Discourse Power | June 30, 2022
Talking fish, keeping the peace, building a better world with Iran and Russia, and how Chinese diplomats are made
“We should dismantle the American discourse hegemony over "illegal fishing" before establishing our own [discourse system]”
Dr. Wu Shicun, a leading national specialist on maritime affairs, contends that allegations of "illegal fishing" by the US and its allies are merely an excuse to consolidate American maritime hegemony by harming China's international image and containing its rise.
Wu is the founding president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies (NISCSS) and Chairman of the Board at the China-Southeast Asia Research Center on the South China Sea.
“On February 27, US President Joe Biden signed a National Security Memorandum (NSM) to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, urging greater cooperation among government agencies and the implementation of new regulations to combat illegal fishing.
“Prior to that, the US presided over the [third] Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) Summit in Tokyo, where it introduced a new program called the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA) before announcing additional efforts to foster cooperation between maritime law enforcement agencies and ASEAN nations.
“The US has a history of interfering in maritime disputes near China in the name of monitoring "illegal" fishing practices and utilizing satellite data sharing technology. During the standoff between China and the Philippines over Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal), the US discreetly provided the Philippines with satellite data on China's maritime activities as early as 2012.
“The US side is now eager to introduce new maritime security initiatives and a strategy for the "Indo-Pacific." The author believes it is based on the following factors:
“First, it has a strategic imperative to contain China in order to protect and consolidate US maritime hegemony. The IPMDA is actually a manifestation of the Biden administration's desire to "shape China's surrounding environment" in the maritime space.
“Southeast Asia and other nearby nations are being used as props by the US in an effort to keep China in check by dancing to their political, economic, and security tunes. Maritime security cooperation under the guise of combating "illegal fishing" is only one talking point that the US is using to mold China's environment.
“Second, it uses maritime security cooperation as a hub. It aims to combine the resources of allies and partners to create a mechanism for intelligence sharing that can keep track of China's maritime activities.
“Third, it aims to hasten the implementation of the "Indo-Pacific Strategy" by broadening the scope of the maritime information and intelligence network in the Asia-Pacific region. The US is aware that the key benefit of the maritime situational awareness system is the wide-ranging information and intelligence network coverage and the blind-spot-free real-time monitoring technology.
“And while the US and other nations are only using the crackdown on China's "illegal fishing" as an excuse, the harm done to China's reputation abroad and the difficulties presented by its maritime activities should not be understated.
“American lies and tricks of "repairing the plank bridge over the Wei River in plain sight, just so they can covertly move their forces across the border at Chencang" 明修栈道暗渡仓陈仓 should be met with the following Chinese response:
Undertake an IPMDA risk assessment. This necessitates a rigorous analysis of the potential risks the US initiative poses to Chinese fishing boats, merchant ships, and law enforcement vessels in China's various maritime regions.
“It is important to be vigilant to avert the US using this as an opportunity to join forces with South China Sea littoral nations and support the 2016 "South China Sea Arbitration" which favored the Philippines. We must devise countermeasures that bolster self-management, enhance legal processes, and offer the required protection and escort for fishing vessels.
“It is imperative to build a discourse system for deep-sea fishing that is grounded in facts and data. China has committed itself to cultivating deepwater fishing that is sustainable and conservation-oriented since the turn of the century, and its success is clear to all.
“China has implemented both innovative measures, such as voluntary fishing moratoriums, as well as traditional ones, including sustainable fishing and gradually reducing the number of fishing vessels.
“On the other hand, by encouraging and supporting modernized marine farming, we have systematically reduced our reliance on traditional fishing in the near and distant seas.
“We should dismantle the American discourse hegemony over "illegal fishing" before establishing our own [discourse system]. This is not something that can be handled carelessly.
“We should promote orderly regional marine fisheries governance cooperation with neighboring countries on the basis of establishing a civilian and shareable information platform for situational awareness in the surrounding waters.
“Most South China Sea countries are heavily reliant on the traditional fishing industry, with offshore fishing industry providing significant economic benefits to the South China Sea coastal countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
“China will rely on the shared information platform on sea area awareness under the framework of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea [signed by China and ASEAN members in Phnom Penh in 2002].
“It shall advocate for the establishment of cooperation mechanisms for the sustainable development of fisheries in the South China Sea. It should further strive to make the South China Sea a model of regional marine fisheries governance and sustainable development through joint surveys of regional fisheries resources, shared law enforcement, and regional fisheries protection conventions, in addition to restricting [harmful] fishing practices and enforcing rigorous quotas.” (Global Times, Chinese version)
“China continues to insist on peaceful reunification [with Taiwan]; online public opinion in favor of "armed reunification" does not reflect an objective assessment of the current situation"
Professor Yan Xuetong, a renowned expert in international relations and the dean of Tsinghua University's Institute of Modern International Relations, said during a press conference for the annual World Peace Forum on June 29 that we should listen more to official statements from the Chinese government on Taiwan instead of reading online wolf-warriors.
