making money. Supported by such a frame of mind, Mr W. was completely free of impact of any earthly pathos, lingering in his eventual composure and expecting the impending and final relief that soon he was going to have nothing to do with lucre and was going to wash his hands of any forms of profit. Unaccountably it occurred to him one day that he could use his money to set up an arts foundation through which all the impoverished artists in the world would be adequately supported so that they could be able to concentrate on artistic creation. Thus he immediately sent for his secretary, lawyer, and steward and informed them about details of his plan to create an art foundation, the aim of

73


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 74

THE FOUNDATIONERS ASSOCIATED WITH MR W.’S FUNDS

74

such a foundation and the requirements each of the beneficiaries would be asked to meet. At the end of the fireside meeting in his old house he ordered that his will be drawn up. Not unlike most of the billionaires in the world, he had organised for himself an unusually qualified domestic affairs staff. Soon the staff succeeded in setting up first an administrative body that would be responsible for the establishment and the control of the foundation after its birth. Then the staff proceeded to recruit executives to man the hierarchy of the foundation. Mr W.’s very imposing mansion, which had been an irresistible attraction to make every passer-by slow down his pace to have a glimpse of the building, was in the shortest possible spell converted into a condominium containing separate apartments which were most suitable for a contingent of artists who would live there concentrating on artistic creation. Each apartment was unique in its architecture as well as decorations with the purpose of meeting different habits, tastes and practical needs of artists from different continents. Every apartment had a toilet, a sitting room, a bedroom, and a studio. In every sitting room there was invariably a folding couch that could serve to accommodate a visitor of the prospective occupant of the apartment. There was also a kitchenette, where it would be possible to cook some dishes prepared according to the cuisine of the occupant’s own country. Sitting in a wheelchair pushed around by his steward, Mr W. inspected every apartment in the remodelled mansion; then he ordered that a white marble statue should be erected in the midst of the rose beds in the garden of the mansion. Then, he began to complacently brood over the prospect of a multitude of talented artists emerging in the limelight after having stayed for a period of time in this mansion. Finally, he examined the name’s list, which was submitted by the administrative body of the foundation, of the first batch of applicants for allowances from the foundation. These applicants were all luminaries from different fields of art. One of them had won an award from the United Kingdom. Although the award was practically negligible, it carried clout of honour. However, Mr W. didn’t think such an applicant would be substantially eligible for getting help from his foundation, because his concept of a qualified candidate was based on the life experience of a vagabond artist shuttling between museums with his palette and framed canvas. The type of artists Mr W. was particularly fond of should have been – like him – not only aspiring but also still unknown to the world! What was extremely regrettable was that Mr W. died before the arrival of the first group of artists. His demise was not at all preceded by anything suggesting the throes of death; there he lay in the perfect likeness of a celebrated artist, rather than of a charitable billionaire. The first artist admitted to the condominium was from the country of E. He came wearing a pair of jeans and other articles of clothing reminding of a cowboy in the early days of the American West. Nothing unusual about him indeed! Nowadays youngish sorts tend to keep in their wardrobes a pair of jeans and to be


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 75

A NEW SILK ROAD?

dressed like a cowboy in the early days of the American West. But what was appallingly unusual was the pair of cowboy boots with colossal and solid soles he wore. When the boots were set in motion, they bore down upon their destination like two tanks roaring out of a marsh. Thus after they had crossed the Persian carpet an indelible line of footprints was left behind. The instant the footprints greeted the eyes of Miss M., the receptionist, she promptly averted her gaze to look out the window. It goes without saying that she was not responsible for cleaning the carpet. Her only concern was receiving guests. She was not sure whether she really liked to work as a receptionist there. However, she had to quit her previous job because she could no longer stand her boss’s sexual harassment. While leaving it, she had the chance to read the ad, placed by the foundation, of a receptionist job. She applied and got it without ado after undergoing an interview. She guessed that being multilingual had helped her secure it. The new comer casually slung his travelling bag on top of the piano that was standing in the reception hall. The metal fittings hammered on the piano making the keys moan helplessly in response. With his hands tucked deep into his hip pockets, the newcomer whistled and then hissed, “Remarkably nice, here!” But this elicited no reaction whatever from the receptionist. She was completely engrossed in jotting down all the needs and requests of any newcomer and looked so dutiful and so ready to comply with them. The next artist was a dramatist from the country of B., looking so cultured and amiable. He was in a long cream-coloured windbreak, sporting a European taste in the matter of colour. His hair was combed backward from his brow. Having been offered by the receptionist the allowance for the very month he arrived at the condominium, he counted the money with meticulous care; then he asked the receptionist, “Where’s the phone? I want to call.” “Pay phones are available in every apartment,” she answered. “Can you give me,” asked the dramatist, patting his pocket where he had just slipped his allowance in, “some change for a pay phone call?” Now the receptionist set about ransacking her handbag for some change and happened to ferret out some. “This change is not enough;” protested the dramatist. “I want to make a lot of phone calls and have a talk over the phone with a publisher about some details in the contract I am going to sign with him.” “In this case,” said the receptionist stolidly; “you’d better go to the bank for the change you need.” Having already installed himself in a sofa, the artist from E. hailed a “Hi” in the direction of the dramatist. However, without bothering to stop and call a greeting to the artist, the dramatist just speeded promptly away, casually slinging over his shoulder “Very glad to meet you”.

75


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 76

THE FOUNDATIONERS ASSOCIATED WITH MR W.’S FUNDS

76

“Hey, hey, don’t turn your back on me. Aren’t we old acquaintances? Remember, we were alumni of the same foundation before we took this one; and you borrowed money from me and sneaked away without paying the debt.” Neither to succumb to the exhortation nor to refute it, the dramatist headed in the direction of the garden. There he was stunned by its beauty and was irretrievably befuddled by the motivations underlying Mr W.’s generosity in creating such a foundation. If he were Mr W., he would bequeath his large fortune even to his remotest kin rather than to this medley of so-called artists who had virtually no connection whatsoever with him. The barest truth remained that if he were as wealthy as Mr W., he would of course be spared the ordeal of a vagrant. Every commodity has to be bought at a given price, and nobody – not even a national leading luminary – an get it at even a cent less than that price. If the price of a loaf of bread is five, you aren’t likely to leave the store with it by paying only four ninety-nine. This explains why the dramatist chose to sneak away rather than paying what he owed the artist before they parted company. The world is too small to let the dramatist forever shun his creditor! “And how nastily the artist talked to me!” the dramatist was now fuming. But what could he do as a resourceless debtor to salvage his self-respect? And now, the awareness that he had to pretend to be fairly well off was even more unbearable! Was the artist superior to the dramatist in some respects? Not really. The former was no less a scavenger than the latter in cadging a living from all manner of foundations across the world. To tell the truth the dramatist and Mr W. were not gentlemen of the same type. The latter died, being disappointed with his failure to become an artist, whereas the former had been a famous playwright leading practically an aristocratic life before the disintegration of the state apparatus in his own country. In those pre-disintegration days, the dramatist had not only belonged to the top his own country’s intellectual elite but he had also been nominated – on the strength of his overwhelming popularity – as a candidate for the presidency of his country. These were, for him, memories indeed excruciating! In his heyday he could boast legions of mistresses and might be rated as “Champion sower of wild oats”. He was, in those days, intoxicated with his manly stunt of spicing his literary career with acts of chivalry as buying a necklace for one of his girls from time to time or escorting another to a posh restaurant. To tell the truth, it was the women who were ultra-sensitive to the tragic power structure disintegration. But what was his womanhood in essence? A cluster of leeches! Can a successful man exempt himself from being victimised by such leeches? On the other hand, such leeches can serve as tokens – just as a luxurious car, a château, a champion racehorse, etc. – to publicise a man’s success in life. Conversely, it is precisely such “leeches” that are always the first to give their host the initial experience of crucifixion resulting from his fiasco.


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 77

A NEW SILK ROAD?

No Romeo’s or Juliet’s counterpart can be found in our world nowadays! Womanhood of our epoch is unique for its ability to detect or discern. Nothing can escape a woman’s detection or discernment. A leech of a woman can readily – and almost accurately – figure out the balance of her host’s account, the working of his political or financial budget, etc. Once she is aware that a deficit is unavoidable in the settlement of his host’s political or financial account, he forfeits forever even the right to have access to her phone number, not to say access to herself in bed. Such are traits of our womanhood, which “career manhood” of our epoch is believed to have been fully acquainted with. Just as the saying goes: “politics is as fickle as a flirt”. Owing to the disintegration of the power structure in his country, the dramatist had been deprived of his aristocratic way of life as well as of his opportunity to become a presidential candidate; moreover he was later pilloried by the new power structure in his country. Thus he had to flee his country and eke out a living abroad by begging alms from various foundations, however distasteful and disgusting such alms might be! It was reported that things had been rather auspicious for him in the end. His country was actually the worst off among those countries that had experienced a political structural disintegration. A piece of news awakened some expectations in him. According to the news, capitalism was being revived, or restored, in his motherland. Hence his plan: after having wound up his current business with Mr W.’s foundation, he would travel back to his motherland to find out the real conditions there. Once in his own country, if he had found that things there not so rosy as he now expected, he would come back to Mr W.’s foundation for a renewal of its grant. Anyway he would carefully proceed by taking the lesser of two evils. The fate befriended him once, while he was having an interview with a female compatriot who was believed to be a leader of a recently founded sect. She was able to make him “hook up” with a very popular and generous cultural foundation in a very affluent country on condition that he would pay her a sum as fees. Through her good offices, being reluctant to go back home, he could stay long in that affluent country, avoid any degrading menial work such as washing dishes in a restaurant, and earn a respectable and comfortable livelihood by having himself associated, as an artist, with a cultural foundation. Then the artist from E. appeared in the garden, casually drawing on his cigarette. The dramatist went up to him, intending to talk the artist out of the resentment for the debt not paid back. “This condominium is hell!” said the dramatist quite endearingly to the artist. “Neither a woman nor a bar can be found within the walls! You have no idea of how a playwright like me lived in my country. In those days I lived in the capital of my country.” “I know you lived in a house that looked like a junkyard,” said the artist not interested in increasing the intimacy between them.

77


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 78

THE FOUNDATIONERS ASSOCIATED WITH MR W.’S FUNDS

78

That evening a banquet in honour of the newly arrived artists was given by the foundation in compliance with the concept of liberality advocated by its founder. The banquet took place in a notable restaurant that had a very long history behind it. Completely oblivious of his surroundings, the dramatist gorged himself indulgently at the banquet table, because he had been forced to survive on sandwiches – the cheapest sandwiches, to be exact – and mineral water for ages. In chewing his food, the movements – definitely rhythmic and continuous – of his upper and lower jaw were as fast as those of a rabbit. Every time, after having lifted morsels of food into his mouth four or five times with a fork or spoon, he set his jaws to work. In the course of time his mouth was gradually crammed with only partially chewed food. Still he kept sending food into his mouth. As his oral cavity could no longer take any extra load, the uninterrupted supply of viands made his facial integument work strangely; consequently his eyelids began to turn inside out, and his chin began to assume an angular shape. As he had the habit of using only his incisors to chew his food, juice from the food he was chewing and saliva were inevitably extruded through his imperfectly closed lips. Others at his table involuntarily lowered their heads because of a sense of shame. In the face of such an epitomised representation of grim starvation, all those who had never experienced the ordeal of hunger ought to feel the prick of guilty conscience. Only the artist from E. dared to offer to the dramatist a little comment, “I presume the roast beefsteak you’ve helped yourself to must be more than one kg.” The day after his arrival the dramatist asked the receptionist to pass on to the foundation administration his request that he should be given a couple of months’ pay in advance, because he needed to travel far and wide to make extensive cultural contacts and could not stay put in this isolated condominium. The receptionist faithfully took down every word he said. From then on, he went to town every day and showed no intention to carve an art career for himself or concentrate on artistic creation within the framework of the foundation as Mr W. had expected. Time flew. One day the dramatist drove back to the condominium in a second-hand car. Before then, nobody had been curious to know how he went on with his cultural contacts in town, because nobody there was like people in his home country who took great pleasure in intruding upon other people’s privacy. Moreover just like slices of bread provided free of charge in a small container placed on the table in a pub that usually attracted no attention, a second-hand car was nothing to merit attention from the inhabitants of the condominium. The second-hand car had already a decade of usage behind it. However the dramatist believed it could be sold easily in the market of his own country in case he could have it shipped there and that he could reap handsomely from selling it in his home market because of the exigent dearth of car supply there.


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 79

A NEW SILK ROAD?

Recently the dramatist had been behaving exactly like such a petty landlord as described in Turgenev’s or Tolstoj’s novels: By the peep of day he was seen already at the door of his apartment. Soon he would begin to cough complacently and fervidly. Then holding his hands behind the back and in the typical gait of a Russian petty landlord, he would stroll toward his second-hand car before he hovered about it, showing off his fairly sexy legs and stout torso. Soon the condominium’s sanitation worker would appear in time to do his everyday cleaning duties. The dramatist would take advantage of his tools to clean his car so that it could shine dazzlingly and look like a SAAB or BMW. The artist from the country of E. was infuriated at last. “Why do you choose to clean your car outside my window while I am working. The noise simply prevents me from concentrating on my work. I am going to call the police if you keep on harassing me”, the artist warned. From then on the dramatist would kindly offer the other condominium’s inhabitants – except the artist from E. – a lift when any of them needed to go to town for shopping. But the dramatist’s Soviet-style Cold War tactic failed to make any inroad into the fortress of hauteur put up by the artist from E. Unexpectedly, before long the engine of the second-hand car was out of order. Thus the dramatist consulted a great number of car experts about remedial expedients. However the consensus of those experts was this: the reparation would invariably cost one quarter of the price the dramatist had paid for the car. The dramatist had been experiencing annihilating pangs since his car broke down. He seemed to have thus contracted a heart disorder. One morning he went out to the circular corridor. There he met a writer from I. “There must be something the matter with my heart,” he said to the writer from I., “would you please feel my pulse?” After feeling his pulse for a while, the writer from I. said, “Your pulse’s ok, Sir.” “But would you please feel my bosom? My heart’s about to leap into my mouth.” “No,” said the writer from I. “Since your pulse is normal, your heart must be ok. They work in unison.” One day the dramatist told the receptionist that he had contracted a chronic psychosis. “My request that I should be given of a couple of months’ allowance in advance has not been granted so far,” he reminded the receptionist; “though you have entered my request in your notebook.” He stared sharply into the receptionist’s eyes, insinuating that a mental patient could have the acumen of a sorcerer to see through all sorts of stratagems. Afterwards the dramatist would either stay all day long in the garden, staring blankly and motionlessly into the sky or roam the garden throughout the night, sending out in the dead of nocturnal quietude a thrilling growl like the howl of a wolf. His growl woke all other inhabitants of the condominium. Eventually they seemed to begin to suffer a breakdown like the engine of the dramatist’s car.

79


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 80

THE FOUNDATIONERS ASSOCIATED WITH MR W.’S FUNDS

80

And now other inhabitants of the condominium were convinced that the dramatist was really in the grip of a chronic psychosis. The receptionist was worried to the utmost as it dawned upon her that in case the dramatist lapsed again into a nervous breakdown and thus incurred some calamity, the foundation administration would certainly inculpate her because of her undutifulness in attending upon him, though she had filled an entire notebook with all the requests he had dictated to her. However she needed not to wait long before finding out that her worry in connection with the dramatist was totally misplaced. It was not until after the dramatist invented a way to circumvent the car engine crisis that other condominium inhabitants could regain their right of nocturnal relaxation. As a matter of fact, he hadn’t stayed in the garden and stared blankly into the sky in vain. His long meditation there led him in the end to pin all his hope on Mrs Lu, who lived just next door to the office of the condominium. In almost all other parts of the world culture and art had already been relegated to virtual pariahdom. Consequently, the instant a gentleman engaging in a field of artistic creation had no alternative but to admit he had taken it as his occupation, he would be at the same time seized with a sudden shame as if he were confessing that he was leading the idle life of a sponger like a beggar – and, for that matter, a completely shameless, yet tricky, beggar! But here the dramatist now stayed in a country deeply imbued with its traditional culture. Here, in this country, people were still unable to get rid themselves of the enthralment bred of its traditional culture. Besides, rather than in a city buoyant upon the avant-garde torrent branching off some ultra-contemporary stream of culture, the office of the foundation was located in a small town always developing at a half the speed of a city, so much so that residents in this town could never bring themselves to completely give up their addiction to arts and culture which were altogether not lucrative. It was precisely in such a milieu that Mr W.’s moved to establish his cultural foundation and the first batch of international artists were met with unreserved local adoration. It happened that at the gallery inauguration sponsored by the foundation, Mrs Lu was so lucky as to take back home a painting by the artist from the country of E, in addition to a small statue done by a South An sculptor. So it is imaginable that if the foundation could survive for aeons, her house would certainly be turned into an art museum bursting with all manner of artistic products. It is against such a background that Mrs Lu willingly ordered her son to repair – for nothing, of course – the dramatist’s car engine by using the components supplied free by her son, in addition to her son’s tools. The crisis of the car engine being over, the dramatist’s mental disorder was brought to an end even without any treatment. Having emerged intact from his psychosis, he started to frequent again the corridor. Every morning the circular corridor, through which all the apartments in the condominium were made mutually accessible, would become a milieu of an


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 81

A NEW SILK ROAD?

international coffee-drink exposition, because every morning would see all the international inhabitants in the condominium take their cups of coffee prepared according to various recipes of their own country to the corridor and drink it there. The circular corridor served also as a dining hall where not only these international inhabitants’ breakfast but also their lunch and supper were served. In a sense the corridor functioned as a reviewing stand; and the dramatist was particularly keen in taking advantage of this. One evening while preparing his supper, the writer from I. suddenly found he had ran short of his cooking oil. The dramatist adroitly took advantage of this opportunity to demonstrate to all other inhabitants that he could be in a way useful to their community. Thus he held high a bottle of cooking oil – as if he were holding his national flag – and paraded back and forth in the corridor, instead of marching straight into the Italian’s kitchenette. In the face of such a pretence the artist from E. turned to address the South An sculptor, “Doesn’t his antic remind us of one of the British blatant acts of colonisation?” “I can never convince myself,” said the South An, “that a man of his calibre could have the chance of being nominated for the presidency. Aren’t you aware he used to rake in anything, cigarettes, cakes, and small change we casually left on dining tables? “In his home country everything that would be inconceivable in other parts of the world can happen indeed;” said the artist. “No politicians would behave otherwise, I assure you.” “But do you think Churchill, Roosevelt, or de Gaulle did behave likewise?” “It is true that politicians are contradictory in terms of personal behaviour, as well as artists.” Having tasted all sorts of coffee at the international coffee-drink exposition, the dramatist declared that he preferred Italian coffee to any other sort of coffee. On the strength of such a declaration he would often take up a seat at the table where the writer from I. sat to eat his breakfast. Everybody knows that not only Italian coffee but also Italian food is among the best in the world. The writer from I. was not only hospitable but also very fond of preparing delicious dishes. In the gathering gloom the condominium would be bathed in pleasant flavour of garlic enriched by the sweet fragrance of Italian spices. Such an atmosphere served to sharpen all the faculties of not only other artists in the condominium but also of their neighbour, Mrs Lu. Thus motivated by the olfactory stimuli they would move of their own accord in the direction of the corridor now functioning as a dining hall. Naturally the dramatist would present himself on time at the writer from I.’s dining table. As soon as the dramatist was seated, he would most impatiently move the principal dish from the centre of the table to the side of his plate. Then he would recklessly and unabashedly ferret out all the most delicious titbits through the agency of his fork and knife and very agilely popped them into his mouth in a prolonged volley. Therefore before others sat at the dining table, the demolished

81


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 82

THE FOUNDATIONERS ASSOCIATED WITH MR W.’S FUNDS

82

dish which the writer from I., an inveterate devotee of fine arts, had taken pains to mould into a most charming objet of art, had been already degraded into a tiny heap of unnameable litter fit only for the trash bin. In case the main dish was chicken, it would be metamorphosed in a short interval into a jumble of chicken skin and bones under the auspices of the dramatist’s gourmand frenzy! “Excuse me, but I can’t help leaving the chicken skin and fat untouched;” the dramatist explained. “My family reports a medical history of hereditary hypertension.” While he was chewing his food energetically with his eyes being almost shut, he was actually highly watchful of every move made by any other member at his table. Whenever someone held out his fork or spoon to get some food from the table, he would promptly follow suit and add some new morsels to his plate, though more often than not a new addition to the food already heaped in his plate tended to induce a “landslide” that would usually spill a fringe of food down the brim of his plate. Mrs Lu offered him her advice, “Please do try to eat less and at a lower speed. Otherwise your stomach would begin to ache.” Her advice was not at all pointless. Days before she harvested pailfuls of Spanish plums from a plum tree in her yard. Thus almost all containers in her house were filled with fruit. Accidentally the dramatist came over to pay her a visit, asking for her advice on how to approach a local theatre to accept a play newly written by him. She offered him a bowl full of Spanish plums. He took them home but did not feel an urge to taste them, because there were great amounts of various fruit trees – such as cherry, apple, pear, apricot – in the condominium. Although the dramatist was not familiar with all parts of the condominium, yet with little difficulty he found a ladder in a storeroom. He took the ladder to the yard and placed it against a cherry tree. He turned to talk to the Italian writer contentedly, “Do we need to get some fruit from the supermarket?” Enlightened by his interlocutor’s sagacity, the Italian queried, “Incidentally would you please tell me where the storeroom is? I hope I can find a pair of pliers there.” The dramatist did not think the Spanish plums palatable until he tasted a couple of them. Thus he let himself have the plums to his heart’s content. The next morning, at two o’ clock, Mrs Lu was woken up by thunderous poundings at her door. She opened her door to find the dramatist there in the throes of unbearable bellyache. He thought he contracted appendicitis and believed he could not drive himself to a hospital. Thus Mrs Lu was obliged to take him immediately to a hospital. There he was admitted instantly to the emergency room. The diagnosis said it was intemperate eating and drinking – rather than appendicitis – which caused his stomach to suffer because it was overworked. The doctor prescribed some medicines that could aid his digestion and told him to let his stomach take a brief respite. In addition to his hereditary chronic psychosis, he developed gastritis during his stay with the foundation; and it turned acute each time he shared a supper with


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 83

A NEW SILK ROAD?

