“The Asian wisdom is that if we cannot solve a problem, we can shelve it and do other important things.” –WANG Jisi
BEIJING – Wang Jisi gave a public talk on ‘China’s Dilemma: Marching West But Thinking East?’ to an audience of international future leaders and students from Beijing’s famous universities at ThinkInChina, hosted by The Bridge Cafe in Beijing. [Sept 24, 2013]
In his talk, Prof. Wang explained how difficult it may be for China itself but also for the West to clearly define where China stands today or where it is heading; precisely because China, considering its size, geopolitical position, and immense hard and soft powers, and non-Western paradigms like communism and Chinese socialism, regularly invites analysts to contradict themselves about the future of this great nation.
“China is neither east nor west; not north nor south; it is neither a developing country nor a developed country; but China is somewhere in the middle.”
“China is a developing country in a sense that it wants to be a modernized country in 2040; so within a hundred years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Now China is about halfway through; so we may say that the development is about halfway through.”
“The US wants to have a pivot in East Asia; China should also have geopolitical interests. I don’t see great probability for wars between the great powers; I don’t see China fighting alongside the US in Syria or Afghanistan.”
“The two political systems [in East and West] are very different. I don’t see a reason why we should not have some form of benign competition.”
What was most striking to your author about Prof. Wang Jisi’s talk was that China seemed to avoid any clear definition by Western categories. When asked from the audience whether China was really socialist since it showed capitalist streaks like private ownership etc., Prof. Wang answered that “anything the Party does is socialism.” China’s policy makers seem to dodge Western categories, don’t want to be labeled, or at any rate they try to leave all of China’s options on the table. Needless to say, it is precisely this neutrality, ambivalence and non-transparency that cause anxieties from Berlin to Washington, from Tokyo to Seoul.
Professor Dr. Wang Jisi is the Dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University (PKU) and the Director of the Center for International and Strategic Studies. He published widely on U.S. foreign policy and is on the Foreign Policy Advisory Committee of the Foreign Ministry of China.
Read Wang Jisi’s article on: America in Asia: How much does China care?