During the Q&A session, a reporter asked Yan Xuetong: "In the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, some people online have been speculating that "today's Ukraine is tomorrow's Taiwan". What effect do you think the conflict between Russia and Ukraine will have on cross-Strait relations? Do you believe there is a chance for peace in the Taiwan Strait, given the increasingly vocal voices which advocate for "armed reunification"?"
Yan: "I believe that Wei Fenghe, Minister of National Defense, provided a very clear response at the Shangri-La Dialogue [on June 12]. First off, the Chinese government exercises extreme patience when it comes to peaceful reunification.
“Second, China won't ever allow Taiwan to become independent from the mainland." Wei Fenghe's statement, according to Yan Xuetong, demonstrates that China still upholds its policy of peaceful reunification and hasn't abandoned it in favor of "reunification by force."
“Yang Jiechi, a member of the CPC Central Committee's Political Bureau and Director of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, met with Jake Sullivan, US National Security Advisor, in Luxembourg on June 13.
“According to Yan Xuetong, the two sides had a very in-depth discussion about Taiwan during the meeting. "The US made its position abundantly clear, stating that it does not support 'Taiwan independence.' And, while it is committed to Taiwan's security, it does not support 'Taiwan independence.'
"When you add this point and the previous one together, I believe you will see that online commentary does not reflect an objective assessment of the security situation in the Taiwan Strait," Yan said.
“China, Russia, Iran, and other emerging and developing economies will collaborate to maintain true multilateralism”
Iran Press TV interviewed the prolific Chinese ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, on June 28, 2022. In the interview, the ambassador gave candid answers on a variety of topics, including the nuclear deal, China's role in international affairs, the modernization of the global governance system, and Xi Jinping's Global Security Initiative.
Excerpts from the interview:
On the 14th BRICS Summit and the High-level Dialogue on Global Development
“As this year’s alternate Chair of BRICS, China actively supports efforts made by other BRICS members to start the enlargement process and broaden cooperation within the BRICS+ framework.
“BRICS is open for cooperation and inclusive, and we look forward to more like-minded partners joining the BRICS "family". With the combined efforts of all parties, it is anticipated that the BRICS cooperation road will continue to grow wider, bringing together the synergy of growth and fostering a better future for global development.
“Iran is a significant Middle Eastern nation as well as an important member of the developing world. The China-Iran Comprehensive Strategic Partnership has grown significantly in recent years, as has mutual political trust and the promotion of cooperation in a number of different areas.
“At the High-Level Dialogue on Global Development [on June 24th, 2022], President Xi Jinping invited His Excellency Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to discuss global development with other significant emerging market and developing countries.
“They will work together to find workable solutions, which will undoubtedly provide invaluable motivation for global economic recovery and cooperation. The meeting highlighted China and Iran's friendship and cooperation, as well as how it would then benefit their respective populations.
On President Xi Jinping's Global Security Initiative (GSI)
“Ambassador Chang said that the Global Security Initiative clearly answers the Questions of the Times: "What kind of security concept does the world need and how can all countries achieve common security 世界需要什么样的安全理念、各国怎样实现共同安全".
“It is an expression of Chinese wisdom and Chinese solutions to bridge the peace deficit that mankind is facing and address international security challenges. China is willing to collaborate with the international community to promote the GSI to take root and flourish, in light of the following considerations:
“First, we must firmly uphold the authority and leadership position of the UN, engage in genuine multilateralism together, and oppose those who undermine the global order and instigate a "new cold war" in the guise of supposed "rules".
“Second, we should continue to move in the general direction of promoting talks and persuading people to make peace. We should also come together to explore political solutions to hotspot issues, insist on justice, promote dialogue, and act as a "stabilizer" of peace rather than a "fan" to the flames of conflict.
Third, we should take a comprehensive approach to address both conventional and non-conventional security challenges, jointly enhancing the global security governance framework, putting into practice a global governance vision of mutual consultation, common development and sharing, and averting and resolving security dilemmas.
Fourth, we must strike a balance between development and security, work to ensure that the global economy has the right conditions for making a strong recovery; we must actively pursue the Global Development Initiative, help accelerate the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development's implementation, and advance sustainable security through sustainable development.
Fifth, we should work to create new regional security frameworks, cooperate to uphold peace and stability in Asia, and vehemently reject the use of the "Indo-Pacific strategy," which aims to fragment the region, in the same way that we should oppose the use of military alliances to create an "Asia-Pacific version of NATO."
“China is willing to work with the international community, including Iran, to conduct in-depth discussions on the GSI, promote its implementation, and make positive contributions which will facilitate political solutions to various international and regional hotspot issues while maintaining world peace and security.
“We are confident that when all parties in the world join hands, we are able to create a strong synergy to build a community of shared future for mankind so that the flame of peace will be passed down from generation to generation.
On China's role in international affairs
“According to Ambassador Chang, since the beginning of the century, emerging markets and developing countries have risen en masse as an irreversible trend of the times. Developing countries have emerged as a key driver of global economic growth and a new force in the evolution of the international landscape.
“Facts show that emerging markets and developing countries have gradually evolved from passive observers to active participants in global governance. We should make concerted efforts to improve global governance, jointly strive for a greater space for development, and encourage the global governance system to develop in a more just and reasonable direction.