the writer from I. For all the illnesses he had put on much weight since he came to live here, his face looking more than ever before like that of a petty Russian landlord. His cheeks were so puffed up as to eclipse his ears – as if he had contracted acute mumps – and reminded his mates of the configuration formed of the swept-back wings of a jumbo-jet. He no longer bore the likeness of what he had looked like when crossing the threshold of the condominium for the first time in his life. At least his amplified cheeks were something eloquently suggestive of jolly plumpness. Except for the writer from I., nobody else in the condominium was on good terms with the dramatist whose isolation here was not terminated until the arrival of a Russian composer. Consequently – so it seemed – the dramatist found an ally in this newcomer and then contracted the new habit of often strolling in the yard hand in hand with the newcomer; and together they reminded all the onlookers they walked past of Stalin’s time! Close together they hobnobbed over vodka and crooned Slavic arias. The murk of the deepening evening gloom lent a particularly desperate ethos to their crooning emitted from their souls forlorn and damned. Lethargised by the heartbroken tunes everybody else in the condominium would become touched by the pathos they managed to evoke and demurely whisper to anybody within earshot, “The nation that has created such mournful tunes is simply tragic!” “Slavs are mournful in disposition;” commented the artist from the country of E. “Immediately after they get out of their beds in early morning they begin singing and sing persistently while they are eating their breakfasts. This is the habit of all of them, men and women. They learn to chorus together with their mums while they were in an embryonic form of existence in the wombs of their mothers. How can Slavs be otherwise than sorrowful?” Since the arrival of the Russian composer the receptionist had been much busier, jotting down requests dictated to her by the condominium mates. But none of the requests recorded in her notebooks had ever been fulfilled. Although temperamentally resigned, the South An sculptor could not help commenting eventually, “I will reveal to the TV correspondent scheduled to interview me next week how the foundation is operating and the problematic side of its operation.” To tell the truth, the Russian composer should be rated as much more astute than the dramatist. Only a couple days after he took up his residence in the condominium, he had the gall to ask Mrs Lu to lend him her car. But he refrained from approaching the dramatist for borrowing the latter’s car, though both of them were so buddy-buddy as could not leave the other alone in crooning Slavic arias. The composer was affable though candid. He frankly told Mrs Lu that he was about to travel to two neighbouring cities to perform at concerts there and that since he could not afford to stay in hotels while sojourning there, he would be heavily indebted to her if she would allow him to use her car so that he could be spared not only the greyhound fares to and back from the two cities but also the

83


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 84

THE FOUNDATIONERS ASSOCIATED WITH MR W.’S FUNDS

84

hotel expenditures, as he could sleep in her car during the nights he was to spend in the two cities. Never allowing himself to behave as parsimoniously as the dramatist who had never lifted a finger to return the favours she had done him, the composer took to her house tapes recording the songs and tunes composed by him and offered them to her as a gift. On the top of the wrapping enclosing these tapes he put down his autograph. Such a move on the part of the composer cornered her. But she managed to say at last, “But I regret to say I can’t afford to dispense with my car any day.” “Well, in that case would you please oblige me with some warm clothes that you have planned to discard?” asked the composer humbly. “That’s something in my power to do;” said she unexpectedly filled with generosity. “My son bought a warm eiderdown jacket. He needed it for his journey to Hong Kong on an errand. I don’t think he is to travel there any more. So he can spare that jacket for you.” The receptionist thought the composer very polite and gentle. Every time he asked her to come to his room for a talk, he was bound to offer her four cookies piled on a small plate in addition to a cup of tea. Soon after his first arrival at the condominium she was presented a gift comprising tapes of his works enclosed in an autographed wrapping. To her great surprise, she was summoned one day to the police station where she was instructed to take the composer back to the condominium, because he had held a solo concert in the plaza in a nearby city without the permission of authorities concerned. Thus the police there took him into custody. After he was detained the police discovered that his visa had already expired. She was stupefied, because, as a rule, the validity of his visa ought to have been synchronous with the inauguration of the foundation. How come his visa had expired? Was it because, she pondered, the composer had arrived in this country much earlier than the foundation was established? But how could a foreigner have managed to travel into this country before the foundation was created? Indeed a foreigner was in most cases much more capable than a citizen of this country! Under such circumstances the foundation had no alternative but to ask the composer to go back to his homeland to undergo the process of applying for a new visa. But he refused to do so. He not only refused to be repatriated but also requested to have all his family members migrate to this country. The arguments he offered to support his request were not only convincing but pitiable: his hometown was Chernobyl, the place of the nuclear leakage that had stunned the world. His children were victims of lethal radioactivity. Therefore it was imperative for him to try his best to move his family out of that dangerous place. “In order to provide my family with accommodations in this country,” he continued; “and in order to save the government of this country the trouble of supporting my family after they come here, I went to give a solo concert in the plaza in that city. Besides I want to earn and save up money so that I can buy a house for my family after they come here. Furthermore my family members have


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 85

A NEW SILK ROAD?

to apply to the Russian government for passports; that would certainly cost us a fortune. I would be boundlessly grateful to the foundation, in case it would kindly help me out with overcoming all the difficulties besetting their migration.” The dramatist willingly canvassed everywhere on the composer’s behalf. Sympathy made the rest of the condominium inhabitants forget both their resentment against the composer and the dramatist and all the indecencies committed by the two of them. While the rest of the condominium was making peace with both the dramatist and the composer, the hatchet was unexpectedly taken up by either against the other; and the dramatist’s car was the last straw. After Mrs Lu’s refusal to lend her car to the composer, the latter was left no alternative but to have recourse to the dramatist’s car. At first the dramatist reluctantly complied with the composer’s requests for using his car because he had been very frequently cadging meals from the composer. Each time after the composer drove away in the car borrowed from the dramatist, the latter promptly got the jitters, giving vent to his rancour by slamming his door nervously. Then it suddenly dawned upon him that he could resort to the stratagem of talking the composer into buying a second-hand car. Consequently the composer was repeatedly driven to town; and the dramatist showed him around in a number of second-hand car markets in order to coax him into buying a second-hand car. But instead of taking second-hand car purchase seriously, the composer went about dealing with a lot of his personal affairs in town by taking advantage of the opportunities when the dramatist drove him there expressly to cajole him into purchasing a second-hand car. Finally the dramatist saw through what the composer was really up to. The dramatist thought aloud, “Having taken advantage of all the opportunities I drove him to town he has been shrewdly and slyly dealing with all the affairs he needed to take care of in town. That accounts for why he has never for once asked me to lend him car recently.” The dramatist had already reached an agreement with a second-hand car dealer that if he could persuade the composer to buy a second-hand car from him, fifteen percent of the price paid by the composer for the car went to the dramatist. Now that the composer refused to buy a second-hand car, the dramatist was denied the windfall of fifteen percent of the car price. Feeling embittered because he thought the composer had been intentionally fooling him, he told the composer pointblank, “From now on you have to pay me for half of the gas needed to cover the distance to be travelled whenever you want to have a lift with me.” “Don’t tell me you’re calling the shots here, man. Know your place;” spewed out the composer in contempt. “Don’t tell me you’re calling the shots here, Mr Superpower,” retorted the dramatist in deadly defiance; “remember you’re no longer in a position to dominate and abuse me as you country did with its satellite states without incurring an impending disaster of self-destruction.” As a matter of fact what the dramatist said to the Russian was nothing but a stark truth, rather than some indecent remarks. With the two of them the only

85


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 86

THE FOUNDATIONERS ASSOCIATED WITH MR W.’S FUNDS

86

crucial problem was that in the wake of the power structure disintegration in their respective country their lives and careers had been calamitously deorbited. This constituted their current source of torment and disgrace and left them behaviourally upset and intellectually unanchored. The history of Russia or that of any of her former satellites is not void of records of foreign conquest or national humiliation. The lapse of almost a score of centuries has already benumbed the pang derived from such foreign conquests or national humiliations. But the pang given rise to by torment and disgrace arising from the contemporary cataclysm in a country is, generally speaking, too acute to bear indeed. Therefore the pang fashioned the behavioural anomalies displayed by the two of them. Such a phenomenon deserves commiseration indeed. Ironically such behavioural anomalies tended to furnish both the dramatist and the composer with elation and vivacity. As either party was deeply familiar with the past of the other party, every charge from one party was invariably fatally devastating for the other party. Consequently such an infernal duel could lead nowhere but to the most pristine violence. In the end the bottles of tomato juice, wine, anything that were the properties of the South An sculptor or some other condominium mates now became guided missiles ejected by either warring party at his foe. A hand-grenade of tomato jam hit Mr W.’s portrait on the wall before long. Instantly his face was rouged charmingly. Nevertheless he smirked with good humour at the two raving knights. Feeling quite outraged when he looked up at the sullied portrait of the founder of the foundation, the South An sculptor shouted, “Stop it, you, good-fornothing Slavs! Dirty pigs!” Abruptly the two warriors stopped their rivalry simultaneously and turned in perfect unison in the direction of the South An sculptor, both being ready to make an onslaught on the South An. “Dare you insult us in Hitlerian jargon?” boomed the two combatants in chorus. “Whatever jargon I used is not important. I simply can’t tolerate such a shameless mêlée. What a bestial scene you’re making here? More degraded than dirty pigs!” Thus began a scuffle involving the three hostile parties. However the martial art proficiency of the South An was deadlier than that the two Slavs could exhibit. On the verge of being mortally wounded the dramatist swiftly manoeuvred himself out of the arena, because he knew he had his second-hand car to take care of. It would be outrageously stupid for him to die before his car was shipped back to and sold at a most profitable price in his home country, he believed. Then the two Slavs went to report to the receptionist what a dirty and Hitlerian language the South An sculptor had used to insult them. She reacted by expressing her deep regret for how the South An had conducted himself, saying, “That’s truly deplorable!”


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 87

A NEW SILK ROAD?

“But,” pursued the two Slavs, “do you mean to say we should take all this lying down?” “What else can I do, Sirs?” answered she. “One is entitled to unrestrainedly air what is on one’s mind, even if that might offend somebody else.” The dramatist could not bring himself to accept this. In the meantime he learned from some local newspapers that a local movement to fight the revival of Fascism was unfolding. He reacted unhesitatingly and called the editors of those newspapers, telling them that evident traces of revival of Fascism could be found among the foundation beneficiaries. Some reporters could not wait to rush to the foundation for a timely coverage. But other reporters objected, declaring that since all South Ans were suffering because of the recent bombardments carried out by America in South An, it would be an utterly inhumane move to censure a South An, instead of showing him sympathy. Thus the matter was dropped in a precarious equilibrium between the pros and cons voiced in local journalistic circles. Consequently, none of the rest – except for the Italian writer – of the condominium mates would associate themselves with the two Slavs. “How dare you,” shouted the dramatist angrily at the rest of the condominium population, “deride or look down upon the two of us? Aren’t you, like the two of us, cadging a livelihood with this departed benefactor? All cadgers are on an equal footing. Don’t you see that?” The foundation would have remained so far a commonplace undertaking blessed with plain sailing but for the conflagration that terminated its existence. The conflagration devoured part of the condominium and was alleged to have originated with a burning cigarette butt carelessly left to kindle the bedclothes in the couch of the artist from the country of E., after he went to sleep in exhaustion. The ignited bedding spread the fire to everything around it. Of all the condominium inhabitants, the artist suffered the heaviest loss because his painting collection and his own paintings were lost in the holocaust. Thanks to the foresight of the foundation administration, the artist received an enormous compensation from an insurance company, since the foundation had had the properties of all the condominium inhabitants insured. The artist professed quite unperturbedly, “An artist is entitled to claim any compensation for his loss from an insurance company since artistic works are all priceless articles, you know.” “It’s a fiendishly predatory dog that never barks before it snatches;” commented the dramatist from the country of B. “And you must be a dog that never snatches before it barks!” offered the artist. The compensation secured by the artist gnawed jealously at the dramatist’s heart, because none of his properties, his second-hand car included, was damaged by the fire. However he managed to wrench from the insurance company some indemnity for the loss that made his health suffer because the shock he received from the conflagration had aggravated the symptom of his chronic psychosis. After the fire the first round of activities of the foundation came to an end.

87


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 88

THE FOUNDATIONERS ASSOCIATED WITH MR W.’S FUNDS

88

Every condominium inhabitant was about to part company with the foundation. Being fully aware that he was no longer able to be copiously catered to by the wealthy foundation, the dramatist was overwhelmed with sadness and turned for the worse. Notwithstanding, he was sensible enough to know that he couldn’t help it. All of a sudden it occurred to him that his backache might help him invent an expedient to tide over the crisis. While his chronic psychosis was an illness more imaginary than real, his backache was a sterling illness more real than imaginary. His backache tortured him day and night; in extreme cases he suffered from devilish insomnia because of it. He had studied extremely carefully the prospectus and documentation of the foundation before he decided to apply for an allowance; later he drew up a plan listing in detail what he intended to acquire from the foundation. One item in the plan was acquisition from the foundation a health insurance. Now, in view of the fact that once he was repatriated after the conclusion of the foundation activities, the cost he would have to pay for a treatment of nuclear magnetic resonance in his homeland could be exorbitant, he asked the receptionist to arrange for him to take such a treatment before he left the foundation. She did. But the findings from the treatment indicated that there was nothing wrong with his back. This delighted not only her but him as well. For though his “backache” was eliminated as a pretext to enable him to prolong his stay at the foundation, he could rest assured that he would be spared all the worries connected with his back after his repatriation. Since backache was demolished as the last pretext he could use for a prolonged stay at the foundation, the dramatist no longer pretended to have contracted any illness. Now his only request he asked the receptionist to take care of was that she take him to a hospital every day and arrange for him to have a back massage there. So long as he was now proclaimed sound in body, he took to reclining comfortably on his sofa, smoking, drinking whisky, watching TV. He was waiting for the day when he was to leave the condominium. The foundation’s first round of activities concluded triumphantly. All the condominium inhabitants were ready to leave. The foundation helped the Russian composer obtain permission from authorities concerned to continue to stay and secure a job in this country. The artist from the country of E., who had an undisguised contempt for the dramatist from the country of B., now turned to another foundation for a chance to carve out a new career. The writer from I. returned to his own country. With the help of a humanitarian organisation the South An sculptor went to work for the anti-racial discrimination movement in the United States. Inspired by the prospects of securing profuse returns by selling his second-hand care in his own country, the dramatist drove it to traverse the Continent of Europe. Before making his adieus to the condominium, he was looking everywhere in the building for the receptionist because she kept a handsome sum of money, which were rewards paid by parties concerned for the lectures he had given them.


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 89

A NEW SILK ROAD?

She ought to have passed on those rewards to him as soon as they had been handed over to her. Now she explained to the dramatist that she had forgetfully left them in her home but assured him that she would take the money to the condominium the next day without fail. But from the next day onward she never turned up at the condominium again. Later the dramatist called the office of the foundation and was told that she got leave of absence from the office and was no longer in the city. Besides he was informed that nobody had any idea of when she would be back at the foundation. Miss M., the receptionist, had a grave and dignified bearing. The dramatist had thought very highly of her, thinking that she must have very noble character and might not stoop to anything as low as he himself had been accustomed to. Those who looked noble or dignified in bearing, so he concluded, were not necessarily more noble-minded than he. This was what he learned from his years of vagrancy across a number of countries. Certainly he oughtn’t have been sneered at when he had repeatedly expressed his worries about the safety of his rewards kept in the hands of the receptionist. A few miles after his second-hand car crossed the border into his home country, the dramatist met with disaster in a car crash. Having been informed of the tragic news, the foundation people said, “If he were still here, he was bound to invent some expedient to force the insurance company to pay him compensation for the crashed second-hand car.” But nobody was sure what had really happened to him or his car. Some said he was driving when drunk. Others reported his car was destroyed in a spontaneous combustion in its engine. Still others asserted that his car crashed into a big van. But a better informed source had it that his car crash just camouflaged an attempted murder. Some later revelations indicated that the dramatist emerged unscathed from the car crash but he had from then on gone by a new name and manoeuvred through a general election in the country of B. to become president. A source intimated that the dramatist had created a foundation of his own and that it was different from Mr W.’s foundation in that it was a profitable organisation, by dint of which the dramatist was no longer obliged to cadge a living with any other foundation across the world. Moreover, through his own foundation he succeeded in setting a good example for all the foundations across the world to follow in how to turn a non-profit institution – such as a foundation – into a profitable one. Still another source hinted that he had associated with a new foundation. And it was further inferred that there he might again encounter the artist from the country of E. * * * Miss M., the receptionist, never showed up again. She was so grave and dignified in bearing that accusing her of having evaded paying back the lecture

89


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 90

THE FOUNDATIONERS ASSOCIATED WITH MR W.’S FUNDS

rewards to the dramatist by hiding herself seemed to be incriminating her unjustly. Still the hideous fact remained that the dramatist had forfeited forever the considerable lecture rewards. But her notebooks that were excessively replete with “details” in her handwriting of the numerous requests which all the condominium inhabitants had dictated to her and which they had asked Mr W.’s foundation to comply with were very convincing and, therefore, very useful – as far as the foundation was concerned – real documents to attest not only to her functioning efficiency as a receptionist but also to the generosity harboured by the foundation towards all its beneficiaries. The “details” were quoted copiously in the foundation’s periodical statements on its regular work; and these statements were as a rule carried by numerous bulletins and gazettes. All these developments contributed to Miss M.’s advancement in the ruling hierarchy of the foundation. All of a sudden the entire staff of the foundation disappeared altogether; and the condominium was evacuated. Those who knew nothing about the total disappearance of the foundation staff thought that all the staff members had been fired by the foundation hierarchy or were on strike or a long furlough. But as a matter of fact all of them were still paid generously by the foundation. The condominium, still looking magnificent from a distance, was able to wrench admiration from passers-by who would in most cases linger there a little while to appreciate it. But inside it suffered terribly because of long absence from it of the care of sanitation workers. Even if all the officials of the foundation had left the condominium on a long furlough, its hardworking sanitation workers should have been still on duty. Anybody who chanced to enter the condominium now would be mystified on discovering swarms of maggots were creeping in every room in the condominium. The sights of kitchenettes and bathrooms were particularly nauseating. On all the walls of a kitchenette was a layer of dirty grease looking like a queer coating. There was nothing in a room in the condominium but was greasy to the touch. In fact since no inhabitant in the condominium had ever cooked in his apartment except for the Italian writer, the greasy coating on the walls of every room in condominium remained a mystery. Piles of unwashed kitchen utensils were not heaped where they should be deposited but in sofas, on floor, or in sinks. Not a single piece of dinner services remained undamaged. They were cracked or jagged, or had a missing handle, spout or lid. Everything in the condominium seemed to be just a relic of an earthquake or war. All bedding items, including pillowcases, in any bedroom stayed no longer where they belonged. Instead they were spread all over the floor of the bathroom in an apartment. In every bathroom the floor seemed to have been flooded by seeped water coming out of nowhere. On the narrow walks criss-crossing the yards in the condominium and the girders in all the bathrooms were grown densely with large and puffy grey mushrooms. Yes, it was a nice season, proper to the growth of mushrooms.

90


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 91

A NEW SILK ROAD?

Part II from ASIA to ASIA


071-092/occhLiMes/ZhangJie

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 92


093-096/LiMes/Koh

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 93

A NEW SILK ROAD?

ASEM IS A SUNRISE ORGANISATION

by Tommy

T

KOH

HE ASIA-EUROPE MEETING, OR ASEM,

brings together the fifteen European Union countries and ten countries of East Asia. This inter-regional group is unique. The group’s history is brief, having been established only four years ago in 1996. The leaders of the twenty-five member countries and the President of the European Commission have met once every two years, in Bangkok in 1996 and in London in 1998. They will hold their third summit in Seoul in October this year.

ASEM Fatigue in Europe? Some commentators have recently expressed the view that although ASEM is only four years old, some of our European friends seem to be suffering from premature ASEM fatigue. Is this true? Other commentators have wondered about the continued relevance of ASEM to the EU. They have pointed out that the EU has bilateral summits with the three largest Asian members of ASEM, namely, China, Japan and Indonesia. What additional value does ASEM bring to EU?

Negative Perceptions of ASEAN Compared to 1996, when ASEM was established, today, ASEAN is not viewed in a favourable light by public opinion in the EU, for several reasons. The admission of Myanmar in 1997 created a chasm between ASEAN and the EU. Market analysts do not seem impressed with Thailand’s reform and restructuring. As a result, investor confidence in Thailand has not returned to the pre-crisis level. The protracted negotiation between the government of the Philippines and the Muslim rebels in Jolo, over the kidnapped foreign hostages, has created a negative impression of the Philippines and, by extension, of ASEAN. The prosecution and convictions of Malaysia’s former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, has attracted the EU President’s criticism. Finally, ASEAN is seen to be backtracking on its ASEAN Free Trade Area commitments. This has raised questions about ASEAN’s credibility and competitiveness vis-à-vis other countries and regions of the world. Can ASEAN compete, for example, with Northeast Asia, and especially with China?

93


093-096/LiMes/Koh

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 94

ASEM IS A SUNRISE ORGANISATION

Sunrise or Sunset? In view of the doubts and questions which have been raised it is pertinent to ask whether is ASEM a sunrise or a sunset organisation. I would argue that ASEM is a sunrise organisation, basing my argument on three main reasons.

Economic Prospects of East Asia Firstly, most of the economies of East Asia have bounced back from the financial and economic crisis of 1997 and 1998. East Asia, minus Japan, is growing strongly again. According to a recent essay in The Economist by the eminent American economist, Dr Fred Bergsten, the world is becoming a three-block formed by the US, the EU and East Asia. According to Dr Bergsten’s computation, based on 1997 data, East Asia’s combined GDP was $6,382 billion, compared to the EU’s $8,093 billion and the USA’s $7,834 billion. Using PPP (Purchasing Power Parities), the GDP figures were $9,431 billion for East Asia, $7,559 billion for the EU and $7,665 billion for the US. East Asia’s trade with the world, at $1,380 billion, was close to the EU’s $1,640 billion and to the $1,586 billion of the US. When it comes to foreign exchange reserves, East Asia tops the table with $668 billion, compared to the EU’s $380 billion and only $71 billion of the US. The conclusion is obvious. The economic rationale for ASEM remains as valid today as it did in 1996. East Asia is already an important economic partner of the EU and will become more so in the coming years and decades.

Towards a Multipolar World

94

Secondly, one of the reasons that brought the Asians and Europeans together in 1996 was their common aspiration towards a transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the world has been dominated by one superpower, the United States. It is a safer world than during the Cold War, when the danger of a nuclear war was ever present. However, Asians and Europeans would prefer to live in a multipolar world in which the EU and a more united East Asia could constitute two other poles. Such a world would be more balanced, more comfortable and more stable. This rationale for ASEM is as valid today as it was in 1996. Indeed, I would argue that it is more relevant now because East Asia is more cohesive and more united today than it was four years ago. Only a cohesive and united East Asia can constitute a pole in a multipolar world. What has happened since ASEM I? The first East Asia Summit, modestly called ASEAN + 3, was held in Malaysia in 1997, the second in Vietnam in 1998, and the third in the Philippines in 1999. The fourth summit will be held in Singapore in November this year. The process is being institutionalised and has already brought together East Asia’s foreign ministers, finance ministers, central bank governors


093-096/LiMes/Koh

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 95

A NEW SILK ROAD?

and senior officials. It is not just empty talk either. Already, the group has agreed to adopt a region-wide currency exchange arrangement that would help them deal with any future Asian financial crisis. It is also significant that Japan has started FTA negotiations with Korea and Singapore. My conclusion is that developments in East Asia over the past four years show a positive trend. The countries of the region are getting together, developing a habit of consultation, increasing their comfort level and engaging in concrete cooperative projects. If this trend continues, East Asia will be in a better position to constitute a pole in a multipolar world. Thirdly, one of the biggest challenges of the post Cold War world is the cultural dominance of the world by one country. The US possesses both hard and soft power. The soft power is represented by its food, beverages, fashion, music, movies, television, universities, research and development, and Silicon Valley. Asians and Europeans would like to counter this trend and to build a world of cultural diversity. This is one of the common aspirations that unites Asians and Europeans in ASEM. In the past four years, ASEM and especially the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) have tried to build many cultural bridges between East Asia and the European Union. We have brought together cultural leaders, cultural industries, arts managers and administrators, education, cultural and television networks, universities and think-tanks, editors and journalists, students and professors, artists, musicians, dancers and many others. East Asia and Western Europe are blessed with rich and vibrant cultures. They should therefore not be mere consumers of American culture. Asians and Europeans have much to contribute to world culture.

