This week’s edition will be the last of 2022. I did not expect such a niche publication to gain the following that it has in such a short period of time. Thank you for this support and thank you to those of you who reached out to me. Your comments are what have kept me going.
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The topics this week:
China-MENA: Peking University professor Wu Bingbing analyses China’s strategy in the Middle East and the US’s influence in the region
China-MENA: CICIR analysts discuss China’s involvement in the Middle East in the context of US-China rivalry
Energy security: Fudan professor Feng Yujun on how China should “get rid of its outdated ideas” about energy security
China, the US and the WTO: SJTU academics discuss how Beijing should respond to US-China trade friction
China-MENA: Peking University professor Wu Bingbing analyses China’s strategy in the Middle East and the US’s influence in the region
Saturday marked the last day of Xi Jinping’s three-day (Dec. 7-10) visit to Saudi Arabia, during which he signed a series of investment and energy deals worth tens of billions of dollars and attended several summits that included a host of leaders from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). His trip has been widely contrasted with US President Joe Biden’s low-key visit to the Saudi kingdom in July, which came in the wake of Riyadh’s decision to cut oil production despite protests by Washington. Xi wrote that his own visit had ushered in “a new era in China’s relations with the Arab world, with Arab states of the Gulf and with Saudi Arabia.”
The following passages are from a recent interview with Wu Bingbing (吴冰冰), the head of Peking University’s Institute of Arab and Islamic Culture, who provides some interesting insights into China’s overall strategy in the Middle East in the context of US-China rivalry:
China’s diplomatic strategy in the Middle East: “Positive balancing”
“What we want to practice is balanced diplomacy in the Middle East. The essence of balanced diplomacy is, firstly, not to choose sides, and secondly, not to make enemies. However, we will always be faced with the following situation: although we will make friends with everyone, the timing will differ [虽然都交朋友，但有一个早晚]; although we will promote cooperation with everyone, this won’t be able to be done in the same way [都推动合作，但不可能完全一样]. These are normal problems that we will inevitably be faced with when pursuing balanced diplomacy.
“However, in order to foster stronger relations with these countries, we need to encourage 'positive balancing' [积极的平衡]. So what does ‘positive balancing’ actually mean? It means that our cooperation with one party will certainly put some pressure on another party, but that it is precisely this pressure that will help boost cooperation between this other party and us. Turning pressure into incentive, that is [the meaning of] positive balancing.”
“Negative balancing, on the other hand, is when we limit our cooperation with one party for fear of affecting another party, which in turn leads to increasingly restricted areas of cooperation.”
“For example, China has signed a 25-year cooperation agreement with Iran, but there has been no similar agreement signed with the Gulf countries. There is therefore a certain amount of pressure on the Gulf countries which [now] have an incentive to further their cooperation with China, such as expanding [bilateral] investments and expanding trade in energy resources. Not long ago, Qatar signed a 27-year gas deal with China. Hasn’t this [aforementioned pressure] achieved its effect? Iran is also a country rich in natural gas reserves – even more so than Qatar – but China and Iran haven't reached that level of cooperation with each other yet! So, it is a sort of two-way balance. Through this ‘positive balancing’, China can help drive the continuous improvement of its relations with all parties relatively effectively.”
Comment: See Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi who “demanded compensation” for his country during a meeting with Chinese Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua in Tehran on Tuesday. Raisi held that some of China’s pronouncements during meetings with Arab leaders last week “caused dissatisfaction” in his country.
The US’s influence in the Middle East is declining but still strong:
“From the US's perspective, its primary concern must be the great political and strategic significance of these summits. Because after all, these are summits organised by China together with the Arab world and the Gulf countries. [This is happening] for the first time in history and this is of great significance. This is especially true as the US is now carrying out a strategic reorientation [away] from the Middle East. So it definitely must have serious concerns about all of this. Secondly, countries in the Middle East, especially the US's traditional partners and allies, are gradually expanding and increasing their autonomy. This means that the US does not have as strong a grip on the Middle East as it once did.”
