China and World Harmony: Some Ideas

EDITORIAL, 27 September 2010

#131 | Johan Galtung, 27 Sep 2010 - TRANSCEND Media Service

1. East Asia.   With the current regionalization of the world where and even the biggest states will find their place, an East Asian Community of the two Chinas, the two Koreas and the three Japans (with the Ryu Kyu Islands–Okinawa–and an Ainu region both at high autonomy levels), is inevitable.  The European Community-Union got started around steel and coal, ESC; how about starting with the tricky issues, like right now Diaoyu, of the islet clusters and their economic zones in the East Asian Sea?  An East Asian Sea Authority could declare joint sovereignty, and go beyond joint ventures, exploiting and protecting resources together, the costs and benefits being distributed according to a formula reflecting past uses of the areas.  In Europe the Danube Commission of 1856, with eleven state members and four observers, has served such purposes well, if not unproblematically.  So did the ESCC.

2.  Shanghai Cooperation Organization.  With the expansion of NATO eastward, and the US-Japan Security Treaty de facto westward, with South Korea and Taiwan and deployment patterns for Japan’s SDF, SCO was bound to come.  And bound to expand (currently six members, five observers with Mongolia and Sri Lanka) and a new opening as dialogue partners, gradually filling the gap of a missing Organization for Security and Cooperation in Asia-Pacific. SCO focuses on economic development, and military cooperation in anti-terrorism (China Daily News 11-09-10 reports a chiefs of general staffs of member countries meeting in Almaty); maybe somewhat single mindedly focused on economic development as the key to reducing terrorism. Political and cultural autonomy issues, being ruled by one’s own kind, if not necessarily as an independent country, may be as or more important. And “soft” economic and cultural power can be even harder than military power.

3.  Afghanistan.  The SCO sees the situation in Afghanistan as a threat to neighboring countries, including China, exporting of terrorism, drugs and criminality; the remedy being development.  With that atrocious war slowly coming to an end, with US withdrawal on the horizon, SCO countries will play a major role in Afghanistan, facilitating more autonomy for all nations within the country, open borders to their co-nationals in neighboring countries, equal development for all nations and for both genders, and peacekeeping (not peace enforcing).  For this SCO might cooperate with the ECO, Economic Cooperation Organization of Turkey, Iran and Pakistan, founded in 1985 (as a successor to the Regional Cooperation for Development 1964-79) to help Afghanistan recover and develop in all regards.  And, how about expanding the China-Kazakhstan railroad, linking Beijing and Ankara-Istanbul through a neutral Afghanistan, having Afghanistan join the world through its SCO-ECO neighbors?

4.  Updating the “Silk Road”.  Roughly speaking from 500 to 1500 the trade from China via West Asia to East Africa (Somalia) was the overwhelming part of the world trade volume, Europe being inward-looking, the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans not yet being used.  Considerably more than silk was traded, and the “road” was mainly by the East Asian sea and the Indian Ocean.  The traders were Buddhists in the East and Muslims in the West, till the whole pattern was destroyed by the Portuguese, the English and others, in the name of their kings and companies.  Fortunately, that colonization is over.

How about expanding that “road” for goods, services, people, through Africa, and the Atlantic, to Latin America by road-rail from Dar es-Sala’am to Kinshasa’s port, saving the voyage round South Africa, opening Africa East-West and the world South-South?  Not substituting for the North-South trade established by colonialism, but complementing it?  Weaving the world better together?

5.  Building on the Han Cun He model.  The world goes through huge urbanization, and China, bridging dichotomies, is creating urban villages (that one has only 580 houses, for 3,000 inhabitants), combining collective agriculture and land ownership, with a cooperative construction company for building in Beijing and anywhere, with a former cement worker as highly entrepreneurial CEO.  The village also offers houses for retired people and others. Such imaginative bridging is very much needed all over the world, like in a Cuba in search of some kind of “capi-communism”.

6.  “Human Rights and Harmonious World”.  In an excellent book with that title, China Society for Human Rights Studies, Beijing 2007, key concerns at individual and global levels are linked creatively.   For a world dialogue all parties should embrace both the civil-political and the economic-social-cultural conventions of 16 December 1966, and look for ways of implementing the third generation of human rights to peace, development and clean environment.  With a focus on the international, not only domestic, violations of human rights.

7.  China and Peace Studies.  Academic peace studies in China could build on China’s rich harmony-focused tradition, and the 1954-55 peace pillar of cooperation with all for mutual and equal benefit.  Studies of reconciliation, mediation and peace construction would be enriched by opening for Chinese thought, and vice versa.

8.  The Chinese self-presentation.  China should become better at explaining herself, both in a Western market-growth-democracy-human rights discourse, and in a Chinese discourse of both-and, yin-yang dialectics, distribution and social and world harmony.  An oriental Davos in Hong Kong in dialogue with that Western one; and a global TV, more like multi-angle Al Jazeera than BBC-CNN, would give the world a strong, not abrasive, Chinese voice.  With very much to say that the world in general, and the West in particular, badly need to hear.

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 27 September 2010.

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