Conclusion I would like to reiterate my thesis that ASEM is a sunrise not a sunset organisation. The three reasons which brought the twenty-six Asian and European leaders together in 1996, in Bangkok, Thailand, are just as valid today as they were four years ago. ASEM makes good economic, political and cultural sense. Let us therefore prepare for the third summit in Seoul with a confident heart and a clear mind. ASEM is beneficial to Asia, to Europe and to the world.

95


093-096/LiMes/Koh

6-10-2000

15:24

Pagina 96


097/106LiMes/Broinowski

6-10-2000

15:25

Pagina 97

A NEW SILK ROAD?

ALL IN THE SAME BOAT? AUSTRALIA’S RELATIONS WITH ASIA

by Alison

BROINOWSKI

A

1. LL AUSTRALIANS, AS THE INHABITANTS of the world’s only island-continent are fond of reminding themselves, are boat people. The Iraqis, Afghanis, and Chinese who in 2000 arrived illegally on Australia’s northern shores in boats were hardly the first to do so. Aboriginal Australians had arrived in the same way some 40,000 to 60,000 years earlier. In the 18th and 19th centuries, when convicts from England and Ireland and free settlers from Europe, gold-seekers from China and North America, pearl-fishers from Japan, cameleers and itinerant traders from India sailed to Australia, they simply came ashore, and the indigenous people were pushed aside. Australia is moving towards Asia at six centimetres a year, a pace that seems too fast for some, too slow for others. Historical sea-links and island bridges to Asia, and centuries of commercial and personal traffic between Australians and people in Asian countries have not prevented peaks of mutual enthusiasm being followed by troughs. Lasting freeways of identity between Australia and the region have yet to be built. Australia is the only “Western” country – apart from its small neighbour New Zealand – that is located in the Asia-Pacific hemisphere, and it is the only one whose relationship with Asia is such a contested issue. But, to ask a more complex question, are Asian countries any more closely identified by anything other than “race”? Have Pakistan and Singapore, Japan and Bangladesh – all Asian countries – more in common than each has with Australia? Australia is not a member of any Asian organisations that do not include other “Westerners”, and it is not a member of the Asian bloc at the United Nations. Australians persist in speaking of themselves as “Western”, habitually comparing themselves with other OECD countries, and identifying with the Western alliance. In 1999 they failed to agree to become a republic with an Australian head of state in place of the British monarch. Unlike the Canadians, Australians have not agreed to replace the national flag, a quarter of which is taken up by the Union Jack. Although Asian Australian faces are visible in every Australian city, in most schools, and increasingly on television, and although 50% of Australia’s trade is with the region, official emphasis on engagement with Asia has recently diminished. With the post Cold War empowerment of Asian identity politics,

97


097/106LiMes/Broinowski

6-10-2000

15:25

Pagina 98

ALL IN THE SAME BOAT? AUSTRALIA’S RELATIONS WITH ASIA

Australia is being excluded from Asia by both Australian and Asian definition. And with new regional economic structures being formed after the East Asian financial crisis that explicitly distance the West from the rest, Australians are considering whether they will be disadvantaged by having no say in them. To understand why Australia is stuck on the razor blade of identity, it is necessary to consider, first, the origins of Australian thinking about its place in Asia, and then how, throughout the same century, Asian ideas of Asia have developed in a way that of necessity excludes Australia. 2. Australian leaders’ pronouncements about associations with Asia consistently display the four things they most fear: isolation, facing attack or invasion, economic disadvantage, and being held up to ridicule. To seek “mateship”, a reassuring strategy of identity with a protector or a group against a bully is the instinctive Australian response, learnt in the schoolyard, to such fears. But Australians have always been mistrustful of their protectors too, and the less attracted Australians are to identification with Britain or the United States the more they have from time to time considered identity with Asia as an alternative. The earliest Australian colonists included idealists like James Matra, E.G. Wakefield, and the Rev. James Jefferis, who recommended a break with the Old World and an invigorating union with the new. Australia could become the Athens of an Australasiatic Mediterranean, as Marcus Clarke speculated in 1877. Pragmatists of the same period, like Sir George Young and members of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, saw Asian labour as the best means of developing the country, to replace the feckless convicts. Prime Minister Alfred Deakin, an admirer of India and of theosophy but a supporter of White Australia, united idealism and pragmatism, predicting mastery of the Pacific as Australia’s future. Others in the 1910s and 1920s, Piesse, Sadler, and Murdoch among them, advocated the study and appreciation of Asian, particularly Japanese, societies both for intellectual enrichment and as the best form of security.1 But for many, Australia’s proximity to Asia constituted a continuing threat. Defence Minister Sir George Pearce, representing Australia at a Washington conference in 1922, declared: “The Far East is our far-North... Whilst racially we are Europeans, geographically we are Asiatic. Our own special immediate Australian interests are more nearly concerned with what is happening in China and Japan than with what is happening in Belgium and Holland”. John Latham returned from an official tour of Japan in 1934 to announce: “What the ‘Far East’ is to Europe... the ‘Near East’ is to Australia”. Liberal leader Robert Menzies in 1939 picked up his inversion of geographic convention, and used it to suggest the danger looming over Australia: “The ‘Far East’ is Australia’s ‘Near North’”. Latham, as Australian Minister in Tokyo in 1941, took up the identity issue with Japanese who saw Australia as within their sphere of

98

1. A. BROINOWSKI, The Yellow Lady – Australian Impressions of Asia, Oxford University Press, 1992, Melbourne 1996, pp. 3-4, 24.


097/106LiMes/Broinowski

6-10-2000

15:25

Pagina 99

A NEW SILK ROAD?

influence: “I may with respect suggest that you get your geography books right, so that in your schools at least they will know that Australia is not part of Asia”. Many Australians spoke with pride of their connection to England through monarchy, government, education, language, law, religion, trade, defence, culture, and sport; even the Suez Canal and the telegraph were called Australia’s “lifelines”. In the Federation process that culminated in 1901 (and has recently been commemorated in London), Australian leaders were united by their concern to preserve White Australia and the protection of the Royal navy. British trade preferences enabled Australian governments to mount a tariff wall against Asian goods, and the Immigration Restriction Act enabled them to exclude Asian persons. For decades Australian leaders on both sides of politics – W.M. Hughes, S.M. Bruce, R.G. Casey, R.G. Menzies, A.A. Calwell – made no excuse for these policies, publicly identifying themselves and their country as white or British or both. Even two eminent Australians in China, G.E. Morrison and W.H. Donald, were in no doubt about their Britishness. Australia underlined this by loyally joining in wars against several Asian enemies, always as the ally either of Britain or of the United States, and by using postwar Repatriation Acts to expel Asians who had taken refuge in Australia, but not Americans, British, Dutch, or even Germans and Italians, who were instead encouraged to settle. But among intellectuals in the 1930s and again in the late 1940s, the idea of an “Austral-Asiatic” future was attractive. As Foreign Minister, Dr H.V. Evatt boldly pursued Asian regionalism, an idea that Prime Minister E.G. Whitlam would later try to promote as an Asian Forum. But Evatt could not rid himself of White Australia, and even after Liberal leaders began that process and Whitlam, as Labour Prime Minister, completed it in 1973, none of them considered undoing the alliance with the United States. These remained the two key factors that set Australia apart from newly independent countries in Asia: immigration was no longer racially based, but security appeared to be. Conservatives on coming to power repeatedly retreated from their predecessors’ claims of identification with Asia to warn about the threats that it presented and to offer development aid de haut en bas. Asian societies were seen as “Friends and Neighbours”, not as family. So Foreign Minister Barwick asserted in 1963 that “for the purposes of security, and for the resolution of many problems, we are part and parcel of the Asian region”. As an anti-racist Prime Minister, but one concerned about Third World Communism, Malcolm Fraser compromised: Australia was “Western with a difference”. But, he told the Indian Parliament, Australia was Australia, “not an appendage of Europe” (1979). Labour politicians increasingly advocated “engagement” with Asia in the 1980s and 1990s. They hoped to gain economic stimulus for Australia through proximity to the high-growth East Asian economies, defence security for Australia through closer association with Asian leaders, population expansion of Australia through migration of literate, hard-working Asian migrants, and political influence for Australia through Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the ASEAN

99


097/106LiMes/Broinowski

6-10-2000

15:25

Pagina 100

ALL IN THE SAME BOAT? AUSTRALIA’S RELATIONS WITH ASIA

Regional Forum (ARF). At the same time, growing prosperity in East Asia gave Australia opportunities to export more raw materials, food, manufactures, and health, education, and tourism services. As ALP Opposition leader Bill Hayden, shortly after an ABC radio series predicting Australia’s Asian Future, had ventured to suggest that Australia was “becoming a Euro-Asian country” (1980). Bob Hawke, Prime Minister from 1983, spoke more boldly of “enmeshment with Asia” and of “finding our true place in Asia”, and his Education Minister embarked on a program of “Asia-literacy” (1983-91). As East Asian growth rates escalated, Hawke’s successor Paul Keating sought a personal initiative that would save the Australian economy, cost nothing, and conform to the ALP platform. He picked up the Republic, Australia’s “historic shift to Asia”, the “Asianisation” of Australia, and cultivated ASEAN’s grand old man, President Soeharto. (1992-1996) His Foreign Minister, Gareth Evans, redrew the map to show Australia as: “a country in the East Asian hemisphere”, “an East Asian hemisphere nation” (1995, 1996). State Premiers and Ministers were particularly prone to declare identity with Asia when it suited them, and when there was money to be made (Peter Beattie in 1998, Shane Stone in 1997, Mark Birrell in 1997, and Peter Dowding in 1989, for example). Labour leaders outdid each other in their enthusiasm for Asia in the early 1990s, but their pronouncements about a shared identity became more cautious in 1996, when East Asian economies were foundering. What FitzGerald, a former Ambassador to China, said of ALP spokespeople applied to most Australian politicians: that they “danced in turn towards and away from a definition of being ‘part of’ Asia”.2 Keating and his conservative successor, John Howard, both picked up Fraser’s tautological truism and used it repeatedly: “Australia is Australia”, that is, neither Eastern nor Western. Howard detected no conflict between Australia’s geography and its history: Australians, he said, “do not claim to be Asian”, and no country “can be asked to deny its history, principles or culture”. Australia, he told Asian leaders many times, was “not part of Asia” (1996). Foreign Minister Downer repeated similar sentiments in Beijing in 2000, when he distinguished Australia’s “practical” relations with Asia from the “cultural” ones that Asians had with each other. Resonating in the minds of these leaders, and their advisers, were the antiAsian statements of One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, a disenfranchised Liberal elected to Parliament in 1996, and the support they attracted from voters who opposed multiculturalism and Asianisation: “I don’t want to be Asianised”, she declared. The revised version of Australia’s identity in 1999, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, was that Australia was no longer pursuing membership of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) either on the Asian or the European side “as a policy objective”, since Australia already saw itself as “fully integrated into the region”, and “we don’t need ASEM to prove we are part of the

100

2. S. FITZGERALD, Is Australia an Asian Country? Can Australia Survive an Asian Future?, Allen & Unwin, St. Leonards, NSW, 1997, p. 38.


097/106LiMes/Broinowski

6-10-2000

15:25

Pagina 101

A NEW SILK ROAD?

A.U.S.T.R.A.L.I.A.

NO LONGER DOWN UNDER region”. Perhaps Huntington was right: Australia was a “torn” country, confused about what it was and to what it belonged.3 3. In the years when Australia was seeking to define its identity, Asian countries began to re-establish theirs. The process occurred in four waves, and their cumulative effect was to reject Western views of Asia and Westerners’ statements about identification with it. The Asianisation of Asia, as Funabashi Yoichi called it in 1993, sought on the one hand to subsume differences between Asian societies and to emphasise their similarities, and on the other to stress the difference between Asia and the “West”, ignoring differences between the United States and other Western societies, just as Westerners had been guilty of doing about Asians. The first wave of Asianisation of Asia rose in Japan, China, and India late in the 19th century, and found prominent intellectual leaders in Okakura Kakuzo, 3. S.P. HUNTINGTON, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Simon & Schuster, New York 1996.

101


097/106LiMes/Broinowski

6-10-2000

15:25

Pagina 102

ALL IN THE SAME BOAT? AUSTRALIA’S RELATIONS WITH ASIA

Mohammed Iqbal, Jose Rizal, Sun Yat-sen, Rabindranath Tagore, and their influential nationalist successors. Although none rejected Western technology or modernity, all hailed the advent of an “Asian Renaissance” that would unite Asian countries in gaining independence and would usher in an era of Pan-Asian cooperation and prosperity. Paradoxically, they were all Western-educated, and were encouraged by American and European Asianists to appreciate what was unique about their own cultures and histories. Fortified with that reassurance, they based their Pan-Asian vision on the antiquity and richness of their shared Asian traditions and religions, and on the superiority of Asian spirituality over Western materialism. Japan’s victory over the Russian fleet at Shimonoseki in 1905 was an inspirational event for many, including Sun, Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, and J.N. Nehru. It demonstrated what an Asian power could do by combining Western technology with national self-belief, and it set off a second wave of Asianisation. Japan’s territorial expansion was accompanied by promises to free Asian countries from colonial oppression, under the slogan “Asia for the Asians”. Japanese PanAsianists sought to establish Japan as a role model for other Asians, and to spread their sphere as widely as possible, urging Australia, too, to throw off its Western yoke and acknowledge that it was part of Asia. In the 1930s and 1940s, young men were impressed: Aung San in Burma, Lee in Singapore, Sukarno and Hatta in Indonesia, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Marcos and Laurel in the Philippines, and Mahathir in Malaysia. In spite of their resentment at Japan’s high-handedness, Asian nationalists were not eager to welcome the Western colonialists back. The leaders of the postwar, third wave of renewing or “Asianising” Asia, were Nehru and Sukarno; their doctrine was independence by peaceful means; their code was Pancasila; and their support base was as many African and Asian countries, independent or approaching independence, as they could attract. They held three early meetings: two in New Delhi in 1947 and 1949 and one in Bandung in 1959, and the outcome was the Non-Aligned Movement. Australia was invited to send observers to the first meeting, and a minister to the second, but Australia did not officially attend the third. Nehru, nevertheless, went so far as to describe Australia as “a component part of Asia”. Sukarno, however, identified Australia with the OLDEFOS (old established forces): only non-aligned, non-white states could claim status as NEFOS (newly emerging forces). In the future, Asian leaders declared, Asian nations would cooperate with the West only as equals, and would form “some sort of an Eastern Commonwealth of their own”.4 The fourth resurgence of the “Asian renaissance” was propelled not by Japan or India, nor by foreign admirers of Asian achievements, but by the leaders of ASEAN countries. Picking up speed in the 1980s from the rapid growth of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore, as well as from the stimulus of Japanese investment and China’s trade liberalisation, Southeast Asian leaders selectively

102

4. K. NAG, Discovery of Asia, The Institute of Asian African Relations, Calcutta 1957, p. 781.


097/106LiMes/Broinowski

6-10-2000

15:25

Pagina 103

A NEW SILK ROAD?

used neo-Confucian ideas, “look East” emulation of Japan, long range planning (“Vision 20/20”) and “Asian Values”, to inculcate economic progress while keeping political change under firm control. As their incomes grew rapidly, Asian leaders gave exceptionalism the credit and urged Western societies to learn from the “Asian way”. Nevertheless Anwar Ibrahim, in The Asian Renaissance (1996), took a moderate line, harking back to the first two “Asian renaissance” waves by accepting Western influences that could be put to good use, but stressing the centrality of religion and culture in Asian societies. Lee Kuan Yew did the same, but with rather more emphasis on education, discipline, and hard work. His fellow Singaporean, Kishore Mahbubani, writing in 1995, claimed the fusing of Western and East Asian cultures in the Asia-Pacific region was an “unprecedented historical phenomenon” (just as Okakura had done in 1903). East Asians, he wrote, were realising that “they can do anything as well as, if not better than, other cultures”.5 China had already contributed to the fourth wave of Asianisation by declaring an interpretation of human rights that privileged economic development and the collectivity over the rights of the individual. Right-wing Japanese also opposed the United States by taking up Ishihara Shintaro’s advice (1989) to “say no” to the West, and similar slogans appeared in Chinese and Malaysian publications. Asian countries were asserting for themselves what it meant to be Asian, though not unanimously. Dissent came, for example, from Kim Dae Jung, who objected to claims that democracy was not an “Asian value”,6 and from Aung San Suu Kyi and Xanana Gusmao, who had good reasons to argue for universal rather than “guided” democracy. Filipinos were annoyed when Lee Kuan Yew told them their attachment to democracy was excessive. But the ASEAN countries (6 of them by 1986, 10 by 1999) were determined to be in control of membership of their club, and not to have its status diminished by the larger APEC edifice. Mahathir proposed an East Asia Economic Caucus that would include Northeast and Southeast Asian states and no others: an “Asia without the Caucasians”. Prominent intellectuals had met in Kuala Lumpur in 1992 as the “Commission for a New Asia” to discuss beliefs, principles, and ethics they held in common. They distinguished these not so much from Western ideas but from Western practice, which they considered was often arbitrary, hypocritical, and based on double standards.7 But the Commission was an exception, in that attendance was based on a wider definition of regionalism that included South Asia and Australia. Other important meetings to which Australia was not invited included the 1993 Asian Human Rights conference, and the 1996 and 1998 Summits of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). Australia was defined as Western by exclusion from 5. K. MAHBUBHANI, Can Asians Think?, Times Books International, Singapore 1998, pp. 115-137. 6. KIM DAE JUNG, “Is Culture Destiny? The Myth of Asia’s Anti-democratic Values”, Foreign Affairs, 73, 6, November/December 1994, pp. 189-194. 7. S. FITZGERALD, Is Australia an Asian Country? Can Australia Survive an Asian Future?, Allen & Unwin, St. Leonards, NSW, 1997, p. 133.

103


097/106LiMes/Broinowski

6-10-2000

15:25

Pagina 104

ALL IN THE SAME BOAT? AUSTRALIA’S RELATIONS WITH ASIA

ASEM, in what FitzGerald argued was a “defining moment” on the way to the formation of a future East Asian community.8 Australia was not included, either, in the new, post-crisis structures by means of which East Asians sought to reinvent themselves: the Asian Free Trade Agreement (AFTA), ASEAN+3, and ARFA (Asian Regional Financial Arrangement) through Japan proposed to fund non-IMF-style currency repurchases. When Australia in 1999-2000 led InterFET, a 19-nation force sent to secure peace in East Timor in preparation for UN-fostered independence, Indonesian and Malaysian leaders complained on racial grounds that it included “not enough brown faces”, and in the same breath accused Australians of white supremacism. The UN Secretary General had said Australia should be accepted as an Asian country for the purposes of InterFET. But the editor of the Bangkok Nation, even though Thailand had contributed troops and a deputy commander to InterFET, took issue on racial grounds with Kofi Annan’s proposal that Australia was Asian: “Unfortunately it is not an accepted fact in this part of the world”.9 As Western societies became more responsive to the injustices of colonialism, to civil and human rights, and to the Orientalism of the past, intellectuals grew more careful to distinguish Asian societies from each other and to avoid racist, essentialising accounts of them. But their scruples were not often reciprocated by leaders in Asian countries. 4. Certainly, when Asian prosperity faltered, Asian enthusiasm for talk of a “New Asia” or an “Asian Renaissance” also diminished. One of its proponents was in jail in Malaysia. One more, at least, should have been, in Indonesia. Had the Asian Renaissance come and gone? some asked. Was the 20th, and not the 21st, the “Asian Century”? Were Asian values still superior? Scenes of communal violence in Indonesia, with the government’s guns and batons being turned on the people yet again, seemed to contradict claims that harmony and community cohesion were “Asian values”. India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons and glared at each other again across Kashmir. Evidence of leaders enriching themselves and their families in Indonesia and Malaysia, and bribing supporters in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines, seemed to undermine assertions that Westerners were materialistic, while Asians were thrifty and spiritual. Some corrupt former leaders were jailed in China, South Korea, and Japan, but many more remained unpunished there and in Southeast Asian countries, suggesting that their claims to filial respect from their people were misplaced. The imperialists’ security acts were kept in place in Singapore and Malaysia and used against the governments’ political opponents. The plight of millions of unemployed, whose leaders had scorned the West’s welfare societies, threatened that worse was to come. Whatever the outcome of Mahathir’s case

104

8. As above, p. 53. 9. K. CHONGKITTAVORN, “Regional Perspective: Australia is an Asian Partner, but…”, Nation, September 27, 1999.


097/106LiMes/Broinowski

6-10-2000

15:25

Pagina 105

A NEW SILK ROAD?

against Anwar in 1998-99, or his argument against Western/IMF free market orthodoxy, “Asian values” were no longer required reading, even among Western conservatives who had endorsed them in the past. Clearly, Asian leaders more than ever needed the solidarity and empowerment that exclusion of the West provided. So they increased their efforts to reinvent Asian regionalism, and Australia provided a harmless exemplar of how they could rhetorically marginalise the West. Asianisation, however, had variants with which neither most Australians nor Asians would wish to be identified, but which they seemed in the 1990s and in 2000 to share. In Australia, with the Howard government’s retreat from multiculturalism, “Asianisation” in the late 1990s took on a negative character, the opposite of what Australians had come to understand by it under Keating, when its connotations ranged from positive to euphoric. Both governments, and some of their predecessors, behaved like some Asian leaders: they sought to impose ideologies, often through the media. As well, they broke promises, adopted selective industry assistance, retreated from environmental targets, sought to reduce minimum wages and work conditions, cooperated with employers to reduce the power of unions, cut expenditure on social services, health, and education, confined the independence and scope of public broadcasting, kept expenditure for defence at a high level, and were unable to reduce unemployment and borrowing. Like some Asian leaders, they failed to achieve decent living conditions for indigenous people. The Keating government, like many in Asia, sought to censor television and to jail journalists who breached “national security”. The Howard government took the country further in some of these directions, virtually silencing Radio Australia, bragging about Australia being the “strong man of Asia” and having what journalists called a Deputy Sheriff role to the United States in the region. As a result, Australia began to look like some Asian countries in ways the pro-Asianisation rhetoric did not envisage. This sort of like-mindedness was not, according to Malaysian-born Australian Professor Wang Gungwu, what Asian countries expected of Australia, nor what would admit them to the Asian club.10 Yet Australia, Stephen FitzGerald argued, could belong to the region without being what East Asians were.11 But coming on top of a history of oppression of Aborigines for which Howard refused to say the nation was sorry, several other factors contributed to reducing Australia’s capacity to influence Asian governments and to reconfirming long-held views about Australia: Howard’s evident lack of empathy with Asian societies, his position on human rights and Aboriginal claims, his ambivalence about distancing himself and his party from anti-Asian racism, and his declared insouciance about how Australia was regarded in the region. Howard repeated that Australia was not part of Asia; yet his government asserted Australia is “fully integrated into the region”. It was 10. WANG, “The Australia Asians Might Not See”, in D. GRANT and G. SEAL, Australia in the World: Perceptions and Possibilities, Black Swan Press, Curtin University of Technology, Perth 1992. 11. S. FITZGERALD, Is Australia an Asian Country? Can Australia Survive an Asian Future?, Allen & Unwin, St. Leonards, NSW, 1997, p. 9.