“However, we must also recognise that the current autonomy of the Gulf countries is limited and their dependence on the US in such areas as security and finance remains deep. There may currently be a feeling of optimism in China. Some time ago, the US asked OPEC+ countries, led by Saudi Arabia, to increase their oil production, but OPEC+ ended up cutting production significantly. This sparked a lively discussion [in China].”
“In reality, the conflict between the US and Saudi Arabia on the issue of whether to increase or reduce oil production is not as great as one might think. Biden's request for an increase in oil production was to satisfy short-term election interests during the US midterms, while the Saudi decision to cut production was driven by the long-term interests of obtaining cash and [improving] capital flows [是出于获取现金和资金流的长期利益]. The conflict between the two countries isn’t serious. They understand one another.”
“The US may be engaged in a certain amount of strategic contraction in the Middle East, but such a contraction has its limits [但不会是无底线的]. This is because the US can only guarantee its connection with the Indo-Pacific [region] and Europe if it maintains its presence in the Middle East.”
What China can offer the Middle East: The Global Security Initiative
“There are many problems in the Middle East and there is effectively no overall security architecture. What there used to be was a kind of security commitment by the US to its partners and allies in the Middle East, which included a string of military bases, arms sales, as well as cooperation mechanisms such as [the US’s] major non-NATO allies (MNNA). But this has not translated into a security architecture that includes all of the Middle East. Iran, for example, has had no place in it so far, and even some Arab countries (such as Sudan) have been excluded.”
“This approach is the same as the US’s approach in the Asia-Pacific. That is, small and exclusive multilateral mechanisms are increasingly being established in the region. In practice, however, this is not helping resolve the region's problems. On the contrary, this may even exacerbate tensions and conflicts in the region.”
“By contrast, China is committed to promoting a new and inclusive security architecture in the Middle East.”
“China's approach is to advocate the establishment of an inclusive mechanism … China's long-standing proposition contains two basic elements: one is to solve problems by means of peaceful diplomacy; and the other is to focus on key developmental factors that are associated with security issues, that is, to promote security through development.”
China-MENA: CICIR analysts discuss China’s involvement in the Middle East in the context of US-China rivalry
Niu Xinchun (牛新春) and Qin Tian (秦天) are respectively the director and deputy director of the Institute of Middle East Studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) – an influential think tank linked to China’s Ministry of State Security. Niu wrote an opinion piece last week in which he argued: “Marked by the 2022 Sino-Arab summits, China’s relations with the Arab world are moving into version 4.0. From their initial focus on economic and cultural aspects, relations are now being upgraded to a more balanced economic, cultural and political relationship.” This political element is also highlighted by Qin in his own reaction to Xi’s Saudi trip:
“In this new period of turbulent changes, the importance of Sino-Arab mutual support on the international political stage has once again been highlighted. The Arab world's quest for strategic autonomy requires the support of major powers rather than intervention. The United States does not want to invest real money in the Middle East and interferes in Arab internal affairs using the pretext of human rights, women's rights and labour rights. China firmly supports Arab [countries’] strategic autonomy and [their] pursuit of their own paths in terms of human rights, political systems and ideologies.
“Similarly, at a time when the US is continuing its containment and oppression of China, Arab countries are firmly supporting us in safeguarding our sovereignty, security and development interests. Particularly valuable is that the Arab world, where Islam was born, has played a positive, exemplary and leading role by firmly supporting our policy stance on Xinjiang-related issues.”
“In future, China and Arab countries should explore the international strategic value of their cooperation further and continue to support each other's core interests. At the same time, we should cooperate and coordinate more on issues such as human rights, ideology and civilisational views, and we should lead the international community in building a new type of international relations, [so as to] counter hegemony, high-handedness and bully-like behaviour [反制霸权霸道霸凌行径].”
