Discourse Power | June 16, 2022
Neon genesis televangelion, American Nazi propaganda, cultivating old and young talents, and Russian perfidy against China
I'm back from New York City, but Discourse Power will remain on hiatus until the end of next week due to an international conference on China in the Middle East and Africa co-hosted by the University of Notre Dame and my think-tank, the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS).
The main event will be held on June 22, 2022, at the Notre Dame Jerusalem Global Gateway Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem, Israel, from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. local time.
It is free to attend and open to the general public for those who register here.
Thank you for reading,
“China's rise must be accompanied by the rise of its own discourse. We want to deconstruct the dominant narrative in Western discourse about China, in addition to dominant narratives in global discourse. We must establish our own dominant narrative of Chinese discourse about China, the West, and the rest of the world”
With 145 episodes, millions of subscribers on social media, and over a billion hits worldwide, Chinese Discourse Power televangelist, Professor Zhang Weiwei, celebrates three years on the air with his hit show China Now. He marked the occasion earlier this month by calling for a "people's war" to defeat the West in the battle for international discourse power.
Zhang is a Party member and Distinguished Professor at Fudan University and the Director of state-backed Fudan University's China Institute. He was the lead discussant at a study session of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on May 31, 2021, dedicated to “telling China’s story well,” and “promoting China’s voice on the global stage.”
You can read more about Zhang’s background, contentious remarks in the past, and what he said at the session on David Ownby’s Reading the China Dream here.
“China Now, which premiered on DragonTV on January 7, 2019, has been on the air for more than three years. We are pleased to share that this ideologically-oriented political program is popular not only in China but also in other countries.
“Take video sharing platform BilBili, which is popular among the youth, for example, where it had been broadcast 61,448,000 times by March 10, 2022, with 1,008,000 subscriptions and 781,000 likes.
“During the same time period overseas, China Now has aired 135 full episodes and posted 2,331 short videos, covering 196 countries and regions, with over 1.19 billion visits, 65.73 million views, 21.83 million hours watched, 986,000 likes, 500,000 shares, and 160,000 comments.
“China Now is one of the most popular and well-received ideologically-oriented political programs in Chinese radio and television history. It is also, to date, one of the most widely distributed Chinese-language ideologically-oriented political shows on the global stage.
“Indeed, we wish to "reshape the world's perception of the West," as I often say: China's rise must be accompanied by the rise of its own discourse. We want to deconstruct the dominant narrative in Western discourse about China, in addition to dominant narratives in global discourse. We must establish our own dominant narrative of Chinese discourse about China, the West, and the rest of the world.
“People all over the world are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the Western model due to the many flaws of their systems. For this reason, we want foreigners to see China as a new frame of reference for a holistic international comparison. This can be both enlightening and helpful to many of them.
“I'd now like to discuss the relationship between official discourse and other types of discourse. The fact that we were able to develop our own official discourse is extremely important and can be considered an "anchor of stability" 定海神针 to our development.
“However, we must recognize that, in a world where Western discourse remains dominant for the time being 暂时, and Chinese society is already very open and highly connected to the Internet, official discourse alone is insufficient. [Italics added]
“The Western discourse encirclement campaign 话语围剿 against China today is carried out not only through official discourse, but also through academic discourse, popular discourse, and international discourse.
“Using these various discourse channels, the West is attempting to "hit a combo" 组合拳, and if our response is limited to official discourse, it will be difficult to meet the challenge that Western discourse poses to China.
“Therefore, we must simultaneously promote the development of academic discourse, popular discourse, and international discourse, strike our own discourse "combo," and effectively fight a people's war for international outreach.
“Academic discourse is, on the whole, more neutral. It facilitates our communication with the world's intellectual and political elites. It could aid in the deconstruction of Western discourse from its source and the construction of a Chinese discourse [system].
“Popular discourse is more down-to-earth 接地气. It addresses a long-standing issue: our discourse can become detached from the masses, and that includes foreign consumers. International discourse implies that we must communicate with the rest of the world in a language that they can understand.
“At the same time, I've always believed that a "civilization nation" 文明型国家 like China, which is rapidly moving to the center of the global stage, needs a political program that is ideologically oriented and can stand up to international scrutiny. We set high standards for ourselves, mandating a global outlook, original research, and first-rate products.
“The most important thing, of course, is that we have kept up with the times, with our great era. We live in a great country and are working for a great cause.
Practice has shown that our Chinese scholars' research results are far more reliable than those of mainstream Western scholars; our Chinese communicators can effectively present and disseminate these research results, which could translate to significant social and international influence.
“Practice has also shown that we can win over the Chinese youth, gaining their heartfelt appreciation for the Chinese way and the Chinese system. We can win a wide audience at home and abroad, and we can win the discourse battle between China and the West.” (Guancha)
“China should prioritize cultivating a pool of cutting-edge talents in science and technology. It should effectively guide high-caliber talents among the overseas Chinese population to repatriate and should work to attract top international talent to work in the Chinese market”
Professor Song Jin, a Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) research fellow specializing in political economy and director of the state-run Development Research Center (DRC), discusses with some concern China's aging population and offers policy recommendations.