105


097/106LiMes/Broinowski

6-10-2000

15:25

Pagina 106

ALL IN THE SAME BOAT? AUSTRALIA’S RELATIONS WITH ASIA

just as well that regional identity was now a matter for Asians – it seemed to be beyond most Australians, including many Asian Australians, to decide. 5. Further waves of the Asianisation of Asia will break in the twenty-first century, and will wash up on Australian shores, if for no other reason than that Asian leaders will continue to use Australia to enhance their collective power against the West. But at a personal level, this is an age of diaspora, of mobile workers, merged families, and rapid travel, when, as Salman Rushdie has said of Indians, every family has someone living abroad. Many children are growing up as “third culture kids” – living with languages and societies that are not those of their parents, who, in turn, have left those of their parents. Perhaps what is wrong with claims of an Asian Renaissance is their exclusivity and exceptionalism: perhaps in the 21st century a more appropriate goal would be an Asian Enlightenment, when Asians become citizens of the world, including of Australia, and when it is acknowledged that Asia’s and Australia’s boundaries are porous. Perhaps then, being Australian in Asia will also be more inclusive, and less debated.

106


107/112/LiMes/Caracc-Korinmann

6-10-2000

15:26

Pagina 107

A NEW SILK ROAD?

THERE IS NO AUSTRALASIA

by Michel

KORINMAN and Lucio CARACCIOLO

I

1. HE AUSTRALASIA OF COLONIAL ORIGINS lumped together in the same concept Australia, New Zealand and the nearby islands. It was the imperial province of the Far South, distinct from Asia. As John Foster Fraser wrote in 1910, “Australia, which is so vast that you could drop the British Isles upon it and not find again for years”. 1 The geographer Elisée Reclus, a great lover of toponymy, claimed enthusiastically: “If the lands from New Guinea to New Zealand were united to the main body, the surface that would emerge in the Pacific Ocean would be only slightly smaller than Europe”. 2 This idea of Australasia has resisted the test of time, as current British and American dictionaries confirm. 3 But in the 1980s and 1990s it has become fashionable in Australia to give the word a new meaning to describe the relationship between Australia and Asia. The Labour governments of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating (1983-1996) reached over to Asia attracted by its economic growth: now 60% of Australian exports are for Asian countries. Japan, South Korea, China/Hong Kong and Taiwan are Australia’s main trading partners together with the US. Back in 1975, having recognised Mao’s China, the Labour government of Edward Gough Whitlam approved Indonesia’s annexation of East Timor. Until 1999 this was Canberra’s dominant Asian policy; in turn Indonesia supports Australia’s integration in the regional organisations of Southeast Asia. 1. J.F. FRASER, Australia: The Making of a Nation, London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne 1910, Cassell and Company, p. 3. 2. E. RECLUS, Nouvelle Géographie Universelle, vol. XIV, “Océans et terres océaniques”, Hachette, Paris 1889, p. 711. 3. See, for example, the definitions of Australasia in the Longman Modern English Dictionary, Longman, London 1976, p. 72: “Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand and their insular territories”; Webster’s II / New Riverside Dictionary, Riverside, Boston 1984, p. 1437: “Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and associated islands”; The Encyclopedia Americana – International Edition, Danbury (Connecticut) 1984, vol. 2, p. 704: “Australia, New Zealand and nearby islands”; The Oxford Reference Dictionary, Clarendon, Oxford 1986, p. 54: “Australia, New Zealand and the nearby South Pacific islands”; same definition in the Wordsworth Encyclopedia, Wordsworth, Ware (Hertfordshire) 1995, vol. I, p. 161; The Times Atlas of the World, Times Books, London 1998, map at p. XIV: “New Guinea, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand and nearby islands” (8,923,000 km sq.).

107


107/112/LiMes/Caracc-Korinmann

6-10-2000

15:26

Pagina 108

THERE IS NO AUSTRALASIA

Some geographers have mapped this cultural shift. According to them, Australasia includes “the Australian continent and the large island of New Guinea”, the “Philippine and Indonesian islands”, and perhaps even Malaysia, whose “Eastern part, Sarawak, is, overseas, the Northern coast of Borneo”, while “the Malaysian peninsular is so long and thin that could be nearly be an island”. Indonesians and Malaysians belong to the same civilisation and to the world of Islam and are united by the “same mistrust towards the important Chinese minority”. 4 The background to all this are amusing “epistemological” digressions. This “geopolitical set” of 9 thousand km from North to South and from East to West (more or less the size of Africa), paradoxically should be able to spot “the emergence of potential conflict” from within: rich against poor, extreme demographic imbalance – an “empty” Australia of just 19 million inhabitants against an overpopulated Indonesia of 210 million people, with New Guinea as a “cushion zone” and “outlet” for Indonesia’s population excess. And lastly, there are threats to Australia from the “North”, which in fact is getting ready to counter them.5 We’ll leave it to the specialists to discuss the details of such arguments and just limit ourselves to registering the birth of this rather oxymorous “set”, as the (baroque) poet would say. A “set” constructed to demonstrate its non-existence. After all, there is nothing new in this. At the start of the nineteenth century, the Germanic tradition produced “Geochoren” to overcome natural obstacles to territorial expansion; later on the French “corèmes” of modern and “scientific” geography were invented to satisfy the commissioning institutions. And let us not forget to place the choregraphy of the late 1980s between the two, a peculiar “theory of sets” that demonstrated that such “sets” do not exist – for example in the case of Australia’s Nordpolitik. Enough of “epistemological” contortions! This debate does not make sense. As the Australian Ambassador in Rome Rory Steele explained to Limes: “There now is a national consensus on the uselessness of defining ourselves as Asian. It is better to think of us a part of the Pacific Asian region together with our allies the US and Canada”. 2. And now let’s move onto the basics. On August 11, Manila’s Business World and London’s The Times published some extracts of Joint Vision 2025, a Pentagon report. The study was conducted during the summer of 1999 at Newport’s US Naval War College, Rhode Island, with the participation of the CIA, of experts such as Graham Fuller of the Rand Corporation, Aaron Friedberg of Princeton University, Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute. The report’s “geopolitical” invariable is: the next enemy is China. Beijing’s government will mobilise nationalism to prop up its rickety legitimacy and will develop its nuclear potential. So various scenarios appear. For example: Chinese forces occupy a large part of the Philippines and attack Indonesia, “damaged by violence”, but are

108

4. Y. LACOSTE, “Australasie”, Hérodote, janvier-mars 1989, pp. 3, 10. 5. As above.


107/112/LiMes/Caracc-Korinmann

6-10-2000

15:26

Pagina 109

A NEW SILK ROAD?

stopped by the US Navy. Next, a military coup at Beijing. China intervenes in Siberia, in the Russian Far East, or in Kazakhstan to control its energetic resources. We are at the doorstep of a nuclear war. There is another more likely scenario – less pleasing to the Pentagon: China manages to isolate and de facto subjugate Japan, to neutralise the Indian “soft belly” and a by now unified Korea to assert its pre-colonial hegemony on Asia. Beijing would avoid a military confrontation with Washington that it would no doubt lose. For the Pentagon analysts, the worst-case scenario would be an IndianChinese power co-habitation over Asia, given that the US does not have enough military bases in Southeast Asia. A war between India and Pakistan would be a much better alternative, involving an American intervention against Islamabad and the explosion of both Pakistan and Taliban’s Afghanistan. In this case China would be the great loser, cut off while a new Indian confederation arises as the dominant power in the region, allied with a democratic Iran and the Gulf states – all together in an American-Asian axis. The Pentagon thus keeps its distance from the business lobbies and the government circles favourable to engagement with China, a strategy that aims to promote trade with China to force it to open up. The critics of this strategy believe that it would strengthen the enemy. Joint Vision 2025 supports a policy of containment, the isolation of China to avoid any alternative to American hegemony in Asia. Of course it is a report among many, blown up for the media, the publication of which was meant to “send a message” to Beijing. But President Clinton was not particularly surprised, if we believe The Times. The two sides that are confronting each other over American policy towards Asia do share one view: they think of the world in terms of macro-regions, of Grossräume, to use a definition of the German geopoliticians of the 1920s. Hence “Asia-Pacific” is fashionable, in America and elsewhere. 3. Australia is not even mentioned in what was made public of the Pentagon report. Fact is that the American analysts do not “choregraph” any kind of Australasia. In America the island-continent has nothing to do with Asia. And Washington knows all too well that Australia has always sided with the West – otherwise how could it feel secure? It was the then Australian Foreign Minister Percy Spender to develop a first taste of the “domino theory” in 1950. And then, from the mouths of the various Conservative Prime Ministers, flourished declarations of loyalty to the United States: Harold Holt in July 1966: “All the way with LBJ!” (in Vietnam, with Lyndon Baines Johnson, editor’s note); John Gorton in May 1968, for Richard Nixon: “We’ll a-waltzing Matilda with you” (the Australians will happily defend American interests in Vietnam to the notes of the unofficial national anthem); William McMahon in October 1972: “Where you go, we go”, still thinking about the war supposed to stop the expansion of communism in Asia.

109


107/112/LiMes/Caracc-Korinmann

6-10-2000

15:26

Pagina 110

THERE IS NO AUSTRALASIA

110

The Americans keep this in mind. But they do not trust the Labour governments very much (1972-75 and 1983-96), whose socialdemocratic geopolitics they often find irritating. Americans consider it a little bit to sly, because it uses the crucial alliance with Washington, tied somewhat loosely in the ANZUS (the Australia-New Zealand-United States pact), to allow itself very profitable economic openings towards Asia. But the US is worried about destabilisation in Asia, now that since 1991 there is no Soviet Union to counterbalance China. So there is no more room for the Australasian fiction. The “Howard doctrine” – from the title of an article of September 28, 1999 by the journalist Fred Brenchley in the Sydney Bulletin that referred to an interview with the Australian Prime Minister of September 17 – fits in the picture. Brenchley claims that John Howard himself appreciates the expression “Howard Doctrine”, which he then tries to minimise. On September 21, the Liberal leader remembers Palmerston’s statement to the Chamber of Representatives: in the long term, nations do not have friends but interests. The 1997 Asian crisis and the temporary interruption of the “miracle” have destabilised the region. More specifically, there are no security guarantees on the sea communication routes between Australia and the Far East. Canberra needs more than ever the American guardian, the world policeman of which Australia considers itself the deputy in Asia. The Australians will intervene in East Timor at the head of the InterFET mission, with the UN mandate to bring the area back to peace, and with the full backing of the US, which cannot afford another military expedition after Kosovo. The operation directed by General Peter Cosgrove is successful. This is a strategic turning point for Australia. Canberra can no longer limit itself to “continental defence”. Australians could enjoy a decisional and operative autonomy with regard to the vicinity of the island-continent, as prescribed by the 1980s doctrine. But there still is a question mark around the financing of the new strategy. To strengthen its armed forces, which now employ only 50 thousand full time men, Australia would have to increase its defence budget from 0.8 to 2.5% of GDP. But the Howard government itself cut 4 thousand jobs in the forces between 1996 and 1999. This is a big problem for the Americans: if Canberra sticks to a martial rhetoric without providing the necessary means to act as the Deputy Sheriff, the rest of the region could understand this attitude as a green light to the Asianisation of the military balance, a decline of American presence without its junior partner filling in the gap. The Asian “partners” – Thailand, Malaysia (traditionally hostile to “white” Australia’s integration in the Southeast Asian structures) and Indonesia – have no intention of granting the role of regional sub-protector to Australia. East Timor is a dangerous precedent. The Asians see Australia’s strong presence in the InterFET mission as a strategic rather than humanitarian objective. Does the West intend to start other military missions every time an Asian country shows signs of destabilisation?


107/112/LiMes/Caracc-Korinmann

6-10-2000

15:26

Pagina 111

A NEW SILK ROAD?

Indonesia is especially angry. It sees itself betrayed by Australia, the only Western nation that in 1989 had recognised its annexation of East Timor and had drawn a curtain of silence on Djakarta’s genocidal policy. Hence the incendiary bombs thrown in the Indonesian capital against the Australian embassy and the threats of economic retaliation that Indonesia will find other wheat and cotton suppliers. If the countries in the region ever believed in Australia’s Asian vocation, now they accuse Canberra of returning to a colonial past and denounce the “racist” attitudes of Australian officials. It is unlikely that there is unanimous consensus in Canberra on the strategic change. Some might fear the long-term consequences for a country in which the Asian population increases: around 5% today, estimated at 7.5% in 2031, and 40% of new arrivals in 1997-98, without mentioning the more general demographic weakness of the island-continent. Howard, worried about Asian reactions, will deny that he is trying to reduce his country to a sub-supplier of the United States, but it is too late… Asia locuta causa finita.

111


107/112/LiMes/Caracc-Korinmann

6-10-2000

15:26

Pagina 112


113-120/LiMes/deVienne

6-10-2000

15:26

Pagina 113

A NEW SILK ROAD?

WHAT IF DR MAHATHIR WAS RIGHT?

by Marie-Sybille

M

de VIENNE

ALAYSIA’S LONG-SERVING PRIME

Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad,1 was born on 20 December 1925 in Alor Setar, capital of the state of Kedah (looking over the Indian Ocean, on the borders between Thailand and Malaysia), where his father taught at the Malaysian primary school.2 He went to school in his hometown, firstly at the Malaysian school, then at the boarding school founded by the reigning sultan, Abdul Ahmid. His father being rather strict, he spent his time reading. Indeed, he ran the college library and acquired a solid general culture,3 which served as a prelude to a brilliant university career. Like many cultivated young Malaysians, he joined the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) from its creation (1946). This party aimed at defending Bramiputra’s (indigenous children) interests against the other ethnic groups, particularly the Asians and the British, whose views about Malaysian independence threatened the traditional referents of Malay political identity, sultanates, by putting forward a multiethnic state. Mahathirs’s “modernist populist” conscience emerged together with his political involvement in his community: in 1947 he won a place to study medicine and qualified in 1952. At first an assistant physician, he obtained a post in his town (1954). Later he married a colleague, Dr Hasmah,4 daughter of a Muslim dignitary, and eventually set up a private practice (1957). Finally freed from material concerns, Mahathir could develop his political choices within the UMNO. Becoming gradually known by the members of the 1. The distinction between Malaya and Malaysia will be kept. The first corresponds to the federation of the States in the Malay Peninsula, which lasted from 1957 to 1962; the second was adopted when Singapore and two others states in Northern Borneo, Sarawak and Sabah joined the peninsula in 1963. 2. At the end of the Second World War the situation in the peninsula was critical: it hosted three main ethnic groups, indigenous Malay (45% of the population), Chinese (35%) and Indian (15%). The Chinese community was mainly urban, and controlled the modern sectors of the economy; the majority of Malays were peasants; Indians were represented in the plantations and liberal professions. Moreover, while Chinese people organised a Communist guerrilla to resist Japan during the war, Malaysians partly collaborated. 3. “Dr. Mahathir’s world analysis”, Mainichi Daily News, April 6, 1999, www.mainichi.co.jp/english/mahathir/03.html 4. Hasmah’s father, Mohamed Ali, was Head of the Department for Religious Affairs in the State of Selangor: Mahathir and Hasmah had three sons, Mirzan, Mokhzani and Mukhriz, and two daughters, Marina and Melinda; they also adopted two other children.

113


113-120/LiMes/deVienne

6-10-2000

15:26

Pagina 114

WAT IF DR MAHATHIR WAS RIGHT?

upper class frequenting his practice, he began to manifest a growing interest for international affairs at a moment when the place and future of Malaya in the region took the centre stage in the political debate. When a deep regional crisis exploded because of the annexation by the Malay federation of Singapore and the two British territories Sarawak and Sabah, he appeared as the perfect man to represent Malaysia at the UN (1963). His political ascent thus started. From the beginning he presented himself as the champion of Malaysian national identity. In 1964 he was elected Member of Parliament (for UMNO) in Kota Setar,5 then in 1965 he became part of the ruling circles of the UMNO. In this position he directly participated in the decision to expel Singapore and to erode the socio-economical rights of the Chinese minority,6 who did not forget it. They indeed made life increasingly difficult for the coalition government UMNO-MCA7 (Malayan Chinese Association) and radicalised both electorates: the Chinese electorate turned its back on the MCA, and part of the Malays,8 considering the government too soft with the Chinese, did so with the UMNO. At the 1969 elections Mahathir lost his seat and went back to anonymity. He exited the political scene powerless, with no legal means to resume his political career and, what is more, at a moment when the government, faced with the gravity of the anti-Chinese clashes, suspended Parliament. Mahathir risked everything with a media coup: in the name of “malayty” he published Dilema melayu (The Malay Dilemma),9 so iconoclastic a description of the Malaysian cultural profile that the book was immediately censored but enjoyed a great diffusion under the counter. Reinvigorated by this success, Mahathir stuck to Malaysian radicalism, attacking the Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman in an open letter for neglecting Bramiputra people. The coup succeeded: he became famous even though he was expelled from the party and had lost his means of political expression. But Tunku Abdul Ahmal resigned; this eviction of one of the highest dignitaries on the political arena10 opened the way for the Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak,11 a committed Malaysian. On assuming high office in 1970, the latter launched a campaign based on training and investments to

114

5. One of the districts of the capital of Kedah; see ASEAN Who’s who,Kasuya Publishing, Kuala Lumpur 1992, vol. 3. 6. Malay became then the only national language and the Bramiputra businesses started receiving almost all available state funding. 7. Founded in 1949. 8. Including Sarawak and Sabah. 9. The Malay Dilemma, D. Moore for Asia Pacific Press, Singapore 1970. 10. Tunku Abdul Rahman (1903-1990) was the son of the Sultan of Kedah and of his sixth wife, a Thai princess; see TAN SRI DATUK MUBIN SHEPPARD, Tunku, His Life and Times: The Authorized Biography of Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj, Pelanduk Publications, Petaling Jaya 1995; by TUNKU himself, (with J.S. SOLOMON) Challenging Times, Pelanduk Publications, Petaling Jaya 1985; Lest We Forget: Further Candid Reminiscences, Eastern Universities Press, Petaling Jaya 1983. During the Japanese occupation (during which the Japanese gave Kedah to Thailand), Tunku Abdul Rahman was appointed Supervisor of education, thus becoming the superior of Mahathir’s father. 11. Tun Abdul Razak (1922-1976), son of a Malaysian dignitary of Pahang (a sultanate on the Eastern coast of Malaysia), was a jurist who trained in London at the end of the ’40s, where he created the Malaysian Forum.


113-120/LiMes/deVienne

6-10-2000

15:26

Pagina 115

A NEW SILK ROAD?

promote the Malay ethnic group.12 His government needed new as well as experienced political personalities: the successful and popular Dr Mahathir seemed the right choice. Mahathir was hence invited back into the party, and appointed head of the Council for Education. Faced with the possibilities opened by this position, he took the risk of leaving his practice and launched into a successful career. He was appointed Senator (1973), President of the FMA (a Bramiputra organisation for the development of the agro-industrial sector),13 Member of Parliament (1974), this time for the constituency of Kubang Pasu (located in Kedah as well, and offered to him on a golden plate as he was the only candidate), Minister of Education (1974), Deputy Prime Minister (1976), Minister of Commerce and Industry, and Vice-President of the UMNO; finally, Prime Minister (1981), an office he stills holds today.

An Increasingly Critical Stance towards the West Mahatir eventually fulfilled the role of a modern Malay, having managed both to remove the prerogatives of the traditional elites from Malay political life (by cutting back on sultans’ attributions, in 1993) and to weaken the Chinese position in the economy. This modernity finds a further expression in his skills in using modern communication technologies (he has a web-site14 and is responsible since February 1999 of a monthly review of one of the most important Japanese newspapers, the Mainichi Daily News). However, he also took the risk of opposing both the Malay elite and the Chinese communities. And he cannot expect any support from the Muslim extremists, either. They are, in fact, his direct political rivals, for they also aim at the Malay electorate. Hence, everything seems to lead him towards a Western model and vision.15 Yet, far from being an emulator of Western values, Mahathir has imposed himself as one of its main detractors with aggressive as well as coherent diagnostics. During his political activity at the head of the country, he has developed his thesis in some ten books: Challenge (1986);16 Regionalism, Globalism and Spheres of Influence (1989);17 The Voice of Asia; Two Leaders Discuss the Coming Century,18 with Ishihara Shintaro (1995);19 Europe and the 12. The Malaysians’ revenue was at that time less than 40% that of the Chinese, and their influence in the modernisation process derisory (less than 2% against 36%, the rest remaining in the hand of Westerners). 13. Kumpalan Fiam bhd, a governmental agency with the task of developing the sector: it started in 1972 with pineapple plantations and was later privatised thanks to Bramiputra’s capitals. 14. www.smpke.jpm.my 15. He ordered the construction of a Versailles replica by a French architect, in Putra Yava. 16. The Challenge, Pelanduk Publications, Petaling Jaya 1986 (translated from the Malay Cabaran!). 17. Regionalism, Globalism, and Spheres of Influence: ASEAN and the Challenge of Change into the 21st century, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore 1989. 18. MAHATHIR MOHAMAD & SHINTARO ISHIHARA, The Voice of Asia: Two Leaders Discuss the Coming Century, translated by F. BALDWIN, Kodansha International, Tokyo & New York 1995. 19. ISHIHARA, a strong nationalist, wrote with AKIO MORITA (founder of Sony) A Japan That Can Say No, Why Japan Will Be First among Equals, Simon & Schuster, New York 1991; he was elected governor of To¯kyo¯ in 1999.

115


113-120/LiMes/deVienne

6-10-2000

15:26

Pagina 116

WAT IF DR MAHATHIR WAS RIGHT?

