SIGNAL Note
SIGNAL Note 53: Social-Psychological Considerations for a Community with a Shared Future: Implications for Policy and Practice


China aspires to be a promoter of world peace, contribute to global development, and defend the international order. However, creating a harmonious, peaceful international order is no simple task. As President Xi Jinping explained at the National Education Conference held in Beijing during September of 2018; “Peace is the common aspiration and earnest expectation of all mankind, however, security threats that countries are facing today are increasingly complicated, and the threat of wars still remains.”1 For reconciliation amongst rivals to occur, in any context, requires recognizing them as a legitimate partner in the peace process, and deserving of humane treatment. However, the way children are socialized often confounds this vital precondition, hindering prospects for achieving peaceful coexistence. Policies that ensure that the media and education promote tolerance and acceptance is a critical precondition for realizing world peace.

  1. https://www.chinadailyhk.com/articles/131/136/35/1537426921103.html

SIGNAL Note 52: Israel and the Shifting Arab World


In accordance with President Xi Jinping’s vision for well-ordered international relations, China maintains friendly relations with every country in the Middle East, a region at the intersection of Africa, Europe, and Asia. Given its central geostrategic location, the Middle East will necessarily be included in any comprehensive plan to enhance economic connectivity across the three continents. China recognizes the geo-economic importance of this economic corridor 1, one of six of the Belt and Road Initiative. While strong diplomatic ties are important to the success of the BRI, stability in the region of Middle East is also a must. For example, the Maritime Silk Road passes through the Gulf of Aden, where piracy is rampant. The BRI’s proposed high-speed rail projects are intended to pass through Turkish Kurdistan- a politically fragile area due to the presence of Kurdish statist forces in neighboring Syria and Iraq 2. To address such issues and aid in efforts against piracy, China has adopted a number of security measures, including establishing a base in Djibouti.

In addition to the importance of its geographic position, the Middle East holds significant economic importance to China. Close to half of China’s oil imports are from the region 3. Furthermore, Middle East countries present a variety of opportunities for investment.

  1. http://china-trade-research.hktdc.com/business-news/article/The-Belt-and-Road-Initiative/The-Belt-and-Road-Initiative/obor/en/1/1X000000/1X0A36B7.htm
  2. http://www.maritimesilkroad.org.hk/en/quickFacts/mapsOfMaritimeSilkRoad
  3. http://www.worldstopexports.com/top-15-crude-oil-suppliers-to-china/

A China-Israel Study on The attitudes and perceptions of Israelis towards China, its people, and the Belt and Road Initiative

A joint study led in Israel by SIGNAL and conducted by:

Dr. Li Wei – Research Fellow from the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies (IMES) of China’s Northwest University

Kalman Guyer- E.G.P Applied Economics Ltd. Research and Consulting in Economics, Marketing and Social Sciences

Dale Aluf – Director of Research & Strategy at SIGNALSino Israel Global Network & Academic Leadership

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

Older Articles
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.