“Global economic growth, international politics, domestic social stability, and the division of labor in the value chain are all linked to demographic patterns. The global demographic pattern is currently undergoing significant changes.
“In the coming years, global population growth will slow and variance between regions will emerge, with greater disparities in age and quality between population structures, as well as changes in ethnic group composition that could fuel conflict.
“To begin, reasonable public policies and new technologies should be used to mitigate the negative effects of an aging population. While global demographic aging poses challenges, it also provides great opportunities.
”More years of education, aided by technological advancements, more flexible employment patterns, improved health, and longer life expectancy have all been identified as positive factors in the population's aging phase.
”They enable older people to engage in a broader range of economic activities, increase their labor force participation, improve the ratio of people needed in the labor force to support the elderly, and create favorable conditions for higher average labor productivity and long-term economic growth.
”Investing in education and health, as well as fully exploiting the results of science, technology, and innovation should be prioritized so that people and technology can benefit from each other to a greater extent.
“More emphasis should be placed on talent training and attraction in strategic fields so that China can continue to lead the global development landscape in the future.
”More emphasis should be placed on talent training and attraction in strategic fields so that China can continue to lead the global development landscape in the future.
”This is what allows a country to stay competitive internationally in scientific and technological innovation, R&D applications, high-end control of industrial chains, global governance capabilities, military conflicts, and other areas that contribute to long-term national development.
“Talents in science and technology are closely linked to national scientific and technological innovation capabilities and industrial development potential. Among them, top-notch talents are in turn the key to boosting innovation. The most important resource for comprehensive national power is having a pool of cutting-edge talent in science and technology.
”China should prioritize cultivating a pool of cutting-edge talents in science and technology. It should effectively guide high-caliber talents among the overseas Chinese population to repatriate and should work to attract top international talent to work in the Chinese market.
“We should work to keep an active labor market with a clearly delineated scale and high worker quality. Southeast Asia currently has abundant labor resources, a large population, rising income levels, and growing purchasing power.
”International capital places a high value on the Southeast Asian market, as well as the region's investment and industrial chain, which offers potential opportunities for equity, employment, and technological expansion. Therefore, it is crucial that we maintain a critical mass of high-quality active labor force.
”The rapid decline in our fertility rate in recent years is linked to rising costs of child-rearing, education, housing, and the time required to raise them, a situation that is all too common in countries with high levels of development.
”For China to fully benefit from the advantages of a more developed regional environment, it is vital to invest in cutting the cost of raising children and to improve the fertility rate. (CSSN)
Tongji University’s Xia Liping: The US employs the “Goebbels effect” against Russia and China
In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia on April 21, President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Security Initiative (GSI); but what exactly does the new initiative have to offer?
According to Professor Xia Liping, Dean and Professor of Tongji University's School of Political Science and International Relations and Vice President of the Shanghai Institute for International Strategic Studies (SIISS), the GSI is whatever the US isn't.
In an article published Monday by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) as part of a series of commentaries in preparation for the 20th Party Congress, Xia lists six key features of the GSI.
Xia expands on each concept by contrasting it with US conduct, particularly in light of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
“The GSI’s guiding principles are to adhere to a common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security concept and to work together to maintain world peace and security.
“China and the US have different views on security, as the latter still views security through a prism of hegemonism and power politics. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is a case in point. The US-led Western countries imposed harsh sanctions on Russia and supplied Ukraine with a large number of advanced weapons, effectively turning the Russia-Ukraine conflict into a proxy war.
“Following the outbreak of the conflict, the US designated Russia as a direct threat and China as a medium- to long-term challenge, employing "double containment" and "double deterrence" against both.
“The GSI is based on the insistence on respecting all countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, and respect for the development paths and social systems chosen independently by their peoples.
“In recent years, the US has claimed to uphold a rules-based international system, when in reality, it has used its own hegemonic interests and absolute security as the standard and rule, restructuring the international system based on those rules in a way that maintains its hegemony while endangering the security interests of other countries.
”In stark contrast to the US, China has consistently pursued peaceful development. It has always been a promoter of global peace, a supporter of global development, and a defender of the international order.
“As a general rule, the GSI adheres to the UN Charter's goals and principles, rejects the Cold War mentality, opposes unilateralism, and avoids bloc politics and camp confrontation.
“The US is still stuck in a "Cold War mindset," doing everything it can to stifle economic globalization on the one hand, while promoting NATO globalization on the other.
Its actions unquestionably go against the tide of peaceful human development. True multilateralism is the inevitable requirement for the development of human society.
“The GSI upholds the importance of all countries' legitimate security concerns, upholds the principle of security indivisibility, builds a balanced, effective, and sustainable security architecture, and opposes basing one's security on the insecurity of other countries.
“The US is a good example of a country that insists on absolute security for itself and bases that security on the insecurity of others. The main goal of US global strategy since the end of the Cold War has been to maintain its global hegemony or boss status.