“In the traditional oil and gas sector, China's import security and the Arab world's export security are highly complementary. When it comes to green and low-carbon matters, China and Arab countries have similar beliefs and matching approaches towards energy transition. At the international level, both China and the Arab world oppose the misuse of energy sanctions and extreme [forms of] green transition. China, as the world's largest oil importer, and Arab countries, as the world's largest oil exporters, have considerable scope to collaborate on issues such as oil pricing and the denomination of oil trade.”
“Crucially, the Middle East lacks an inclusive security coordination mechanism that would include all representative forces and that could respond more effectively to regional crises … In future, China can work with major Arab countries and regional organisations such as the Arab League and the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] to make security governance in the Middle East a model for the implementation of the Global Security Initiative, following the path of ‘constructive involvement’ [‘建设性介入’]. Building a multilateral dialogue platform in the Gulf, maintaining security and stability in Iraq, and exploring [the potential for] trilateral cooperation between China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are all options that can be tried out.”
The following is from a piece written by Niu in March 2021 and published in English by the UK-based magazine Manara. Niu is addressing a foreign audience and may therefore have been inclined to downplay certain aspects of his country’s strategy in the Middle East. The insights he provides are nevertheless of note:
On US-China rivalry in the region
“In the Middle East, China has limited interests and high risks, while the U.S. enjoys comprehensive and prominent advantages. Faced with the provocation and noise from America, China does not adopt tit-for-tat responses, but instead insists on a parallel strategy of ‘you fight your fights and I fight mine’.”
“China’s Middle East policy does not challenge the U.S. but it will naturally produce effects that will erode the U.S.-led political and economic order.”
“Today, China-U.S. relations are deeply integrated and highly interdependent. A less powerful leverage as the Middle East is too light to affect a heavy Sino-American relationship.”
“In the future, the U.S. will continue its policy of strategic withdrawal. However, due to domestic politics and still considerable interests in the Middle East, it is impossible for the U.S. to entirely reduce its presence in the region. The U.S. will remain the major power with the deepest involvement.”
Comment: In a more recent article from September this year, Niu argues that: “In the wider environment of US-China competition, the Middle East is the least affected region … China must avoid a head-on confrontation with the United States and must try to defuse all the noise surrounding the [US-China] ‘great power game’. China has neither the strength nor the resources nor the desire to challenge the US in the Middle East, let alone overturn the US-run order … The US is unlikely to construct a comprehensive strategy against China in the Middle East without perceiving a significant and realistic threat. If the US were to choose to contain China in the Middle East, it would be unlikely to implement a strategic contraction in the Middle East [不可能在中东实施战略收缩]. Rather, it would need to invest more in the Middle East and assume greater responsibility for its allies … In future, the most likely scenario for US-China relations [in the Middle East] is to oscillate between confrontation and parallelism [摇摆在对抗与平行之间].” Niu describes “parallelism” as the state of affairs in the Middle East from 1990 to 2020, a context during which, still according to Niu, the US and China were neither “confronting” each other nor “cooperating” [中美不对抗、不合作].
On the Middle East’s importance in China’s diplomatic layout
“Since 2012, the Middle East has played an important role in China’s diplomacy in the following three areas: 1) building China’s image as a new major power; 2) promoting the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); 3) supporting China’s struggle on the international stage … Most Arab countries support China’s position regarding Taiwan, the South China Sea, human rights, the BRI, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the administration of vaccines.”
“At present, China has established diplomatic relations with 180 countries in the world and is a well-deserved player on the international stage. The “Arab Bloc” is still valuable regarding U.N. votes and voices in international politics. However, this is a world quite different from the one in 1959 when China had established diplomatic relationships with only 31 countries.”
“Meanwhile, the strategic withdrawal of the U.S. from the Middle East has brought about the shifting of regional order from unipolar to multipolar dominance … Multipolarity is beneficial for China; it gives it space to determine its priorities in the region.”
