SIGNAL Note
Steps toward Warmer Egypt-Israel Relations


As the international community progresses towards a more interconnected world order, Xi Jinping Thought stresses the need for a paradigm shift in the way countries approach state-to-state relations. According to President Xi, estrangement should be replaced with exchange, clashes with mutual learning, and superiority with coexistence. In accordance with this notion, Israel endeavors to redefine its relationship with the Arab World.

In this SIGNAL Note, international scholar from Egypt, Haisam Hassanein explores Israel’s historically complex relationship with Egypt. While Israel and Egypt have had official diplomatic relations since a peace agreement was struck in 1979, full normalization has never been attained. In fact, Egyptian political officials and journalists have been ridiculed for interacting with Israelis. Elements of the Egyptian media, with the backing of fundamentalist Islamic groups have historically portrayed Jews in a racist light on national television there. In spite of this, Israel remains an essential security and trading partner for Egypt, helping it overcome fundamental challenges to its job market and economy.

Middle East’s dull response to US’s Jerusalem decision shouldn’t come as a surprise

On Dec, 6, 2017, President Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. His decision caused an uproar among Arab and international officials, who warned of impending widespread protests and violence all across the Middle East.

However, those pessimistic warnings have mostly been proven to be futile and overblown. There were protests in some Arab capitals, but they lacked the numbers and enthusiasm to sustain themselves. In short, the Arab reaction was dull, aside from several rockets that were launched at Israel from Gaza. The failure to predict this outcome is the result of not realizing that the actors that motivated protests in the past have primarily been weakened.

In the past, three actors- the Iranian-led axis, Sunni political Islamists, and Arab nationalists and leftist- possessed an outstanding ability to mobilize masses into Arab streets to protest for the Palestinian cause. These actors, however, have lost their power and credibility as a result of grave missteps in the last seven years.

China & Israel Cooperation in Central Asia


Introduction
The BRI is an attractive opportunity for Central Asian states along the New Silk Road. Chinese investment can be a key catalyst for development in Eurasia, helping propel it into the first world by fostering trade routes between East and West. Perhaps no country exemplifies this opportunity more than Kazakhstan. Its economic ambitions and geographic location position it well within the context of the BRI.

A more developed Kazakhstan would provide the BRI with an essential launch pad for expanding China’s planned multinational infrastructure network; lessons learned from the China’s efforts there can be instructive for much of Central Asia. At the same time, the Kazakhstani example presents several pertinent obstacles that should be addressed in order for the BRI to move forward across this complex territory most effectively. For one, the Kazakhstani populace and neighboring countries have demonstrated certain hesitations regarding Chinese development assistance, noting concern that foreign investment will connote a sacrifice of autonomy. Other fundamental questions include China’s ability to help diversify Kazakhstan’s extractive oil and gas-based economy, as well as the current viability of Kazakhstan’s high-speed rail system.1 A closer examination indicates that, to an extent, these questions stem from the BRI’s inherently bilateral nature.

  1. Cai, Peter. “Understanding China’s Belt and Road Initiative.” Lowy Institute for International Policy, Mar. 2017.

China’s Image in the Western Media


With the rise of the People’s Republic of China, many Western academics, professionals and policymakers have become increasingly interested in, and concerned about, China’s intentions. China’s integration into a traditionally Western-dominated global order is liable to arouse Western suspicions, while President Xi Jinping has introduced a vision of global governance that is characterized by the harmonious co-existence of the dominant powers. This newly articulated idea was summarized by President Xi in a meeting with the former American president Barack Obama: the nature of relations between the great powers would entail, “no conflicts or confrontations, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation.”1

But positive rhetoric aside, there are deep cultural differences between Western countries and China that cannot be papered over by reassuring statements, no matter how powerful or high the source. Likewise, deeply held suspicions of Chinese intentions cause Westerners to misinterpret legitimate Chinese concerns and achievements, and Western observers, afraid of and confused by China, continue to view China as a global competitor, if not a threat.