“Regardless of how developed China will become, President Xi Jinping emphasized that it would “never claim hegemony, nor seek to expand and claim for itself a sphere of influence, nor engage in an arms race. China will continue to be a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, and a defender of the international order.
"The road towards a multi-polar world is moving forward amidst the unexpected twists and turns. China will continue to stand firmly on the right side of history and on the side of human progress and continue to provide new opportunities for the world through its own new development [progress].
“In doing so, it will provide new and greater contributions to promoting the emergence of a community of shared future for mankind and a better world.
On China's relations with Iran and the Iranian nuclear issue
“China is prepared to step up coordination and cooperation with the Iranian side on regional issues in order to safeguard shared interests and advance regional security and stability.
“China supports the reasonable demands made by the Iranian side regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear issue. I would like to emphasize how important the development of Sino-Iranian relations is to China.
“No matter how the global and regional situation may change, China will not waver in its efforts to forge friendly relations with Iran.
[The last sentence sounds strikingly similar to how State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi described Sino-Russian relations following Putin's invasion of Ukraine and the pressures the West put on China as a result.
For example, a month after the invasion, Wang said: "No matter how the international situation changes, the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between China and Russia will only strengthen, not weaken, and will only expand, not shrink"]
“According to Ambassador Chang, China disapproves of any counterproductive measures that end up causing the process to escalate. The sound logic of what's right and wrong should continue to be upheld by all parties, and they should relentlessly pursue an agreement through diplomatic means.
“China opposes the politicization of IAEA affairs and is in favor of the Agency and the Iranian side working together to resolve any open issues. The American side must effectively acknowledge responsibility for its actions and give in to Iran's reasonable demands. China is willing to keep in close contact with the Iranian side and will continue to act equitably and support the advancement of the negotiation process.
On the changes in the global governance system
“Ambassador Chang said that the 1990s saw the breakdown of the international order and an imbalance in global power as a result of the profound adjustments that came with the end of the Cold War.
“Hegemony and power politics prevailed, and countless theories of threats and clashes of civilizations proliferated, endangering the stability and peace of the entire world.
“The multi-polarization of the world and the democratization of international relations in place of unilateralism and hegemony have become historical necessities as the 21st century entered the era of globalization.
“Contrarily, geopolitical confrontations and Cold War alliances are running out of favor. The same goes for those who think that hegemony is the only means of survival and that might makes right.
“Any nation today that still considers maintaining its hegemony, ordering around all under Heaven 号令天下, and meddling arbitrary in the internal affairs of other nations is doomed to failure.
“Those who still rummage through their Cold War toolkit, racking their brain for ideas to contain other nations, form "small cliques," engage in bloc confrontation, and live by the rule of the jungle.
“Such musty and antiquated ideas will never work in our modern world. They will only end up harming others and themselves in the process, and will eventually be abandoned by the times.
“China, Russia, Iran, and other emerging and developing economies will collaborate to maintain true multilateralism. They will advocate for all humanity's common values, oppose hegemony and power politics, oppose bloc confrontations, defend the international system with the United Nations at its core, and uphold the basic norms of international relations based on the principles of the UN Charter.
“They will thus contribute to the development of the global governance system in a more equitable and reasonable direction.” (Embassy of the PRC in the IRI)
“Whereas junior diplomats are chosen for their relevant professional knowledge and foreign language skills, senior diplomats are chosen for their leadership qualities such as loyalty to the Party, sense of responsibility, organizational and coordination skills, and their understanding of national conditions”
Professor Wang Chunying, Director of the Department of Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs Management at the China Foreign Affairs University, provides a thorough and fascinating analysis of the evolution and changes in the selection process for diplomats joining China's foreign service since the PRC's founding and up to the start of the New Era under Xi Jinping.
Wang writes that this paper has “immense practical implications for carrying out the Party's organizational line in the New Era, identifying and enlisting top-notch diplomats who are loyal, clean, and dedicated to advancing the creation of a community of a shared future for mankind.”
She emphasizes that diplomacy is, on the one hand, a "highly political job, and diplomats must have strong political qualities." She further stresses the enduring principle of "Party in Charge of Cadre Management" 党管干部, which states that the Communist Party of China's leadership is the key component of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
More specifically, the Party must continue to exercise complete control over the selection, appointment, and termination of diplomats, just as it does for all other cadres at all levels and types. On their part, cadres at all levels must adhere to complete party loyalty, support the party leadership, and never indulge in political neutrality.
On the other hand, Wang asserts that the ultimate goal of developing a competent diplomatic cadre team is to support the country's development strategy by fostering a favorable international environment for China’s modernization and facilitating its economic development.
In our globalized world, she writes, “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs no longer just considers political criteria and foreign language proficiency as before. Instead, it has been recruiting a large number of graduates from professional majors such as economics, trade, finance, law, and other related fields, and has gradually expanded to all specialized fields.” (Aisixiang)
Correction: An earlier version incorrectly identified the author of the piece as Dr. Wang Chunying, spokesperson and deputy administrator of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE).
Playing in the Background
Reel Big Fish, as long as it’s legal and sustainable.
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 Tikvah’s 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