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Zheng Yongnian: Revelation for China from Russia-Ukraine Conflict – Open up More

In an exclusive interview with the Global Times on March 18, 2022, Zheng Yongnian, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen) and the Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Global and Contemporary China, said that the revelation for China from the Russia-Ukraine conflict is that China should open up more. The economic ties with the West will make it difficult for the parties involved in the sanction to sustain it. Here are some main points from Professor Zheng’s statement: 

The Russia-Ukraine conflict may have an important effect on the international order

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has become more and more contemptuous of Russia, considering it a “troublemaker,” It considers China to be a major competitor or even an enemy. Therefore, over the past years, the U.S. has been building an “Asian mini-NATO” against China. The U.S. strategic focus is increasingly shifting from Europe and the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region. 

In general, the post-World War II international order is in the process of rapid disintegration. Many countries are seeking their own geopolitical sphere of influence. They are hoping to establish an international order that is beneficial to themselves.

What the United States is doing in Asia now is no different from what NATO did back when it was formed. The actual “Asian version of a NATO” prototype already exists. The reason why the conflict between the “Asian version of NATO” that the United States is trying to form and China has not escalated sharply is entirely because China does not want to follow the example of the former Soviet Union to form its own group. After the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the trend of Asia becoming the center of the world economy will become more obvious and U.S. involvement in Asia will further expand. 

Three Important Revelations for China from the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

The revelations for China from the Russia-Ukraine conflict have been huge. The biggest difference between China and Russia is that Russia is only a military power without  being a strong economic power, while China has both sufficient military power for self-preservation and it also has strong economic power. In addition, it has close economic ties with the West. Therefore, in the eyes of the American elite, China poses a far greater challenge to the United States than Russia does to the United States. (The following are the three revelations:) 

  1. China should open up more and Chinese companies must overcome all difficulties and continue to work hard to go global. Economic interdependence cannot absolutely prevent the outbreak of war, but it can moderate the intensity of the war. If the economic sanctions that the United States and Europe imposed on Russia are “to kill a thousand enemies, while only having a loss of five hundred oneself,” then supposedly to sanction China, which has an open and strong economy, that will become “to kill a thousand enemies, meanwhile having a loss of a thousand” oneself. So, it is difficult to sustain such sanctions. A mutually bound economy between China and the West has already caused the West real pain. 
  2. China cannot accept that the West completely binds China and Russia together, nor can it allow the United States to “kidnap” Europe. China and Europe have huge common interests but without geopolitical disputes. The ideological differences are entirely possible to bridge. Although the current security concerns of Europe override its economic considerations to a certain extent after the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Europe is still an object for China to pursue.
  3.  How should China handle the relationship between “opening up” and “security”? Security is always a relative concept, and non-opening provides the biggest insecurity. What we should do is to explore our own security mechanism in an open state, rather than stop opening up to the outside world for the sake of so-called absolute security. 

Source: Global Times, March 18, 2022