On the tendency to exaggerate China’s involvement in the region
“However, as the established power, the U.S. tends to be overly anxious and vigilant, exaggerating the strength and intention of the rising power. As the rising power, China is exposed to the danger of being overconfident and overly eager to show its strength and status as a great power. As the third party, the Middle East is eager to engage with rising China to balance against the U.S.’s withdrawal, and so is susceptible to exaggerating China’s influence. This is especially the case in countries sanctioned by the West such as Iran, Syria, and Sudan.”
“China has limited desires to increase its involvement in the Middle East, but its ability to do so has increased should it choose to. This buys China time to decide its next strategic manoeuvres in the region … With growing influence, China already has the power and resources to shape the regional order in its favour.”
“Critically speaking, the importance of the Middle East to China has not grown immensely, while China’s importance to the Middle East has risen considerably.”
Comment: In an article published in August 2021, Niu’s main argument was “that the Middle East is no longer as important as it once was” for either the US and China and that this “should be an uncontroversial and settled conclusion.” [中东没有以前那么重要了，应该是一个没有争议的确定结论。]
On China’s approach to the Middle East
“No matter how China chooses its Middle East policy in the future, it will definitely not repeat the mistakes made by the U.S. China will not use alliances, troops or sanctions as the main policy tools. Instead, China will adhere to its ‘Middle East policy with Chinese characteristics’, featuring non-alignment, non-interference, economic development, and diplomatic co-ordination.”
For further reactions to Xi’s trip to Saudi Arabia, I recommend reading Tuvia Gering’s excellent Discourse Power:
Energy Security: Fudan professor Feng Yujun on how China should “get rid of its outdated ideas” about energy security
Over the past few weeks, I have been through several recently-published Chinese think-tank reports and academic papers that address the PRC’s energy and food security. However, I have often found their content to be relatively generic and therefore not particularly insightful. The following article is one of the more detailed ones that I have so far come across. I felt that Xi’s visit to Saudi Arabia would be a fitting occasion to share this. It’s author, Feng Yujun (冯玉军), is the head of Fudan University’s Center for Russian and Central Asian Studies and was formerly the director of CICIR’s Institute of Russian Studies. His main arguments are that:
China should not be overly concerned about its energy security.
China’s oil and gas resources are indeed limited but technological innovations and renewable energies will increasingly provide China with the energy independence that it seeks.
China should consider liberalising its domestic oil and gas markets.
The security threat posed by the Strait of Malacca to China’s energy security has been overstated.
Beijing must realise that oil and gas exporters now need China’s market more than China needs them and that this provides China with considerable leverage.
“The Russo-Ukrainian conflict and its aftermath have led to a mismatch between the global supply and the demand of energy resources. [As a result,] the world’s existing oil and gas supply chains are undergoing major disruptions and restructuring … The world's energy markets and the geopolitics of energy are becoming unstable and the unpredictability of such risks is on the rise. This will not only put continued pressure on the world's energy landscape and economic growth and make the global energy transition a bumpy one, but it will also bring completely new and complex challenges to China's energy security.”
Safeguarding China's energy security requires “getting rid of outdated ideas about energy security”
“As the world energy landscape undergoes major changes and as the global energy transition gathers pace, China's energy security setup is also facing a new environment as well as new demands. In reality, however, some outdated ideas about energy security still constrain, to varying degrees, [our] way of thinking about the logic behind and the measures towards [China’s] strategic planning and policy formulation in the field of energy. With an eye on global trends and grounded in China's specific characteristics and current context [国情], an important prerequisite to improving China's energy security is to break away from our old ways [破旧立新] and fundamentally broaden our perspective and way of thinking.”