Islamic World: Correcting Perceptions, the Way to Better Understanding (1998);20 The Way Forward (1998);21 The Challenges of Turmoil (1998);22 A New Deal for Asia (1999).23 The first book’s topics are mainly economic and technical. Every time Malaysia has undergone an economic crisis, since 1985, the presumed adept of Anglo-Saxon methods pointed his finger at Western hegemony. World history is, according to him, “a series of conquests and subjugations by the strong over the weak,”24 the world economy being nothing but a power relation among diverging interests. 25 Liberalisation of capital 26 and goods 27 (which has nourished a “generalised monetary speculation”)28 has done nothing but reinforce Western supremacy, never as strong as today. Over the years, he has denounced a sociological manipulation: international institutions are structurally organised to maintain Western hegemony. The winners of the Second World War have attributed to themselves a right of veto, which fundamentally contradicts the democratic functioning of the UN. 29 Under the aegis of the UN, the West manipulates weapons, maintaining “a fear of a war, a clash between China and Japan”,30 which nourishes the arms race in Asia. The danger, however, does not come from there, as all the area’s military budgets put together cannot compete with the $265 billion of one Western country”.31 According to Dr Mahathir, however, the worst manipulation is an ideological one. The West wants to impose, in fact, its own cultural paradigm on the rest of the world.32 Yet the universality of its values is contradicted by the mere existence of Asian societies,33 and if put in their historical context, they would be rightly

116

20. Europe and the Islamic World: Correcting Perceptions, the Way to Better Relations, Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur 1998. 21. The Way Forward, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London 1998 (deals with socio-economic relations among the different ethnic groups in Malaysia and with the “New Economic Policy”, operative since 1970). 22. The Challenges of Turmoil, Pelanduk Publications, Subang Jaya 1998. 23. A New Deal for Asia, Pelanduk Publications, Subang Jaya 1999. 24. Ucapan Perdana Menteri (speech of the Prime Minister), opening session of International association of historians of Asia, July 27, 2000, Magellan Sutra Hotel, Kota Kinabalu. 25. Ucapan Perdana Menteri, To¯kyo¯, speech for the 6th international conference on “The future of Asia” organised by the Nikkei Shimbun, September 6, 2000. 26. Ucapan Perdana Menteri, speech given in Maputo, Mozambique (one of the poorest countries in the world) for the conference “Global 2000 international smart partnership”, August 21, 2000. In this occasion, Mahathir referred to financial markets traders as “cash cows”. 27. Daily transactions rose from $15 billion in 1973 to more than $900 billion in 1992. In 2000 these will amount to more than $1000 billion a day; Ucapan Perdana Menteri, “Global 2000 international smart partnership”, August 21, 2000. 28. Hong-Kong, Annual meeting of the World Bank, September 20, 1997. 29. Ucapan Perdana Menteri, International association of historians of Asia, July 27, 2000. 30. Ucapan Perdana Menteri, “The Future of Asia”; Mahathirs’ position might be supported by the Penthagon report Joint vision 2025 (see Korinman and Caracciolo’s article). 31. Ucapan Perdana Menteri, “Towards Asian Renaissance”, New Asia Forum, Kuala Lumpur, November 1, 1996. 32. “You must accept democracy and human rights, otherwise you will see how we, the democratic, will forcefully eliminate your rights and your freedom of self-determination”, International association of historians of Asia, July 27, 2000. 33. “Towards Asian Renaissance”.


113-120/LiMes/deVienne

6-10-2000

15:26

Pagina 117

A NEW SILK ROAD?

THE ASEAN STATES

Wenzhou

ASEAN countries Fuzhou

C

INDIA

H

I

N

A

Hanoi LAOS 5,000,000

LAOS

THAILAND

CAMBODIA 11,300,000

Bangkok

Phnom Pehn

VIETNAM 77,000,000

South China Sea

Manila

PHILIPPINES 73,000,000

Indian Ocean

at

Pacific Ocean

V

Kota Kinabalu Sabah BRUNEI A Y S I A L A ak M MALAYSIA aw Kuala Lumpur Sar 21,000,000

m

400 km

Ho Chi Minh City

THAILAND 61,000,000

Su

0

Philippine Sea

IE

Yangon

Other town PHILIPPINES

Hainan

Vientiane

1997 estimates Capital city

Hong Kong

TNAM

MYANMAR

COUNTRY Population

TA I WA N

Guangzhou MYANMAR 46,600,000

Taipei

SINGAPORE 3,000,000

Halmahera

Kalimantan

Sulawesi

Banjarmasin

ra

Palembang

Celebes Sea

I

N

D

O

N

E

S

I

A

Buru

Banda Sea

INDONESIA 200,000,000

Jacarta

Java

Irian Jaya

Seram

Arafura Sea Timor AUSTRALIA

considered a historical accident. Western infallibility is all but against the facts: “We, the Malay people, would have remained a British colony had it not been for the Japanese conquest, which revealed that those who seemed invincible were not such”.34 At the end of the day, “the Western model will vanish just as those who preceded it”. “All systems – be they feudal, republican, capitalist, socialist, or communist – have been regarded as faith”, and consequently any questioning of them was considered heresy. The reality is, however, that they have been questioned. The same destiny will “when the time is right, come for democracy” as for all human ideas: “All systems with which Mankind thought to improve society were imperfect and became more so when clever people sanctified it”.35 To conclude, according to Mahathir, the West continues to put its hands on its presumed universality precisely because it is the only ideological instrument that is left to the only survivor of the Cold War: the West itself.36

34. As above. 35. “The Future of Asia”. 36. International association of historians of Asia, July 27, 2000.

117


113-120/LiMes/deVienne

6-10-2000

15:26

Pagina 118

WAT IF DR MAHATHIR WAS RIGHT?

Who really is Dr Mahathir? The apparent contradiction between the image of a modernist Malay politician, a pro-Westerner, and an increasingly anti-Western agenda remains to be explained. A first level of explanation could consist in the fact that the person Mahathir cannot be explained solely on the basis of his “malayty”, his true character being much more complex. Certainly, his mother was Malay, from Kedah, a region belonging at different times to the Siam area. But his father was Indian, which relates him to foreign minorities. This melting pot is reproduced in the following generation, as two out of five of his children married foreigners.37 To this, one must add a hybrid education in the name of modernity: Mahathir studied at the University of Malaya in Singapore, an English speaking but culturally Chinese territory, and attended a Harvard course in international affairs (1967). Moreover, he published in Malay as well as in English. His Muslim dimension too – which is more than evident when he calls himself Malay as all Malays are Muslim – should be understood as a sign of modernism. At an Islamic conference he dared say that the reason for the lack of success of Islam’s universalistic project lied in Muslim people themselves, adding that to prepare oneself for the other world while refusing education and science in this one, is a way to ignore Allah’s will.38 His diatribe with George Soros39 (during the FMI summit) is better explained by a desire to highlight the financial menace,40 rather than by anti-Semitism.41 The latter is a general characteristic of every politician at the head of a Muslim country who, as such, must be officially anti-Semitic ever since the creation of Israel. Hence, behind a first impression of Dr Mahathir as a modern Malay, there is a more complex man of networks, which far from being hazardous constitutes a

118

37. His eldest son married a Chinese, related to Liem Sioe Liong (alias Sudono Salim) owner of the first Indonesian industrial conglomerate (Salim Group) and a Suharto partner; admittedly Mahathir was not enthusiastic about this marriage. His eldest daughter married in the ‘80s a French man working for the Club Méditerranée. 38. According to Mahathir, the process of industrialisation failed because of divisions within the Islamic world, whereas a disproportionate focus on doctrinal questions put an halt to the cognitive process: see Ucapan Perdana Menteri, inaugurating speech for the 7th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, Kuala Lumpur, June 27, 2000; see also his Perspectives on Islam and the Future of Muslims, Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM), Kuala Lumpur 1993. 39. Soros Quantum Investment Fund gained $1 billion in profits speculating with the pound in 1992: see BBC News, December 6, 1998, news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/business: “Mr Soros has aspirations to be more than a speculator…”; later the market turned his back on him as Mr Soros lost a large amount of money in 1998, forcing him to close a fund and restructure another one. Yet his book, The Crisis of Global Capitalism, Public Affairs, New York 1998, does not entirely contradict Dr Mahathir’s views on financial matters (BBC News, December 4, 1998). However, this does not stop the two to hate one another: Mr Soros publicly ask for Dr Mahathirs’ resignation. 40. The crisis had as a consequence the eviction of the potential heir and Ministry of Finances Anwar Ibrahim: father of 6, former responsible of the association of Muslim students, he was accused of corruption and sodomy, and sentenced to 6 years in 1999. 41. A strong feeling of anti-Semitism gives to Mahathir a politically correct image: with regard to this, he prohibited S. Spielberg’s Schindler’s List in 1993. See J. SIKES end P. ENGARDIO, “Malaysia’s Mahathir: Leading a Crusade against the West”, Business Week, April 25, 1994.


113-120/LiMes/deVienne

6-10-2000

15:26

Pagina 119

A NEW SILK ROAD?

sociological type, as old as the peninsula itself. In fact, by virtue of its geopolitical situation, Malaysia needs to operate a synthesis of the different influences it came in contact with in order to exist. This situation mirrors the more general one of Southeast Asia. Mahathir thus plays the role of spokesperson of the area, with the mission of contrasting the strong threat represented by the US. To do this, he deliberately chooses provocation as his communication style, which for a small but rich country (big oil exporter, with a stock market capital corresponding to half that of Germany, and above world average) is the surest, and safest, way to be heard. Japan, (the second world power and the first world creditor at the end of the last century) is in his eyes the perfect example for contradicting the universality of Western values and, as such, the perfect example of a modern Asian model. As Western outspoken critic is has all credentials: his father supported the India ultra nationalist Hose, who fought the Japanese during the Second World War.42 Mahathir hence perfectly represents Southeast Asia, a structurally fragile region surrounded by three Empires, Indian, Chinese and Javanese.43 As a result, local identities underwent a twofold process. On one hand, they became politically isolated being attached to their cultural specificity. On the other, the integration of the area was possible thanks to Chinese, Indian, and Arab diasporas who controlled goods and capital circulation To conclude, Mahathir appears neither a buffoon nor a nationalist. He rather illustrates the situation of an area 44 which, energing from a fifty-year period of decolonisation and more than a century of colonisation, wants “to decide things for itself”.45 Taking as his the debate about Asian values, launched by Leen Kuan Yew at the beginning of the ‘90s, he has won over other Asian countries. They indeed declared in Bangkok in 1994 that “if unspecific human rights are universal, then one must consider them in a dynamic process of putting in place international norms, considering the regional and national particularism”.46 Moreover one must acknowledge that the attitude of Western propagandists

42. See the ambassador R.D. PALMER, “Globalism vs. Economic Nationalism: The Southeast Asia Case”, American Diplomacy, www.unc.edu.depts/diplomat/amdipl 12/palmer global1.htm. Subah Chandra Bose (1897-1945), was elected president of All India Trade Union Congress in 1938, with the explicit mission of contrasting the British. The following year, however, he broke off with Gandhi, whom he found too conciliating. Bose founded the Forward Block and launched an anti-British campaign. He fled to Germany in January 1941, where he founded the Free India Centre, then left to South East India. He became an ally of Japan, which in turn helped him organise a liberation army (Azad Hind Fauz) and instaure a provisory government in Singapore. This army managed to take over a part of British India (today Manipur, near Burma), thanks to the support of many Southeast Indians. 43. See the Majapahit Empire (14-15th centuries), around Java. It stretched over a great portion of today Indonesia. 44. See G. SHERIDAN, Asian Values Western Dreams: Understanding the New Asia, Allen & Unwin, London 2000. 45. Executive Intelligence Review, February 19, 1999, interview of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad. 46. Preparation meeting for the World Conference on Human Rights.

119


113-120/LiMes/deVienne

6-10-2000

15:26

Pagina 120

WAT IF DR MAHATHIR WAS RIGHT?

nourishes Dr Mahathir irredentism, the former showing no complex whatsoever about their past as oppressors, and talking with great arrogance. Warren Christopher’s words, uttered in the mid ‘90s, perfectly illustrate the case: “There is only one way of acting which is acceptable on a world level, and the US will apply it in every country (…) we cannot make of cultural relativism the last refuge of repression”.

120


121-134/occhLiMes/Martellini

6-10-2000

15:28

Pagina 121

A NEW SILK ROAD?

THE EUROPEAN POLICY TOWARDS KOREA by Paolo COTTA-RAMUSINO and Maurizio MARTELLINI

K

OREA PRESENTS SOME UNIQUE

aspects in the present-day international situation. Firstly, it is the last country still divided between a Communist and a non-Communist state, both of which are internationally recognised. Korea has been resisting unification for more than a decade following the collapse of the Soviet Union and still now it is totally unclear when its unification will happen. Secondly, North Korea experienced in the recent past an incredibly severe economic hardship, something that is generally unexpected in an industrialised and (formerly) developed country during peacetime. Finally North Korea has been on the forefront among the countries that are “of concern” regarding nuclear and missile proliferation. These three problems are correlated and ways out should be sought that would address the complexity of the Korean situation. Let us first start with a quick review of some economic indicators of the Democratic People Republic of Korea (DPRK). The 1990s have been characterised as the “lost decade” for North Korea. Practically all the economic and social indicators are written in red ink. For instance: (1) The variations of North Korea’s GNP have been consistently negative from 1990 to 1998. Estimates of the decrease of GNP are highly dependent on the assumptions made. According to one estimate of the Bank of Korea, 1 the variations of North Korea’s GNP are as follows: 1990: -3.7%; 1991: -5.1%; 1992: -7.7%; 1993: -4.2%; 1994: -1.8%; 1995: -4.6%; 1996: -3.7%; 1997: -6.8%; 1998: -1.1%. The corresponding per capita GNP decreased from $1064 in 1990 to $573 in 1998. Only in 1999 can we see a modest GNP increase and a modest improvement of the economic situation. This dramatic drop of North Korea’s economic conditions can be related to specific environmental problems (such as climatic events affecting the agricultural production), but more fundamentally to the demise of the Socialist political and economic community. 1. Reported in J.A.B. WINDER “The Economic Dynamics of the Korean Peninsula Peace Process” (May 26, 2000), available at the website of the Korea Economic Institute of America (www.keia.org). See also P.M. B ECK , “Beyond balancing: Economic Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula”, paper presented at the US Korean Security Studies 14th Annual Conference, October 27-30, 1999.

121


121-134/occhLiMes/Martellini

6-10-2000

15:28

Pagina 122

THE EUROPEAN POLICY TOWARD KOREA

(2) North Korea’s external trade declined probably by a factor 3 in the period 1990-1998.2 To explain the decline in trade one should take into account the fact that, since the beginning of the 1990s, the traditional trade partners of the DPRK, namely the Socialist countries and particularly Russia, stopped subsidising the DPRK and required commercial transactions in convertible currencies. China continues to supply the DPRK with some food and combustibles but to a degree that has been insufficient to sustain the basic needs of the DPRK. (3) Energy production and consumption, and food production dramatically declined during the 1990s. The grain production fell from 8 million tons in 1990 to 2.5 million tons in 1996. In the same period the consumption of fertilisers fell by a factor 6, while energy, oil and coal supplies all decreased by more than a factor 2.3 By comparison the Chinese contribution of grain is now of the order of magnitude of 1-2 million tons per year. (4) The problem of DPRK’s energy production (and distribution) is aggravated by the status of the electric infrastructure that relies entirely on old, worn out Soviet equipment. A modernisation of this infrastructure would require access to modern technology and to foreign investments that are at present unavailable. The consequence of this has been an increased reliance on the rationing of both energy and food with priorities given to the military and political apparatus. (5) The agricultural production during the 1990s has been also affected by adverse climatic conditions, but the drop of external trade (implying the decrease of agricultural supplies from abroad) or, in other words, the increasing reliance on autarchy (the so called “ju-che” policy) probably is more relevant to explain the agricultural failure.4 The net result is that, despite Chinese and other international help, the food situation in North Korea caused an unknown number of faminerelated fatalities (maybe over a million) and an incredible hardship for the citizens of the DPRK. In this the rural areas have been much more affected than the urban ones that are accorded a more privileged status by the present regime. The political situation of North Korea is also peculiar among the (former) Socialist countries. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the cooperation between the DPRK and the countries of the former Soviet block was sharply reduced (including military assistance). An alternative option (in theory) would have been for the DPRK to shift to more extensive cooperation with countries with market economies. Examples of similar shifts were not missing including China itself, or Vietnam. But this opening would have probably jeopardised the very existence of the DPRK. After all there was already a capitalist Korea, and the example of the end of East Germany, and of the destiny of the

122

2. As above. 3. J. H. WILLIAMS, D. VON HIPPEL, P. HAYES “Fuel and Famine: Rural Energy Crisis in the DPRK”, Policy Papers 46 of the Institute on Global Conflicts and Cooperation (IGCC), University of California San Diego (2000) available at http://www-igcc.ucsd.edu/publications/. 4. H. SMITH, Y. HUANG “Achieving Food Security in North Korea”, contributed paper to the Forum on Promoting International Scientific Cooperation in the Korean Peninsula, (Landau Network - Centro Volta and Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Rome, June 1-2, 2000.


121-134/occhLiMes/Martellini

6-10-2000

15:28

Pagina 123

A NEW SILK ROAD?

leaders of most of the other socialists states, was not projecting a bright future for the DPRK and its leadership. Another obstacle to such cooperation had to do with the past behaviour of the DPRK, characterised by unpaid debts, the default being almost immediate and “recidivous upon repeated rescheduling”.5 The total amount of the defaulted debt relevant to the period 1970-75 is $1.2 billion in hard currency.6 Finally, the goal of Korean unification was traditionally seen by the leadership of the DPRK as the prevalence of a strong North over a weak and unstable South. As a symbol of strength, the DPRK always made an outstanding (political and economic) effort to keep a strong armed force (1.25 million men in 1987.7 In the 1990s the situation may have looked rather different and more worrisome to the leaders of North Korea. By 1992 all the countries of the former Socialist block (including China) had recognised South Korea. Differently from the case of the DPRK, the economic development of South Korea has been outstanding (despite the 1997 crisis) The GNP of South Korea is now more than 40 times bigger than the one of the North and the per capita GNP is over 20 times bigger. Compared with South Korea the North appears politically isolated and a dwarf from the economic point of view. It was the military strength, the missile production and the nuclear program that had the effect of keeping the DPRK at the front stage of international politics.

North Korea and Nuclear Weapons The motivations that influenced Kim Il Sung to begin the nuclear military programme somehow between 1989 and 1990 may include: (1) The desire to maintain and enhance North Korea’s security in a very difficult time. The DPRK had problems with her major military allies: the Soviet Union was in disarray and China was dialoguing and expanding trade with South Korea and the West. In the meantime the DPRK had to continue facing an opponent armed with nuclear weapons, namely the US. (2) The assumption that nuclear weapons may be cheaper than large conventional forces. (3) The desire to acquire political and diplomatic attention in the international arena and obtain consequently political and economic advantages. In about three years (1990-93) the DPRK shifted from denying any nuclear weapon program to threatening the withdrawal from the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that it signed in 1985. This happened despite some events that should have partially eased the security concerns of the DPRK. In 1991 the US withdrew all nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula and the two Koreas signed a joint declaration pledging “not to test, produce, receive, possess, deploy or use any nuclear weapons” and “not to possess nuclear reprocessing and uranium 5. As above. 6. See note 1. 7. N. EBERSTADT, “The End of North Korea”, The American Enterprise Institute, Washington DC 1999.

123


121-134/occhLiMes/Martellini

6-10-2000

15:28

Pagina 124

THE EUROPEAN POLICY TOWARD KOREA

enrichment facilities”.8 The DPRK announced her intention to withdraw from the NPT on March 12, 1993 and the Agreed framework between the US and the DPRK was concluded on October 21, 1994. During this 19-month crisis there was a major risk of nuclear proliferation involving a country that is part of the NPT. The risk of war was also considerably high, as appears from the July 1993 statement of President Clinton that if North Korea developed and used nuclear weapons, the US “would quickly and overwhelmingly retaliate. It would mean the end of their country as they know it”.9 An indisputable merit of the Agreed Framework was exactly the capping of this serious danger of nuclear proliferation and of a major international crisis, by freezing the nuclear weapons capabilities of the DPRK at the 1993 level (enough to construct few bombs, about two). The provisions of the Agreed Framework (replacement of graphite-moderated reactors in the DPRK with light-water reactors, delivery of 500,000 tons annually of heavy oil, disposal of the North-Korean spent fuel) clearly place some economic burden on the US and on the international consortium (KEDO) that was instituted for the implementation of the Agreed Framework. But the perspective of a more peaceful and stable situation in the Korean Peninsula certainly offsets these financial costs. But the limits of the Agreed framework (and of KEDO) are intrinsic: the Agreed Framework is not aimed at addressing the global economic, agricultural and even energetic problems of the DPRK. It is only aimed at addressing the specific threat of nuclear proliferation with a compromise solution that keeps the DPRK inside the NPT. Also it is not aimed at addressing the problems related to the missile program of the DPRK. The uncertainties concerning the future of the Agreed Framework are many: first it is practically certain that the deadline of 2003 for the completion of the LWRs (Light Water Reactors) in the DPRK will not be met. Moreover, before delivering key elements that would make the reactors operational, many legal requirements have to be satisfied, including a precise accounting by the IAEA of all DPRK past and current nuclear activities. Before the new reactors become operational, many technical problems have to be addressed, and not minor ones! The present DPRK’s electric grid is unable to receive the electricity from the new LWRs under safe conditions. Dramatic improvements should be made that would be expensive and will take time. How the DPRK will react, facing the missed deadline of 2003 is yet to be seen. But it should be evident that the problems related to the implementation of the Agreed Framework are to be addressed in a more comprehensive approach that would take other aspects of the Korean crisis into consideration, such as the missile programmes, economic and political cooperation between the two Koreas

124

8. See R. COSSA, “The US-DPRK Agreed Framework. Is Still Viable? Is it Enough?”, Pacific Forum, CSIS, Honolulu 1999. 9. As above.


121-134/occhLiMes/Martellini

6-10-2000

15:28

Pagina 125

A NEW SILK ROAD?

and more generally the economic cooperation between the DPRK and the external world.

