Heavy 丨 Interview with Zheng Yongnian: Who is the disruptor of the international order?
(Question about things) Blockbuster丨Interview with Zheng Yongnian: Who is the disruptor of the international order?
China News Service, Beijing, July 22. Title: Interview with Zheng Yongnian: Who is the disruptor of the international order?
Professor Zheng Yongnian. Photo courtesy of me
On the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, China’s goal of “building a moderately prosperous society in all respects” was announced as scheduled. At this time, China’s total economy has passed the one-hundred-billion-yuan mark, and its share of the global economy has risen to more than 17%. China, which has been on the periphery of the international order for most of the past two hundred years, is approaching the center of the world stage step by step.
From being forced into the international order by the West in the late Qing Dynasty, it has now become an important influence factor in the international power structure, and China’s role in the world has undergone a great change. This change has aroused many suspicions. US Secretary of State Blinken has repeatedly accused China of disrupting the international order. The US State Department also recently stated in a statement that Brinken and European leaders discussed transatlantic cooperation, “response to China’s economic coercive behavior” and “attempts to disrupt the rules-based international order.”
Will China rise right? Does the current international order have a fundamental impact? Who is the disruptor of the international order? Zheng Yongnian, dean of the Institute for Advanced Studies of Global and Contemporary China at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen), said in an exclusive interview with China News Service that China is the “biggest supporter” of the international order established after World War II. What we do the most is to “connect”, to stay in this system in a proper manner, and not to “start a new stove” like the former Soviet Union, let alone be a saboteur or a revolutionist.
“According to Western logic, as China becomes stronger, it will certainly form its own camp, but on the contrary, China does not engage in gang formation, and China does not have a’campaign’.” Zheng Yongnian said.
China News Agency reporter: In recent years, Western public opinion has been accusing China of being a disruptor of the international order. Do you think this is the case?
Zheng Yongnian: The so-called international order mainly refers to the international rules established after World War II. So who is disrupting these orders? It’s the United States. The United States withdrew from a series of United Nations organizations and international institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the “Paris Agreement”, and UNESCO during the period of former President Trump. In addition, the United States has always refused to join the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
China has always protected these rules. Of course, it is not a disruptor or revolutionary of international rules, and it is even cautious about reforms. At best, China has been on track, and it has not “started anew” like the former Soviet Union. According to Western logic, China will certainly form its own camp when it becomes stronger. The United States has been emphasizing over the years that it is necessary to form a “world team” against the “Chinese team.” But China has no camp, no “team”. China just stays in this system in a proper manner and does not engage in cliques.
But some Westerners impose their own logic on China. For example, some people accused the “Belt and Road” initiative or the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank for breaking the rules. But (say) the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which has fully accepted the most advanced rules in the world, mainly provides financing support for infrastructure projects in the Asian region. This is something that the World Bank and Asian Development Bank have not done. Therefore, the birth of the AIIB did not grab the “rice bowl” of others, but a supplement to international rules.
China is not a revolutionist of the international order, but a reformer and a complementer.
China News Service reporter: What is the starting point for China to supplement and reform international rules?
Zheng Yongnian: China sees the problem. The early practices of colonialism and imperialism in Western countries supported domestic development by establishing colonies in Latin America and Africa and plundering resources. Now, China’s investment and construction assistance in Africa and Asia has been slandered by the West as plundering resources, and has even been labeled as “neocolonialism” and “debt imperialism.” But this is the West’s own experience, not a Chinese perspective. China has been helping countries in Africa and Asia to build infrastructure such as railways, highways, hospitals, gymnasiums, and schools. Why did China do this? Because these infrastructure constructions are a necessary condition for the economic development of any country, China itself has also come through this way.
China News Agency reporter: In the future, is it possible for China to make greater contributions to international rules?
Zheng Yongnian: China’s rules are not to set their own rules behind closed doors, not to impose their own rules on other countries like the United States, but to learn from Western rules before forming their own rules. . China is now the second largest economy in the world, and China has also learned many good Western rules during its development.
In the next step, if China is to become truly strong, it must continue to digest and absorb the best rules in the world, and at the same time, in light of its own situation, improve, strengthen, and supplement the existing international rules. In the next step, China’s true contribution to the world may come from the contribution of standards and rules. Of course, in this process, China needs to take into account the interests of other countries. For many developing countries such as Africa and Latin America, China’s rules and programs actually provide a non-Western, not anti-Western option.
Professor Zheng Yongnian. Photo courtesy of me
Globalization returned more than 40 years ago?
China News Service reporter: You mentioned that the post-epidemic world has entered the era of “limited globalization”. What is the difference between this change and the previous “super globalization”?