Feng on liberalising China’s domestic oil and gas market
“The perception of oil and gas as being scarce and expensive sources of energy has led to their being classed as important industries for China’s energy security. [Beijing] has only allowed a handful of firms to operate [in these sectors] and has restricted the involvement of a wider range of companies. This has resulted in a lack of sufficient market competition, [thus] making it difficult to bring about a shale revolution similar to that driven by SMEs in the US. Moreover, oil and gas prices have long been set by [the Chinese] authorities, making it difficult to mirror market elasticity, further reducing the scope for oil and gas consumption and thus also weakening the possibility of significantly reducing coal consumption.”
“The value of both assumptions [Feng is referring to the Hubbert curve and to the Club of Rome’s 1972 ‘Limits to Growth' report] is in recognising the overall finite nature of a given resource and suggesting the need to delay its [production’s] peak by consuming less of it.”
“In reality, technological advances are constantly increasing the possibilities for mankind to exploit and make use of natural resources. The continued harnessing of unconventional hydrocarbons (e.g. shale oil and gas, flammable ice), solar, wind and hydrogen energy will provide mankind with unlimited possibilities to make use of energy resources.”
“In recent years, China's rising oil and gas dependency has raised further concerns about [its] energy security. In 2016, 2018 and 2021, China's dependence on foreign oil [imports] reached 62%, 69.8% and 72.2% respectively, while its dependence on foreign gas reached 35%, 45.3% and 46% respectively. At the same time, the US has significantly reduced its dependence on foreign oil and gas, and has to a large extent achieved 'energy independence'. ‘The security of oil and gas supplies is thus seen as a weak point in China's energy security. The contrast between China's and the US's dependence on foreign oil is bound to affect their foreign policies and their stance towards global energy security.’ [Feng is quoting Lin Yikai 林益楷 a researcher at China National Offshore Oil Corporation]”
Overemphasising the security threat posed by the Strait of Malacca is a mistake according to Feng
“The 'Malacca conundrum' [‘马六甲困局’], which has been frequently raised in Chinese energy strategy circles over the years, is a typical case of energy 'insecurity'. The argument is that the Malacca Strait is a 'maritime lifeline' [‘海上生命线’] for China's energy supply, and that whoever takes control of the Strait and the Indian Ocean would be able to cut off China's energy lifeline at any time, thereby posing a great threat to China's energy security. It is on this basis that several onshore oil and gas pipelines have been built. Although it is certainly a wise decision to diversify energy imports, the logical premise of the "Malacca dilemma" presents a number of questionable points:
First, if a major power wanted to cut off China's oil supplies from the Middle East, it would be more straightforward and effective to do so in the Persian Gulf;
Second, under modern warfare conditions, it would be easy to destroy long onshore oil and gas pipelines using long-range precision-guided missiles.
Third, the vast majority of onshore oil and gas pipelines leading to China pass through high-risk areas. The non-traditional security threats to China's energy supplies are increasing rather than decreasing.”
“We must establish a dynamic and relative view of energy resource security and deal correctly with the relationships between fossil and clean energy, domestic and foreign, peacetime and wartime. There is no one set of indicators for energy security that is absolutely correct. This can only be a dynamic arrangement that is constantly changing and being adjusted.”
The higher the share of China’s renewable energy, “the more energy independent and secure the country will be”
“It is [also] important to fully recognise China's endowment of energy resources. Although China's oil and gas resources are insufficient, it is also important to recognise the enormous potential of China's abundant non-fossil energy resources, particularly of those renewable energy sources that have not yet been fully exploited. China's share of non-fossil energy in primary energy [consumption] has already reached 15.3%. As technical possibilities and cost-effectiveness increase, renewable energy will move from being a complementary source of energy to a primary one. Moreover, the higher the share of renewable energy, ‘the more energy independent and secure the country will be’. [Feng is quoting Du Xiangwan (杜祥琬), a member of the prestigious Chinese Academy of Engineering]”
Realising that oil and gas exporters need China’s market more than China needs their resources
“Many people are concerned that China's dependence on foreign oil and gas is too high and that this presents a huge security risk. The underlying logic of this view is that oil importers are inherently more vulnerable than oil exporters. However, the reality is that this energy ecosystem is a complete supply and value chain. Supply disruptions would not only threaten the interests of energy-importing countries but would also have a huge impact on energy-exporting countries, damaging their export revenues and financial stability.”