DPRK’s Missile Programme The DPRK acquired short range ballistic missiles (SBRM) in the ’60s and ’70s from both China and USSR. Indigenous production of SBRM’s began at the end of the ’70s with the Hwasong series. The original military rationale for the production of such missiles was the need to hit directly the main targets in South Korea. The Hwasong missiles are modifications and adaptations of the Russian Scuds. International cooperation with Egypt has been apparently fundamental for the development of the DPRK missile programme.10 A reorganisation of the DPRK missile production facilities went underway in the late 1980s. The short range missile Hwasong 6 was the first result of this reorganisation. It is a missile of about 500 km range with a warhead of about 700 kg. There may have been produced something between 600 and 1000 Hwasong 5/6 missiles of which between 300 and 500 have been sold to foreign countries.11 These countries include Iran, Syria, Egypt, possibly Libya. The price of a Hwasong 6 missile is thought to be about $2 million.12 The production and export of SRBM has become then an important source of revenues for the DPRK. The production of Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBM) began in the 1990s with the so-called No-dong missile with a range of 1300-1500 km and more recently with the Taepo-dong missile with a range of 2500 km. In both cases the weight of the warhead is most likely between 700 and 1000 kg.13 As for the shorter range missiles there are two motivations to be taken into account for the DPRK’s production of IRBM: a desire to improve the military capabilities of its armed forces and the possible advantages deriving from the selling of the missiles and/or of the related technologies to other countries. In this respect we notice that the Pakistani Ghauri missile is an adaptation of the No-dong and so is the Iranian Shehab 3. The next step for the DPRK may be the acquisition of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM). Already the modified Taepo-dong tested over Japan in August 1998 has apparently a range of about 4000 km. The new Taepo-dong 2 should have a range of over 6000 Km. The DPRK’s missiles programmes raised a general concern in the international community and particularly in the US. The first concern comes from the spread of SRBM to critical areas like the Middle East where a short range missile has a “strategic significance”. A second concern comes from the fact that IRBM, and more so ICBM, are military useless unless the relevant warhead contains a nuclear 10. J. BERMUDEZ JR., “A History of Ballistic Missile Development in the DPRK”, CNS Monterey Institute of International Studies, Occasional Paper, 2, 1999. 11. As above. 12. As above. 13. As above.

125


121-134/occhLiMes/Martellini

6-10-2000

15:28

Pagina 126

THE EUROPEAN POLICY TOWARD KOREA

(or chemical or biological) weapon. A conventional warhead on a missile with a relatively low degree of accuracy (as is presumably the case of DPRK’s missiles) will not be effective in war and will be extremely costly. So the danger derives from the combination of longer range missiles with weapons of mass destruction. A word of caution is needed at this point. Having a long range missile and a weapon of mass destruction separately is not the end of the story: one needs also to adapt the warhead to the missile. This adaptation may constitute a serious technical problem since one wants the warhead to resist the heat and the severe stress experimented during the flight. More fundamentally one has a compatibility problem between warhead and missile that involves the design of the weapon itself. So even if the DPRK had an intercontinental missile and the capability to build few [crude] nuclear weapons, it would be premature to cry wolf and assume that the DPRK would be on the verge of having the capability to hit a target at intercontinental distance with nuclear missiles. Concerns about the missile program of the DPRK are now extensively used as the main motivations to justify the National Missile Defence (NMD) project in the US and similar programmes for the defence against theatre ballistic missiles in East Asia. So we see the beginning of a chain reaction: the missile programme of the DPRK, the antimissile programmes of the US, a possible increase of the ICBM fleet of China that may feel its deterrent power to be diminished by a US NMD, a possible Indian reaction to Chinese actions and again a possible Pakistani reaction to India. It is then of paramount importance that a negotiated stop of the DPRK missile programme is carried on as soon as possible. Already some openings exist on the DPRK side. The best solution would probably be to carry on an agreement where the interruption of the DPRK’s missile programmes may be compensated by the end of the Western sanctions and embargo against the DPRK and by the removal of DPRK from the US list of terrorism-sponsoring states.14 The problem of the long range missile programmes of the DPRK may be confronted with an approach bearing some similarity with the approach of the Agreed Framework. In both cases the solution may lie in a diplomatic setting where restraints are compensated with reassurance and concessions of political and economic nature.

Economic and Political Cooperation with North Korea The recent Summit between the leaders of the two Koreas (June 2000) highlighted the possibility of a different political cooperation in the Korean peninsula. Everybody agrees that it is too soon to have overly optimistic

126

14. L. SIGAL, “Negotiating an End to North Korea’s Missile-Making”, contributed paper to the Forum on Promoting International Scientific Cooperation in the Korean Peninsula, (Landau Network - Centro Volta and Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Rome, June 1-2, 2000.


121-134/occhLiMes/Martellini

6-10-2000

15:28

Pagina 127

A NEW SILK ROAD?

expectations, not to mention prospects of Korean unification. It is also too soon to evaluate the results of the Summit. The suspicion has been raised that for now the results are essentially cosmetic in nature. As an example, we notice that even a relatively easy problem as family reunification (involving at maximum 80,000 people) has been treated with an outstanding degree of bureaucratic stiffness. But the Intra-Korean dialogue, the cornerstone of the pacification of the region, is a reality. Interestingly enough, the Summit happened after a period of dramatic increase of the Intra-Korean trade. From 1990 to 1999 the Intra-Korean trade rose from a negligible amount to over $300 million.15 South Korea is now the biggest source of hard currency for North Korea. If the Intra-Korean economic exchange and political dialogue is the most promising recent evolution, the cooperation between the DPRK and some Western states is also important. Italy and Australia recently recognised the government of the DPRK; this is an example that could be easily followed by other states. An international Forum on the Korean Peninsula was organised in Rome by the LNCV (Landau - Centro Volta) and by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 1-2, 2000, just before the meeting between the two Koreas. The Forum had a wide international participation of governmental and non-governmental institutions, and was concluded with an appeal to the international organisations to foster dialogue and cooperation in Korea (see Annex). Cooperation and dialogue between North Korea and the countries with market economies should be promoted. This cooperation should address mainly different areas of North Korean economic and civic life such as the rehabilitation of the energy production and distribution infrastructure, the improvement of health service, the restructuring of agriculture. In the aftermath of the Summit between the leaders of North and South Korea in June 2000, the EU needs to reflect on its role with regard to the Korean Peninsula and with the DPRK in particular. The start of an inter-Korean dialogue and intensified contacts between the DPRK and a number of other nations have created a momentum that should not be missed, lest the EU be marginalised. This is the time to intensify the EU-DPRK political dialogue and to break new ground for cooperation between the EU and North Korea aimed at the latter’s economic recovery and development and its integration into the international community.

An Enhanced EU Role in North Korea There are three main reasons for EU engagement with North Korea. (1) The need to promote peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, as well as security in the region. After half a century, the state of war must end. So must North Korea’s threats to the region and beyond. Isolation will only lead to further 15. See note 1.

127


121-134/occhLiMes/Martellini

6-10-2000

15:28

Pagina 128

THE EUROPEAN POLICY TOWARD KOREA

128

radicalisation of the regime and more human misery in the country. Promoting regional and international security is also consistent with the EU policies of the recent past. (2) North Korea urgently needs assistance with its social and economic development. We cannot afford to look the other way even if we may be dismayed by some of the regime’s policies and its human rights record. (3) The EU has an interest in taking a stake in the development of the North Korean economy, which would only be enhanced after unification, with a combined population of approximately 70 million. The economic vibrancy of the region as a whole should also be taken into consideration. Now that North and South Korea are publicly committed to reconciliation through dialogue and concrete cooperative programmes and that many countries are seeking to normalise their relations with Pyongyang, EU policy towards the DPRK should move beyond its present scope, which is limited to a political dialogue, annual financial contributions to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisation (KEDO) and humanitarian assistance, especially food aid. By extending the dialogue into engagement through cooperation, the EU would fall into step with and strengthen the engagement policies of its partners in KEDO, thereby reinforcing international policy objectives such as DPRK accession to non-proliferation regimes and its continued moratorium on missile testing. The EU should also coordinate closely with other countries that have a political leverage on the DPRK and that have shown a readiness to support it economically, such as China and Russia. Involving regional countries in an action plan for North Korea’s economic rehabilitation could serve as an important regional confidencebuilding approach which could induce Pyongyang to adopt the necessary policies. The geographical distance of the EU from Northeast Asia makes it an acceptable, useful and welcome non-regional partner in an evolving multilateral process. Continued financial support for KEDO activities is an obvious first option for providing EU assistance to North Korea. Euratom membership since 1997 has been highly appreciated by the other three members of the KEDO Executive Board, the US, South Korea and Japan. The EU Council is likely to extend the EU contribution to KEDO for 2001-2006 to a level of almost half the US annual contribution of $35 million. The Agreed Framework and KEDO have been essential in averting a crisis and initiating cooperation with North Korea. But they do not provide a framework for EU policy. Hence the need to look beyond. If current political trends persist, KEDO need not remain the sole avenue to cooperation with North Korea. In addition to provide continued support to KEDO, the EU should consider throwing in its economic weight in order to strengthen South Korea and international efforts towards integration of the DPRK in the international community. Given the economic situation in the DPRK and taking Pyongyang’s own priorities – power, agriculture and infrastructure – as a starting point, EU support in one or more of these sectors seems natural. Among these options a strong case


121-134/occhLiMes/Martellini

6-10-2000

15:28

Pagina 129

A NEW SILK ROAD?

can be made for the rehabilitation of the power sector, especially of the DPRK electrical power grid and/or assistance in the field of energy efficiency. There are two reasons for this preference. First, power is rightly viewed as a DPRK priority. The North Korea economy badly needs to upgrade its national electrical power grid in order to be able to attract foreign investment as well as for domestic needs. With around 5000 megawatt, annual power generation in North Korea is down to less than 25% compared to ten years ago. Lack of reliable power has brought down economic development and accounts for social disruption. A no less important reason is the need for continuity and consistency. The rehabilitation of the power sector in the power sector would complement the $4,6 billion investment in North Korea’s energy sector through the KEDO Light Water Reactor project, to which the EU has contributed 75 million euro since 1996. The Action Plan would thus reinforce the effect of funds provided to the DPRK by the EU and its KEDO partners. Interaction between two activities within one sector, for example the power sector, would add value to both. Beyond being a welcome downstream complement of the KEDO-LWR project, to upgrade the electrical power grid in North Korea is also technically necessary for the successful completion of the LWR, as both reactors will need to be duly tested before their ownership can be handed over to the DPRK.

Executive Summary of the International Forum on “Promoting International Scientific, Technological and Economic Cooperation in the Korean Peninsula: Enhancing Stability and International Dialogue”, Istituto Diplomatico Mario Toscano, Villa Madama, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rome, June 1-2, 2000.

Fostering Dialogue and Cooperation in Korea The Korean Peninsula is one of the most critical areas of the world, where long-term hostile relations have been coupled with the presence of strong military forces, the risk of nuclear proliferation and the proliferation of other types of weapons of mass destruction, the development, deployment and export of ballistic missiles. At the same time the economic situation is a source of serious concern: the gravity of food shortages and of the economic crisis of DPRK as well as other humanitarian concerns are well known to the international community. Cooperative security – combining reassurance with reciprocity, possibilities of cooperation on condition that potential proliferators accept constraints on weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs – is the most promising strategy for preventing proliferation and ensuring peace and security in Northeast Asia.

129


121-134/occhLiMes/Martellini

6-10-2000

15:28

Pagina 130

THE EUROPEAN POLICY TOWARD KOREA

130

Mutual accommodation through diplomatic action has succeeded so far in suspending nuclear proliferation in the Korean peninsula. On the contrary, deploying missile defences – apart from their unverified effectiveness – could antagonise other countries and promote an arms race. A change in DPRK’s strategy should be welcomed and encouraged. Defusing tensions, opening to international cooperation, not using military-related activities to induce international economic aid, establishing cooperative relations with the Republic of Korea are all important steps that need to be taken. In order to maintain peace and security in North East Asia it is essential: (1) to ensure that the competent authorities of North and South Korea exercise maximum restraint and in any event, do not rush to military confrontation; (2) to have DPRK and all the other countries of the region as fully compliant parties of the NPT, of the CTBT, and of the other multilateral arms control and non proliferation regimes; (3) to implement the joint (North-South) Declaration on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula; (4) to find solutions for dissuading DPRK from developing, testing, deploying and exporting medium- or longer-range ballistic missiles; (5) to advance reconciliation between the two Koreas, to allow the meeting and rejoining of divided families, to cooperate in order to achieve a peaceful reunification of the peninsula, and (6) to advance international (political, economic, scientific) cooperation between the international community and DPRK. Emphasis should be placed on the improvement of the economic situation and of the life conditions of people in the DPRK. The June 12-14 North-South summit meeting has the potential for being one of the most hopeful developments in Korea since the Korean War. If the two sides declare an end to their long-standing enmity, that could lead to a period of peaceful coexistence opening the way to far-reaching changes. They should be encouraged by the international community to continue and expand their direct dialogue and to establish a true cooperation. Multilateral talks may defuse the military confrontation in Korea. New peace mechanisms could work out detailed confidence-building measures to reduce and disengage forces heavily concentrated along the DMZ. Arms limitation talks could lead to mutual steps to reduce military tensions. The role of China and Russia should be emphasised. The Four Party Talks represent an important forum for seeking peace and stability on the peninsula. A revitalised non-aggression pact between the North and the South might be reinforced by international guarantees. Ultimately, the Korean reconciliation process could culminate in a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War. Parallel to this process, the United States and the DPRK could declare an end to adversarial relations. As a practical step toward that end, the United States could further lift its sanctions. In return, the DPRK could agree in writing to a formal moratorium on missile testing. Japan and the DPRK are moving expeditiously to normalise relations, including recognising their past history. The DPRK could encourage such


121-134/occhLiMes/Martellini

6-10-2000

15:28

Pagina 131

A NEW SILK ROAD?

progress by doing its utmost to account promptly for any missing Japanese nationals. KEDO remains a cornerstone of security in the Korean peninsula. The role of IAEA in the region will be extremely important in the future. The international community must ensure that these international organisations have the means and the resources to fulfil their missions. The international community’s stake in Korea is however not limited to nonproliferation. It could do more both politically and economically to facilitate a relaxation of tensions. For instance additional countries could establish diplomatic ties with DPRK (as Italy did) or intensify their present contacts, promote multinational aid to upgrade DPRK’s infrastructure in energy and transportation, cooperate in the development of enterprises with a technological basis and promote sustainable development in agriculture. Such initiatives should be addressed by innovative multilateral approaches based on the KEDO model. An important role can be assigned to the cultural cooperation with the DPRK (at the level of Universities, research centres and cultural institutions) and also to the exchange of visits for cultural and training purposes. The EU and its Member States should play their part in this process and strongly support such efforts.

131


121-134/occhLiMes/Martellini

6-10-2000

15:28

Pagina 132


121-134/occhLiMes/Martellini

6-10-2000

15:28

Pagina 133

A NEW SILK ROAD?

Part III

What IS ASIA?


121-134/occhLiMes/Martellini

6-10-2000

15:28

Pagina 134


135-140/LiMes/Nambiar

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 135

A NEW SILK ROAD?

THE INDIAN BRIDGE

by V.K.

NAMBIAR

T

HE INTERCOURSE BETWEEN INDIA AND

Europe has been virtually continuous over the ages, despite the obstacles of geography, language and ethnicity. The connections between the Hindu culture and Mesopotamia, Asia Minor and Greece go back to the earliest periods of recorded history. The similarity between the social structures as well as the belief systems of the Aryans in the Indo-Ganges plains and those of Greece were so close as to reveal shared cultural roots. Yet, historically, India’s primary contribution to the world has been its unique spiritual perspective into the meaning of life as well as into man’s quest for deeper expressions of his identity. Interactions with the outside world, whether eastwards with China or westwards with Europe, in the realm of values and ideas became evident with the spreading into these regions first of the Upanishad and later of the Buddhist concepts and arguments about the nature of the “self”, the provenance of desire and the transitoriness of the outward appurtenances of our material existence. These concepts provided the original perspectives of the Indian view of life. Unlike the scriptural injunctions of most of the great religious traditions outside the subcontinent, rather than focussing on the certainty of values they stressed their tenuousness, the need for balance and inward integrity, the continuous inquiry into the nature of truth which was uncertain, the only certainty being that which is untrue. They also placed a great value on individual judgement and responsibility. In their contacts with the outside world in the economic, social or political sphere, these interactions were more diverse and many-sided. Although ancient India did boast a mature political tradition based on the Panchayat system of primitive grassroots democracy, this did not prove to be resilient in the face of the authoritarian urges of feudal society. The system of agrarian bureaucracy in India was in some ways less developed than in China, with an entrenched trading community and a privileged aristocracy that were not even threatened by the Muslim invasions. The structure of rural society, which was organised through the caste system, provided a framework for all social activities from pre-birth to afterlife at the village community level, making the role of central government largely superfluous. Change, innovation and heterodoxy were absorbed without major social turbulence by the formation of new castes and sub-castes. The fact that this

135


135-140/LiMes/Nambiar

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 136

THE INDIAN BRIDGE

136

system survived the arrival of the Moguls was an indication of its resilience and absorption capacity. However, in turn, the Mogul structure eventually collapsed following the dynamics of increasing exploitation produced by its tax collection system. Unlike the character of society in some parts of East Asia where a section of the native elite used the economic surplus as the basis for industrial growth, in India, with the coming of the colonial powers, the foreign conqueror, the landlord and the money-lender absorbed and dissipated this surplus causing economic stagnation. Throughout history, India’s relationship with China has been beneficent though distant. There has been more giving than taking. With the spread of Buddhism, India’s cultural influence spread over East Asia both by sea and by land. The names of Bodhidharma and Kumarajiva became as well known as those of Fa Xian and Xuan Zang symbolising the intense spiritual engagement between our two civilisations. Buddhism attracted both the masses and the Chinese intelligentsia, arriving, as it happened, at a time when the country was divided into various contending kingdoms engaged in anarchic warfare. With the unification of the country under the Sui dynasty, the religion adopted from abroad became a stabilising force within the empire. In due course, Buddhism was, in turn, fused with Taoism and incorporated beliefs and superstitions of indigenous cults. But the concept of the Karma was firmly engraved in Chinese thought and found resonance even after the decline of orthodox Buddhism. The interaction with China included other important areas like art and trade. As in the case of trade with the West, incense, fruit, flower and spices were the Indian export products. From China, Tang silk flowed westwards to India along the legendary Silk Route. We are told that an Indian scholar tried to introduce the zero and the table of sine functions into 9th century China. He was apparently unsuccessful in obtaining Chinese acceptance of these inventions. As far as art goes, however, Chinese craftsmen showed a greater amenability to absorb a new structure of subject and style together with the introduction of a new religion. Indian art forms were to create a profound change in the artistic world of China. During the Middle Ages there was little or no direct contact between India and the West. Contact was established in 1498 when Vasco da Gama landed in Calcutta and launched a new epoch in history. It was only by the end of the 16th century that a party of English merchants set out for India by the overland route and reached the imperial court of Emperor Akbar. Shortly after, in 1608 the East India Company received the permission of Emperor Jahangir to set up a factory in Surat. This marked the beginning of the British Empire in India. Coming to today’s world, while it is generally recognised that a shift has taken place in the global centre of gravity away from the Atlantic to the Pacific Rim and that the rise of Asia after five centuries of European dominance is an event of historic importance, it would be premature to declare definitively any decline of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. With the growing prospect of a United Europe emerging as an area of renewed growth, optimism and dynamism, this proposition


135-140/LiMes/Nambiar

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 137

A NEW SILK ROAD?

INDIA Srinagar

Jammu e Kashmir Punjab Haryana

Himachal Pradesh

Shimla

Arunachal Pradesh

Chandigarh

Sikkim Delhi

New Delhi

Gangtok

Lucknow

Jaipur

Uttar Pradesh

Rajasthan

Assam

Patna

Bihar Gandhinagar

Bhopal

Calcutta

Madhya Pradesh

Gujarat

Nagaland Bhubaneswar

Orissa

Maharashtra Mumbai (Bombay)

ka ata rn

Panaji

We s t e r n Bengal

Hyderabad

Ka

Goa

Tr i p u r a

Manipur Mizoram

Meghalaya

Andhra Pradesh

Bangalore

Chennai

Pondicherry Kerala Lakshadweep

Ta m i l N a d u

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Trivandrum

needs all the more a balanced assessment. Meanwhile the absolute and relative power of the US shows no sign of decline. What are the implications of such a possible shift for Asia, particularly for India? Undoubtedly, India can be expected to benefit from the emergence of Asia. For at least three centuries India has had almost exclusive links with the countries of Europe, mainly with Britain. It had become necessary for us to find an appropriate balance between the Atlantic and the Pacific. The rise of East Asia and the even more spectacular fall of the Soviet Union have led to the so-called end of history and to the confirmation of the newly accepted dogma of the primacy of international economics over international security. Economics is now being viewed as the new catalyst for ensuring security.

137


135-140/LiMes/Nambiar

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 138

THE INDIAN BRIDGE

138

The emergence of global financial markets, of supranational regional groupings and the pervasive influence of transnational corporations are being accompanied by new expressions of cross-border crime, by spontaneous and sometimes unregulated population flows, and by an exponential growth of knowledge industry as well as of global awareness due to the impact of satellite television. Amidst these momentous changes, the Old World has collapsed. New mindsets are needed to cope with these dramatic changes especially in the developing world. Those who have the greatest information will be able to use it best. Information flows will be difficult to control. New networks created on the basis of common tastes and interests will straddle regions and transcend geography. This is likely to affect the rhythms of traditional societies. Media power has begun to exacerbate discontent and reinforce prejudices. Where they are driven by purely commercial considerations, they are difficult to manage. But, side-by-side, barriers of race, caste and colour are being increasingly challenged. Technology will continue to change bringing with it a transformation of social relationships. The role and relationships between state and non-state partners are also changing. As getting rich becomes glorious around the world, the search for fungible goods – the need to have power resources that can be converted from one type into another type with minimal cost or complication (money being the most fungible of assets) – grows in all areas of enterprise. Within national boundaries there are challenges ranging from breakaway ethnic movements to growing vocal pressures from subaltern groups within society seeking greater empowerment. The emphasis on greater openness and transparency, while laudable by itself, sometimes tends to smother the interest of the poor sections of society and the underclass. The need for a pluralistic identity, while undeniable, also results in fears of dominance by oligarchic interest groups and, at a global level, in the emergence of a new colonialism. In this kind of international milieu, India cannot be expected to be able to carve out a role for itself if it is to remain inured to the compulsions of change or of globalisation. No country can hope to become a great power without a solid and prosperous economy. Nor can it afford to remain impervious to the demands of international competitiveness. But the answers are not easy. New strategies are needed. We must overcome the effects of years of neglect of primary education, basic health and make effective use of our human resources. Our infrastructure needs to be built up drastically and ambivalence towards foreign investment to be overcome decisively. In all these areas the state machinery can and should function not merely as facilitator or as provider of the fundaments of legal structure or as bureaucracy but essentially as the arbiter of public good. China lies at the very heart of Asia. It is poised in time to become the largest single economic power in Asia and possibly the second largest military power in the world. Coping with such China will be a big challenge. It is necessary to sidestep facile assumptions of confrontation whether in terms of a clash of civilisations or of the more conventional character. For this to be done credibly, India would have to develop the capacity to assert its strategic autonomy and


135-140/LiMes/Nambiar

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 139

A NEW SILK ROAD?

civilisation weight not just in a regional sense, but in terms of its larger responsibilities in the international stage. This can only be done through the generation of a more confident self-image and an active regional and transregional role. It would also mean tackling basic problems in the domestic development agenda and the maintenance of systemic strength based on our liberal, pluralist and democratic values. India was one of the first developing countries to accredit its diplomatic mission to the EEC in 1962. The first commercial cooperation agreement with the EEC was signed in 1973, the first to be signed with a non-associate member developing nation. The agreement, inter alia, provided for a highly powered IndoEEC Joint Commission to sort out periodic trade and commercial problems and to place long-term trading interests between the two parties on a rational basis. This was expanded in scope and content in 1981 and a further “third generation” agreement on partnership and development was signed in December 1993. Until recently, Asia has been a continent historically neglected by the EC. However, the new Asian strategy put in place after the Essen Summit in 1994 has raised Europe’s profile in Asia, promoted enhanced political dialogue, and generated a sense of urgency in its engagement with this continent. While Europe has predictably sought to leverage the growth prospects of East and Southeast Asia, India has remained on the periphery of the EU’s Asian strategy largely due to the relatively slow pace of the economic reform process in this country. Our exclusion from the ASEM process to date is a reflection of this lack of urgency though the winds of change seem to be affecting both ASEAN and Europe. An expanded ASEM is likely to foster a new balance among the two continents and North America. As traditional images and stereotypes of India change, we are viewed less as a backward, conflict ridden and poverty stricken sub-continent in the throes of natural and manmade disasters. The readiness with which we have embraced the information technology revolution and the steady transformation of the policy landscape in India has begun to carry out credibility, and the institutional strengths as well as the resilience of our civil society show our ability to withstand the ill-effects of outside induced destabilisation measures. India and the EU are now building up a strong multidimensional relationship based on shared interests and adherence to shared principles. The India-EU Summit held in Lisbon in June this year is witness to the growing importance that both sides have attached to the relationship. It has provided a unique forum for structured exchange of ideas on a large number of issues concerning trade, finance, investments and information technology. The Lisbon Summit declaration on the “Prospects for EU-India Relations in the Twenty-first Century” and the Agenda for Action provide both the evaluation and the operational bases for such a partnership. There is the need to build on this through not only official efforts, but also more intensive exchanges at the media, business, specialist-academic as well as political levels, in order to fill the information gap and, at the same time, contribute with greater sensitivity to each others core concerns.