”The GSI advocates for peaceful resolutions to international conflicts and disputes through dialogue and consultation. It backs all efforts to resolve crises peacefully and without applying double standards and opposes the use of unilateral sanctions and "long-arm jurisdiction" as the best path forward. The US, on the other hand, is doing the exact opposite.
“The implementation of the GSI is the right way to insist on integrated security in traditional and non-traditional sectors, as well as to address regional disputes and global issues like terrorism, climate change, cyber security, and biosecurity jointly.
“The US and the West have used their hegemony in information technology and international discourse to launch a powerful public opinion encirclement of Russia during the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
” "Labeling," "brainwashing," forming "information cocoons" and creating "isolated public opinion spheres," causing a "chilling effect" on information, "deterring public opinion," exploiting the "Goebbels effect" 戈培尔效应 [named after Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels and better known in English as the “big lie”], "public opinion fraud," and so on are some of their methods.
”The US is hoping to occupy the moral public opinion high ground internationally by condemning Russia's use of troops against Ukraine. These tactics are also used against China, with attempts to persuade other countries to take sides with the US-led West.” (CSSN)
The academic discipline of International Relations should be “dedicated to cultivating international skill sets, which would include a Disciplinary System, an Academic System, and a Discourse System”
Prof. Zhang Zhenjiang, an international relations historian and Dean of Jinan University's School of International Studies, claims that despite China's dozens of higher education institutions that teach international relations, the country produces too few professional talents.
This article is based on a speech delivered by Prof. Zhang at a symposium titled "Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy and the Development of a Chinese Disciplinary System, Academic System, and a Discourse System that Can Be Used in International Affairs Concerning China."
"The discipline of international relations should become a stand-alone field, given the global environment, the state of international relations, and the significant development in China's diplomatic practice.
“As the world is in the midst of great changes unseen in a century, China's international environment has also undergone significant changes, and its foreign relations, too, are undergoing significant, if not unprecedented innovations and developments.
“All of these issues must be studied systematically. Furthermore, we need a stream of young talents to join our ranks, i.e., talent training. Academic disciplines, particularly first-class/level disciplines, should be the starting point for talent development in higher education.
”Talent development is not only necessary for research; it is also a requirement for China's exceptional diplomatic practice. Young people must improve their ability to communicate internationally.
“For starters, they must have the desire and consciousness to "go out" 走出去, even if it appears that many of them are no longer willing to go abroad as China's economic situation improves.
“Furthermore, they must have international skill sets such as language skills, sociability, communication skills, sympathy, empathy, a sense of curiosity, and a willingness to learn. Only then will they be able to contribute meaningfully to local communities and spread China's experience and ideas.
“In this regard, the international relations profession as a [stand-alone] discipline should make significant strides in terms of disciplinary talent training. In doing so, it could become a disciplinary system dedicated to cultivating such international skill sets, which would include a Disciplinary System 学科体系, an Academic System 学术体系, and a Discourse System 话语体系, the Three Systems 三大体系 that are the focus of our conference today.” (Aisixiang)
"What's surprising is that in addition to commemorating its victory in the Russian Great Patriotic War, the Warring Nation also marks victories of plunder and expansion"
In a blog post published on the popular nationalist platform Guancha earlier this month, the Russians - dubbed the "Warring Nation" 战斗民族 - are chastised for celebrating their victory over the Qing Dynasty in the 19th century, a victory that resulted in the Russians gaining control of much of Manchurian territory under the Treaty of Aigun.
Despite the bluster and talk of a "limitless" friendship in official discourse, this anonymous post highlights some of the simmering mutual resentment and distrust between China and Russia that is well-documented in the literature.
The post was promptly removed from Guancha, but I was able to cache it before that happened. Excerpt:
"Every year, the Warring Nation of the Far East celebrates the signing of the Treaty of Aigun with great fanfare, which may come as a surprise to some. The Warring Nation is not one to discriminate between just and unjust victories, it may seem; all that matters is that they won.
“China's territory and sovereignty were severely harmed by the Treaty of Aigun, while the Warring Nation gained significant territory and navigational rights on the Heilongjiang and Ussuri rivers, as well as access to the Pacific Ocean [via Vladivostok].
“The Treaty of Aigun summed up the Warring Nation's formula of aggression: "Russian diplomatic demands must be backed up by physical occupation of territories.
This approach was used for subsequent cessions of areas east of the Ussuri River and large swaths of territory in the northwest.
“The Treaty of Aigun set a criminal precedent for its plundering of Qing territory. Many other humiliating treaties were also signed by the Qing Dynasty. For example, the Treaties of Nanjing and Shimonoseki both ceded Hong Kong and Taiwan, respectively.
“However, we will never hear that the British and Japanese have anniversary celebrations. The Warring Nation appear to be somewhat special in that they enjoy rubbing salt into their opponents' wounds." (Guancha (404) | Cached link)
Playing in the Background
Discourse Power is written by Tuvia Gering, a research fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub, and a Krauthammer Fellow, specializing in Chinese security and foreign policy, and emergency and disaster management. Any views expressed in this newsletter, as well as any errors, are solely those of the author. Follow Tuvia on Twitter @GeringTuvia