Zheng Yongnian: Since the 1980s, the world has experienced a wave of “super globalization”. The author of this concept is Danny Rodrik, professor of economics at Harvard University. In this wave of “super globalization”, Western countries, especially the United Kingdom and the United States, have promoted privatization and financial liberalization led by neoliberal economics, and production factors such as capital, technology, and talents can be compared worldwide. Flow freely.
As capital flows from western developed countries to developing countries, western countries have also transferred industries with low technology content and low added value to developing countries. This has brought about the reconfiguration of the industrial chain and supply chain on a global scale.
The global flow of production factors has created a huge amount of wealth. Both developing countries represented by China and developed Western countries are the beneficiaries of this wave of globalization. But many negative effects have also surfaced. The biggest problem is that with the development of super globalization to this day, almost no sovereign country still has complete economic sovereignty. We must know that although we are in an era of globalization, the national unit is still a sovereign state, and a sovereign state cannot lose all its economic sovereignty.
Take the United Kingdom as an example. The United Kingdom promoted Thatcher neoliberalism and obtained a City of London, but it gave up the entire manufacturing industry. Brexit is actually related to this.
Look at the US again. Although the US claims to have the most advanced medical system, according to US statistics, more than 80% of US medical supplies are supplied by China, and more than 90% of antibiotic production is basically dependent on China. , Which became a sharp security issue after the outbreak. Another consequence of the loss of economic sovereignty is that since the 1980s, the proportion of the middle class in the United States has fallen from about 70% in the past to about 50%.
China is not all beneficiaries. On the one hand, China has been able to introduce many advanced Western technologies and become a major technology application country. On the other hand, it lacks original technology and R&D motivation. Affected by neoliberalism, many people assume that the world market will always exist and “buy what is lacking in the world market.” Nowadays, under the suppression and blockade by the United States, companies such as Huawei are facing difficulties.
From the long-term history, it is normal that the world market does not exist. Existence is just a kind of “luck”. It is wrong to be superstitious about the global market. Therefore, now that the world has entered an era of limited globalization, it may return to characteristics similar to the period from 1945 to the 1980s. At this stage of globalization, capital and technology will still flow, but will be restricted, the degree of trade will be reduced, and the economic sovereignty of various countries will be strengthened.
China News Agency reporter: Will globalization really go back more than 40 years ago?
Zheng Yongnian: Similar to the period from 1945 to the 1980s, but there are differences. At that time, the industrial chain and supply chain of each country was relatively complete. The so-called made in the United States, made in Japan, and made in Germany basically produce whole products, but after the 1980s, many products have been difficult to tell exactly which country was made. What people call “Made in China” is mostly assembled in China. Parts and components may come from Japan, Asia or even Western countries. Various parts and raw materials come to China for final assembly and re-export.
For example: The United States basically transfers the manufacturing of value-added and relatively low-tech products to other countries, including chip manufacturing. Now people say that the United States controls the chip, but in fact it only controls the chip design. The chip manufacturing link in the United States has flowed to countries or regions such as China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.
Can countries still produce whole products? After experiencing the previous wave of super globalization, it is now very difficult. It is impossible for the United States to move all the production chains back to the country, and it is impossible for countries such as Japan and Germany. Therefore, it is difficult to completely change the interdependence between the economies and production of various countries. Simply put, it is now difficult to imagine a completely decoupled world economy.
Economic logic defeats political logic
Reporter from China News Service: How will this limited globalization affect the global supply chain and industrial chain structure?
Zheng Yongnian: From a historical perspective, economic logic will eventually defeat political logic, so the shape of the industrial chain will not be completely changed. After going through globalization and opening up, no matter how difficult it is for every country, it is impossible to return to a self-sufficient economy. In this epidemic, the industrial chains in Europe and North America have been significantly affected, but the industrial chains and productivity in Asia have not been reduced, but strengthened.
The formation of the industrial chain has its economic principles, which roughly conforms to the comparative advantage described by Adam Smith. Once the comparative advantage is lost and the industrial chain is transferred away, it is difficult to move back; and once the industrial chain is formed, it is not so easy to force adjustments artificially. For example, in the United States, it is difficult for the White House to force Wall Street to listen to it completely. The White House may have an impact on the industrial chain in the name of so-called national security, but it is also difficult to change the overall pattern.
In the past, the three major global supply chains were centered on Europe, the United States, and East Asia, especially China. This pattern will not undergo major changes, and the three supply chains in the future will not be completely self-sufficient. Regardless of their comparative advantages or the division of labor, they still have their own characteristics. For example, original and design things will still remain in the United States. However, in the manufacturing process, the United States is unlikely to use the manufacturing capabilities of Germany and Japan. Move to your own country.
Of course, competition is inevitable. Whether it is the United States, Germany or China, they all want to go upstream in the industrial chain, and competition will become increasingly fierce.