Insensitive article about China underscores West’s inevitable decline

By Shen Yi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/7 21:33:40

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Mark Beeson, a professor of international politics at the University of Western Australia, in late June published an article titled "China's charmless offensive" on The Interpreter, an online journal of the Sydney-based Lowy Institute.

In this piece, the author tried to seek evidence from the writing of an American named Dale Carnegie, published nearly a century ago, in a bid to instruct or teach the Chinese leaders on how to perform well in diplomacy. He believes a book published in 1936 by a Western author can be used as a model for modern China to learn in the year of 2020. 

Some Westerners are deeply immersed in the "good old days." If we try to understand Western and non-Western worlds from the viewpoints and criteria that were applied almost 100 years ago, we are surely to fall into a plight. 

The ongoing Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests aim to stop violence imposed on black communities (particularly by white police) and eradicate white supremacy. The surge of BLM movement results from colonialism, West-centralism, and white supremacy.

Regardless of the rhetoric applied, nothing can cover the fact that Australia is a country that still has many white supremacists. This was the case from the settlements. Despite being located in the multicultural Pacific, many whites in Australia have attached great importance to their skin color. They are eager to defend their so-called noble status as representatives of the "white West" among Asia-Pacific countries. This sense of superiority increases some Australians' willingness to instruct other countries. 

Beeson firmly insists that China acknowledge its "mistake." Many Westerners pour criticism on China simply because China's actions and development path have not met their expectations. This shows their extreme egocentric distortions - the world and a variety of international affairs must run according to the West's expectations. If not, then others should recognize their so-called mistakes and correct them. 

This is not a healthy mind-set. It is one that refuses to understand the rapid change of power in the international system. Many Westerners believe that the law-based system is the rule of international community. When the system was designed, people never anticipated China's rise. The original intention of the system was to prevent non-Western countries from surpassing Western countries. Now, as China has caught up with the West, many Westerners believe that China has broken the rules.

In China, people describe such an unhealthy mind-set as the "giant infant" syndrome - adults whose mind, logic and behavior are still childish. This is indeed distorted. When discussing the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), such extreme self-centered cognition is even more obvious. Beeson and some other Westerners accused the BRI of "debt traps" - a trap that Western countries used to set for the developing countries. He was gauging China with the West's own cynical practices. This, of course, also needs correction.

It is very unlikely that Beeson's article will cause any substantial damage to China's actual interests. However, his article is indeed biased. Such voices will increase the outsiders' misunderstanding of China. One possible solution to remedy such misunderstandings - as what I have tried in this article - is to analyze the logic behind these bizarre arguments and point out their defects and problems. 

After all, according to Western countries' development since 1648 when the Treaty of Westphalia was signed, systems of national strength and negotiations are the key to the future development of the international system. 

Those who indulge in the so-called good old days will inevitably become a part of the past. They will be left behind in history. The whole world, meanwhile, is destined to be more energetic and vigorous. China, a country that has been moving forward, will continue marching toward a better future.

The author is professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

blog comments powered by Disqus