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SIGNAL Note 40

Xi Jinping Thought and the Middle East – The Dialectics of Normalization

The rise of Donald Trump epitomizes the challenge to normalcy on the international stage. Many of Trump’s supporters consider the notion of normalcy to be a conspiracy perpetrated by powerful elites. According to this approach, the “normal” is a state of affairs which favors the interests of those elites, covertly enforcing sectorial agendas with regard to every aspect of social life, from the economy to public morality. As such, the “normal” represses the “true will of the people” and must be fought on all fronts. Many of Trump’s opponents consider his behavior to be an affront to common sense and to the “normal” code of political conduct, both internally and on the international stage. For these opponents, the “normal” is the continuous dominance of universal and generic order. It is a “one size fits all” arrangement grounded in a capitalist, individualist mindset. The specific needs and priorities of specific communities are discarded in favor of this global vision. The two sides to this debate are mutually exclusive. The “normal” as an object of resistance cannot tolerate the “normal” as an object of desire, and vice versa.

Xi Jinping thought allows for a way out of this paralyzing debate. This way out lies in the insistence of Xi Jinping thought on framing a dialectics of normalization. Xi’s predecessors dealt mostly with the necessities of revolution and its aftermath. Theirs was a dialectic of struggle against forces hostile to the revolutionary achievements of the CCP, forces both internal and external. Within this dialectic, a socialist society and a socialist people were forged in motion. Xi Jinping thought begins with a Chinese state and a Chinese people both well established and continuously progressing. President Xi himself describes the foundational contradiction of China today as one between “unbalanced and inadequate development” and “the people’s ever-growing need for a better life”. The main challenge of the CCP is now maintaining the momentum towards becoming a “moderately prosperous country in all fields”, and doing so while enhancing ideological conviction and the committed leadership of the party.

SIGNAL Note 39

Israel’s Perspective on Xi Jinping Thought and its Impact on the Middle East – a 2018 SIGNAL update

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As Founder and Executive Director of SIGNAL, I am taking the liberty of using the space of the first edition of the SIGNAL Note for 2018 to reflect on some of the significant developments at SIGNAL. I will introduce our new research area for 2018 – Israel’s Perspective on Xi Jinping Thought and its impact on the Middle East. This will include insights into how SIGNAL’s 2nd annual conference on Israel’s China Policy informs our new research track as well as other significant developments.

2017 was an auspicious year for SIGNAL. From our new office in the heart of central Israel, SIGNAL concretized its position as Israel’s premier action-oriented think tank advancing China-Israel political, diplomatic, economic and cultural relations. During the year we contributed to the planning of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 2017 trip to China and participated in the events. We continued our research on China-Israel relations, Israel and the BRI, and Understanding China. SIGNAL cooperated with Renmin University’s SIS under the auspices of CMEAS to co-host a trilateral seminar – US-China-Israel. We expanded the Israel Studies Programs to universities in Heilongjiang, Shanxi, and Hubei.

SIGNAL Note 38

Eran Zahavi and Israeli Sports Relations with China

The BRI is an economic framework that offers an imperative to bring together people and cultures through economic and business engagement. Forming personal bonds between peoples is a core BRI principle as essential as financial incentives. Israel recognized that enhanced cultural exchange and personal interaction lays the foundation for meaningful work in tech investment, government cooperation, and university level collaboration.

One innovative area of people-to-people cooperation and the building of personal bonds is sport. According to Bloomberg News, by 2025, the value of Chinese sports infrastructure is expected to reach a staggering $740 billion.1 Sport can inspire international goodwill and drive personal relationships essential for bilateral cooperation. China opened this door when it invited Israeli football star, Eran Zahavi, to join the Guangdong football league. With this creative step, Israel and China stand to add another dimension to the already budding comprehensive innovation partnership.

  1. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-07-13/soccer-balls-and-china-s-billions

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