Tuesday, August 14, 2018

China needs to catch up in discourse power

Pan Deng, globaltimes.cn

image from article

The IMF forecasts that China's GDP could overtake the US' by 2030. China has also been striving to upgrade its industrial structure from a "world factory" to a tech and innovation-driven one. This makes the US ever more strategically suspicious of China since the end of the Cold War.

It is for this reason that Trump's trade team has leveled sensational accusations of tech theft and IP infringement to justify their trade war against China. It's not about trade at all. It's all about curbing China's astronomical rise. ...

Many of the Trump administration's accusations against China, like tech theft and forced tech transfer, are groundless and have been denied by American businesses. The US discourse on other countries is usually more about words than deeds. Behind fancy words and self-claimed righteousness hides the long-lasting US mindset of zero-sum game and "winner takes it all."

To make the situation worse, Trump's doctrine is proven to be personal, isolationist and monist. He's determined to make America great again at any cost. He shows no interest in understanding the basics of issues concerning another country. He believes his idea is the only way to interpret and solve domestic and international problems. ...

China ... sometimes focuses more on its deeds, rather than polishing fancy words. This is deeply rooted in its civilization. Chinese people uphold implicitness and self-restraint as core virtues of a man with noble character. The Analects of Confucius says, "I daily examine myself on three points: whether, in transacting business for others, I may have been not faithful; whether, in interaction with friends, I may have been not sincere; whether I may not have mastered and practiced the instructions of my teacher."

When China advocates a community of shared future for mankind, Trump sticks to "America First" at any cost. When China upholds multilateralism, he is at trade wars with nearly all US neighbors and allies. When China invites countries to join the win-win Belt and Road initiative, Trump is withdrawing the US from international deals. ...

As the world's second largest economy, China needs a discourse that fits its reality and global stature. The country's discourse buildup has been accelerating in recent years. But don't be fooled by Western media's tarnishing of China's efforts. It's not about being hawkish or squeezing the US out of its leading role, nor about exporting ideology. In simple terms, it's all about presenting a real China to the world. This is in line with China's role as a responsible player on the global stage and the democratization of world politics.

The US-China discourse disparity will not disappear, but it doesn't necessarily mean clash is the only option. The bridge is always there for China and the US to manage discourse disparity from widening. Official diplomacy, public diplomacy [JB emphasis] and people-to-people exchange are all important.

The world order may seem like an anarchy, a zero-sum game or a community of shared future. That's up for professional debate and verification. Whatever it really is, it's not, and will never be, a Trump estate.

The author is a news presenter and journalist with China Global Television Network and a visiting fellow at the Institute of Public Diplomacy, Communication University of China. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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