Liberalism

People queue to enter the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, on 19 October 2023. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

China is not ready for a showdown with the US

To build the “community of shared destiny for mankind”, it is necessary to hold hands with liberalism, for it is still the international mainstream. However, finding points of agreement does not entail complete Westernisation, says East Asian Institute senior research fellow Lance Gore. What it means is to do better than the Western countries in actualising a system of human values that is identical or similar. Before China gets the world's approval in soft power, it's not ready for a showdown.
People participate in the 2023 NYC Pride March in Manhattan, New York, on 25 June 2023. (David Dee/Reuters)

Why first-gen Chinese immigrants in the US detest white progressive ideals

Issues such as gender diversity and environmental protection seem to be too abstract for first-generation Chinese immigrants in the US, who see these problems as having no impact on day-to-day life. US academic Wu Guo mulls over the reasons why this group of new immigrants, for all their desires to be part of the American education system, is a staunch detractor of progressive ideals that are part and parcel of the system itself.
Chinese paramilitary police walk on the Bund promenade along the Huangpu river in the Huangpu district in Shanghai, China, on 15 June 2023. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

Can China maintain a hard line against the US?

In this key period of China’s rise, it can either choose to adopt a hard line or to cool down. History tells us that the hard line is likely to prevail, but China should be aware that this may lead to one overestimating its own strength, challenging the existing hegemon too soon, and ultimately meeting failure. The crucial question is whether the hard line is backed by wisdom. What China is going to do with the strength it has gained remains a puzzle to most countries, and this is the root of the perception of the Chinese threat.
People walk past photos of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Museum of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, China, on 3 March 2023. (Greg Baker/AFP)

Can China move away from a 'small society mentality' and build a sustainable big society?

Capitalist and socialist societies are faced with the same universal conflict between power and self-interest on the one hand, and fairness and justice on the other. As socialism seeks to reclaim the “better angels of our nature”, as mentioned by former US President Abraham Lincoln, the contemporary mass society that results may be a worthy alternative to a democratic system on the point of collapse. But can China achieve this goal?
A newsagent picks up magazines next to a mural by Italian urban artist Salvatore Benintende aka "TV BOY" depicting a girl painting a peace symbol on an Ukraine's flag, reading "Hope" in Barcelona, Spain, on 30 April 2022. (Pau Barrena/AFP)

Russian academic: Whose ideology will rule an emerging 21st century world?

Amid a changing global order, Russian academic Artyom Lukin analyses the different ideologies of the US, China and Russia and explains why it would be hasty to lump Russia and China in one camp or to dismiss the similarities between the US and Russia. In the end, the ideology that rules the emerging new world may not even be that of any of the three countries.
A gas station burns after Russian attacks in the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on 30 March 2022. (Fadel Senna/AFP)

An ostracised Russia's descent into war and lessons for China

We should not underestimate the role of political psychology in international relations, says Lance Gore. Often, human nature and emotions play a large part in decision-making, and factors such as wounded pride, a need to assert one’s identity or a sense of insecurity can bring about major consequences. Moreover, when feelings are stoked and public opinion drawn on the side of the “good guys”, it is not so much the high ideals of liberalism but a realist game at work. Russia and China have not learnt finesse in playing the two-tier game of international politics; neither have they realised they are not strong enough yet to change the rules of the game.
People sit on a ferry as the Statue of Liberty, lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center are seen on 5 December 2021 in New York City, US. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images/AFP)

Why democracy is failing and why some authoritarian regimes might just work

Lance Gore notes that US President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy is one that will fade away just as quickly as it appeared. Fundamentally, the summit and the “good versus evil” dichotomy it espouses is way past its time. With democracies today, not least the US, facing issues of decline and some authoritarian regimes offering practical governance and livelihood solutions, the clash of systems is just not so clear-cut. In fact, if China irons out some of the kinks in its system, it may become a model of benign authoritarianism that others may find worth emulating.
A man holds a mobile phone in front of an image of Chinese President Xi Jinping displayed at the Museum of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, China, 11 November 2021. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

China turning inward? China has always been a civilisation unto its own

The pandemic and China's zero-Covid policy have led some in the West to caution against the danger of China turning inward, closing its border to the world, building a man-made bubble, and adopting a closed nationalist discourse. But academic Lance Gore says China has always been a civilisation unto its own, and it now has both the means and reasons to decouple from the Western-led capitalist system to some extent, so as to pursue its own path of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. This might bring some benefits to China but could also lead to their misreading of the world in the long run, and cause it greater pain when its efforts to lead and galvanise are not reciprocated.
Chinese national flags displayed at Wong Tai Sin Temple to mark National Day in Hong Kong, China, on 1 October 2021. (Paul Yeung/Bloomberg)

China's reputation in major countries is at its worst. Can it save itself?

China’s accomplishments in the past four decades deserve respect and emulation from many countries across the globe, despite disparagement from the West. However, China may squander this opportunity to gain goodwill by erring on two fronts: its attitude towards liberalism, and its handling of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s legacy. Making a wrong move on either of these fronts can easily diminish its chances of becoming “one of the good guys” in international politics.