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China Faces the World: the 21st Century

Thursday, 14:30-16:30, 501

 

Participants

 

Abstract

Recognition as a Crucial Element in Great Power Identity: China

Is China a superpower? Is it an upcoming superpower? Despite the systematic growth of China's international status little thorough research has been done on this question. If and when it would be done, it would certainly explore China's international position according to a number of conventional "superpower" parameters beginning with some historical "superpowers" (the Roman Empire, Britain in the 19th century) and ending with modern superpowers (the United States and the Soviet Union). These parameters include size (territory and population, economic resources, military (primarily nuclear) power, high scientific and technological level, penalty absorption capacity, as well as international ambition and a missionary commitment. Yet these parameters still fail to explain why some countries that apparently represent these parameters (fully or partly) are not considered superpowers (e.g. Japan, Germany, India, Brazil), while some that are (or were) considered superpowers do not have some of these parameters (e.g. the Soviet Union, in economic terms). In this lecture I would like to add a new concept that may explain the differences: recognition. It does not mean diplomatic recognition, a technical act that has nothing to do with great power status. The concept draws from property definitions of Marx and Hegel and from the distinction between possession and ownership. Ownership is an outcome of social recognition and property becomes private not only if bought and paid for but if others recognize it as such. This concept also draws from Prof. Charles Taylor, a leading political thinker who used this term in his studies of multicultural societies as a crucial element in determining the legitimacy of ethnic or religious groups. By relying on this concept explore China's international position (in history and today) not (only) as a function of conventional parameters but also – and mainly – as a by-product of recognition. China is (or was) a great power (or a superpower) primarily if the regional and the international community think so.

 

Perception of global politics among Chinese intellectuals

As a prolegomenon, the presentation will offer a three-layer definition of Chinese intellectuals by saying that establishment intellectuals, instead of critical and silent ones, are dominant in China's foreign policy discourse. At the same time, a retrospection of China's learning process in adopting Western theories and methodologies will be briefly illustrated. Also, three factions of intellectuals in the discourse (left, mixed, and right) will be defined. As second part of the presentation, I will introduce firstly a general perception of world's politics prevailing in China and then one of the three key issues being dominant in China's perception of global politics, that is, the security issues. The presentation will, however, confine the discussion into the scale of "nation's core interests". I will demonstrate to which extent the Chinese intellectuals' perception influences the country's policy-making process. Furthermore, I will testify the link as well as the gap between Chinese intellectuals and ruling political elites by arguing that the national interest has been all the time the starting point of perceiving the world politics, and that the presence of the "political hawks" in the practice of Chinese foreign policy has been enhanced greatly in the last few years.

 

China's role in international organizations: a new superpower model?

China's international activities are expanding very rapidly. Today, it is obvious that Chinese influence is not limited to economic issues but is also evident at the political level. As part of its increasing political influence, the Chinese leadership is well aware of its growing power in the Asian region and beyond. In what way are these developments changing China's role in international organizations? Will China create a new model of superpower behavior? And what is the forecast - will China take the lead in major international institutes?