  1. Qi Hao.“China Debates the ‘New Type of Great Power Relations”, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, 2015, 349–370

Global Governance and Political Islam

In the study of Israel’s Perspective on Xi Jinping Thought and its implications for the Middle East, SIGNAL’s board member, Prof. Ori Goldberg, of IDC Herzliya College in Israel, examines Political Islam and its impact on global governance.

The withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA, the so-called nuclear agreement with Iran, has directed attention to a struggle taking place within the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is, in fact, a struggle taking place within political Islam. The developments in Iran and across political Islam all over the world represent an opportunity for a profound change in world governance. Conventional wisdom on the subject is faltering. The world grows more divided and aggressive. This aggression is significantly routed in fear, and one of the most frightening forces on the global stage today is political Islam. Applying some basic concepts from Xi Jinping Thought, most prominently the dialectical drive of a principal contradiction, I would like to consider the challenges and opportunities offered by engagement with political Islam.

This term, “political Islam”, is not easy to define. I use it broadly, referring to all movements and political parties that consider Islam to be a foundation (not necessarily “the” foundation, but certainly a significant one) of their political views and practices. The Islamic Republic of Iran is the most sophisticated and complex example of political Islam. It is the only state in the Muslim world that is directly controlled by members of the clergy. While there are differences between Shi’i Iran and the Sunni Muslim world, I suggest that developments in Iran reflect a discernible difference between two global strands of political Islam.

Intercultural Communication for Effective International Relations in the ‘New Era’

Introduction
President Xi Jinping has communicated China’s transformation by explaining it has moved from tao guang yang hui (hide brightness, nourish obscurity)1 to fen fa you wei (striving for achievement) – ushering in a ‘New Era.’ These Sino-centric terms are deeply embedded in Chinese culture and represent a kind of communication that is difficult for the West to interpret and understand. In fact, culture plays a critical role in shaping and defining each nation’s communication.

While China expresses a commitment to ‘peaceful coexistence,’ its swift rise and increased assertiveness have invoked ambivalence amongst members of the international community. Its newfound great power status implies a transformation that could have widespread implications for a nation that has the economic resources to build a competitive military to back its interest in reshaping global governance. In recent years the so-called ‘Thucydides Trap’ -which holds that when a rising power challenges an existing hegemon, conflict is inevitable- has become ubiquitous in western media. In 2012, Xi Jinping proposed an alternative to this narrative; ‘a new type of great power relations.’ The framework consists of three central ideas: no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect for one another’s core interests, and a shift from ‘zero-sum’ thinking to ‘win-win’ cooperation.2 While the concept has aided in altering old mindsets; challenging realist thinking, and breaking away from the traditional cold war mentality, America has been reluctant to embrace this new geopolitical framework.

  1. 阎学通. “从韬光养晦到奋发有为.” 国际政治科学 4 (2014): 1-35. (Yan Xuetong, “From taoguang yanghui to fenfa you wei”, Journal of International Political Science)
  2. Ferguson, R. James, and Rosita Dellios. The Politics and Philosophy of Chinese Power: The Timeless and the Timely. Lexington Books, 2016.

The Power of Perception and Image in Global Governance and Great Power Relations


Why does so much of the world not perceive China as it sees itself? Why have its efforts to improve its image abroad not seen a significant return on investment? And, what can be done to convey a more accurate picture of China?

Introduction
The Peoples Republic of China considers itself a benevolent nation that seeks the well-being of the world. It knows that only a win-win approach can lead to a global community where all parties build on each other’s success to provide a better life for their children and a prosperous future for all societies.1 While America discusses erecting walls and putting ‘America first,’ China has announced it will play an increasingly positive role in global governance. Under the leadership of President Xi China speaks of championing globalization, climate change, and international trade- all in an effort to build a community of a shared future for all mankind.