139


135-140/LiMes/Nambiar

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 140


141-148/LiMes/Yamada

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 141

A NEW SILK ROAD?

ASIA VIEWED FROM JAPAN

by YUMIKO

T

YAMADA

HE G8 SUMMIT MEETING IN OKINAWA HAS

just finished. 1 For the very first time, the Japanese government received the delegations of the major economic world powers outside To¯kyo¯ or Kyo¯to¯, an unthinkable event until recently. The demonstrations that marked the arrival of Bill Clinton reminded the whole world that the presence of the American military bases since the aftermath of World War II is now opposed by the population of the island – the theatre of terrible clashes between imperial Japan, an “Asian” power, and the United States, affirming its leadership in the West. This event induces us to wonder about Japan’s current position at a geopolitical level: is it really, as the Americans believe, a mere “place of anchorage” of the Western world in the Far East? 2 The fact that Japan is the only Asian member of the G8 leads us to pose additional questions. How do the inhabitants of the archipelago view their continent and what is the role that they would like their country to play fifty years after the end of World War II?

Is Japan in Asia? One of the main characteristics of Japan is its insularity. In addition to the four major islands, it comprises nearly seven thousand isles and islets. This is the reason why Japan is separated from the continent and, from a historical point of view, was quite often left on the fringe of the events. There is no doubt that this insularity moulded the identity of the Japanese, who often feel a separate people, even with respect to the rest of Asia. After a period of intensive relations from the 17th to the 19th century with its closest neighbours and the Southeast of the continent, under the rule of the Tojugawa shoguns, the country withdrew into itself. With the reinstatement of an open policy from 1854 onwards and, in particular, during the Meiji age (1868-1912), Japan turned towards the West. In so doing, even though Japanese identity did not disappear, the country turned its back to Asia. Naturally, the country as a whole is still imbued with values shared 1. July 21-23, 2000. 2. See Z. BRZEZINSKI, The Grand Chessboard, Chapter 6, Basic Books, New York?

141


141-148/LiMes/Yamada

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 142

ASIA VIEWED FROM JAPAN

by a number of Asian countries. Suffice to mention giri (sense of duty), ninjo (compassion), or haji (sense of shame) – values of Confucian heritage that remain part of Japanese culture despite the apparent westernisation of life style. Indeed, in their private life, most Japanese keep on living like many other Asian people, sitting on the floor on their tatami, and practising the cult of their ancestors, since each home is provided with a Tokonoma, a small consecrated space devoted to this purpose. Nonetheless, the Japanese do not feel likened to their neighbours and, when asked to which country they feel closest, they generally answer that Japan is unique and that it may not be compared with any other country in Asia.

The Asian Heritage In any event, despite its insularity, Japan has been deeply influenced by its closest neighbours. In ancient times, it imported from China its writing system, its literature, the Confucian philosophy and the Buddhist religion. At those times, it was customary for Japanese monks and students to move to the continent to study. Korea was often a mandatory halting-place in these study tours. It is reasonable to assume that, most of the time, the Korean peninsula filtered Chinese influences. In any event, the “Asian” civilisation – basically Sino-Korean – was introduced in the Japanese archipelago and subsequently “Japanised”. Hence, going back to the writing example, after having adopted the Chinese ideograms (that they called kanji) the Japanese developed two phonetic alphabets (kiragana and katakana) that were unknown to Chinese and Korean people.

How Do the Japanese View Asia?

142

Keeping into account this “cultural indebtedness” of Japan, but also its opening to the West that dates back to the Meiji age and that became more marked since the end of World War II, it seems reasonable to ask how the Japanese view today’s Asia. The Japanese historical heritage causes one to think first and foremost – if not exclusively – to China and Korea. Besides, the presence in Japan of communities from these two countries is a definite reminder of both their geographical and cultural vicinity. Quite curiously, what comes to mind is Mongolia, a country that is generally liked. Sumo, the Japanese wrestling, is assumed to come from there and the Mongols are believed to have the same physical physiognomy as the Japanese. The blue spot that newborn babies have on their buttocks is called “Mongol spot”! Even if it arouses nostalgia for their origins, Mongolia remains a mysterious country for most Japanese, and those who have visited the country are quite rare. The same applies to the countries of the Indo-Chinese peninsula. While nowadays it is certainly easier to go there, there are but a few Japanese who are able to locate Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia or Burma on a map. Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are better known given to the important economic relations that Japan has with


141-148/LiMes/Yamada

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 143

A NEW SILK ROAD?

US BASES IN JAPAN Sapporo HOKKAIDO

Misawa AB

H

O

N

S

H

U

Sea of Japan

Yokohama Hiroshima

Osaka

SHIKOKU

East China Sea

NAF Atsugi Fit Activities Yokosuka Camp Zama Sagami Depot Yokota AB Naval Port of Yokohama

MCAS Iwakuni

Fit Activities Sasebo

Tokyo

Camp Fuji

KYUSHU

North Pacific Ocean OKINAWA-JIMA

these countries. 3 And by now a number of Japanese tourists go there on a regular basis. In any event, even though no Japanese disputes the fact that these countries belong to Asia, they are not perceived as culturally close to Japan – the only exception being the ancient kingdom of Siam – since they belong to the Islamic civilisation. The Japanese have the same feeling about the Filipinos, as they belong to the Christian faith. Indeed, however unconsciously, the Japanese often identify 3. After all, at the beginning of the 1990s, the Japanese Economic Planning Ministry encouraged Japanese enterprises to shift their investments towards the ANSEA countries.

143


141-148/LiMes/Yamada

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 144

ASIA VIEWED FROM JAPAN

Asia with Buddhism. Traditionally, in the Japanese subconscious, the Indian subcontinent has not been considered to be a part of Asia. Instead there now are many that include it in Asia in view of the fact that, although “ethnically” different, Indians gave birth to Buddhism. Vice versa, no one considers the Middle East, including Iran, a part of Asia. On the other hand, the former Soviet region of Central Asia remains an extremely elusive entity for the Japanese. Some are now including it in Asia, but this seldom happened prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union. At any rate, with the exception of experts, no one is able to locate these countries on a map or even to mention their names. The great majority of the Japanese agree that Siberia should be “excluded” from the continent. For instance, they answer nearly unanimously that under no circumstance may Vladivostok be considered an Asian city, notwithstanding its closeness to Japan. “Ethnic-cultural” differences draw a definite boundary and, therefore, the eastern border of Europe is set… in the Far East! Nowadays, out of the Asian territories belonging to Russia, only the Kuril islands 4 – in Japanese Hopooryodo, the “Northern islands” – have always been considered as belonging to Japan and, therefore, to Asia. Owing to some rare form of nostalgia, this applies also to the Southern half of Sakhalin.

Stereotypes and Prejudices Given their immemorial historical links with Japan, the two countries that come immediately into focus when dealing with Asia are China and Korea. Nowadays, however, the Japanese have ambivalent feelings in their respect. As mentioned previously, from ancient times until the Middle Ages, the Japanese went there to study and perceived these countries as a model to be imitated. The sources available refer to the visit of Korean delegations for shogun successions, a testimony of the mutual respect that existed between those two countries. However, from the Meiji age, Japan no longer had the same consideration for China and Korea. Having opened its boundaries to the influence of the West, the country aimed to develop its economy and to create a powerful army, with no potential rivals in Asia. At that time, Japan did not mean to enter into competition with its Asian neighbours, which in its opinion had already been excelled. Japan meant to compete directly with Europe and North America. Hence, China and Korea – the countries that from a historical point of view had transmitted their civilisation to Japan – turned with the passing of time into the main objective of its expansionist policy. At that time, a “strong” country needed to have colonies. Officially, Japan claimed to “protect” its neighbours, by then deemed to be “inferiors”. The country mentally started to “abandon” Asia, considering itself on the

144

4. In the Shibya quarter of Tokyo, the associations of refugees from the Kouriles islands, backed by organizations of the extreme right, are constantly demonstrating to make public opinion aware of their major claim: the restoration of their region of origin to the Nippon archipelago.


141-148/LiMes/Yamada

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 145

A NEW SILK ROAD?

US BASES IN OKINAWA Ie Jima Auxiliary Airfield

North Training Area

Central Training Area Yomitan Auxiliary Airfield Station Torii

Camp Schwab Camp Hansen

Camp Foster

Tengan Pier Camp Courtney

MCAS Futenma Camp Kinser

White Beach

Naval Port of Naha NAHA

Air Base Kadena

same footing with those Western powers with which it ended up catching up. From then onwards, the continent it was connected to geographically and historically, appeared to Japan as a series of countries with a varying degree of backwardness, since none of them was able to compete with the West, regardless of its past might. At the time of World War I, Soho Tokutomi had formulated Japan’s “Monroe doctrine” for Asia. He had elaborated the concept of a “sphere of joint prosperity of East Asia” that, later on, was to warrant the conquests of the Japanese imperialism. According to this theory, which affected the Japanese in the period between the First and Second World Wars, Japan was entitled and had a duty to manage Asia’s problems. The Japanese superiority over its neighbours was justified on the one hand by the stage of development Japan had already reached at that time and, on the other, by “supernatural” reasons linked, in particular, to the cult of the emperor. In 1930, a few strategists of the Japanese imperialism, such as Kanaji Ishihara (18891994), 5 had also anticipated a division of the world between the West, which was to be dominated by the United States, and the Nippon Empire, ruling over all of Asia, including the Soviet Union, but with the exception of the Middle East! 5. See EGOCHI KEIICHI, Taikei Nihon non rekish futatsu no taisen, Shogakuran, To¯kyo¯ 1988, pp. 188-189.

145


141-148/LiMes/Yamada

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 146

ASIA VIEWED FROM JAPAN

These were the reasons why, by that time, the Japanese had been viewing the peoples of Asia with contempt, and they have kept on doing so more or less to the present day, well after the 1945 defeat. While the postwar development turned Japan into the second economic power in the world, it has certainly furthered the persistence of prejudices against the Chinese and the Koreans. Quite often, these prejudices have been transmitted by families that, still today, dissuade their children from marrying citizens of the two nearby countries, even if they have lived from quite a time in the archipelago. The Chinese who live in Japan are always complaining about their integration difficulties 6 and a few Koreans of the second or third generation at times feel the need to “Japanise” their name in order to avoid being the victims of racial discrimination. If “Chinese” and “Korean” were words with a negative connotation for the war and “postwar” generations, it should be pointed out that slowly things are changing. The younger generations are aware of the geographical but also cultural vicinity of Korea and China, which they no longer forcedly perceive in a negative manner. The recent economic development of a few Asian countries, such as South Korea or Taiwan, causes the latter to look increasingly more like Japan. This strengthens the idea of a common belonging subduing the sense of superiority on part of the Japanese. We are dealing with a recent evolution but, by now, Asia seems like it were more accessible and many more Japanese youths are travelling there, taking advantage without a guilty conscience of their favourable prices. Over half a century has elapsed since World War II and, as far as they are concerned, those events are a heritage of schoolbooks. They consider their grandparents responsible for the tragic war events and do not feel directly interested in what happened. Prejudices tone down a little at a time, and the Japanese are less mistrustful of or hostile to their Asian neighbours. After all, the economic cooperation that is being furthered gives another and more positive meaning to the expression “sphere of joint prosperity of Asia”.

What View for the Future? Today, Japan may succeed in attaining with peaceful means what it had intended at the time of its colonial venture. It may even do so respecting the integrity of its neighbours and, indeed, Japan would like them to forget its negative image. Japan is aware of being the only Asian country that, so far, succeeded in equalling – and indeed, excelling in a few fields – the West, and its neighbours willingly acknowledge it. At the same time, Japan is the only country in Asia numbered among and acting as host to the richest countries in the world (G8). Without saying it plainly, today’s Japan would like to present itself as the “natural”

146

6. In the 1980s, having held Japanese courses for Chinese students in Tokyo, quite a number of times I listened to their complaints about the difficulties they were meeting in their integration into the Japanese society, as much as the latter is imbued with “Asian” (Confucian) values transmitted more often than not… by China.


141-148/LiMes/Yamada

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 147

A NEW SILK ROAD?

representative of Asia with respect to the rest of the peaceful world, provided that it is actually acknowledged as such by its neighbours. In the face of such a project, once again Japan needs to confront with its major rival: China. Japan’s historical model, the Middle Empire, was the victim of Japanese expansionism during the first half of the 20th century and continues to be distrustful of it. On the other hand, present-day Japanese regard with astonishment the spectacular development of China. Indeed, they feel giddy in front of the potential of this state that, in their eyes, is boundless on account of both its territory and its population. They are aware that, in the medium or long run, there is a chance that their big neighbour might catch up with them or even excel them. If the philosopher Wataru Hiromatsu was right in writing that “it is possible for Northern Asia to be the major artificer of the future history”, 7 it will be necessary to take China into account. In the future, Japan may hope to develop a constructive cooperation with China, allowing the two countries to share a de facto leadership in Asia. In any event, in order to do so they will need to get over the contentions inherited from recent history.

7. H. WATARU, “Tohoku Asia ga rekishi no shukayu ni”, Asahi Shimbun, March 16, 1994.

147


141-148/LiMes/Yamada

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 148


149-152/LiMes/Tret’jakov

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 149

A NEW SILK ROAD?

TO STAY IN EUROPE, RUSSIA MUST BECOME AN ASIAN POWER

by Vitalij

TRET’JAKOV

S

TRETCHED ALONG THE ENTIRE EURO-

Asian continent, Russia has always had to have two foreign policies: one for Europe and the other for Asia. A digression into the history of these two policies would be extremely interesting and telling, but for these purposes I will take them as a historical fact and tradition. Even as a European country, most of Russia’s territory is in Asia. The famous saying “A Europe from Brest to Vladivostok” is paradoxical only from the point of view of geography, not of culture. The Russians who have always or for generations lived in Asia have never seen themselves as Asian. Furthermore, many Muslims live in Russia, as well as Buddhists: now 13% of the Russian population is Muslim, but at the time of the USSR the percentage was higher. If religion (in this case Islam) is an indication of Asian identity, Asia starts in the European territory of Russia: in the Northern Caucasus, in Tatarija, in Bashkirija and in other regions of the Urals and of the Caspian Sea. Leaving aside Turkey and Azerbajdzhan, whose belonging to Europe is in any case relative, Russia is not just the only “Asian” country in Europe, but also the only European country through which Europe spills into Asia and Asia into Europe. The frontier between the two civilisation runs in Russia, and over the past few years has become increasingly conflictual. Asia invades Europe through Russia’s territory; it invades it biologically. And if Russia becomes weaker, the frontiers of Europe will shift immediately towards the West, on the line that runs from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. The subject of the article is not “Europe and Asia”, but this introduction is necessary. Notwithstanding its national interests in Asia, Russia, for objective and inevitable reasons, has been forced in the past – and will be in the future – to sustain the burden of being Europe’s outpost in Asia, to act as a cushion between the two civilisations, and has done so reluctantly and often hampered by other Europeans. Moving on to Russia’s interests in the Asian “super-region”, there are many serious issues, some of which the Russiam President Vladimir Putin has recently

149


149-152/LiMes/Tret’jakov

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 150

TO STAY IN EUROPE, RUSSIA MUST BECOME AN ASIAN POWER

150

made public for the very first time. In the past, these issues were confined to unofficial and non-public debates. The first problem regards the scarcely populated regions of Siberia and the Russian Far East, followed by the ongoing and spontaneous expansion of the Chinese in those areas. Thirdly, the Asian regions are isolated from the centre and are economically backwards compared to the European regions of the country. The fourth problem is due to the rich natural resources of the region that makes it interesting to Russia’s geopolitical competitors. The last issue is the populated and dynamic China, with which Russia shares 4,000 kilometres of borders. Most of these issues should be addressed through Russia’s internal rather than foreign policies, but any failure of the first will have to be compensated by the second. Assuming that Russia manages to develop a more or less positive internal policy towards its Asian regions, there still are two issues that require further examination: the economic backwardness of Siberia and of Russia’s Far East, and China. It is worth underlining some of the main objectives and priorities of Russian foreign policy in the Asian sub-region, understanding foreign policy in its broad meaning and not strictly diplomatically. (1) The South (the former Soviet republics, now the Southern states of the CIS): maintenance of partnerships with these states, as allies or even satellites; economic expansion towards them on the basis of the traditional ties formed during the Soviet period; opposition to Chinese and especially Turkish expansion in these countries; contrast of any Afghan-Pakistani threats. (2) The search for strategic allies in Pacific Asia. (3) A highly active policy as one of the main diplomatic and economic players in the Asian-Pacific area, which globally is the sub-region number 1 in the 21st century. (4) Competition – even in the form of cooperation – with the hegemony of the US and of China. (5) Preparation to face any possible negative consequences of unexpected developments in China or in its policy towards other states. (6) Exploitation of the economic and financial potential of Pacific Asia for the development of Russia’s Asian regions. How and in what ways can Russia reach success in pursuing such objectives? The answers are not obvious and would require elaborating alternative scenarios. But in this article I will limit myself to highlighting what I consider the best scenarios, leaving aside analysing the alternatives. First, Russia’s foreign policy towards Asia, in its broadest sense, must become at least as vigorous and important as its Euro-Atlantic policy. Second, it is necessary to recover Russia’s military and maritime power in the region to reach the Soviet levels.


149-152/LiMes/Tret’jakov

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 151

A NEW SILK ROAD?

Third, it is necessary to establish exclusive diplomatic, economic and strategic partnership ties with Japan and India, two key countries of the region, and to include Siberia and the Russian Far East in the process. In view of the inevitable reform of the UN, Russia should pursue the case for enlarging the Security Council to include these countries among the permanent representatives. These countries, and Japan in particular, should be given exclusive privileges to exploit Siberia and the Russian Far East together with Russia and in exchange for investments in Russia. Fourth, Russia should become one of the patrons of the unification process between North and South Korea. Fifth, Russia should respond to China’s economic expansion in South Siberia and in the Russian Far East by developing a strategy aiming at economic expansion in all Chinese regions, regardless of their proximity to Russia. Six, the much talked about idea of building a transport corridor from Europe to Asia through Russia must be carried out (a Northern Sea route, a Trans-Siberian highway). Seven, Russia should have a clear position, develop initiatives and cooperate with third countries on all issues, be they with regard to the Pacific Asian region (and in Asia in general) or to the main countries of the area. Eight, the main Russian cities in the region, Vladivostok or Khabarovsk, must become political, cultural and financial cities comparable to To¯kyo¯, Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai etc. – they must be among the capitals of the region. All these objectives, and the ways to pursue them, are certainly extremely ambitious. But Russia has no choice. Should it not achieve something comparable, it will cease to be an Asian power within the end of the century, for the simple reason that it will de facto lose most of its territories beyond the Urals. The crossroads is either a highly proactive policy in Asia or an exit from Asia. The latter option would not even solve all the problems. Even without its Asian territories, Russia will never be free of its frontiers with Asia. Here lies Russia’s biggest problem and the main incentive to do something about it.

151


149-152/LiMes/Tret’jakov

6-10-2000

15:29

Pagina 152


153-156/occhLiMes/Durand

6-10-2000

15:33

Pagina 153

A NEW SILK ROAD?

A NEW WORLD

by Frédéric

DURAND

A

LTHOUGH ASIA AND EUROPE BELONG

to the same “Euro-Asian” continental sphere and share a common “IndoEuropean” cultural background, Asia keeps on being a geographical area that defies any easy circumscription by Western Europeans. The area may hardly be delimited: Eastern Asia, Asia Minor, Central Asia, Southeastern Asia? Furthermore, at least three major types of representation overlap. There is the one peculiar to “oriental scholars”, the specialists of the countries of Asia that, nowadays, include eight to ten thousand researchers throughout Western Europe. There is the one perceived by the media and public opinion, coloured by exoticism and too often by the dramatic recent events. And, finally, there is the one acknowledged by political establishments and economic circles. Through the latter, which often draws its inspiration from the other two representations, the Western European view of Asia experienced at least three major phases since the Second World War and is currently at a critical turning point with respect to the contemporary world system.

The Surfacing of a Third World Asia and an Asia of Dragons At the end of the war in Europe and in the Pacific, Europe discovered an Asia, which, after glittering millenarian civilisations and extensive colonisation, launched itself with all its might into economic development. This rapidly led to the surfacing of two Asias. An Asia addressing the West, which had to be backed and supported to avoid the unchaining of the domino theory that would have caused these countries to move over towards the other Asia – a Communist Asia. Hence, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the rising ASEAN, succeeded in attracting both the attention and the support of the West. These countries offered cheap labour to relocate a few industries and to supply the European markets with lowcost products or components. Those were the times when Asia “imitated” the West and, in so doing, succeeded in attaining a strong economic growth. This was an Asia that, besides Japan, included four newly industrialised countries – Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea – having local wildlife qualifications of dragons or tigers.

