This post was edited by proudcolonel at 2015-5-14 20:38|
The idea of analyzing international relations from a geopolitical point of view wassparked by a flash of inspiration that India and China seem to share quite abit of resemblance in their geopolitical structures, and thus the post – Comparison on the Geopolitical Features ofIndia and China. Many friends think this is a good place to start, anencouragement that has prompted me to expand my vision from around China to aroundthe world, hence the title DI YUAN KAN SHI JIE – A Geopolitical View of the World.
No countries are identical with regard to their geopolitical structures, so it isonly natural that the parallel between India and China has engendered heateddebate. I have to admit that my initial intention to start this topic wassimply for fun; those topics that follow, however, have all undergone carefulstudy from a technique perspective.
I do not dare imply that my views are the truth. What I am offering is merely amethodology, a paradigm by which to analyze and understand internationalrelations. In fact, analysis of international politics from a geopoliticalperspective is widely practiced by many experts and professionals. What I do isnothing more than a rudimentary study and answering questions of some friends.It is like everyone knows one plus one equals two, but some people may beinterested in why the result is not three.
For the title A Geopolitical View of theWorld, the discussion in fact is largely a view of the world from Chineseperspective, or in other words mainly exploring geopolitical issues pertainingto China, including the geopolitical orientation of China in the world, thegeopolitical structures of China’s home region, and their geopolitical relationsto China.
After completion of the above topics, focus will be shifted to such regions as Europeand North America in hopes of a more comprehensive understanding of the worldand a better fit for the title. Having spent quite a few years on the WorldOutlook (a sub-forum on TIAN YA Forum, the biggest and most influential forumwebsite for Chinese-speaking people), I find out that plenty of people haveacute interest in our nation’s rise and fall with too much passion but toolittle rationality. Do not get me wrong! I have always appreciated passion,without which a nation would be lifeless, but I presume that more acquisitionof fundamental knowledge won’t do us any harm. Before turning to aninternational stage more overwhelming and tumultuous, it would be necessary tounderstand the geopolitical composition of China. As the saying goes “Rome wasnot built in a day”, the China we see today by no means takes its form with asingle strike of hammer.
The chapters on China can be divided into two parts: Part I can be understood as A Geopolitical Blueprint for China’s Revival; Part II, a chronological interpretation of the formation of China tracing fromits current state back to its infancy with history as the guide, can beperceived as The Evolution of the MiddleKingdom. There are two points for doing so: first, it enables us to attaina deeper understanding of our home country; second, the laws of geopoliticsdeduced from numerous historical precedents are conducive to a more insightfulperception of today’s world. For those who love history, these two parts mayalso be guidance for interpreting part of Chinese history and even provide keysto some questions you possibly have in mind.
It is my habit to put up maps for illustration. If you happen to find them usefulin some way, feel free to make use of it, no strings attached. Due to the sheervolume of information, errors are hardly avoidable, and I would appreciate itif any one pointed them out. As for the reliability of historical sources,conclusive information is favored the most. History before Zhou Dynasty,however, thanks to the dearth of definite records, is less truth thaninference, which is best taken as a possible reference. The entire post is infact nothing more than one school of thought, so there is no need to give more creditthan it deserves, or to peruse every single chapter.
There will be synchronized interpretations about latest events with geopoliticalbackground, but they will be brief and focused on basic analysis. As forprediction or judgment, I believe everyone will have his/her own formed throughanalysis. Admittedly, it will be easier to write comments or reviews that areusually way more provocative and exciting, but since many professionals arealready doing this, I would be a fool to compete with them. My strength, atleast I think, lies in the elementary things.
On News Reviews
Many people ask me why for all the abundant sources and interested audience I amreluctant to write news reviews. It is essentially a matter of perspective andimpetus. After all, these articles are geopolitically oriented and center onthings that are fundamental and strategic. Both geopolitics and strategy arerelatively constant notions, least susceptible to time, thus more reliable andworthy of study.
It is of course not mandatory to interpret events solely from a geopolitical pointof view. Some friends of mine have often hoped that I adopt a more comprehensiveapproach to interpretation of events on a regular basis. I appreciate theirfaith in me, but I decline to act in this way even though doing so brings moreimmediate attention. One reason for this is that I do not wish to interpret forthe sake of interpretation. The thinking pattern for news reviews today is, toa very large extent, homogenized or stereotyped: based on a Cold War mentality,and a wishful premise that the world is polarized as China and U.S., everythingunder the sun, including certain events that are purely accidental or personal,are part of Sino-US contest. Taking this argument to its logical extreme, wewill easily draw a conclusion that lauds the vision and resourcefulness ofChinese leaders in fighting against U.S. greed and vice under a Sino-philia atmosphere,and a contrary one that extolls U.S. endeavor to dispel the ubiquitous threatsfrom evil China under an Anglo-philia climate.