  1. Qi Hao.“China Debates the ‘New Type of Great Power Relations”, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, 2015, 349–370

Building a shared future through Electricity connectivity


President Xi Jinping’s keynote speech at the United Nations (UN) in Geneva in January 2017 titled “Work Together to Build a Community with Shared Future for Mankind”, has been adopted as a guiding philosophy for China’s approach to global challenges and global governance. Essential to President Xi’s “community with a shared future” is the goal of improving people’s lives.

The idea stresses promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, making economic globalization more open, inclusive, and balanced so that its benefits are shared by all. 1 Furthermore, the idea holds that humans should be kind to the environment, cooperate to tackle climate change and protect the planet for the sake of humanity’s survival. Inherent in the concept of a Community for a Shared Future is interconnectivity. The logic behind this is that projects that expand interconnectivity also drive regional economic development. Through the Euroasia Interconnector, Israel is advancing both the conceptual and practical intent of a Community for a Shared Future cooperating with its European neighbors in the field of electricity.

Europe has its own vision for a community with a shared future where interconnectivity is the goal. One area where this vision is expressed is through PCI’s or Projects of Common Interest. PCI’s are intended to help the EU achieve its energy policy and climate objectives: affordable, secure and sustainable energy for all citizens, and the long-term decarbonization of the economy in accordance with the Paris Agreement.2 The EuroAsia Interconnector is recognized as a cross-border project that links the energy systems of EU countries.

  1. “China Keywords: Community with Shared Future for Mankind”, Xinhua, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-01/24/c_136921370.htm, (January 24, 2018)
  2. “Questions and answers on the projects of common interest (PCIs) in energy and the electricity interconnection target”, European Commission Fact Sheet, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-17-4708_en.htm, (November 24th, 2017)

An Israeli Perspective on President Xi’s Initiative of Building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind


Israel’s Perspective on Xi Jinping Thought and its implications for the Middle East involves examining four key areas from the Israeli perspective: Global Governance, Great Power Relations, the BRI, and A Community for a Shared Future.

When examining the topic, Xi Jinping Thought on- A Community for a Shared Future one cannot help but recognize echoes of ancient Jewish teaching. Within Jewish thought and tradition is the concept of ‘Tikkun Olam,’ repairing the world – helping to improve one’s community and society as well as the wider world.

This parallel between ancient Jewish thought and Xi Jinping thought reminds us that the similarities between the Jews and the Chinese run deep and exist on both philosophical and practical levels. From the time of its founding, the modern state of Israel has been committed to the goal expressed by President Xi of building a community for a shared future. Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, declared upon the founding of the State of the Jewish people that if the country could not help the world through its natural resources, the Jewish nation would contribute to all peoples through innovation. Israel went on to live up to PM Ben Gurion’s vision with such contributions as the stent that saves lives throughout the world, the flagship microprocessor of Intel used globally, and the cherry tomato that graces tables around the world.

SIGNAL Note 41

Israel’s Policy on the Syrian Civil War: Risks and Opportunities

Xi Jinping Thought advocates the adoption of a new approach to international relations. SIGNAL’s research on Israel’s perspective on Xi Jinping thought and its implications for the Middle East causes us to examine aspects of Xi Thought in the context of Middle East issues. President Xi has called on global powers to abandon “outdated ideas of the cold war mentality and big power diplomacy” and for the “world to replace alliances with friendship, and through mutual win-win cooperation” to build a community of a shared future for all.

It is in this context that we look at the 7-year prolonged crisis in Syria. The involvement of Russia, the US, and Iran -either directly or via their proxies-preciselyepitomize the mentality and approach that motivated the principles of Xi thought outlined above. One country, however, seems to have adopted an approach which echo’s elements of coexistance that inform Xi’s vision of foreign affairs. This country is Israel.

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The SIGNAL Note is a Chinese-English publication by SIGNAL's analysts exploring Israel’s Perspective on Xi Jinping Thought & its potential impact on the Middle East.