153


153-156/occhLiMes/Durand

6-10-2000

15:33

Pagina 154

A NEW WORLD

This success supported the image that Europe had of itself, its strong belief in the power of its industrial development and social values. For Europe, Asia’s achievements were a reference point for the countries in Africa, Latin America, or the Middle East – counter-examples that reaffirmed a “rule” whereby all the Southern countries would have attained their development by following “its” example. Such certainties were a bit shaken in the early 1970s, when the US accorded their political preference to Beijing rather than Taipei. In any event, the potential significance of the Chinese domestic market warranted this exception. Such certainties were shaken even more in the early 1980s, with the surge of unemployment in Europe and the awareness that the Asian subcontractors were becoming actual competitors. Asia was no longer content with imitating. It had excelled the model, it was investing in research and development, and it was innovating, causing concern in such leading sectors as shipbuilding, electronics and even car manufacturing. Did the development of Asia entail the beginning of the decline of old Europe? The 21st century was going to be the age of Pacific Asia, as a few Asian and North American managers were starting to believe.

Asia at the End of the Bipolar World

154

The close of the 1980s marked the initial turning point in Euro-Asian relations. The downfall of the Soviet block brought our bipolar world to an end and strengthened the belief in a triumphing liberalism. By then, only a single model appeared feasible, and that was the Western model. Paradoxically, the strengthening of yesterday’s certainties was giving rise to much more concern than relief. The disappearance of the Communist alternative failed to accelerate the hegemonic tendency of an America resting on an Asia whose model was becoming increasingly more Washington or Hollywood rather than the myriad of discordant European capitals. Europe met the challenge in a dual manner. From a domestic point of view, it accelerated the construction of a Union with stronger Community institutions and a single currency project. With respect to Asia, it launched ponderous programs of economic, cultural and social cooperation. Without necessarily daring to admit it, Europe by now needed Asia in order to exist from both a political and an economic point of view. This period, which coinciding with the Gulf War laid emphasis on the American military supremacy, witnessed also the onset of globalisation. Within the latter context, the European enterprises entered a wild competition to win over the increasingly more important markets in the Asian countries, which were experiencing two digit growth rates not only in the traditionally allied countries, but also in a few countries of the former Communist block, such as Vietnam. On their part, the European countries proved to be ready at times to come to compromises either to entice the investments of the Japanese and South Korean conglomerates – a synonym of jobs creation – or to refrain from dealing with such sensitive political issues as East Timor or Tibet.


153-156/occhLiMes/Durand

6-10-2000

15:33

Pagina 155

A NEW SILK ROAD?

If Asia taken as a whole could seem attractive, a map was being drawn including centres of greater interest and minor spaces, leaving aside problems related to natural resources. From the point of view of European investors, the heart of Asia comprised Japan and the four major dragons for economic and industrial cooperation, as well as “active” China, on account of its formidable demographic and productive potential. The second sphere of interest included the dynamic areas of the small ASEAN tigers, particularly Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, for reasons quite similar to those applicable to China. Notwithstanding the significance of its population and its intellectual potential, India was perceived as being relatively self-centred and seemed to escape these “priority” areas. Had Europe found the ways and means to establish a long-lasting partnership with Asia? The 1997 crisis had not been anticipated.

The “Heralded” Turning Point of the 1997 Asian Crisis Even though most media appeared surprised by the 1997 crisis in Asia, it was definitely to be expected. In 1991, the burst of the speculative bubble in Japan had shown to what extent most of the Asian economic progress could be artificial. A stock exchange overvaluation, an all-out real property speculation had represented a deceptive part of Japan’s growth. Notwithstanding this initial warning that had brought the second economy in the world to its knees for eighteen months,1 showing an astonishing blindness, most Asian countries related to the West followed the same path. In a number of cases, this was supplemented by extensive phenomena of corruption and abstraction of public and private funds. In Indonesia, for instance, everybody knew that the relatives of President Suharto used to withhold a high percentage of development assistance funds and contracts. Insofar as it concerned the World Bank loans, withholdings were in the order of 20%. Notwithstanding the frequent censorship, this was often reported in the local press and, at any rate, was known to those European investors and institutions that wanted to take the trouble of acknowledging it. In any event, most of them preferred to turn a blind eye to it or just enter the “baksheesh” game rather than running the risk of losing a contract. Now, apart from the difficulties still being met by a number of countries, Asia is leaving this crisis behind. In any event, however paradoxical it may seem, we should consider the development experienced in recent decades by Asia and the other countries in the South. By contrast with what most Westerners had imagined, it seems reasonable to state that Asia developed first of all thanks to its own values: the value of labour, sense of the community, moral rigor – Asian values that are all too often discredited without due analysis. On the other hand, Asia went towards failures especially when it pushed to extremes a few Western defects, such as the 1. E. DOURILLE-FEER, “Craquement dans le modèle japanais”, Le Monde Diplomatique,. March 1998.

155


153-156/occhLiMes/Durand

6-10-2000

15:33

Pagina 156

A NEW WORLD

overvaluation of material assets and money or the liberality in the management of public funds. Hence, Europe needs close relations with Asia more than ever before. But these relations need to mature, as they may not be founded on false appearances or political compromises that are either based on what is left unsaid or questionable from an ethical point of view. A significant obstacle is hindering the way at this stage. It is but a fact that Europe finally ignores what Asia indeed is, and keeps on considering it a reflection of itself, as if Asian peculiar features did not exist. Apart from the strengthening of their common economic or political links, outside the limited circle of the “oriental scholars”, Asia keeps on being mostly alien to Europeans. To them, it is but a far-away representation, fleeting images of exoticism. The “major discoveries” in school books remain the prerogative of the Old Continent, unmindful that – a century before Christopher Columbus – Chen Ho, a Chinese admiral, had sailed the seas with junks that were twenty-five times bigger than the Santa Maria, moving as far as Arabia and Africa. A few European circles are beginning to look for support in Asia with a view to developing common alternative projects. This applies in particular to NGOs and the German ecology-minded environments, which view new paths for cooperation in Asia’s social trends and its awareness of environmental problems. A few European governments, such as Sweden, are working on “Future with Asia” strategies based on surveys of the economic and political contexts.2 Finally, considering the matter thoroughly, it is quite likely that somewhere in Asia are the germs of the other model – the model of a less technical and a more unitary society that would allow Europe to get out of its identity crisis with respect to itself and America. Therefore, we need to make an effort and discover them, and not only in the Asia of short-term economic profitability.

156

2. T. LODEN, Center for Pacific Asia Studies Newsletter, 1999.


153-156/occhLiMes/Durand

6-10-2000

15:33

Pagina 157


153-156/occhLiMes/Durand

6-10-2000

15:33

Pagina 158


159-162/LiMes/Birindelli

6-10-2000

15:34

Pagina 159

A NEW SILK ROAD?

CHINA: ONE COUNTRY, TWO SYSTEMS SEVERAL MARKETS (“GO WEST”)

by Luca

M. BIRINDELLI

C

HINA’S ECONOMIC SCENARIO IS OFTEN

described through aggregate data, which hardly reflect the heterogeneous nature of this huge marketplace. With a total land surface of 9,600,000 sq. km, with arable land of 940,000 sq. km 1 representing 9.89% of the total land, China is divided in 4 Municipalities, 2 5 Autonomous Regions and 23 Provinces. China’s GNP in 1999 was of 8,319 billion of CNY, or 1,002 billion USD. Last year the Chinese economy continued to evidence a positive trend, albeit overshadowed by serious concerns, primarily over the structural aspects of the state owned enterprises and the banking system. Such continuing trend came at a time of serious regional recession, through which China was able to maintain the stability of its currency. The Asian crisis had however an impact on foreign direct investments, especially those originating from the countries affected by the crisis, as well as on the ability of such countries to absorb Chinese exports. The completion of the negotiations for the accession to the WTO (as well as the granting on September 19 of this year of permanent favourable trading status by the US Congress) are posing new challenges to the Chinese system, which is now forced to compete in a world where fundamentals are more important than politics. The establishment of the “rule of law” becomes at this time an absolute imperative and the objective set for 2010 for its fulfilment may turn out to be, in a broader historical prospective, the essential prerequisite on the path to democracy. In this connection, it should be remembered that the decision heralded by Premier Zhu Rongji, which later prevailed, to join the WTO, has been vehemently opposed by the conservative faction of the Chinese leadership. The fight against corruption and the economic liberalisation policy are now starting to bear fruits, while the government continues to apply a Keynesian stimulus by increasing public spending in badly needed infrastructure, lowering 1. It should be noted, however, that according to “China Agriculture: Cultivated Land Area, Grain Projections and Implications”, a study by the US National Intelligence Council published in November 1997, satellite photography indicates that there might be as many as 140 million hectares of arable land. 2. Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing, which are, from an administrative viewpoint, under the direct control of the central government.

159


159-162/LiMes/Birindelli

6-10-2000

15:34

Pagina 160

CHINA: ONE COUNTRY, TWO SYSTEMS SEVERAL MARKETS (“GO WEST”)

interest rates and by increasing the state employees’ wages and unemployment subsidies. It should be noted, however, that the vastness of the country and the peculiarities of the districts are such that China can be hardly viewed, from an economic perspective, as a homogeneous entity. Prior to examining the existing differences I would like to state that the author subscribes to J. Fitzgerald’s theory according to which “the imminent dissolution of China is as old as China’s own history” 3 but unlikely to be experienced in the foreseeable future. A concept which has been often studied and described by the economists is the one of “economic district” applied, in a smaller scale, to regions such as the Baden-Württemberg, San Diego-Tijuana, Pusan, the Kansai, Silicon Valley, etc.; such districts, due to their nature, may be enucleated from their overall national economic context. In a globalizing world however, the national economic context itself is losing relevance. By applying this concept to China, the country may be subdivided at least in four vast economic regions, three of which directly interacting with the coastal zone and a forth, the West, raising huge and original issues. The North, extending from Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang to the Shandong Province, gravitates on Beijing, the Nation’s capital and its political and administrative centre, which also plays the role of the North’s economic catalyst. The region is characterised, in broad terms and with the partial exception of Shandong, by an economy based on state run enterprises, heavy industry and collectivised agriculture. Especially in the Northeastern provinces of Liaoning (with the exception of Dalian), Heilongjiang and Jilin, the influence of the planned, Soviet-style, economy has been extremely strong until the beginning of the ’90s and, consequently, the current inadequacy of the state run enterprises is felt more painfully than elsewhere. The somewhat unsophisticated legal environment and the often-invasive role played by local administrators in the evaluation, approval and management of the foreign investments, is more heavily felt. The region is highly influenced by the presence of Japanese and Korean business. Foreign investors will often find here state owned partners, faced with the problem of turning around non performing assets and proposing “bargain deals”, some of which may well be worth looking into. It is left to the wise investor to determine those which should be left alone outright. Shanghai and its vast hinterland which benefits from the Yangtze basin as a prime communication route, is and has been in the past one of the most dynamic region, competing with the South in growth figures. This region is characterised by the coexistence of state owned, collectively owned and, more recently, privately run light industrial sector alongside with a flourishing agriculture, which has strongly benefited from the reforms of the ’80s. It hosts some of the major national

160

3. J. FITZGERALD: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated: the history of the death of China”, in D.S.G. GOODMAN and G. SEGAL, China Deconstructs, Routledge, London 1994.


159-162/LiMes/Birindelli

6-10-2000

15:34

Pagina 161

A NEW SILK ROAD?

CHINA’S ECONOMIC MACROREGIONS

HEILONGJIANG

JILIN NEI MONGOL LIAONING XINJIANG

BEIJING Tianjin

GANSU HEBEI NINGXIA

SHANDONG

SHANXI

QINGHAI

JIANGSU

HENAN

SHAANXI XIZANG SICHUAN

ZHEJIANG JIANGXI

HUNAN

GUANGXI

FUJIAN

DO NG

NG

TAIWAN

GUA

GUIZHOU YUNNAN

SHANGHAI

ANHUI

HUBEI

textile and garments manufacturers (in Zhejiang) and footwear manufacturing industry (in Jiangsu); the food processing industry flourishes alongside some of the most fertile soils in the country. Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou play a pivotal role in the region, with Shanghai in its own league as the re-emerging financial and service (tertiary) centre of the nation, building on a revitalised strong light industrial basis. Shanghai should also be noted for the exertion of strong economic and local political autonomy through initiatives such as the development of the Pudong area, to be considered as the testing ground for overtures in foreign-related trade and financial matters. The South encompasses the richest province in the country, Guangdong, as well as frontrunners of the economic growth such as Hainan Island and Fujian. These areas have largely benefited from the early “open-door” policy as well as the creation of special economic zones, 4 which have been the testing ground for economic and legal reforms and absorption of foreign investment in the ’80s. 4. Xiamen, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou and Hainan.

161


159-162/LiMes/Birindelli

6-10-2000

15:34

Pagina 162

CHINA: ONE COUNTRY, TWO SYSTEMS SEVERAL MARKETS (“GO WEST”)

162

The region has a strong and wide industrial basis, focusing on both high-tech and electronics as well as on labour intensive consumer goods. Over 20 million emigrants to the neighbouring Southeast Asian nations and North America constitute an important asset, as they translate both in hard currency remittances as well in foreign direct investment, which exceeds, in Guangdong, 80% of the total. Infrastructures and means of communications are the most developed in the whole of China. The South, and Guangdong in particular, is day by day increasing its integration level with Hong Kong, which has historically acted as the doorway to China; a role which is presently challenged by Shanghai. Private initiative is the engine of the South’s economy, which is thus better geared to interact with the capitalist world. Other than the economic factors which are, unavoidably, the result of a fair degree of generalisation, the prime criteria adopted to determine the nature of the three coastal areas is the reliance on a common basis of transportation ways in accessing the sea. A totally different approach needs to be taken with respect to the Western provinces. China’s “Western Big Development” project encompasses 5.2 million sq. km and 300 million people spread across nine provinces and autonomous regions – Gansu, Guizhou, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Ningxia, Tibet and Xinjiang. Together, they occupy well over half of China’s area and account for most of its oil and mineral reserves, borderlands and strategic military installations. The project includes construction of roads, airports, railroads and a §14 billion pipeline linking Xinjiang’s natural gas fields to Shanghai, 4000 km to the Southeast. President Jiang Zemin recently declared the project crucial to China’s stability, the Communist Party’s hold on power and the “revitalisation” of the Chinese people. An analogy can be drawn with the American concept of Manifest Destiny and the taming of its Wild West as well as to Israel’s Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Even the irrigation technology that the Han settlers use in Xinjiang, is often Israeli designed. The region is desperate for capital, ideas and people, but is also faced with persistent and sometimes violent ethnic unrest. Islam came to Xinjiang in the 10th century with an Arab invasion. It is largely such unrest (as well as a growing hunger for oil) dictating the re-approachment policy pursued by the Chinese leadership with the Muslim world. Since the early ’50s, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a paramilitary organisation that operates farms and factories has moved 2.4 million people, 90% Han, into Xinjiang and opened up millions of hectares of desert for farming. In 1948, 75% of Xinjiang population was Uyghur and 15% was Han. Today, 40% of Xinjiang’s 16 million people are Han. The development policy of the West, one of the gigantic tasks facing China as well as one of its top priorities, may well represent an unprecedented opportunity for foreign investors; its prospects for a success must be sustained, to the extent possible (including financially) by the developed countries, in order to secure China’s stability.


163-164/LiMes/Tavola Rotonda

6-10-2000

15:35

Pagina 163

A NEW SILK ROAD?

Doing Italian Business in China Leonardo DINI (BCI), Stefano CELLETTI (ANTIBIOTICS) Franco CUTRUPIA (Italian entrepreneur)

HEARTLAND Shall DINI One of the

we broach the touchy issue of investment in China? greatest risks in China is the inefficiency of the banking system. It is impossible to monitor the performances of companies and establish which are the good ones. So as a bank, we can only take the risk in the country and decide to trust China – but not necessarily one of her companies. In the long run this cannot be enough. On top of this, Italy finds it hard to function as an integrated system: large Italian companies, for example, do not work with Italian banks. Difficulties also come from SACE (the Italian national insurer of investments abroad) which has a cumbersome approval procedure. Even the Spanish, who so far have been a second rate European power in China, work better than the Italians do. CELLETTI SACE is an old institution, unfit to work in this environment and without enough experience to work abroad and in Asia. The procedure to grant soft loans is too long; sometimes it takes over three years, so there is no time to prepare the market. Some of us have even had the unpleasant experience of receiving the loan when the business opportunity was gone. DINI To give an example, we made an agreement with SACE for $150 million in soft loans, asking the Chinese government to draw a list of reliable clients. But there were two problems: SACE asked for confirmed letters of credit, despite the fact that if they are confirmed there is almost no need for SACE’s insurance. Also, Chinese officials did not want to draw the list of reliable clients, because that would mean excluding some companies and triggering an explosive situation between Chinese enterprises, which would be classified almost officially according to their reliability. CUTRUPIA Non Italian banks are more efficient, providing better financial packages in less time. Italian banks are unwilling to take risks, while other banks have better networks able to evaluate risks. Also, other European governments are readier to share part of the risk.

163


163-164/LiMes/Tavola Rotonda

6-10-2000

15:35

Pagina 164

DOING ITALIAN BUSINESS IN CHINA

While governments should not hand out free money, creating unhealthy expectations, it still is wrong for companies to take all the risks – these should be shared, especially when investing in a country like China. HEARTLAND Do Italian newcomers go to the embassy for help and direction? CUTRUPIA Not always. The embassy helps but does not solve the problem. HEARTLAND Is there more coordination between other companies from the European Union? CELLETTI Some working groups have been established and they are effective when there is no real competition between companies. The European Chamber of Commerce could make up for some of Italy’s shortcomings. In a way through this cooperation, which could be of growing importance, a piece of Europe could be made in China. HEARTLAND What could embassies do? CUTRUPIA European embassies do not work together: more coordination between European companies is needed to improve efficiency CELLETTI At the same time, Italian business representatives come to China and talk as if they were still in Italy. Here there should be a stronger European lobby. China envisages a strong relationship between business and politics, so European businesses should be ready to face the market here in the same way. CUTRUPIA I am quite sceptical about this approach. I think foreign companies need to settle in the country and provide a Western service at Chinese prices without always referring back to Italy. Nor do I believe the tales that Italians are better than their competitors because they are more flexible and can establish better personal relations. I have seen many foreigners get down to business and establish better relations than the Italians. Italy decided to become a long-term partner of China. The Chinese want to learn and we, as a company, are willing to cooperate. We have established a services network in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Canton and Hong Kong. This is not a country where one can just come and go. If you want to make business you have to adapt your company to China. CELLETTI On this point, the training of junior managers, sponsored by the European Union, and of Human Resources back at home is important. Italy needs a China desk at home to convey and understand our difficulties. CELLETTI

164


165/LiMes/Box Donati

6-10-2000

15:35

Pagina 165

A NEW SILK ROAD?

“WE BEHAVE LIKE THE CHURCH”

by Camillo DONATI (IVECO FIAT)

“In China one must work following the official guidelines, be able to interpret them and make sure the business is in line with them. The relevant authorities must be involved even in choosing partners and they are responsive”. Camillo Donati, 14 years in China and the only Italian honorary Chinese citizen is a chain smoker, despite all present prohibitions in the country. Proud of his frank short temper, he boasts it helped in his dealings with the Chinese: “They appreciate frankness and real respect, and despise fake mannerism disguising a real prejudice”. “We must contribute to the country’s growth and development, while looking after the company interests, but the government has to tell us what to do and where”. The entrepreneur has to make a special effort to involve the government, and this involvement must be “spintaneo”, says Donati, using an Italian pun (spinta, push, and spontaneo, spontaneous). In other words, the push must appear as a spontaneous government decision. For instance, his next pet project is in factories for GPL bus engines. These engines could be installed on city buses, lorries, adapted for large barges to be used more along the Chinese rivers, as well as work as water pumps in the dry Northwest. These two developments would fit in with the official plan to build more water canals from South to North and develop the backward western regions of the country. “In our effort to settle in China we behave like the Church, which gave up the dogma of the Latin mass, but saved the spirit of enterprise. We must transfer our know-how in full to enable the Chinese to do the things they want”, he says. Donati stresses the importance of not imposing any alien model on the Chinese, but of putting them in the condition to perform certain tasks according to international standards. “It is a longer path, but the best recipe for success. If we discuss money with the Chinese, they always agree with us and make sure that we defend the interests of the company and of the Chinese partner”. Donati maintains it is also important to distinguish the intentions of the central government from those of the local government, and have a clear picture of the market needs. In China, he says, officials were used to distribute rather than sell, but now the market is growing and one must start to sell. “China will be the battlefield of the next phase of the industrial revolution, and now it is important to rally our troops. In other words we must guarantee continuity in the service and the convenience of assistance even after selling the product. People first look for good quality and then ask for good post-sales assistance. Now many adults do not have enough money to buy quality goods, but in the big department stores I see small children asking their parents for the good and expensive toys. In a few years those kids will want quality”. At the same time, Donati remembers an official visit to the highly sophisticated Fiat factory in Turin. The Chinese officials stared at the robots and wondered: “what would we do with our million workers?” “We must see the problems of this country in a broader context, put ourselves in their place and then understand their deepest motivations. It is a long and complicated process with no shortcuts. Many people go for a few days to Beijing and Shanghai and think they understood it all. Those trips are useful to get an impression of what is happening, but it is just an impression. Without a stronger effort, China will be always incomprehensible”.

165


166-168(2b)/LiMes/Autori

6-10-2000

15:36

Pagina 166

ROMANO PRODI - President of the European Commission. ZHU RONGJI - Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China. WANG XIAODONG - Essayist. ZHANG XIAODONG - Researcher, Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing. Managing editor of Heartland. FRANCESCO SISCI - Managing editor of Heartland. FABIO MINI - General, AFSOUTH Headquarters, Naples (Italy). ZHANG JIE - Writer. Her books are translated in more than 20 languages. TOMMY KOH - Professor. Executive Director, Asia-Europe Foundation. ALISON BROINOWSKI - Visiting Fellow, Asian History Centre, Australian National University, Canberra (Australia). MICHEL KORINMAN - Editor, Heartland and Limes. Professor, University of Marne-La-Vallée (France). LUCIO CARACCIOLO - Editor, Heartland and Limes. MARIE-SYBILLE DE VIENNE - Professor, Inalco, Paris (France). PAOLO COTTA-RAMUSINO - Director, Science and Technology in International Security Program, Landau Network-Centro Volta, Como (Italy) MAURIZIO MARTELLINI - Secretary General, Landau Network-Centro Volta, Como (Italy). V.K. NAMBIAR - India’s High Commissioner in Pakistan. YUMIKO YAMADA - Researcher, University of New Caledonia. VITALIJ TRET’JAKOV - Editor, Nezavisimaja Gazeta, Moscow (Russia). FRÉDÉRIC DURAND - Researcher, University of Toulouse II-Le Mirail (France). LUCA M. BIRINDELLI - Italian lawyer, experienced in PRC and Asia-Pacific matters.

166


166-168(2b)/LiMes/Autori

6-10-2000

15:36

Pagina 167


166-168(2b)/LiMes/Autori

6-10-2000

15:36

Pagina 168

Heartland 01/2000  

"Eurasian review of Geopolitics"