The fact is that securityand interest is the first and foremost motivation of a nation’s policy-makingand in direct proportion to its involvement. Most countries at most times simplyengage in act-and-react mode, adopt a flexible approach to changes of events,and adjust tactics with the attitude of pragmatism and expediency. Not everymove is oh-so far-sighted and prescient. Therefore, intentionally provocative newsreviews on a regular basis are highly prone to hyperbole in language and stereotypein thinking paradigm, which usually encompasses such “indispensable” factors asoil, finance, religion, partisanship, freemasonry, dichotomy, etc. Then all thesefactors will invariably be connected by the panacea of conspiracy to explainwhat is happening. For this very reason, I am strongly inclined to focus onless sensational elements, the more objective ones. If by any chance you findthis enlightening, then I will be most flattered.
The Age of Undercurrent War
Apart from the logical fallacy of doing A for the sake of doing A, that Ihave my own opinion of the Post-Cold-War era is another reason for myreservation about writing regular news reviews. As has been noted, thedichotomy of China and U.S. on the basis of Cold War mentality oversimplifiesreality, and thus looks convenient to me. In terms of the complexity of game,it is much easier in a two-party game to locate the core issues than in amulti-party one. The truth is, however, that the Iron Curtain separating theworld was torn apart in 1990; the mode of game in this new era is no longer anantagonistic one. If a term must be coined to our time, it is the Age ofUndercurrent War.
Each age displays features different from the ones before it. Take theCold War for example: its most distinctive trait is the means which U.S. andSoviet Union employed – arms race – as a replacement of the old horrid way –war – to settle disputes. That this “progress” was able to come true is largelyattributable to the birth of nuclear weapons. In terms of military game, suchweapon with its devastating impacts reduces any nation’s strategic depthimmensely, straining its war capacity and chances for survival. No country withnuclear weapons would therefore risk mutual annihilation with an opponent ofthe same sort. However ironic this may seem – the most deadly arms of humanhistory keeps the world in peace – it is an unassailable fact, only if suchhorrible bombs are kept to a few.
Now let’s see in what ways our age of Undercurrent War is different fromthose before it.
First, multi-lateral rivalry has replaced bilateral one. The dominantmentality of friend or foe duringWWII and the Cold War is no longer the characteristic of our time. AlthoughU.S. still presides over world affairs, E.U., Russia, China, and even Indiahave emerged as major players in geopolitics. Some may see a return to “ColdWar” with the ongoing alliance of U.S. and E.U. on one hand, the back-to-backstrategic approach of Russia and China on the other. In fact E.U. for its owninterests is drifting away from U.S. and India has learnt that a maximizationof profit comes from a seeming aloofness to any form of affiliation with themajor powers, so in this sense no “Iron Curtain” has been drawn. Now with beliefin pragmatism, all countries, big or small, do not assume that they cannotcooperate in one particular field just because they have fights in another.
Second, economy has replaced military as the chief gauge of a nation’sstrength. Based on Nuclear Weapon Paradox, the major powers have eventually cometo recognize how absurd it is to indulge in arms race when one cannot afford todestroy the other. This is not to say that it is unnecessary to possessmilitary deterrence; only it has to be commensurate with one’s economic power.
Third, cooperation has replaced confrontation as the theme ofinternational relations. While the ultimate goal for countries to collaborateand form alliances before our time was to destroy the opponents, today the goalis to gain more control in competition. Such change technically derives fromthe globalization of economy, which has made major powers inter-dependent and ultimatelyshaped this age of Undercurrent War. In respect of international relations, themost prominent quality of our time is the “hypocrisy”: maintenance of peace andproclamation of cooperation are necessary on the surface despite the inevitable,sometimes rather bitter rivalry that lies below. If current situation evolvesto a phase when major powers rip off their pretense and openly accuse eachother of peace-breaking, then a new age befalls.
On Geopolitical View
Many who first read my article will get the impression that it is allabout geographical determinism or popularizing geography. The truth of courseis nothing like this. Geography is undoubtedly a vital force, but man assumes the paramount importance inthe study of geopolitics. That is, geopolitics requires not only analysis of physicalenvironment but also man’s role in it. The ultimate purpose is to achieve abetter policy-making based on a better understanding of how all these factorsinteracted to shape human history.
Contrasted with the elites, the traditional focus of historical andpolitical study, the men studied by geopolitics are the common people,collective in nature. By zooming out on the peoples, we will begin to see fromthe course of history the various attributes that distinguish them. Molded bydistinct physical surroundings and human interactions, these attributes –races, ethnicities, religions, languages, writing systems – become part of geopoliticsthat are forced to be reckoned with. If need be, we will certainly examine thenatural environments from which these attributes arise.
Whether an attribute displayed by a certain group of people is a noteworthygeopolitical factor is dictated by a simple rule, i.e. whether or not it hassurvived time. By this rule, a quintessential idea in studying geopolitics ofChina is by no means the alleged “sweeping” pop cultures of Korea and Japan,but that of home, a universal feeling of the Chinese for their homeland,originated from the agrarian cultures of several millenniums.
Having understood all the elements in geopolitics, we are now ready to apply them toall sorts of fields: politics, economy, culture, military, etc. Because thefactors are all relatively constant, the interpretations thus deduced tend tobe unsurprisingly strategic. For instance, by geopolitical analysis, we cantell which cities in China are potential regional or “international financial”hubs, or what the radius of their direct influence can be. To realize theseprospects, however, requires far more than geopolitical study.