“With the new energy revolution, and especially with the transformation of the international oil market from a 'seller's market' to a 'buyer's market', China's huge energy consumer market is becoming an important 'structural power' [结构性权力] at our disposal. This could become a crucial bargaining tool in the context of [China’s] international energy cooperation and an important means of ensuring China's energy security.”
“It is important for us to realise that when we need the oil and gas resources of energy producers, they need our market more. Second, we should further improve the dynamic balancing between ‘energy security’ and ‘commercial interests’ and prevent oversensitivity to ‘security’ issues from raising the commercial costs of China's energy imports.”
Ecological security and the diversification of China’s oil and gas imports
“We should develop a reasonable layout of our international energy cooperation, focusing on the Middle East, Eurasia, North America, Latin America, Africa, Oceania and other regions. We should strive to maintain the diversity and sustainability of China's imports of energy resources as well as obtain maximum benefits at the lowest cost. The concept of ecological security should be emphasised, with more energy imports from distant regions with advanced production techniques and greater capacity for ecological restoration, and with correspondingly fewer imports from [China’s] neighbouring regions in order to protect [our] local environment and reduce the ecological hazards that these might pose to us.”
“At the bilateral level, while consolidating traditional sources of oil and gas in the Middle East, Eurasia and Africa, we should strengthen our oil and gas cooperation with the oil and gas production centres in the Western Hemisphere: the United States, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil etc. At the multilateral level, efforts should be made to increase our voice and influence in international energy affairs through our participation in global energy cooperation.”
Comment: Feng does not mention China’s recent increase in gas and coal imports from Russia. However, he would probably argue that such a strategy is in line with his view that individual energy exporters (and particularly Russia) need China more than China needs them and that his country should avoid “oversensitivity to ‘security’ issues from raising the commercial costs of China's energy imports.”
China, the US and the WTO: SJTU academics discuss how Beijing should respond to US-China trade friction
On Monday, China filed a dispute with the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which aims to overturn the US’s recent export controls targeting China’s tech industry. This followed last week’s landmark ruling by the WTO, which found that the US’s 2018 imposition of steel and aluminium tariffs on imports from China and other countries for national security reasons violated international trade rules. Since the WTO's Appellate Body has effectively been paralysed by Washington since 2019, if the United States were to appeal the ruling, it would simply leave the dispute in limbo. The following excerpts are from an article assessing how Beijing should protect itself from, and respond to, current trade friction with Washington. It was first published in September and was crossposted this week by a couple of Chinese outlets. Its lead author, Shen Wei (沈伟), is a distinguished professor of law at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (one of China’s most prestigious universities) and a former head of Shandong University’s Law School. It is co-authored by two of Shen’s research assistants at SJTU, Qin Zhen (秦真) and Lu Xinyue (芦心玥):
On the risk of being ostracised by the US
“The US is building a new trading system that serves US interests and excludes China through a collection of bilateral agreements. The US is ‘besieging’ China using rules [and standards] and constructing a new type of globalisation that rids itself of China [构建去中国化的新全球化] … For example, the USMCA contains a wide range of provisions, many of which go beyond or even violate WTO rules, such as its 'non-market economy’ clause, which violates Article 24 of the GATT (1994). This clause chooses to define ‘non-market economy countries’ unilaterally, creating significant obstacles to China's trade negotiations with other countries.”
China should promote the reform of the WTO
“‘In order to reduce the negative impact of trade wars, it is necessary to strengthen the harmonisation of international economic laws and improve global economic governance. At the same time, it is also necessary to integrate the rules of global governance into relevant domestic economic legislation’ [quoting Peking University prof. Zhang Shouwen 张守文]. China should be active in responding to the restructuring of international economic and trade rules as well as in taking part in the construction of the international order.”
