Panel 2: Schemes of Global Cooperation
Chair: Björn Ahl, Cologne
Flemming Christiansen (Sociology, Duisburg-Essen): Ideology and Power: China's International Cooperation
The presentation will examine China’s developmental ideology in some of its international cooperation dimensions. The focus will be on the integration of Chinese and global development goals, as well as on China’s international role in infrastructure and other development initiatives seen on the background of Chinese domestic development strategy of the last 40 years. I will discuss the main features of ideology-driven planned and coordinated development policy and the significance of this for various modes of international cooperation.
Paul Anderson (Social Anthropology/Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge): Emerging Regionalisms in West Asia: the Case of Chinese Commodities in the Levant
How should the social sciences explore of the emergent worlds of a new global China? This paper argues for a multi-polar approach, exploring the way that the transnational circulation of Chinese commodities is shaping conceptions of regional identity and new forms of regional connectedness in West Asia. It documents some of the trans-Asian trade routes operated by contemporary Syrian merchants who purchase commodities from the city of Yiwu in Zhejiang province for sale in markets in Syria. The city of Yiwu is home to the largest wholesale market of ‘commodities of everyday use’ in the world and attracts traders and merchants from across the planet. By describing how the Syrian conflict has altered the way that low-grade Chinese commodities purchased in Yiwu move around the Middle East, the paper argues that far from being an isolated “war economy”, Syria has since 2011 been embedded in shifting patterns of regional circulation. The routes of these Chinese commodities – between Turkey, Syria and Jordan; and between Syria’s coastal ports and Beirut – are giving new prominence to Levantine regional identities. Thus, the “emergent worlds of a new global China” should be studied not just as the universalisation or local appropriation of Chinese values, but in a multi-polar way, as the emergence of new regionalisms in West Asia under the umbrella of trans-Asian connectivity. West Asian regional circuits and identities are shaped both by local conditions – such as the Syrian conflict and its shifting zones of sovereignty – and by transregional forms of connectedness that have been revitalised by the globalisation of Chinese manufacturing.
May Tan-Mullins (International Relations, Nottingham Ningbo): Political Ecology of Rising China
China’s greater role in the global economy has profound implications for the world. Along with its economic presence in forms of trade, aid and foreign direct investment, China has rapidly magnified its overseas and global environmental footprint. Substantial amount of Chinese investment are concentrated in sectors that are environmentally sensitive such as oil, gas and mineral exploration and hydropower provision. In addition, President Xi announced the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013 to look at improving and creating new trading routes and investment opportunities, and will pass through over 60 countries in Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa. These investment could have both positive and/or negative impacts on the environment, depending on the differential strategies and practices of the Chinese firms and actors. This paper examines the differential environmental implications of Chinese actors and impacts on the global environment through the lens of political ecology. Power relations between different actors are at the heart of this approach as all actors possess some form of power to control and access resources. By developing the political ecology of rising China theoretical framework, and examining these unequal power relations between the different stakeholders, this paper provides a way to explain the uneven distribution of environmental resources and outcomes due to a rising China.
Ming Du (Law, Surrey): The Metaphor of Market Economy in International Economic Relations: China and the World
International economic rules embodied in international trade agreements and investment treaties have long been imagined as providing an “interface” for states with different political and economic systems, without which it is claimed that international trade and investment activities would be severely impeded. Further, it is safe to conclude that the bedrock idea of such an “interface” is “market economy”, a heavily contested and ambiguous concept. Indeed, the widely shared perception that China is not a market economy is precisely the root cause of many economic woes between China and the western powers. This paper intends to explore how and why the metaphor of market economy has emerged as the key concept defining international economic relations with China in the context of chronic (and recently intensified) trade and investment disputes between China and other major economic powers such as the US and the EU. The paper attempts to answer the following questions: to what extent the metaphor of market economy has been embedded in current international economic rules? Is it a justiciable concept? Is China a market economy? Will it be one in the future? Is it possible to strike a delicate balance between maintaining free, fair and reciprocal economic cooperation based on market economy principles on the one hand, and avoiding the abuse of the concept as a discriminatory and protectionist tool wielded against China on the other hand? Both positively and normatively, what are the prospects and limits of international economic institutions in nudging China in the right direction so what international cooperation could be maintained and flourished?