“China firmly supports the pursuit of WTO negotiations and is intent on winning over Western countries and regions that do not agree with the US’s approach to multilateralism and are not willing to paralyse the WTO for the sake of so-called ‘democratic values’.”
“WTO rules could become a tool to defeat trade wars, … to force the US to return to the WTO or to establish a ‘two-speed WTO’ so as to thwart the damage the US is inflicting on the WTO system … In short, WTO rules play an important role in mitigating trade wars and in restraining the US.”
“The WTO, as the most important system of universally binding multilateral rules in the field of international trade, must be preserved. China should continue to participate actively in reforming the WTO … However, China's influence in the WTO is relatively weak. The proposals it has put forward are mainly on issues of principle, with little progress on technical issues. China should therefore study how to introduce reformative measures.”
China should continue to develop its regional trade agreements
“[China should] focus on both substantive and local alliances, so that the BRI and countries along its routes can become the backbone of the fight against both US hegemony and [the emergence of] an economic cold war … China needs to be active in negotiating other potential FTAs.”
“Many studies [in the PRC] support China’s joining the CPTPP, arguing that it is becoming an important blueprint for the reshaping of international economic and trade rules, that it is driving a new round of free trade around the world, and that it may even [come to] play a role similar to that of the WTO. China's accession to the CPTPP would [therefore] be of great benefit to the country.”
“If the US were to join the CPTPP, it is very likely that we would be subject to a ‘rules blockade’ with China more likely to become marginalised in terms of rules [and standards]. Thus, China needs to turn passivity into initiative. In reality, we can meet or exceed the high standards of the CPTPP through regulatory reforms … However, China is not in a position to accept the entirety of the provisions contained in the CPTPP.”
“Although RCEP and the CPTPP are of course important, these agreements are mainly aimed at developing countries. If China is to promote a high level of opening up to the outside world and if it is to confront US hegemony and unilateralism, cooperation with the [world’s] major developed countries is probably both the most important and hardest task. Regarding the EU, ‘The EU is the key to the overall strategy of breaking the US’s multifaceted encirclement of China.’ [the authors are quoting a paper by six other Chinese scholars].”
China should further open up its market
“China's so-called ‘non-market economy’ model has been characterised by the US, Europe and Japan as a challenge to the world trading system and incompatible with WTO rules; China needs to respond to the concerns of its trading partners on this issue, reduce friction with them and build up more stable partnerships.” [the authors are paraphrasing James Nedumpara and Zhou Weihuan and seem to be agreeing with this approach]
“Whether it is the reform of multilateral trade rules or the promotion of regional trade rules … most of these are modelled on the national laws of developed countries and are ‘distinctly instrumental and pragmatic in character’. In essence, they deprive the majority of countries of having a say and deter other countries from engaging in rule-making. Market opening is a permanent process. The prerequisite for having rule-making powers is that a market is sufficiently open so that trading partners become dependent on it and are unable to ignore the country's voice. China should therefore further open up its market, provide more export opportunities and increase the degree of satisfaction of foreign businesses, allowing them to develop trust in the Chinese market. [China should do this] in order to acquire more leverage in setting rules and in order to gain a dominant say during WTO negotiations [在 WTO 谈判中取得话语主导权].”
Thanks for some great additions to the literature. I would also draw your readers’ attention to ‘Lei’s Real Talk’ which I see on YouTube. Her take on Xi’s Middle East trip was that he completely failed on the prime objective, getting a Saudi buy-in on RMB universalisation, not least in oil: https://youtu.be/weWD86GBYwU
Wu Bingbing is disingenuous about this, no? Interested in your take. Also of interest is Niu Xinchun. I translated a piece of his from around 2007, severely criticising Beijing Eight-Legged Essays on the Middle East. I’m thinking of publishing on my Substack (Beijing Baselines). The point is, Niu gives the impression of pulling a lot of punches since.
All the best for the season.